[Venice—Monday, 24 October 1881]
Mr Browning sent us a note from WRS Ralston, dated “Alfred Place, Bedford Square Oct 18. 81[.] Dear Mr Browning, Ivan Tourguenieff the Russian Novelist, will dine with me on Sat. Oct 22 at the Arts Club (17 Hanover Sq) at 7.15. (morning dress.) I should be so pleased if you could join the party. I only got his promise late last night so I have only little time to organize anything. W. Black will come, and Alma Tadema, and Leslie Stephen, & Norman McColl (of Athenæum.) I have also invited M.M. Trollope, Blackmore, Hardy, Besant, R H Hudson, Wilkie Collins & Wm Morris. But I cannot count on more than 1/3 of them. I think you already know the Russian Novelist, both personally & thro’ his books. But the more he is seen, the more he is sure to be liked. Yrs very truly.—
P.S. I read aloud a good deal of yr poetry last week at Tunbridge Wells—with marked effect. I have just finished a translation of a longish Russian Poem (500 lines) wh. I shd. very much like you to hear. I am to recite it on the evening of 29 at the Working Women’s College in Fitzroy St. But I scarcely venture to ask you to honour it by your presence.” — Mr B. agreed that dinners made up of literary men were usually dull.
Of the Coup d’Etat, Mr Browning said that he was then in Paris; that he & his family went about the city in all directions and saw all that was going on. As to the rivers of blood &c of wh. Kinglake writes, and the dangers of the streets, there was nothing of the kind. There was firing on the Boulevard near Dusautoy’s the Tailleur—but so far from apprehension were the family that the child went out with its nurse as usual.