[Venice—Wednesday, 26 October 1881]
Took Mr Browning to see the frescoes by Tiepolo in Palazzo Labbia, Canareggio, wh. he had never seen; still in perfect condition, though the Palace is in sad decay. It belongs to a Jewish Society at Vienna. There are also family portraits by good hands on the walls of Mosaic fabbrica & primary school rooms with Tiepolo ceilings– He spoke of a newspaper item “that the falling out between Mr Carlyle & Mr Browning had been made up, &c.” Said he had never had the slightest difference with Carlyle—“tho’ he sometimes talked a lot of nonsense”[.]
Of Oscar Wilde, he said he saw him first at Boughton’s, the Artist, born in Engd but many years in America & “speaking the broadest American[.]” Wilde was engaged to dine with a very ferocious lady, (Mrs Eustace Smith) but wishing to meet & know Browning wrote to her, “I am going South and am not able to dine with you.” After dinner came evening visitors, and— among them—Mrs E. Smith, whose amazed eye fell on her escaped lion.
Lord Houghton, getting once a later invitation wh. he preferred to one wh. he had accepted, wrote, Dear ___ I find that I prematurely accepted yr obliging invitation” & regret—&c &c.
Mr Wilde affects odd dress &c. As, at Morning concert, purple velvet coat with blue silk lappel, a bunch of white lilies in button hole & long hair. He is however a clever scholar.
Of Mrs Clive, author of Paul Ferroll, he said her father was a neighbour of the Barretts. She was singularly deformed, and wore irons which one heard. Mr B. once took her in to dinner, and had great task to get her up stairs. The Curate, Mr Clive, a remarkably handsome young man, without a sous, married her. She came in to Barretts, and said congratulate me! the thing I could most wish has happened to me. Mr Clive has proposed to marry me. Her fortune would be very large. Later, the brothers died, and Mr Clive came in to a large Estate of his own. His son is now M.P. He did not treat her well. Finally Mrs Clive by some accident, set herself on fire and was burned to death—like Mrs Longfellow and Mme de Circourt.
Etty. At the butcher’s shop a lady asked who is that lady? Miss Etty. What, the sister of the man who paints those horrid pictures? Well, madam, I suppose he don’t paint anything which God did not make.
Lord Arthur Russell. The waiter at hotel in Berlin who would not believe that he could be the person for whom an invitation to dine with the Empress was intended.
Lord Houghton—always playfully malicious. Rogers having the Wordsworths to breakfast took down a portrait of Landor with whom the W’s were at variance. Ld H. in midst of repast asked with innocent air—“what has become of that portrait of Landor you used to have hanging up there?”
If he heard of any quarrel, he delighted to invite the parties to it, & observe them.
He gave a dinner at Meurice’s, at which Mérimée, G. Sand, Browning & others. He asked Lord Normanby who was prevented from coming. G. Sand said ‘If he had come, I shd. have walked out of the room! Because Ld N. had written that he preferred the Novels of Paul de Kock to mine!’