[Venice—Thursday, 6 October 1881]

Mr Browning said he did not find the English winter depressing. Had lived 20 years in small house lived because near Arabel Barrett, at low rent 2 miles from Hyde Park Corner. His landlord never raised rents and had put on a new roof, which Mr B. was by the lease liable to keep in repair. “He wd. be sorry that Mr B. shd. want a roof over his head.” When the powder barge blew up Alma Tadema’s house, two of Mr B’s servants were blown out of bed. Mr B. said. ‘[‘]I get up always at 6.30. and dress by light of a street gas-lamp in front. I take an hour & a half for my toilette & get a deal of exercise out of it. I put on my stockings standing up, in uno pede sta[t]us.[1]  At 8 I breakfast & at 9 go to my study. At lunch time my day’s work is done. I go “to town” &c. At 6 sometimes walk home, if dry, if wet a cab. Dress, and dine out every day in the week. Nothing I eat & drink disagrees with me. I go to eveg parties afterwards but never stay more than a quarter of an hour– I ‘Put in an appearance, bow, & go away. My sister often sits in the carriage.[’]” – The other eveg at Mrs Bronsons some lines of his were quoted. He said, “what stuff is that.” Miss Huges sd [“]Oh Mr B don’t call it stuff! The lines are yours.” He said he did not recall them in the least.

He said he hated to buy a book. Had only some his father left—some curious early editions of Milton &c. He showed to me a Prospectus of The Browning Society, to discuss his works, said he did not know most of the people in it. <He said ‘Il me sembles que cela frise le ridicule?’>[2] Knew Furnival[l] the head of it—very irascible & F & Swinburne had quarrelled violently. S. wrote to B. that he must either give up F’s acquaint[anc]e or Swinburne’s. B next time met S. at Club went up & patted his back & laughed it off.

Said they had invitations to country houses for all summer—but came abroad to escape them—usually to some very retired place in France. This year near Gde Chartreuse, in bit of a village. No meat, only eggs & milk. One donkey only & their departe delayed as the donkey wanted on occasion of a mysterious murder.

Miss B. said they did not possess her brother’s works in their house. The printer sends him a dozen copies wh. he gives away. Gives her one, & begs it in a day or two, promising another, wh. he never gets.–

Mr Browning told of one of the Dukes of Norfolk who had a pot-companion of lower origin. When asked why, he said—‘[‘]Well, you see when I’m drunk I can stand but I can’t talk; and when he is drunk he can talk but can’t stand. So when we are both drunk, I can ring the bell and he can call for another bottle!”

Mr Browning leaves two women servants in charge of his house. They were wakened by violent ringing & looking out of window a voice cried “Do you know Mr B. is dead, abroad.’[’] [“]We don’t believe it. Miss B. wd. have written.” “Oh, but that sort of man sometimes goes off very sudden!” It was a newspaper fellow.

Mr Browning said Disraeli spoke at Academy Dinner & praised the Imagination of English Artists: Later, met Browning & said “What think you of all this (the Exhibition)[?] No imagination whatever!” This Browning related to Gladstone who said “It’s hellish!”–

Also Disraeli professed to Browning “never to have seen Carlyle”—apropos to a Statue. Whereas both were of the Directors of the Gallery of Portraits & on question of buying one of Brougham prior to 10 years after B’s death, Disraeli spoke against the purchase, & Carlyle seconded him.

1. “Standing on one foot.”

2. “It seems to me that this borders on the ridiculous?” Passage in angle brackets appears in Curtis's edited transcript (ms at ABL).


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