[Venice—Monday, 15 October 1888]
By appointt we called for Mr & Miss Browning at 10.30 to row over to Quattro Fontane on Lido. Magnif. AM, with brisk N. wind. Talked of V. Hugo on the way. Arrd on the embankment above the beach we had a rare spectacle. Behind the houses & campanile of Venice extended, from the Euganeans to Trieste, the whole range of Alps covered with snow—like the view from Berne. On our right a sea of furious surf thundered on the sands. The B’s delighted.
Asters, wild flowers & their old Engh names—suggested Ophelia & he knew the name.
Told of Paul Sandby, sculptor of Nollekens’ time ‘I go into St Paul’s.’ “Fine church, & go out. Go into Westminster Abbey, and, Damme! I’m all devotion!” <Applied this to Gothic & Renaissance palaces.>
Drawing on the sand, at Lido, Browning said, ‘Do you know where Byron got the notion of Napoleon tracing plans on the sand at S. Helena? From Kean, who made a hit in Rich. III by pausing and absently drawing on the ground with his sword.’
1. Passage in angle brackets added later.