[Venice—Friday, 26 October 1888]

Again to Lido with Mr Browning, and dined with him at Casa Alvisi. He talked as usual, of everything save of his poetry. Was asked by letter to write a public ode—and to breakfast with the Prince. Tennyson has declined, as did B, also the breakfast. Has never been to Court—and said ‘You see I am a Republican.[’] He however knows and visits most of the Peerage & abounds of anecdotes about them. Said he blew out 6 of the 8 candles, lighted in his dressg room somewhere—“So wasteful.” Story of the Shrewsbury Talbots– Has 2 earls bred by priests & estate left to the Church—question of legitimacy of a Talbot priest’s son—an old lady knew & proved he had dispensation to marry. Present Shrewsy brutal to his Mother. Story of Benzon, wife, adopted girl, son—who in this year has lost the £300M his father left. Went by special train always, wore new pin daily wh. gave away ere night. Browning dining there, special messenger from Paris brot parcel to Mrs Benzon. A £2000 broach & £2000 earrings—diamonds. She said ‘What do I want of them?’ Lord Lytton—his many engagts to marry—sendg like Herbt Bismarck to Prsse Carolath. ‘My father won’t hear of it!’ How did his wife pin him?—‘O she had a clever mother’– L. detested in India. His father very severe & gave little money. “I once wrote a letter to him, to get him to give his son money he needed[.]” Lady Egerton of Tatton—who caught a Tartar in Countess Pisani—said ‘she liked dinner, but only asked those who asked her, in return.’ I say “cutlet for cutlet!” Browning said—‘That’s not my way. I don’t feel obliged to ask people in return.’

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