[Venice—Friday, 30 November 1888]
To Lido with Browning—after storm in night wh made a foamg & roarg sea & lined the beach with seaweeds. RB talked of the old Serjeants, and Q.C’s—of Ld Campbell—who bid to dine by Queen, sd cd not leave his wife. I liked it. He once rose by mistake to answer a toast to the Navy—expectg it was to the Bar, Brougham sd ‘sit down. They don’t spell Navy with a K’. Campbell found sittg dead in a chair by his bed.
Mr Browning lately bought a silver hanging lamp (a Jew’s lamp of star-shape) & sd he had written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Goschen, to ask about the customs duty on it. Mr G. ansd that he had written for information & learned that only the Queen cd be excused from payg duty on silver—but orders shd. be given at the Port of RB’s arrival to use all possible celerity & civility &c. (This not case of ‘intersit Deus,’ to invoke the Chancellor!)—Says never saw any lady smoke in Engd but two Germans of rank at Lady Galway’s dinner after wh. her son Ld G. offd them cigarettes.
When on the way from Lido, R.B. himself brought up the subject of his lines on Fitzgerald, we noticed he did not re-state his charge ‘you wrote that you are glad my wife is dead’–but said Mr F. wrote that my wife’s death was a relief to him &c” & then added what I have written. To say something, when he paused, we said ‘the Editor was much to blame for printing the remarks from a private letter.’ He said ‘Yes, Yes, the Editor was to blame. He wrote me a full letter of apology.’
1. “God intervenes.”