[Venice—Sunday, 9 December 1888]
To Lido & Mr Browning could go. Talked long of his wife. How they lost the box with Mss. of Aurora Leigh at Marseilles. Met Septimus [sic, for Alfred] Barrett her brother there on Mily business (Crimean war going on). Mrs B. chiefly anxious for her baby’s clothes in the box—& kept referring to them wh. made RB angry. Obliged to go without box—wh. S. Barrett found stored below everyg in the depository of Hôtel [des] 3 Empereurs. The Mss. was again lost & found in the garret of her sister who had charge of it (& died?) R.B. [‘]‘thanked Heaven his son had not married a fine lady!” He again praised & admired the restorations we have this year made to the entrance corridor to Palo Barbaro, the columns capitals &c—sd ‘believed it doubled value of palace’[.] Talked of his own house & furniture—& purchases—& much of good & prudent managet of house & income[,] servants &c. He himself is made up of poetry, economy, energy, perseverance, sobriety, industry—as if all the mantles of Greek Poetry & Philosophies had fallen on him. He told much of the Mss of Ring & Book, & of the Correspondence between Miss Barrett & himself. “Thousands of letters—for wh. thousands of pounds offered to print. They each wrote daily & met twice a week & wrote on those 2 days also.” Not rhapsodies—but on all subjects– She wd have disliked printg these– He has never looked at them since—cannot destroy—& wd yet reserve– Has not determined what disposn to make. All the copy rights of his own works are his—& will be lucrative to his son.
Went at 8.30 to Casa Alvisi where Mr Br read the last half of ‘the Inn Album.’ Only Mrs & Miss Bronson, Miss Browning & we present. The story is of painful baseness & soul suffering—while the personages are insufficient to make us endure these (as Othello & Iago compel)– The real lady killed herself & De Ros was unpunished.– The conversation, chaff, irony &c between the two men—seem ‘a manufactured article,’ and certainly people in their situation wd. make shorter speeches. R.B. thinks it very good, & of his best. He repeated—‘Ah! I don’t write to be read once over a cigar.’