[Venice—Thursday, 14 November 1889]

At 3, to P. Rezzonico for Mr Browning, superb weather. As we went to Lido the Impr Yacht Hohenzollern got under way and steamed past us on her long circuit home. The movement of waves suggested oil & I sd to RB. a chance for Hudibrastic rhyme of turmoil and sperm-oil. He sd ‘I have it,[’] and quoted the passage. We landed at S. Elisabetta & by the Sordo-Muti farm to the beach, and back by the Stabilimento at sunset. Browning usually talks all the way as he walks—on whatever topic wh. may offer, of today or of the past. A question will set him talking of a man, or set of men. Today among others, he talked of Tennyson, Spedding, Thackeray, Dickens, of American & Engh manners, & sister-marriages, of the Education of Princes, of Duke of Marlboro, of Barnum’s Show, Cooper, R.A. and of Asolo, of Smith his publisher. Again said ‘As long as I live, which can not be many years,’ though his health never better. Said he got very exhausted by end of the London Season; in spite of resolutions, hard to keep. We never saw him more pleased than at hearing that Hallam Tennyson had a son and heir 7th Nov.—though it lessens the prospects of his namesake (who said ‘you too are rather famous’). He repeated ‘Old Tennyson will be so pleased![’] Called Thackeray ‘cynical—always cynical.[’] I went to see him in his new house, built with his profits from Cornhill Magazine, he said, from wh. he retired. And as I left him at the door, he said—Now, you are envious. You are envyg me this house!– I ansd No. I am not envious. I did not add, as I might have, ‘I could have your place as Editor of the Cornhill Mag. if I pleased—but have refused it.[’] Told again of Thackeray sayg ‘Bring your son and I’ll give him a sovereign’—& RB—Now, after that, I won’t bring him. This time did not repeat T’s ansr ‘You’ll never be an Englishman.’ Dickens quite his opposite— always amiable. Of Spedding—‘I and my sister to dine with him that very day he died. We were dressing when a cab drove up with message that Mr S. had met with a fearful accident. Crabbe Robinson I knew well—a pleasant man. Of Göthe—became a bore and a prig—wh. agrees with what the old Princess Wittgenstein said, at Rome, who knew Göthe well. Of the Principimo of Italy—over educated—said they could not kill our Prince of Wales with learning. Tho’ I remember his governor Gen Bruce askg me to recommend some competent man to go out with the Prince and point out things on the Campagna & elsewhere

Old Cooper, R.A. sent me a pen-drawing of his—wh. I value. He sent great canvasses of cows and insisted on his right to hang them in the very best places. Another R.A. tried to persuade him that they wd look particly well in a remoter place. Cooper said, ‘You be d––d!’ Gave us again a precise account of Asolo, and with my cane drew an elaborate plan of its castle walks on the smooth sand of the beach. Of the dinners seriously given to Barnum the Showman, by certain lords & gentn. Next day his ‘lady who turns six somersaults in ordinary dress’ hooted by the spectators.


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