[Venice—Thursday, 21 November 1889]

To Lido 10.30 Mr & Miss Browning– Passed Russian war-ship with the Czaréwitch[.] Talked of Cumberland’s Life wh. Browning likes very much. Finds C. born in rooms at Trinity Lodge in wh. RB lately slept.

At Sir H. Layards met at dinner Browning & his son, Mr & Mrs Joseph Chamberlain, who were at our house yesty and who start tomorrow for Alexandria with party of 10. Mr. C looks very young—one wd say 35 or 40. Of compact head & figure, keen eye and firm expression of serious affability. Talks easily & freely. His wife, daughter of one of my old friends W. C. Endicott, went to her first party here (Palo Barbaro) 5? years ago. She is C’s 3d wife & younger than his children– He altogether resembles a type of man often seen among American business & political men—much more than the usual Englishman—tho’ one sometimes sees barristers of the keen, cool, spare sort. It is often predicted that Mr C. will yet be Prime Minister. They spoke of the duty on silver in Engd as vexatious. R. Browning told of his lamp & Mr Goschen. Sir H. L. said they used to break up services of plate of returng Governors of India. Mr J.C. sd when at Board of Trade he had studied taxes on silver, coats of arms &c as his Constituents largely jewellers at Birmingham– Had made it illegal to use the Royal Arms—as Patent-Agents used them to look official. Sir H. L. said any man could assume to be a baronet, & no one cd object. A Knight must have a Patent. RB told his Charles 2d & the half-crown story (wh. I thought Sir H—who is a Knight, might not fancy.) Mr Chamberlain said that when at the Board of Trade he asked for some reward for the long services of Mr Thomas Farrer Secy of the Board. And he was made a Baronet—& charged a large sum in fees—but being an official of experience, he managed to dispense with such exactions. As Codrington did—& a Prince of Savoy.

Mr Browning praised ‘Wuthering Heights,’ as a strong novel, superior to ‘Jane Eyre.’ The real name of the Bronte family was Prunty; Southey questioned the name of Bronte (see S’s corresp.).


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