[Venice—Monday, 25 November 1889]

To Lido, Mr. Browning, Mrs. Curtis & I, at 10.30. He said he used to meet Alfred Austin at a riding-school—where also was a lady who rode, and whom Austin admired. She showed Browning a letter from Austin, who was persuaded that B. had prejudiced her against him. He afterwards married a much better wife—but always had a grudge against B.– He said ‘I must go to Putney to see Swinburne the first thing when I go back to London– I have never yet done so. He is always kind to me. He is good enough to speak of my knowledge[1]—but I believe his is greater, and he has had every advantage. Praised ‘Atalanta’ & I’m sure knows more Greek than I do.

We did not ever pass the summer in Florence but went to the Baths of Lucca, <He used to bathe daily in a river there– An Italian said, If the Grandduke was to offer me the Duchy to do that every morning “non accetterai.”>[2] or to Siena, or to England, sometimes making a long stay into winter at Paris, which Mrs. Browning liked tho’ she could not go out of doors; and went at risk of her life to see Geo. Sand. G.S. looked on writing as purely a money-making object. She had a lot of men about, who called her ‘George,’ and pulled her about. ‘Je me fiche de ton diners– Je dine à l’estaminet.’[3] I heard.– The Italian Doctor who at Venice was cause of the breach with Musset, she took away in her carriage—as far as the vicinity of Paris—where she set him down without ceremony and without money.

Mrs. Jameson—married a young man readg law—who was so afraid of her that on the wedding night he disappeared and hid in the coal cellar– He afterwards went off, in some small official capacity and left a numerous progeny by another dame. Mrs. J. had been a school teacher, and was perpetually didactic. Once she & Brownings were to go to Arago to look at the stars. It proved a dark rainy night, but Mrs. J. came & insisted on going & went alone– Arago’s servant said his master had gone to bed—as rainy nights were his holidays.

At Baths of Lucca I rode with Mr David Eckley of Boston, towards Carrara, with a guide among the mountains. At a certain point the man said we must make a circuit, to avoid a shorter but dangerous path. Eckley said, ‘Nonsense! Go on!’ and I, unwilling to seem timid, went on. The path narrowed to a crumbling verge of a precipice. My horse advanced slowly placing one leg across the other, until I felt he was going over and with hasty instinct threw myself out of the saddle and clung to branches growing out of the rocks. Over and down went the poor horse– I saw the white of his eye as he fell and disappeared below. Eckley was confounded. A tree broke the horse’s fall, and we saw him standing in a torrent below—little hurt, but the saddle quite ruined.

Mr Browning lent us the Proof-sheets of his new Volume, now in the press,—“Asolando”—from which he read some poems here the other afternoon—which we much wished to read over.

1. Above “knowledge” Curtis has added “learning.”

2. “I would not accept.” Passage in angle brackets added later.

3. “I don’t care about your dinners. I dine at the tavern.”


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