[Venice—Sunday, 15 December 1889]

Sunday 5.30 P.M. We have just returned in the dusk from S. Michele. The service by Rev. Mr Jameson at 2.30. The coffin in middle of the hall covd with a purple pall, very handsome, and flowers & wreaths around it. The wreath made by Mrs Curtis, of the bays from our garden, was placed on the coffin, over the poet’s head, (And Mrs RB says will be taken to Engd A. saw it in July on his grave in the Abbey). A small company of friends & neighbours, Browns, Montenegros, Layards, Hultons, Montalbas, Miss More, Bronsons, Malcolm, and ourselves. The City of Venice represented by the Sindaco, Tiepolo and three other officials—who offered the great city funeral barge with attendants in velvet & gold and a corps of pompieri in brass helmets. All in a taste wh. wd not have pleased Browning—but well meant & his son could not well refuse—though all his intentions of havg a private & simple funeral were upset– After service the hall was photographed– Meantime before the Palace were assembled the gilded barge, a steam-launch to tow it (sent by Admiral Noce) and the Municipal Gondolas with the motley attendants. Finally about 4 P.M. the coffin was brought by the Pompieri, and the cortege with private gondolas behind, passed down Gd Canal, by Cannareggio and across the lagune to S. Michele. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the evening sky and sea– Nor could a poet’s funeral be more graced by Nature. The air was clear, cold, and still when we disembarked and moved in procession thru’ the cloisters to the Receiving Chapel. We accompanied Mr & Mrs Browning throughout. We were impressed by the extreme courtesy and kindness of the Sindaco who devoted a long afternoon to foreign strangers & protestants, and himself, down on his knees, arranging the wreaths and pall. After RBB, I spoke to him and thanked him; at wh. I think he was pleased. The place was not displeasing in any way, and there we left our friend to remain till the longer journey to Engd is arranged.

Note When Browning read aloud ‘The Lost Leader,’ he said, Sotto voce, ‘This might be applied to Gladstone.’


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