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on October 22, he finished “ Pauline.” Given money to print it by his aunt, he published it anonymously the next year. Browning did not acknowledge until some years later that he was its author, and then did so only to prevent piracy. It was reviewed fully and cor
dially in the" Monthly Repository.” John Stuart Mill was delighted by it. Years afterward a letter came from a young painter who said he had copied it in the British Museum. It was signed Dante Gabriel Rossetti. There was also a kind review in the “ Athenæum” by Allan Cunningham.
In 1833 and 1834 Browning travelled extensively in Russia and Italy. In 1835 he published a second work, called “Paracelsus." “Pauline," in spite of the praise which it had received, had been somewhat immature. One critic indeed says that it contained ideas, which, like the measles, every poet has to have and get over. The following quotations will perhaps show why it impressed competent judges:
That we devote ourselves to God is seen
Part IV. About this time Browning met Walter Savage Landor, William Wordsworth, and Macready, the greatest actor then upon the English stage. Macready was so much impressed with Browning's ability as a dramatic writer that he invited him to produce a play. Accordingly, Browning's tragedy of “Strafford ” was composed, published, and played at the Covent Garden Theatre. It was well received.
In 1840, he published "Sordello," a long story in blank verse. This was much ridiculed on account of the obscurity of its style. Tennyson is said to have remarked: “ There are in Sordello 'only two lines which I can understand—the first line of the book, which is
'Who will, may hear Sordello's story told,' and the last line,
• Who would, has heard Sordello's story told,' and both of these are lies." Douglas Jerrold, at the time “Sordello" came out, was recovering from a serious illness. Having been given permission to read a little, he began the poem. No sooner had he done so than he turned dear y pale and criei: " My God! I'm an irist. My health is resureri, but my mind is gone. I can't undervand two un rutive lines of an English porem." The fact of the matur is that, while “ Sordello" is hard reading, it should not be calleri otsure. Any person who has the patience to read it three times will be amply rewarded. It was not, however, until 1841, that Browning won any real popularity as a poet. In that year, he published his little dramatic masterpiece," Pippa Passes," which any student can read and enjoy, and a volume of short poems called “ Bells and Pomegranates.” This latter volume fell into the hands of Miss Elizabeth Barrett, who called it a“ Pomegranate that showed a heart within blood-tinctured, of a veined humanity.”
In 1842 these books were followed by a volume entitled “Dramatic Lyrics,” the publication of which clearly established Browning's position as a great English poet. It contained the following, all of which should be read by the student: (1) “ Cavalier Tunes,' (2)“ My Last Duchess,” (3) “ Incident of the French Camp," (4) “ The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” The last was written especially for little Willie Macready, but it has since delighted thousands of other boys and girls both young and old. In 1843 and 1844 Browning produced three more or less successful plays—“The Return of the Druses," " A Blot in the Scutcheon," and " Colombe's Birthday ”— and in 1845" Dramatic Romances and Lyrics.” The latter contains several of his most famous poems, among them “Saul,” “ How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix,” “The Boy and the Angel,” and “ The Lost Leader.” Three of the lines in this volume have perhaps never been surpassed:
“ There's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over
-Home Thoughts from Abroad.
In 1846, he published " A Soul Tragedy” and “Luria "; and, what was perhaps more important, married Miss Elizabeth Barrett on September 12. She was already distinguished as a poet even more than her illustrious husband, her best work probably being a volume entitled “ Sonnets from the Portuguese,” such sonnets, indeed, as no Portuguese ever wrote or will write. In spite of the fact that she was three years his senior, was an invalid while he enjoyed robust health, and believed in Spiritualism, while he did not, their marriage was an entire success. His affection for her is recorded in his poem
Prospice,” which he wrote after her death in 1861. On account of the delicacy of her health, they left England in 1847 and settled at Casa Guidi in Florence, Italy. Here, on March 9, 1849, Robert Barrett Browning was born, and here, for years, his parents did their literary work.
In 1855, Browning published perhaps the richest of all his volumes, Men and Women.” It contained One Word More,” Cleon,” “The Statue and the Bust,” “Childe Roland," "Old Pictures in Florence," "Two in the Campagna," " De Gustibus," " Fra Lippo Lippi,” and “ Andrea del Sarto.” The following quotations, fragmentary though they are, may give some inkling of the poetry and humor of this volume:
" They are perfect; how else? they shall never change.
-Old Pictures in Florence. “ Infinite passion and the pain Of finite hearts that yearn.”
-Two in the Campagna. “ Italy, my Italy ! Queen Mary's saying serves for me (When fortune's malice Lost her Calais): Open my heart and you will see Graved inside of it, Italy.'
-De Gustibus. “If you get simple beauty and nought else You get about the best thing God invents.”
-Fra Lippo Lippi. “ One fine frosty day, My stomach being as empty as your hat.”
Ibid. “ Paint the soul; never mind the legs and arms."
Ibid. “You should not take a fellow eight years old And make him swear to never kiss the girls."
Nature is complete:
--Fra Lippo Lippi.
Ibid. In 1864 this was followed by “ Dramatis Personæ,” which contained“ Rabbi Ben Ezra," “ Prospice," " A Death in the Desert," and “ Caliban upon Setebos,” all poems which are full of ripe wisdom, beauty, and spirit. Three brief quotations will give some notion of their quality:
“For life, with all it yields of joy and woe,
-A Death in the Desert.
Ibid. “ The ultimate angels' law,
Indulging every instinct of the soul
His next large work came in 1868 and 1869, being a long account of a murder trial entitled “ The Ring and the Book.” This was followed in 1871 by“ Balaustion's Adventure ”; in 1873 by “ Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau ", in 1877 by “Agamemnon "; and in 1879 by “Dramatic Idyls." Among his latest noteworthy poems were “Pheidippides” and “ Tray," the latter being a protest against vivisection. Browning was vice-president of the Anti-vivisection Society at this time, and denounced the practice as cowardly even if it could be proved useful.
In 1881 his growing popularity was attested by the fact that a Browning Society was formed in London, being the precursor of many other such societies throughout the civilized world.
He died at the Palazzo Rezzonico, Venice, October 12, 1889, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, December 31.