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BROWNING, Another group of poems showed Browning’s interest in Greek literature. Balaustion’s Adventure (1871) includes a “transcript from Euripides,” a translation, that is, of part of the Alcestis. Aristophanes' Apology (1875) included another translation from the Herakles, and in 1877 he published a very literal translation of the Agamemnon. This, it seems, was meant to disprove the doctrine that /Eschylus was a model of literary style. Browning shared his wife’s admiration for Euripides, and takes a phrase from one of her poems as a motto for Balaustion’s Adventure. In the Aristophanes' Apology this leads characteristically to a long exposition by Aristophanes of his unsatisfactory reasons for ridiculing Euripides. It recalls the apologies of “Blougram” and Louis Napoleon, and contains some interesting indications of his poetical theory. Browning was to many readers' as much prophet as poet. His religious position is most explicitly, though still not very clearly, set forth. in the Christmas Eve and Easter Day (1850). Like many eminent contemporaries, he combined a disbelief in orthodox dogma with a profound conviction of the importance to the religious instincts of the symbols incorporated in accepted creeds. Saul (1845), A Death in the Desert (1864), and similar poems, show his strong sympathy with the spirit of the old belief, though his argumentative works have a more or less sceptical turn. It was scarcely possible, if desirable, to be original on such topics. His admirers hold that he shows an affinity to German metaphysicians, though he had never read their works nor made any express study of metaphysical questions. His distinctive tendency is to be found rather in the doctrine of life and conduct which both suggests and is illustrated by his psychological analyses. A very characteristic thought emphatically set forth in the Rabbi Ben Ezra (1864) and the Grammarian's Funeral (1855) is that a man’s value is to be measured, not by the work done, but by the character which has been moulded. He delights in exhibiting the high moral instinct which dares to override ordinary convictions, or which is content with discharge of obscure duties, or superior to vulgar ambition and capable of selfsacrifice, because founded upon pure love and sympathy for human suffering. Browning’s limitations are characteristic of the poetry of strong ethical preoccupations. His strong idiosyncrasy, his sympathy with the heroic and hatred of the base, was hardly to be combined with the Shakespearian capacity for sympathizing with the most varied types of character. Though he deals with a great variety of motive with singularly keen analysis, he takes almost exclusively the moral point of view. That point of view, however, has its importance, and his morality is often embodied in poetry of surpassing force. Browning’s love of the grotesque, sometimes even of the horrible, creates many most graphic and indelible portraits. The absence of an exquisite sense for the right word is compensated by the singular power of striking the most brilliant flashes out of obviously wrong words, and forcing comic rhymes to express the deepest and most serious thoughts. Though he professed to care little for motive as apart from human interest, his incidental touches of description are unsurpassably vivid. The appreciation of Browning’s genius became general in his later years, and zeal was perhaps a little heightened by the complacency of disciples able to penetrate a supposed mist of obscurity. The Browning Society, founded in 1881 by Mr Furnivall and Miss Hickey, was a product of this appreciation, and helped to extend the study of the poems. Browning accepted the homage in a simple and friendly way, though he avoided any action which would make him responsible for the publications. He received various honours ■ the LL.D. degree from Cam-



bridge in 1879, the D.C.L. from Oxford in 1882, and LL.D. from Edinburgh in 1884. He became foreign correspondent to the Boyal Academy in 1886. His son, who had settled at Venice, married in 1887, and Browning moved to De Vere Gardens. In the autumn of 1889 he went with his sister to visit his son, and stayed on the way at Asolo, which he had first seen in 1838, when it supplied the scenery of Rippa Passes. He was charmed with the place, and proposed to buy a piece of ground and to build upon it a house to be called “ Pippa’s Tower ’—in memory of his early heroine. While his proposal was under consideration he went to his son at Venice. His health had been breaking for some time, and a cold, aggravated by weakness of the heart, brought on a fatal attack. He died on 12th December 1889. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 31st December. It was suggested that his wife’s body should be removed from Florence to be placed beside him; but their son rightly decided that her grave should not be disturbed. Browning’s personal characteristics are so strongly stamped upon all his works that it is difficult to assign his place in contemporary thought. He is unique and outside of all schools. His style is so peculiar that he is the easiest of all poets to parody and the most dangerous to imitate. In spite of his early Shelley worship he is in certain respects more closely related to Wordsworth. Both of them started by accepting the poet’s mission as quasiprophetical or ethical. In other respects they are diametrically contrasted. Wordsworth expounded his philosophy by writing a poetical autobiography. Browning adheres to the dramatic method, of which Wordsworth was utterly incapable. He often protested against the supposition that he put himself into his books. Yet there is no writer whose books seem to readers to be clearer revelations of himself. Nothing, in fact, is more characteristic of a man than his judgments of other men, and Browning’s are keen and unequivocal. The revolutionary impulse had died out, and Browning has little to say either of the political questions which had moved Shelley and Byron or of the social problems which have lately become more prominent. He represents the thought of a quieter epoch. He was little interested, too, in the historical or “romantic” aspect of life. He takes his subjects from a great variety of scenes and places—from ancient Greece, mediaeval Italy, and modern France and England ; but the interest for him is not in the picturesque surroundings, but in the human being who is to be found in all periods. Like Balzac, whom he always greatly admired, he is interested in the eternal tragedy and comedy of life. His problem is always to show what are the really noble elements which are eternally valuable in spite of failure to achieve tangible results. He gives, so far, another version of Wordsworth’s doctrine of the cultivation of the “ moral being.” The psychological acuteness and the subtle analysis of character are, indeed, peculiar to himself. Like Carlyle, with whom he had certain points of affinity, he protests, though rather by implication than direct denunciation, against the utilitarian or materialistic view of life, and finds the divine element in the instincts which guide and animate every noble character. When he is really inspired by sympathy for such emotions he can make his most grotesque fancies and his most farfetched analyses subservient to poetry of the highest order. It can hardly be denied that his intellectual ingenuity often tempts him to deviate from his true function, and that his observations are not to be excused because they result from an excess, instead of a deficiency, of intellectual acuteness. But the variety of his interests — aesthetic, philosophical, and ethical—is astonishing, and his successes