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Browning
Browning
81

friendship with her cousin, Romney Leigh, their saddening, widening knowledge of the burden and sorrow of the life around, and the way this knowledge influences both their fates, all is described with that irresistible fervour which is the translation of the essence of things into words—of their very soul into common life. When the manuscript of ‘Aurora Leigh’ was nearly finished, the Brownings came over to England for a time, and at Marseilles, by some oversight, the box was lost in which the manuscript had been packed. In this same box were also carefully put away certain velvet suits and lace collars, in which the little son was to make his appearance among his English relatives. Mrs. Browning's chief concern was not for her manuscripts, but for the loss of her little boy's wardrobe, which had been devised with so much tender motherly care and pride. Happily one of her brothers was at Marseilles, and the box was discovered stowed away in some cellar at the customs there. The happy influence of Mrs. Browning's marriage is shown in the added beauty and vivid flash of reality of her later poetry, although the husband and wife carefully abstained from reading each other's work while it was going on. In Leigh Hunt's ‘Correspondence,’ vol. ii., there is a joint letter from Mr. and Mrs. Browning, dated Bagni di Lucca, in which mention is made of Leigh Hunt's praise of ‘Aurora Leigh:’ ‘I am still too near the production of “Aurora Leigh” to be able to see it all.’ Mr. Browning says: ‘My wife used to write it and lay it down to hear our child spell, or when a visitor came in it was thrust under the cushions then. At Paris, a year ago last March, she gave me the first six books to read, I never having seen a line before. She then wrote the rest and transcribed them in London, where I read them also. I wish in one sense that I had written and she had read it.’

Mrs. Browning's later poems chiefly concerned public affairs, and the interests of Italy so near her heart. Mrs. Kemble quotes with admiration the noble poem of the ‘Court Lady,’ included in the ‘Poems before Congress.’

Mrs. Browning's feeling for Napoleon III was the expression of her warm gratitude for the liberator of her adopted country; her own enthusiasm coloured her impressions of those who appealed to her generous imagination.

‘In melodiousness and splendour of poetic gift Mrs. Browning stands, to the best of my knowledge, first among women,’ says a critic (P. Bayne, Great Englishwomen). She may not, as he goes on to say, have the knowledge of life, the insight into character, the comprehensiveness of some, but we must all agree that a poet's far more essential qualities are hers, usefulness, fervour, a noble aspiration, and, above all, tender, far-reaching nature, loving and beloved, and touching the hearts of her readers with some virtue from its depths. She seemed even in her life something of a spirit, and her view of life's sorrow and shame, of its beauty and eternal hope, is something like that which one might imagine a spirit's to be.

It has been said that the news of the death of Cavour, coming when she was very ill, hastened her own. Elizabeth Barrett Browning died at Florence 30 June 1861. A tablet has been placed to her memory on the walls of Casa Guidi. It was voted by the municipality of Florence, and written by Tommaseo—‘Quì scrisse e morì E.B.B., che in cuore di donna conciliava scienze di dotto e spirito di poeta e fece del suo verso aureo anello fra Italia e Inghilterra. Pose questa memoria Firenze grata, 1861.’

Mrs. Browning's works are as follows:—1. ‘An Essay on Mind, with other Poems,’ 12mo, 1826; anonymous, dropped by the author, but reprinted (by R. H. Shepherd) in ‘The Earlier Poems of E. B. Browning,’ 1826–33, 12mo, 1878. 2. ‘Prometheus Bound: translated from the Greek of Æschylus, and Miscellaneous Poems by the author of “An Essay on Mind,” with other Poems,’ 8vo, 1833; anonymous, dropped by the author, but the miscellaneous poems reprinted in ‘The Earlier Poems,’ &c. mentioned under 1. The ‘Prometheus Bound’ was rewritten and printed in 5. 3. ‘The Seraphim, and other Poems,’ by E. B. Barrett, author of ‘A Translation of the Prometheus Bound,’ &c., 12mo, 1838. 4. ‘Poems by E. Barrett Barrett,’ author of ‘The Seraphim,’ &c., 2 vols. 12mo, 1844. Preface says, all written later than 3. 5. ‘Poems by E. B. Browning,’ 2nd edition, 2 vols. 12mo, 1850, containing new poems and an entirely new version of the ‘Prometheus.’ 3rd edition, 1853; 4th, 1856, &c. 6. ‘Casa Guidi Windows,’ a poem by E. B. Browning, 12mo, 1851. 7. ‘Aurora Leigh,’ by E. B. Browning, 8vo, 1857; 2nd edition same year, 18th edition 1884. 8. ‘Poems before Congress,’ by E. B. Browning, 12mo, 1860. 9. ‘Last Poems,’ by E. B. Browning, 12mo, 1862. Posthumous, edited by Robert Browning, who states that there are included some translations written in early life. 10. ‘The Greek Christian Poets, and the English Poets,’ by E. B. Browning, 12mo, 1863. Posthumous, edited by Robert Browning, who states these (prose essays and trans-