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first gave me a sight of Mr. Browning. It was at a period that forms an epoch in the annals of the modern drama—the first representation of " Ion.”

I had the honour and pleasure of being the inmate of Mr. and Mrs. Sergeant Talfourd (my ac- complished friend has since worthily changed his professional title—but his higher title of poet is indelible)—having been, I believe, amongst the first who had seen that fine play in manuscript. The dinner party consisted merely of Mr. Wordsworth, Mr. Landor, and I think Mr. Forster. By a singular coincidence it was our host's birthday, and no one present can forget the triumph of the eveninga triumph of no common order as regarded the number, the quality, or the enthusiasm of the audience; the boxes being crammed to the ceiling, and the pit filled as in an elder day with critics and gentlemen.

A large party followed the poet home to supper, a party comprising distinguished persons of almost every class ; lawyers, authors, actors, artists, all were mingled around that splendid board; healths were drunk and speeches spoken, and it fell to the lot of the young author of “ Paracelsus" to respond to the toast of “ The Poets of England.” That he performed this task with grace and modesty, and that he looked still younger than he was, I well remember; but we were not introduced and I knew him only by those successive works which redeemed

the pledge that “Paracelsus" had given, until this very summer, when going to London purposely to meet my beloved friend, I was by her presented to her husband. Ah! I hope it will not be fifteen years before we look each other in the face again!

I never see those two volumes of his collected works which correspond so prettily with the last edition of Mrs. Browning's poems—a sort of literary twins—without wishing again and again, and again, that we had actors and a stage. Besides “ The Blot on the Scutcheon” which has been successfully produced at two metropolitan theatres, “ Colombe's Birthday” and “ Lucia" show not only what he has done, but what with the hope of a great triumph before him he might yet do as a dramatist. I could show what I mean by transcribing the last act of “ Colombe's Birthday.” I could make my meaning clearer still by transcribing the whole play. But as these huge borrowings are out of the ques. tion, I must limit myself to a couple of dramatic lyrics each of which tells its own story :


That's my last Duchess painted on the wall
Looking as if she were alive; I call
That piece a wonder now: Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her ? I said
“ Frà Pandolf” by design, for never read

but I),

Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for

And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst
How such a glance came there; so not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek : perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
Over my lady's wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat ;" such stuff
Was courtesy she thought; and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart-how shall I say ?-too soon made glad,
Too easily imprest; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! my favour at her breast
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace--all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush at least. She thanked men 1-good; but thanked
Somehow I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred years
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you

In speech-(which I have not)- to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say: "Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; ;-here


miss Or there exceed the mark ;” and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set

old name

Her wits to yours forsooth and made excuse,
- E'en then would be some stooping, and I chuse
Never to stoop. Oh, Sir, she smiled no doubt
Whene'er I passed her ; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands,
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you to rise ? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat
The Count your master's known munificence
- Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, Sir! Notice Neptune though
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.

Poor dead Duchess! and poor living one too ! for that complaisant Ambassador who listened so silently would hardly give warning, even if the father were likely to take it ; and we feel as they walk down the Palace stairs that another victim comes.

The pathos of the next lyric is of a different order


(16-] I sprang to the stirrup, and Ioris and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; “Good speed !" cried the watch as the gate-bolts undrew, “Speed !" echoed the wall to us galloping through ; Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

Not a word to each other : we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride never changing our place,
I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
Then shortened each stirrup and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the check-strap, chained slacker the bit
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

'Twas moonset at starting, but while we drew near
Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear ;
At Boom a great yellow star came out to see;
At Düffeld 'twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mechelm church-steeple we heard the half chime,
So Ioris broke silence with Yet there is time !"

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At Aerschot, up leaped of a sudden the sun
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze as some bluff river headland its spray.

And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye's black intelligence,-ever that glance
O’er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!
And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye

and anon His fierce lip shook upwards in galloping on.

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Ioris, “Stay spur!
Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her
We'll remember at Aix"—for one heard the quick wheeze
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck, and staggering knees,
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

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