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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 :
MY LAST DUCHESS.- FERRARA.
That's my last Duchess painted on the wall
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
miss Or there exceed the mark ;” and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours forsooth and made excuse,
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
HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS FROM GHENT TO AIX.
(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
'Twas moonset at starting, but while we drew near
At Aerschot, up leaped of a sudden the sun
And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
and anon His fierce lip shook upwards in galloping on.
By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Ioris, “Stay spur!