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success of others, no one was so modest in her own triumphs, which she looked upon more as a favor of which she was unwor. thy than as a right due to her. She loved all who offered her affection, and would solace and advise with any. She watched the progress of the world with tireless eye and beating heart, and, anxious for the good of the whole world, scorned to take an insular view of any political question. With her a political question was a moral question as well. Mrs. Browning belonged to no particular country; the world was inscribed upon the banner under which she fought. Wrong was her enemy; against this she wrestled, in whatever part of the globe it was to be found.
A noble devotion to and faith in the regeneration of Italy was a prominent feature in Mrs. Browning's life. To her, Italy was from the first a living fire, not the bed of dead ashes at which the world was wont to sneer. Her trust in God and the People was supreme; and when the Revolution of 1848 kindled the passion of liberty from the Alps to Sicily, she, in common with many another earnest spirit, believed that the hour for the fulfilment of her hopes had arrived. Her joyful enthusiasm at the Tuscan uprising found vent in the “ Eureka ” which she sang with so much fervor in Part First of “Casa Guidi Windows."
“But never say “No more'
Her very statues send their looks before.”
Were never yet too much for men who ran
The Second Part of “ Casa Guidi Windows" is a sad sequel to the First, but Mrs. Browning does not deride. She bows before the inevitable, but is firm in her belief of a future living Italy.
It is a matter of great thankfulness that God permitted Mrs. Browning to witness the second Italian revolution before claim. ing her for heaven. No patriot Italian, of whatever high degree, gave greater sympathy to the aspirations of 1859 than Mrs. Browning, an echo of which the world has read in her “Poems before Congress " and still later contributions to the New York “Independent." Great was the moral courage of this frail woman to publish the “Poems before Congress " at a time when England was most suspicious of Napoleon. Greater were her convictions, en she abased England and exalted France for the cold neutrality of the one and the generous aid of the other in this war of Italian independence. Bravely did she bear up against the angry criticism excited by such anti - English sentiment. Strong in her right, Mrs. Browning was willing to brave the storm, confident that truth would prevail in the end. Apart from certain tours de force in rhythm, there is much that is grand and as much that is beautiful in these Poems, while there is the stamp of power upon every page. It is felt that a great soul is in earnest about vital principles, and earnestness of itself is a giant as rare as forcible. Though there are few now who look upon Napoleon as
“ Larger so much by the heart" than others “who have governed and led,” there are many who acknowledge hin to be
" Larger so much by the head," and regard him as she did, – Italy's best friend in the hour of need. Her disciples are increasing, and soon 'Napoleon III. in Italy ” will be read with the admiration which it deserves.
Beautiful in its pathos is the poem of
“A Court Lady," and there are few satires friend; for had he not labored unceasingly more biting than “An August Voice," for that which was the burden of her song? which, as an interpretation of the Napo- and could she allow so great a man to pass leonic words, is perfect. Nor did she fail away without many a heart-ache? It is to vindicate the Peace of Villafranca : as sublime as it is rare to see such intense
appreciation of great deeds as Mrs. Brown"But He stood sad before the sun
ing could give. Her fears, too, for Italy, (The peoples felt their fate):
when the patriot pilot was hurried from · The world is many,- I am one;
the helm, gave rise to much anxiety, until My great Deed was too great.
quieted by the assuring words of the new God's fruit of justice ripens slow: Men's souls are narrow; let them grow.
minister, Ricasoli. My brothers, we must wait.'"
Nor was Mrs. Browning so much en
grossed in the Italian regeneration that And traly, what Napoleon then failed, from she had no thought for other pations and opposition, to accomplish by the sword, has for other wrongs. Her interest in America since been, to a great extent, accomplish- was very great, ed by diplomacy.
(bear the word!) But though Mrs. Browning wrote her Half-poes even, are still whole democrats : “ Tale of Villafranca ” in full faith, after Oh, not that we 're disloyal to the high, many a mile-stone in time lay between her But loyal to the low, and cognizant and the fact, her friends remember how
Of the less scrutable majesties." the woman bent and was well-nigh crush. In Mrs. Browning's poem of “A Curse for ed, as by a thunderbolt, when the intelli- a Nation," where she foretold the agony gence of this Imperial Treaty was first in store for America, and which has fallen received. Coming so quickly upon the upon us with the swiftness of lightning, heels of the victories of Solferino and she was loath to raise her poet's voice San Martino, it is no marvel that what against us, pleading, stunned Italy should have almost killed
“ For I am bound by gratitude, Mrs. Browning. That it hastened her into
By love and blood, the grave is beyond a doubt, as she never
To brothers of mine across the sea, fully shook off the severe attack of illness
Who stretch out kindly hands to me." occasioned by this check upon her lifehopes. The summer of 1859 was a weary, And in one of her last letters, addressed suffering season for her in consequence ; to an American friend who had reminded and although the following winter, passed her of her prophecy and of its present fulin Rome, helped to repair the evil that had filment, she replied, -“Never say that I been wrought, a heavy cold, caught at the have 'cursed' your country. I only deend of the season, (and for the sake of see- clared the consequence of the evil in her, and ing Rome's gift of swords to Napoleon and which has since developed itself in thunVictor Emmanuel,) told upon her lungs. der and flame. I feel with more pain than The autumn of 1860 brought with it another many Americans do the sorrow of this sorrow in the death of a beloved sister, and transition-time; but I do know that it is this loss seemed more than Mrs. Brown- transition, that it is crisis, and that you ing could bear; but by breathing the soft will come out of the fire purified, stainless, air of Rome again she seemed to revive, having had the angel of a great cause walkand indeed wrote that she was “better in ing with you in the furnace.” Are not body and soul.”
such burning, hopeful words from such a Those who have known Mrs. Browning source worthy of the grateful memory of in later years thought she never looked the Americans ? Our cause has lost an better than upon her return to Florence in ardent supporter in Mrs. Browning; and the first days of last June, although the did we dare rebel against God's will, we overland journey had been unusually fa- should grieve deeply that she was not pertiguing to her. But the meeting was a mitted to glorify the Right in America as sad one; for Cavour had died, and the na- she has glorified it in Italy. Among the tional loss was as severe to her as a per- last things that she read were Motley's sonal bereavement. Her deep nature re- letters on the “ American Crisis," and the garded Italy's benefactor in the light of a writer will ever hold in dear memory the
all but final conversation had with Mrs. ly passing between husband and wife. Browning, in which these letters were dis- The unaffected devotion of one to the cussed and warmly approved. In refer- other wove an additional charm around ring to the attitude taken by foreign na- the two, and the very contrasts in their tions with regard to America, she said, - natures made the union a more beautiful “Why do you heed what others say? You one. All remember Mrs. Browning's pretare strong, and can do without sympathy; ty poem on her “Pet Name": and when you have triumphed, your glo
“I have a name, a little name, ry will be the greater.” Mrs. Browning's
Uncadenced for the ear, most enthusiastic admirers are Americans ;
Unhonored by ancestral claim, and I am sure, that, now she is no longer
Unsanctified by prayer and psalm of earth, they will love her the more for
The solemn font anear. her sympathy in the cause which is nearest to all hearts.
“My brother gave that name to me, Mrs. Browning's conversation was most
When we were children twain, interesting. It was not characterized by When names acquired baptismally sallies of wit or brilliant repartee, nor was
Were hard to utter, as to see it of that nature which is most welcome in
That life had any pain." society. It was frequently intermingled
It was this pet name of two small letters with trenchant, quaint remarks, leavened
lovingly combined that dotted Mr. Brown. with a quiet, graceful humor of her own;
ing's spoken thoughts, as moonbeams fleck but it was eminently calculated for a tête
the ocean, and seemed the pearl-bead that à-tête. Mrs. Browning never made an in
linked conversation together in one harsignificant remark. All that she said was
monious whole. But what was written always worth hearing ; - a greater compli
has now come to pass. The pet name ment could not be paid her. She was a
is engraved only in the hearts of a few. most conscientious listener, giving you her mind and heart, as well as her magnetic * Though I write books, it will be read eyes. Though the latter spoke an eager
Upon the leaves of none; language of their own, she conversed slow
And afterward, when I am dead, ly, with a conciseness and point that, added
Will ne'er be graved, for sight or tread, to a matchless earnestness, which was the
Across my funeral stone." predominant trait of her conversation as it Mrs. Browning's letters are masterpieces was of her character, made her a most de- of their kind. Easy and conversational, lightful companion. Persons were never they touch upon no subject without leavher theme, unless public characters were ing an indelible impression of the writer's under discussion, or friends were to be originality; and the myriad matters of unipraised, - which kind office she frequent- versal interest with which many of them ly took upon herself. One never dreamed are teeming will render them a precious of frivolities in Mrs. Browning's presence, legacy to the world, when the time shall and gossip felt itself out of place. Your- have arrived forötheir publication. Of late, self (not herself) was always a pleasant Italy has claimed the lion's share in these subject to her, calling out all her best sym- unrhy med sketches of Mrs. Browning in pathies in joy, and yet more in sorrow. the negligée of home. Prose has recorded Books and humanity, great deeds, and, all that poetry threw aside; and thus much above all, politics, which include all the political thought, many an anecdote, many grand questions of the day, were foremost a reflection, and much womanly enthusiin her thoughts, and therefore oftenest on asm have been stored up for the benefit her lips. I speak not of religion, for with of more than the persons to whom these her everything was religion. Her Chris- letters were addressed. And while we tianity was not confined to church and ru- wait patiently for this great pleasure, bric: it meant civilization.
which must sooner or later be enjoyed Association with the Brownings, even and appreciated, we may gather a forethough of the slightest nature, made one taste of Mrs. Browning's power in prosebetter in mind and soul. It was impossi- writing from her early essays, and from ble to escape the influence of the magnetic the admirable preface to the “ Poems befluid of love and poetry that was constant- fore Congress.” The latter is simple in
its style, and grand in teachings that find loved subjects. Her ruling passion had few followers among nations in these en- prompted her to glance at the “Athelightened days.
næum” and “Nazione”; and when this Some are prone to moralize over pre- friend repeated the opinions she had heard cious stones, and see in them the petrified expressed by an acquaintance of the new souls of men and women. There is no Italian Premier, Ricasoli, to the effect that stone so sympathetic as the opal, which one his policy and Cavour's were identical, might fancy to be a concentration of Mrs. Mrs. Browning “smiled like Italy," and Browning's genius. It is essentially the thankfully replied, —“I am glad of it; woman-stone, giving out a sympathetic I thought so.” Even then her thoughts warmth, varying its colors from day to were not of self. This near friend went day, as though an index of the heart's away with no suspicion of what was soon barometer. There is the topmost purity to be a terrible reality. Mrs. Browning's of white, blended with the delicate, per- own bright boy bade his mother goodpetual verdure of hope, and down in the night, cheered by her oft-repeated, “I opal's centre lies the deep crimson of love. am better, dear, much better.” Inquir. The red, the white, and the green, form- ing friends were made happy by these ing as they do the colors of Italy, render assurances. the opal doubly like Mrs. Browning. It One only watched her breathing through is right that the woman-stone should in. the night, — he who for fifteen years had close the symbols of the “Woman Coun. ministered to hier with all the tenderness try.”
of a woman. It was a night devoid of Feeling all these things of Mrs. Brown- suffering to her. As morning approaching, it becomes the more painful to place ed, and for two hours previous to the on record an account of those last days dread moment, she seemed to be in a parthat have brought with them so universal tial ecstasy ; and though not apparently
Mrs. Browning's illness was conscious of the coming on of death, she only of a week's duration. Having caug gave her husband all those holy words of a severe cold of a more threatening nature love, all the consolation of an oft-repeated than usual, medical skill was summoned; blessing, whose value death has made pricebut, although anxiety in her behalf was less. Such moments are too sacred for the necessarily felt, there was no whisper of common pen, which pauses as the womangreat danger until the third or fourth poet raises herself up to die in the arms night, when those who most loved her of her poet-husband. He knew not that said they had never seen her so ill; on death had robbed him of his treasure, unthe following morning, however, she was til the drooping form grew chill and froze better, and from that moment was thought his heart's blood. to be improving in health. She herself At half-past four, on the morning of the believed this; and all had such confi- 29th of June, Elizabeth Barrett Browning dence in her wondrous vitality, and the died of congestion of the lungs. Her last hope was so strong that God would spare words were, “It is beautiful !” God was her for still greater good, that a dark veil merciful to the end, sparing her and hers was drawn over what might be. It is the agony of a frenzied parting, giving often the case, where we are accustomed proof to those who were left of the glory to associate constant suffering with dear and happiness in store for her, by those friends, that we calmly look danger in the few words, “ It is beautiful !” The spirit face without misgivings. So little did could see its future mission even before Mrs. Browning realize her critical condi- shaking off the dust of the earth. tion, that, until the last day, she did not Gazing on her peaceful face with its consider herself sufficiently indisposed to eyes closed on us forever, our cry was her remain in bed, and then the precaution Cry of the Human." was accidental. So much encouraged did
We tremble by the harmless bed she feel with regard to herself, that, on this
Of one loved and departed; final evening, an intimate female friend
Our tears drop on the lips that said was admitted to her bedside and found
Last night, . Be stronger-hearted!' her in good spirits, ready at pleasantry O God! to clasp those fingers close, and willing to converse on all the old And yet to feel so lonely!
To see a light upon such brows,
round to take one look, and saw a double Which is the daylight only!
grave, too large for her ; — may it wait long Be pitiful, O God!"
and patiently for him!
And now a mound of earth marks the On the evening of July 1st, the lovely spot where sleeps Elizabeth Barrett BrownEnglish burying-ground without the walls
ing. A white wreath to mark her womof Florence opened its gates to receive one an's purity lies on her head; the laurel more occupant. A band of English, Amer- wreath of the poet lies at her feet; and icans, and Italians, sorrowing men and friendly hands scatter white flowers over women, whose faces as well as dress were
the grave of a week as symbols of the dead. in mourning, gathered around the bier con- We feel as she wrote, taining all that was mortal of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Who of those present
“ God keeps a niche will forget the solemn scene, made doub- In heaven to hold our idols; and albeit ly impressive by the grief of the husband
He brake them to our faces, and denied and son? “The sting of death is sin,"
That our close kisses should impair their said the clergyman. Sinless in life, her
I know we shall behold them raised, comdeath, then, was without sting; and turn
plete, ing our thoughts inwardly, we murmured
The dust swept from their beauty, glorified, her prayers for the dead, and wished that
New Memnons singing in the great Godthey might have been her burial-service.
light.” We heard her poet-voice saying, —
It is strange that Cavour and Mrs. “And friends, dear friends, when it shall be
Browning should have died in the same That this low breath is gone from me,
month, within twenty-three days of each And round my bier ye coine to weep,
other, — the one the head, the other the Let one most loving of you all
heart of Italy. As head and heart made Say, “Not a tear must o'er her fall, He giveth His beloved sleep.'”
up the perfect life, so death was not com
plete until Heaven welcomed both. It But the tears would fall, as they bore her seemed also strange, that on the night up the hill, and lowered “His beloved ”into after Mrs. Browning's decease an unexher resting-place, the grave. The sun it- pected comet should glare ominously out self was sinking to rest behind the western of the sky. For the moment we were suhills, and sent a farewell smile of love into perstitious, and believed in it as a minister the east, that it might glance on the low
of woe. ering bier. The distant mountains hid Great as is this loss, Mrs. Browning's their faces in a misty veil, and the tall cy- death is not without a sad consolation. press-trees of the cemetery swayed and From the shattered condition of her lungs, sighed as Nature's special mourners for the physician feels assured that existence her favored child ; and there they are to could not at the farthest have been prostand keeping watch over her.
longed for more than six months. Instead Oh, the little birds sang east, and the little
of a sudden call to God, life would have birds sang west,
slowly ebbed away; and, too feeble for Toll slowly!
the slightest exertion, she must have been And I said in under-breath, All our life is
denied the solace of books, of friends, of mixed with death,
writing, perhaps of thought even. God And who knoweth which is best?
saved her from a living grave, and her husband from protracted misery. Seeking for
the shadow of Mrs. Browning's self in her " Oh, the little birds sang east, and the little
poetry, (for she was a rare instance of an birds sang west,
author's superiority to his work,) many Toll slowly!
an expression is found that welcomes the And I paused' to think God's greatness flowed around our incompleteness,
thought of a change which would free her
from the suffering inseparable from her Round our restlessness, His rest."
mortality. There is a yearning for a more Dust to dust, — and the earth fell with fully developed life, to be found most fre. a dull echo on the coffin. We gathered quently in her sonnets.
She writes at