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JOSEPH ARNOULD AND ROBERT BROWNING: NEW LETTERS

(1842-50) AND A VERSE EPISTLE


By DONALD SMALLEY

" ARNOULD wrote the cleverest, gratefullest social and literary society, in the late 1830's, as
rl.. verse-thanks to me, the other day, for well as of the closer knit group among the mem-
these lyrics of mine," Robert Browning told bers of "The Colloquial" that identified itself as
Alfred Domett in a letter of 1842, "and brought "The Set."5 Browning's friendship with Domett,
you in so happily."l Joseph Arnould himself, however, was apparently on a somewhat formal
writing Domett some months later, spoke dis- footing as late as March 1840;6 and it was prob-
paragingly of his epistle as "very schoolboy ably still later that Browning developed any-
verses." Though they had said exactly what he thing like a close friendship with Arnould. Born
had felt at the time and still felt about the beauty on 12 November 1814, son of a prosperous Cam-
and power of Browning's recent poetry, Arnould berwell physician, Joseph Arnould was some two
could not help fancying that his lines had given years younger than Browning and three years
Browning "a bad opinion of my sincerity."! younger than Domett. Arnould became a "uni-
Arnould does less than justice to his verse versity prize poet" by winning the N ewdigate
critique. He is sincere to the point of much tact- award for English verse at Oxford in 1834 with
ful admonishment, and though his tone is ingenu- his The Hospice of St. Bernard, an impressive
ous and his style colorful rather than polished, he performance in its way, well above the average of
is selective and informed in many of his judg- prize verse. The poem is representative of its
ments. The epistle tells us much about this culti- maker: Arnould's warm, authentic, and vigor-
vated friend, and it suggests still more about the ous imagination works happily within limits his
intellectual environment in which Browning judges could approve. There is little venturing
worked during the early 1840's while he was beyond unexceptionable models from the last
trying to write dramas for the stage and at the century, and there are pervasive echoes from the
same time feeling his way toward his special sub- Latin classics. 7 Judging from his letters to Brown-
ject and manner. That Browning himself valued ing and to Domett, Arnould appears at all times
Arnould's epistle is shown by his giving it (per- to have been on far better terms with tradition
haps along with other poems) to Elizabeth Bar- both in his literary theory and in his way of life
rett; for on 1 May 1846 Elizabeth wrote: "I am
delighted with the verses and quite surprised by 1 F. G. Kenyon, Robert Browning and Alfred Domett (1906),

Mr. Arnould's, having expected to find nothing p. 49 (13 December 1842). Kenyon, in his full introduction
and running commentary upon the letters of Browning,
but love and law in them, and really, there is a Domett, and Arnould that figure in this volume, provides a
great deal besides. Hard to believe, it was, that a valuable account of Browning's friendship with the two
university prize poet (who was not Tennyson) men-and especially with Domett, the original of Browning's
could write such good verses."3 F. G. Kenyon, Waring (1842) and the "Alfred, dear friend" addressed in the
when he was collecting Browning's letters to concluding stanzas of The Guardian Angel (1855).
2 Ibid., pp. 87-88 (undated but probably late 1843 or early
Domett for Robert Browning and Alfred Domett 1844).
(1906), a book that also contains letters and ex- I The Letters of Robert and Elizabeth Ba"ett Browning,
cerpts from letters of Arnould to Domett, seems 1845-6 (1899), II, 115.
4 Kenyon, R. B. and A. D., p. 25.
to have had no knowledge of the whereabouts of
i W. Hall Griffin, "Early Friends of Robert Browning,"
the verse epistle} Fortunately the manuscript of The Contemporary Review, LXXXVlI (1905), 439 fI.
this piece, together with the accompanying letter I W. H. Griffin and H. C. Minchin, The Life of Robert
and six additional letters of Arnould's to Brown- Browning (1910), p. 79. In the remainder of this paragraph,
ing written in the years 1846-50, has recently biographical data not specifically annotated are based on
come into the possession of Gordon N. Ray, the entry for Arnould in DNB, First Supplement (1901),
1,78.
President of the John Simon Guggenheim Me- 7 John Wilson Croker, who heard Arnould read the poem
morial Foundation. Mr. Ray has kindly made before the Duke of Wellington on the Duke's being received
them available for reproduction here. as Chancellor of the University (1834), pronounced the verses
Just how early Browning formed an acquaint- "very good" (DNB; Kenyon, R.B. and A.D., p. 22). The
audience is said to have interrupted Arnould's reading fre-
ance with Joseph Arnould is uncertain. Brown- quently with loud cheers. See The Times for 12 June 1834,
ing, Arnould, and Domett were all members of p. 3, where an account is given and The Hospice of St.
"The Colloquial," an informal neighborhood Bernard is printed in full, together with its learned notes.

90
Donald Smalley 91

than either of his two friends could be. Arnould be able to accomplish with my wife our long projected
took a first in Greats at Oxford in 1836 and was visit to Miss Browning." Meanwhile with our united
entered that fall at the Middle Temple, where kind regards
Domett, having abandoned his studies at Cam- Believe me
18 Va [Victoria} Square most faithfully yours
bridge without a degree, put out a volume of Nov. 27 th , 1842 Joseph Arnould
poems (1833) without acclaim, and spent several
months seeing the United States and Canada, 8 The Diary of Alfred Domete, 1872-85, ed. E. A. Horsman
was settling down to the study of law. s In Jan- (London: Oxford University Press, 1953), pp. 8-9.
uary 1841 Arnould married Maria Ridgway, and • Ibid., p. 14. On Domett's restlessness, see pp. 8-10.
in November of the same year he was, along with 10 The text of Arnould's letters requires relatively little

Domett, called to the Bar. For a few months editing. His handwriting is legible, and his punctuation,
though erratic, seldom obscures the sense-except in one
Arnould and Domett shared chambers, facing particular. The exception is his habit of linking independent
their lean years together while they tried to build clauses or even complex sentence units with colons or dashes,
up a practice in a time of severe national eco- so that two or more are often presented as a single lengthy
nomic depression. By the following April, how- sentence without any real unifying focus. I have frequently
broken these meanderers into separate sentences. Wherever
ever, Domett, who had perhaps at all times a colon or dash seems remotely justified or particularly ex-
chafed at the restraints of a legal career, bor- pressive of Arnould's mood (as especially in the letter of
rowed seventy pounds from Arnould and took 16 October 1846 congratulating Browning upon his mar-
ship to try his hand at farming in New Zealand. 9 riage), I have let Arnould's punctuation stand. F. G. Kenyon
There is no mention of Arnould in Browning's in preparing Arnould's letters to Domett for R.B. and A.D.
presumably faced the same problem and has provided me
first two letters to New Zealand; and in the third with a precedent.
Browning speaks of Arnould only to say that he In editing the verse epistle, feeling that. a poet should be
has not seen him since Domett had sailed five allowed his own way with his lines, I have let Arnould's
months earlier. It is possible that without Ar- idiosyncratic punctuation and capitalization stand except
nould's declaring his enthusiasm for Browning's where an occasional period or comma, inserted in brackets,
seems especially to be demanded. The manuscript of the
recent poetry in the open and generous form of verse epistle contains a few cancels whid suggest that
the verse epistle, the acquaintanceship between Arnould wrote his epistle hurriedly and without resort to a
the two men, with Domett no longer in London, second draft. Examples: line 39, "Whose broad phylacteries
might not have gone farther. At the end of are [chased &] scrolled & chased"; line 67, "one truth half-
phrased, another [thing] is behind"; line 155, "Unread the
November 1842, however, Arnould sent Brown- riddle, let the mystery end" is canceled in its entirety for
ing his verses upon Dramatic Lyrics, along with a "Make plain all riddles, let all mysteries end[.]"
short letter by way of preface.10 11 Dramatic Lyrics appeared in the latter part of November
1842 as No. m of Bells atul Pomegranates (1841-46), a series
My dear Browning of inexpensive pamphlets ofIering Browning's new works to
Finding it utterly impossible to express in prose the the public in small type and double columns. Though
tumult of delight which your most noble Dramatic Arnould in the letter and the accompanying verse epistle
speaks chiefly of the poems contained in Dramatic Lyrics,
Lyrics have given me I have ventured as you will see he also discusses Pippa Passes, issued in April 1841, as No.
to express, however imperfectly a tithe of what I felt I of the series, and King Victor and King Charles, whid
in the following most crude & hasty lines, dashed off at appeared on 12 March 1842, as No. n. See William Clyde
haphazard in the intoxication of the moment. I wish DeVane, A Browning Handbook, second edition (New York:
you could have seen the delight with which my wife & Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1956), pp. 88 fI.
myself devoured your "Pomegranate" & the singing The poem that Arnould refers to farther along in the para-
of "Bells" we set up afterwards.11 In such a store of graph as" Artemis" is Artemis Prologuizes (Browning changed
beauties I hardly venture to particularize, but I must the spelling to Prologizes in 1863) and Madhouse Cells was the
express my firm conviction that "Artemis" will hence- title under which Johannes Agricola in Meditation and
Porphyria's Lover were published as I and n without further
forth stand alone by the side of Comus as the most name, their separate titles first appearing in the collected
perfect gem of antiquity ever set in a modern language. edition of Browning's poems in 1849 (see DeVane, A Brown-
"Madhouse Cells" I think as perfect as the noblest ing Handbook, pp. 123-125). Waring is Browning's famous
words & profoundest most passionate thoughts can fancy portrait of Alfred Domett. Arnould testifies to its
make a poem. But you must let me grasp your hand likeness.
as a friend for "Waring": which I read & reread with D Miss Browning: Sarianna Browning, the poet's sister,
tears in my eyes, I know you can guess why. two years his junior and the only other child of the family.
"Sarianna, as my wife now always calls her, we are both
My wife expressl~ges me to give you her most
very mud attaded to; she is marvellously clever~uch fine
heartfelt thanks for the deep delight & gratification clear animal spirits-talks mud and well, and yet withal is
you have conferred upon her. Directly I can escape so simply and deeply good-hearted that it is a real pleasure
the trammels of law which now holds me prisoner from to be with her."-Arnould to Domett (Kenyon, R.B. and
"dawn to dewy eve" or rather gaslit night, I hope to A.D., p. 104, 28 July 1844).
92 Joseph Arnauld and Robert Browning

[Arnould's Verse Epistle} of Earth-bowed mortals in the wildering maze


of his own high creations, then be sure
Forgive me, Browning, that I can't dispose The Word that shapes them will be deemed obscure;
My rebel thoughts to wear the garb of prose, and this because the thinker is possest
But seem impelled to deck them in a dress With what throngs round him in his inmost breast [.J
Whose spangled skirts bewray their nakedness! There in himself he sees, he feels, he knows.
The fault, my friend, is yours; my ear is caught His st~uggling thought, to struggling language glows,
In the sweet toils, my brain is music-fraught: one truth half-phrased, another is behind
The generous Nile-flood of your noble song The swift succession tasks his labouring mind
In golden richness, sweet, profound, & strong Light makes him dark, & too clear vision, blind.
Has deluged all my soul, & sown there seeds So it will ever be; the full rich soul
of fruits & flowers, perchance of vocal reeds- O'erteemed with truths, too restless for controul
My spirit, friend! is as the Theban cell Chasing the fire-flies of thought that glance
Shaken by it's earth-thundering oracle; Before, around him, in delirious dance
as a dark crypt into whose depths the hymn Clutching with too quick grasp each glittering prize
of Evening floats when vesper lights burn dim Impairs its beauty for the general eyes-
Up in the great cathedral; yours the song Such was Sordello's fault l3 all art, all man
Mine the dim cloisters which it's tones prolong- All nature grasped at in one noble plan-
Thank God for this! my heart is not yet dead All nature there, all man, all art was traced,
Life has not yet all centered in the head, The poet saw, the poet had embraced;
The world's sworn bondman, yet at times I pine But in his extacy of soft delight
in the pent damps of Labours o'er wrought mine, Too steeply soaring in his Godlike flight
At times I gasp for purer air, and hate He half forgot the multitude he meant
The self-forged chains to which our will gives weight, To carry with him in his grand intent,
Renew my spirit's youth, and share with you And left them gazing in bewildered crowds
God's chosen sons, your draughts of honey-dew. at gorgeous mists, & skirts of gilded clouds
Which wrapt from them the empyrean blue
Friend you have triumphed, with imperious skill, In whose pure void his revelling spirit flew-
And a strong energy of Stoic will, All praise be his, the Poet's! he has learned
Sage Lord of wealth unbounded you have taught A noble lesson, and to Earth has turned,
Language to be the minister of Thought; Our beautiful, brave Earth, where not a sod
No harlot handmaid, finically gay But, touched by Poetry, is quick with God [.J
Who seeks to rival Her she should obey, Honour to him our Poet! he has broke
No formal slave, whose niggard speech conceals From his freed neck the metaphysic yoke [.J
One half her sense, & mars what it reveals, He tracks no more through the Serbonian bog
No mystic priest whose smoke of rare perfume The wheels of Walter the Arch Mystagogue,l4
Enwraps his Deity in three-fold gloom, But speaks, with Shakespeare's heart, in Shakespeare's
But a sublime Interpreter; no doubt tongue
With spells, & quaint devices hung about, Great thoughts from his great soul by passion wrung [.J
Floating in Persian robes, whose every fold Honour to him our Poet who creates
Is rich with antique gems & classic gold. Real human hearts with all their loves & hates.
Whose broad phylacteries are scrolled & chased Ottima's queenly lust & Sebald's SCOWl16
With solemn texts by Hebrew prophets traced
Whose sandalled feet still leave whereer he treads, 11 Amould was apparently among those who found Sordello
Life's homeliest walks, or misery's lowliest sheds (1840) a baffling poem. Domett, to judge from Browning's
Musk, nard & cassia's aromatic smells letter in reply to him (Kenyon, R.B. and A.D., pp. 28 II.
Brought from the ivory palace where he dwells- [March 1840]), had been equally emphatic upon Browning's
need to write more plainly than he had done in Sordello.
and such should be the speech of those, who walk l ' "A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
With God & Nature in familiar talk Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old,
Who sit beside the springs of thought, that flow Where armies whole have sunk ..• -
Beneath the haunted peaks, that seem aglow -Paradise Lost 0.591-593
With splendours inac[cJessible to those Walter, the arch mystagogue, is possibly Michael Walther
Who plod the dust of Life's dull daily prose; (1593-1662), German theologian and author of The Golden
A noble thought will have a noble speech Key of the Ancients.
And words be lofty as the tru ths they teach; 11 Allusions in the next twenty lines refer to the following

The Word & the Idea are more than kin [:J poems: "Ottima ••. Sebald": Pippa Passes; "Victor":
King Victor and King Charles,' "Napoleon's": Incident of the
Before the ages they were born a Twin; Frem:h Camp; "Tourney Queen": Count Gismond,' "Cava-
When the Divine Idea itself averred lier": Cavalier Tunes; "madhouse cells": Johannes Agricola
A whole creation was its mighty Word; in Meditation and Porphyria's LOfler; "marble-brinked ca-
When Love Divine itself to man addrest nals": In a Gondola; "Cadmus' brood": Artemis Prologuizes;
Christ was the Word that made Love manifest. "friendship": Waring-based, as observed above, on the
And when a soul dwells high above the gaze personality of Alfred Domett.
Donald Smalley 93

of stung remorse & Victor's stealthy prowl epistle, Browning wrote Domett: "All this while,
Into the "noon-day haunted chamber"lG where characteristically enough, I do not write about
Lies the gilt toy, whose loss is his despair- our friends-yours always, and certainly mine
Oh how the dash of that quick-picturing pen now. Arnould is on the circuit, but he and his
Turns history into act, of names makes men wife have been zealous as Christ himself on my
Paints climes & ages in a single scene,
Napoleon's envoy or the Tourney Queenl side."l. The phrase "on my side" refers to
Now with rough hearty glee & royal cheer Browning'S quarrel with the manager and actor
Calls up the plumed & booted Cavalier, William Charles Macready over Macready's pro-
Now leads you captive his enchanted thralls duction of A Blot in the 'Scutcheon on 11 Feb-
Th[rJough madhouse cells, or marble-brinked canals. ruary 1843 and two nights following. Arnould
Then, potent wizard, with some high-built line was indeed a fierce advocate of Browning'S play.
That breathes of attic flowers, & Lesbian wine He attended each of the three performances,
of Cadmus' brood & Pelops ancient race sitting for the first and third in the boxes accom-
Calls down Diana from her dwelling-place; panied by Maria Arnould and attending alone on
And then again with strokes as fondly true the second night in the pit. The extended sum-
As friendship linked to genius ever drew
He paints, till the strong likeness makes you start mary that Arnould wrote Domett of the three
The much loved wandering brother of your heart- performances and the quarrel between Browning
Honour my friend to you! the task is done and Macready that formed the background for
The triumph sure, the palms as good as won [.J the failure of the play remains our most valuable
Three giant strides each firmer, than the last17 eye-witness account. Arnould describes graphi-
Have set you free--the peril's overpastj cally the dwindling audiences and the apathy
That quaking quicksand filled your friends with dread and emptiness of the "great chilly house" on the
There Keats nigh foundered, Landor still lies dead third nightj but he declares that his and his
But you are safe--erect & godlike, how wife's delight in the play was nevertheless aug-
You spurn the slime of that inglorious slough [.J mented at this third performance and "would
Even yet perchance at moments we can trace
Some lingering remnants of the pool's disgrace have gone on increasing to a thirtieth."20
But 'tis at moments only-when you tower Arnould's enthusiasm for A Blot in the' Scutcheon
In the full plenitude of easy power carries over into his next letter to Domett. Here
or poised at rest on your triumphant wings he compares Browning favorably with Webster,
Sublimely hover o'er all subject things [.J whose Duchess of M alfi and Vittoria Corombona
Foul fall the lynx-eyed snarler, who detects he had been rereading. In "vigour, grandeur, and
Through his smoked glass that even your Sun has fire" he considers the two dramatists much alike.
specks [.] "Of course," he continues, "in intellect Browning
Yet Browning other strides remain to take f:J has the superiority." But Arnould is no mere
The thirst you kindle you alone can slake! idolater, and he adds, "Webster certainly beats
Ours is a noble age, an age of faith
A resurrection after years of death[.J him in plot and stage effect, and also, to my
The men who are, the men who are to come thinking in dramatic style."21 Despite his ad-
Their hopes, their fears, their aims must not be dumb[.J miration for A Blot in the 'Scutcheon, Arnould
Reawakened Love & Reverence that requires had conceded in the first of the two letters deal-
A Priest to guide it to the Sacred fires,18 ing with this play that it showed want of "a sus-
The boundless hope of something to supply tained interest to the end of the third act ...
The want of that, which, while we want we die, which I need not tell you is for all purposes of
The strong assurance, dashed at times with doubt[,1 performance the most unpardonable fault."22 To
That from our darkness Light must be struck out, judge from the verse epistle and from the frankly
That the dim twilight which now lowers o'er all
Is but a cradle curtain not a pall,
That the great hope, which swells the worlds great soul 11 "The 'noon-day haunted chamber' ": King Victor and

Is impulse struggling to a glorious goal- King Charles II.i.190.


17 The "three giant strides" are apparently the three num-
To teach us this by some undying word
Is your high mission-be it's mandate heard! bers of Bells and Pomegranates that had been published by
this time (see n. l1)-three steps Browning has taken from
Then dash the veils away, the curtain rend the slough in which he had foundered in writing Sordello.
Make plain all riddles, let all mysteries end[.] 18 The lines following suggest the influence of Carlyle,
Let the throned Genius with majestic grace whom Arnould greatly admired (see Kenyon, R.B. and A.D.,
Put by the mists that still obscure his face pp. 67-70, 141).
Divide the vapours with his parting hand II Kenyon, R.B. and A.D., p. 52 (13 December 1842).
And full before the world then Seer & Teacher standI '0 Ibid., p. 66 (undated, but about May 1843).
11 Ibid., p. 87 (undated, but probably in late 1843).
Three months after he had received the verse II Ibid., pp. 66-67.
94 Joseph Arnould and Robert Browning

unfavorable criticism (tactful but specific) when you have no right to tolerate the putting of any
Arnould makes of Browning's later work in his questions at all, and an undisputed claim to live
letters to Browning in 1846-50, it is likely that wholly in the happiness of the present, without a
Arnould made his opinions of Browning's thought about the future:-I asked the question be-
cause somehow it came spontaneously to the very
dramas, strictures as well as praise, known to
tip of my pen-: in fact it is the mere expression in
Browning in person in the years 1842-46. words, of what we are constantly asking ourselves:
Letters to Domett give evidence of frequent a sort of obstinate questioning which creates within
meetings between Browning and Arnould in the us the only sort of drawback to the delight which the
first two years following the production of A Blot tidings of your marriage spread amongst us: we think
in the 'Scutcheon. In July 1844 Arnould expresses in fact of certain dark intimations scattered by you
to Domett his gratitude for Browning's obtaining to our secret dismay of intentions to remain some
him "an entrance at last into Periodical Litera- indefinite time in the Paradise of Exiles: "years" we
ture, which I have long been endeavouring think we remember, but can only hope this will not
through less zealous friends to procure."23 Seven be true & that our ears deceived us through the me-
dium of our apprehensions. I hardly know though
months later, after spending some time in Italy, whether amid the autumnal fogs & cold rains of a
Browning writes, "Arnould is a happiness to see London October, we ought ever to wish you back from
and know. Law does him no harm in the world; that peaceful ci[ty]29 between the mountains and the
and I send, with this, a Review with an article of Sea where the [inlhabitancy of man seems least to
his-'Rabelais'-which I know you will be de- have stained the clear beauty of Nature; where all is
lighted with as I have been."24 In 1846, Browning tranquil & harmonious alike in the sunny silence of
became increasingly absorbed, however, in his the streets, and the shadowy solitude of the Campo
courtship (begun early in 1845) and the ap- Santo. You, who at once find out everything, and
proaching crisis in Wimpole Street. In mid-July are fond of walking, will have explored & appreciated
1846 he writes Domett that he does not see the beauty of that winding walk upon the great dike
which stays the overfiowings of the Arno and leads
Arnould "as often as I ought and might."25
on through a fruitful wilderness of orchards & vine-
Nevertheless Browning's letters to Miss Barrett yards to the foot of the mountains which shut in the
in the last weeks before their marriage and elope- Eastern sky. It used to strike me that in all Italy,
ment record an evening in which Browning which is saying a strong thing there is no more lovely
established over the protests of H. F. Chorley but walk. But I must not make myself miserable by let-
"to Arnould's great satisfaction at least" that ting my thoughts carry me out of London into Pisa.
Richard Hengist Horne "was a poet, and more- There are no news here which you care about or
over a dramatic one. "28 which you will not learn from those London papers
The first of Arnould's letters of 1846-50 to which are as accessible in Pisa as in Pall-Mall:
Chorley3o has not yet returned from his trip & is now
Browning is dated within a month of the Brown-
ings' elopement.27
13 Ibid., p. 104 (28 July 1844).
If Ibid., p. 110 (23 February 1845). Arnould's "Rabelais"
18 Victoria Square, Pimlico
appeared in The New Quarterly for January 1845. After he
Oct. 16th 1846 had completed his treatise on marine insurance and the law
My dear Browning It is of no use at all trying to ex- (published in 1848), Arnould became a regular contributor to
press with pen & paper the burst of congratulation the Daily News. He was offered (but refused) the editorship
surprise & delight with which we (for Maria begs to be of this journal, whose editors in earlier years had been
included) hailed the announcement of your marriage! Charles Dickens and John Forster. See Griffin, "Early
No-it lies not in mortal wits [sic]-one warm grasp of Friends of Robert Browning," p. 430.
the hand, & one quick glance of the eye might do it- 211 Kenyon, R.B. and A.D., p. 130 (13 July 1846).
26 Letters of R.B. and E.B.B., II, 410 (1O August 1846).
all else were tedious, and ineffectual: so do you and
17 The marriage had taken place on 12 September, but
Mrs. Browning both take the friendliest of greetings
Elizabeth had then returned to the Barrett residence in
& the sincerest of good wishes from two hearts also Wimpole Street until the elopement on 19 September 1846.
having for six years beat together as one[,] know what 18 Shakespeare, Sonnet 116.
a blessed thing "the marriage of true minds" is, & Ii A tear in the letter requires emendations, indicated by
feel confident that yours will be "without impedi- brackets, here and a few words farther on in the same
ment."28 sentence.
Pisa being your first fixed point, I despat[c]h this 10 Henry Fothergill Chorley (1808-72), chief literary and

thither trusting that you will have arrived there music critic of The Athenaeum, lived three doors from the
before it and that Mrs. Browning will have ac- Arnoulds in Victoria Square. Browning had introduced the
Arnoulds to Chorley. Christopher Dowson, mentioned in the
complished the journey as prosperously, as we hear next sentence of Arnould's letter, was a fellow member of
from your Sister, she had commenced it. "The Colloquial." He had married Domett's sister. See
And when are you coming back amongst us? or Griffin, "Early Friends of Robert Browning," pp. 43()-431,
rather is not that a most unfair question to put yet, 434.
Donald Smalley 95

at Paris. Dowson has I dare say written to you: do which I feel will be at once more expressive and be-
you remember that night! how thoroughly you mysti- coming than words-which would either be totally
fied us, & I never dreaming of what was to be (how inadequate to convey the feelings of which my heart
could I be so leaden!) fancied that as we were to meet is full, or, if less measured, might renew in yours the
at Wanstead31 I need not be keeping about Hatcham. sorrow & the anger to which your noble nature will I
Beast that I was-yea swinish in my stupidity. An know never allow you to give utterance. I feel that
affecting little incident occurred yesterday. Miss I should be insulting both you & myself by attempting
Browning sent me those cigars (delicious!) that you to express in writing how completely I sympathize
spoke of. I received them as the solemn legacy of your with & admire your whole conduct.
bachelorhood-"sooty retainers," "fine negroes" for Owing to Maria's continued indisposition from in-
whose maladroit services you had no more need.82 As fluenza we have not been able to go down to Hatcham
their fragrant fumes rise round me, I need not say as much as we could have wished, and as we mean to
that the generous "testator" is vividly recalled and do, now that she is better: we had however a most
my eyes glisten through the smoke as I fancy myself delightful evening there last Saturday: one of the old
grasping your hand in a paroxysm of congratulation evenings, in which we should have indeed missed you
which I feel too painfully how imperfectly I have con- irreparably had we not made up for it by talking in-
veyed to you in words. Maria unites with me in kindest cessantly about you. I was very glad to see Mrs.
regards to you and all the kindest expressions of good Browning looking, for her, decidedly well: quite
will which usage will allow us to proffer or Mrs. cheerful & free from pain. Your Sister I had not seen
Browning to receive. looking so well for a very long time.
Ever your sincere friend I have written to Domett, as I thought you would
J. Arnould wish me to, fully & confidentially about the whole
business. You know what a fine fellow he is & how
The Brownings must have received Arnould's entirely this will fill his large heart with joy. Yesterday
letter of 16 October not long after settling them- evening at Chorley's I had the high gratification of
selves at Pisa early in that month. Seven weeks meeting for the first time that noble minded man, Mr.
after his first letter to Pisa, Arnould has heard Kenyon. Need I say that I was as delighted as all else
who meet him must be by the frank, cordial & un-
from Browning and writes a second. Arnould al-
affected goodness of his whole manner, transparent
ludes to the difficult course of Browning's court- dress of a noble, genial nature. Having so pleasant a
ship with sympathy but with restraint-a common topic as yourself we speedily became very
restraint he had felt less need to exercise in writ- friendly & I shall not be surprised if I have to thank
ing a spirited account of Mr. Barrett's tyranny you for another most agreeable addition to my list of
over his daughter to Domett a few days earlier.aa acquaintances.
All success to the revision of Paracelsus & the Bells
18 Victoria Square, Pimlico & Pomegranates:36 I can fancy no pleasanter occupa-
Decr .6th 1846 tion for the six weeks of Italian winter. We [shall] all
My dear Browning. I ought to have thanked you be- be eager here to see the results. Of course as one of the
fore this for the most delightful letter I ever received pit audience in the great literary theatre I say run
in my life; both from the warm expressions of regard
which it contained for myself (would that I were II "Wanstea.d" refers to the Dowsons' country home at
worthy of them): and from the gratifying tidings of Woodford in the borough of Wanstead and Woodford (in
the restoration of Mrs. Browning's health &, (though Essex), frequently visited by the Arnoulds and Sarianna and
this we knew beforehand) your very perfect happi- Robert Browning. See Griffin, "Early Friends of Robert
ness at Pisa. Indeed, my dear friend, with love, mar- Browning," pp. 434-435, 439; Kenyon, R.B. and A.D., pp.
riage, & delightful literary occupation you have given 26-27,39-40, 89, 93-94.
me a picture of an existence which would be perfect "Hatcham": The Browning family had moved from
anywhere, and hardly wanted the graceful solitude Camberwell to a larger house at Hatcham in 1840.
31 This passage is the only evidence we have, to my knowl-
of Pisa to lend it an additional charm. Before receiving edge, that Browning was at any time in his life a smoker of
this you will have heard that I have (provisionally on tobacco.
your & Mrs Browning's approbation) accepted the II See Kenyon, R.B. and A.D., pp. 133-136 (30 November
office of Trustee to your Mar[r]iage settlement, at the 1846). It is likely that Sarianna Browning was the source for
request of your Sister & Mr Kenyon." Need I say much of the detail in this valuable account.
that I did so with a feeling of high gratification & a It John Kenyon, wealthy patron of the arts and intimate
sense of great honour in acting for such friends. (May friend of both Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (he
I venture on the plural already-as I feel it, pardon was her second cousin and was instrumental in Browning's
my writing it): & with such a magnificent co trustee as first writing her). See Griffin and Minchin, Life of Robert
Browning, passim.
Mr. Kenyon. Of course, my dear friend, I have now iii Paracelsus (1835) and many of the pieces that had ap-
heard aU-were I with you in the body I should con- peared in Bells and Pomegranates (1841-46) were revised for
vey the impression the narrative made upon me with Browning's first collected edition of 1849. Paracelsus and
one warm grasp of the hand. Let me, as I can only Pippa Passes underwent especially thorough revision. See
communicate my thoughts on paper do so by a silence DeVane, A Browning Handbook, pp. 49, 91,102 ff.
96 Joseph Arnould and Robert Browning

the risk of all things for the sake of being clear; 18 Victoria Square, PimJico. Dec. 19th j47
sacrifice the private boxes to the gallery, the coteries Very welcome, my dear Browning, was the sight of
to the multitude, as far as is practicably consistent your hand writing once more, & truly on my part it
with the plan of revision; but, of course don't let us ought to have been acknowledged earlier: but you
miss one of the characteristic features or well known live so constantly in our thoughts here; & you &
hues which have long since settled so deeply into all yours are so often the subject of our words, that the
our hearts:-in fact I know you will not do this. only forgetfulness I can reproach myself with, in not
I fully enter into your utter distaste for London writing, is that of not telling you how much we think
news. I you know live within the bills of mortality, & talk of you: it seems to me that yourself & Mrs.
but not in London, in the ordinary sense of the word & Robert Browning are the most frequently & kindly
therefore know nothing which would bear po[sting;J36 talked of people, of any whose names are current in
besides I know you have many friends who will keep this great, jealous, & generally oblivious London so-
you constantly supplied with all literary news-and ciety, as far at least as my little knowledge of it
indeed my dear Browning I feel very unaffectedly extends. It is impossible, at all events I find it so, not
how little more a letter of mine can convey to you to envy you your life of study & repose in Florence,
except a mere evidence of the truth & sincerity with a city of all others I think, delightful, to those who
which I am & ever shall be your faithful friend. I hope will lead their own life in it, & let the noisy shallow
Mrs. Browning will allow me to offer her my very stream of gossip & scandal, which there runs per-
kind regards & you believe me to be petually, foam away as it will without heeding it.
as ever your true friend You have air clear, though cold, libraries, stores of
Joseph Arnould art, a cheerful smiling country, & silent streets, great
churches, & cloudless moonlights for thought & that
[Added on three of the four folds surrounding the higher energy of creative invention, to expand in: well
address:} exchanged all this, to my mind, for the smoke & stir
My dear Mr. Browning. I hope you thoroughly under- of this dim spot where with low thoughted cares we
stood when my husband wrote last time, that nothing toil on after money, or power, or pleasure. I am still
but the blindness from which I was just then suffer- climbing, without much encouragement up the stub-
ing could have prevented me sending with my own born ascents of the Law: for rapid climbing in that
hand my warmest congratulations to you and Mrs. direction, as in fact for rapid climbing anywhere, you
Browning, for believe me none of your friends could want nimbleness & shiftiness of foot, hand & eye,
have felt more truly and deeply rejoiced at your hap- which unluckily for me I don't possess. All I can
piness, than I did, & do. I am so delighted that you bring to the work is a certain toughness of sinew,
love Pisa. You have found out one old walk (the strength of mind, & an indomitable resolution never
grassy bank by the side of the Arno) , is it not lovely? to bate heart of hope. I believe I may say after 6
We resided there two months so I have many grateful years that I am some few decided steps in advance, &
memories of it. I spent a long & happy day with Mrs. only last week had my first opportunity, which I have
Browning & Sarianna about a week back and they long wanted, of making a speech in Court in a case of
were so good as to wish me to go down again before some importance to my client: wherein those who
Xmas which I intend to do. We missed you very much should be able to judge of such things tell me I ac-
but we rejoiced in the cause of your absence. It would quitted myself not discreditably. Then I am at
be folly in me to attempt to give you any news for length on the eve of publishing a Law Book which has
you know my quiet life and Joe will have told you all cost me (man of genius don't smile at such plodding)
I know, so I will only beg you to present my sincerest 4 years of the best labour & pains I could bestow on
regards to Mrs. Browning (I would if I could, express itl7 & therefore, if I am not an absolute dolt, ought
how proud I feel at the prospect of making her ac- to do something for me. At all events therefore, my
quaintance) and with kindest regards to yourself & dear friend, to put an end to this egotism (strongest
every sincere wish for your happiness in all things proof of my confidence in your friendship)-if I fail
Believe me always I shall have the satisfaction of knowing that to the
Your very sincere friend best of my powers I have striven not to fail, & shall
Maria Arnould take failure as the just verdict of men on my want
of ability.
On Saturday we had the pleasure of meeting at Mr. We have been very quiet for some months past. I
Chorley's that dear good noble man Mr. Kenyon. know you will be sorry to hear that my dear wife has
Arnould's next letter, written twelve months been for some time a great invalid; for the last year
later, sums up a year's personal and literary she had been complaining & (this is of course com-
news. The Brownings had in the previous spring pletely entre nous as old friends): Having at length
taken residence in Florence and were now leading prevailed upon her to undergo an examination it ap-
a life something like that which Arnauld imagines
311 A tear in the margin of the letter makes necessary th c
for them in his letter, contrasting the delights of
emendation.
Florence and literary pursuits with his own pro- 1'1 This work is more fully described below, in Arnould's
saic life in London. letter of 1848.
DoMld Smalley 97
peared that she had been for some long time labouring 'Dombey & Son' seems to me sadly degenerating from
under that very distressing, but I believe not un- the humourist of native English growth, into the senti-
common malady with women prolapsus uteri; which mentalist of a half French, half German & to my mind
in all probability had for months if not years been wholly insupportable school-the clear raciness of
producing that debility of which she at times used to style & vigour of thought, as it seems to me, gone, &
complain. I sent her down immediately to the sea side in its stead melodramatic vehemence of action, alter-
where she has now been for 6 weeks & I am delighted nating with most morbid anatomy of the inner men &
to say appears completely renovated, & will, as I am women of his tale--a sense of unreality & effort in the
assured by the first medical advice in London, get whole business which when one recollects his old
completely sound. I should hardly have told you all felicity & facility is painful. Tennyson is on the eve of
this thus explicitly were it not in order to account publication [of] "The Princess: a Medley" & as you
(what nothing but the Truth could explain) for the may imagine 'the Town' is on the tiptoe of expecta-
depression of health & spirits which has quite pre- tion. My dear Browning do you know the German
vented her from seeing her friends, especially your transcendental writers at all, especially Fichte!40 An
sister & Mrs. Browning, so often as she could have enterprising American bookseller here has been trans-
wished. I trust that, after Xmas, all this may be lating all his exoteric works i.e. all except his Formal
altered. I have not heard from Domett since I wrote System of Metaphysics-the titles will show you the
to you last, nor have I any positive information as nature of the Books[:] "The destination of Man"
to his present exact position with Governor Grey:38 "The Nature & Vocation of the Scholar". "Charac-
but this I know, that on Grey's first going out as teristics of the present Age" Religion or the Holy life
governor, Domett was singled out by him in a very (last not yet published). I have been reading them
marked way; he took him in his company to Auck- with that engrossing, rapt, concentrated attention
land (Govt station in the North Island), talked a which no book can command except one which speaks
great deal & very confidentially about plans of gov- to the very soul of the reader: formalized in Fichte's
ernment, &c, which was very natural as Domett had books I find what has long been hovering vaguely
been throughout advocating the very line of policy before my own mind as truth: especially on Religion
which Grey went determined to carry out. I think & Christianity. Do read them. They are not costly.
from all this it is most probable that our friend has The price of the hither to published is as follows[:)
ere this received some appointment, which will at all Characteristics of the Present Age 7 s Vocation of the
events enable him to live on there, until the oppor- Scholar 2 s The Destination of Man 3 s 6 d The Nature
tunity offers of something more valuable. You know of the Scholar 6 s-in all 18 s 6 d. May I send them
how little would suffice Domett; ship biscuit, a bed, to you: I am sure you could find grand food for
a room, fire & grog when required. Meantime I am thought in them: to my mind the most satisfactory
very anxiously looking for his next letter from which I word which has yet been spoken about that which is
shall learn something positive. of supreme interest to all men. You will find yourself
I see a great deal of Chorley; a valuable friendship in a IIchool where Carlyle evidently has been a most
which is not the least of the benefits for which I have
to thank you. His life is one of the most desperate
88 Governor (Sir George) Grey had given Domett a seat in
hard work-over work in fact. I wish he could only
the Legislative Council, an appointment that led to further
grasp one decided success: this he wants at present administrative posts. Domett's political activities in New
very much; besides his journalism he is doing a great Zealand are described at length in the introduction to Diary
deal just now in the translation of operas (chiefly of Alfred Domett, ed. Horsman, pp. 15-39. They culminated
French-the Iphigenia of "the Ritter Gluck" among in Domett's being made Prime Minister of New Zealand in
the number) for Mons. Jullien,39 who is giving English 1862-63.
Opera at Drury Lane. The work is lucrative, but ID Louis Antoine Jullien (1812-60), French composer and

laborious from the high pressure speed at which it is director, was a familiar figure in the world of popular music
required to be done: his play, I was in great hopes, in England in the 1840's. The opera Iphigmie en Aulide of
was to have been acted at the Princesse's [sic], but Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714--87), based on Racine's
play, was especially well known. Gluck's later work, Iphi-
Maddox, the manager, was it seems so disheartened g~nie en Tauride, was based on a play of Corneille's. Gluck
at the result of the Philip Van Artevelde that he has had been knighted (made a Ritter) by the Pope.
declared finally against any more new plays: so that In the sentence following: John Medex Maddox (1789-
unless Miss Cushman takes the play with her else- 1861) managed the Princess Theater. Henry Taylor's drama
where I fear it will not be brought out at all. As to Philip Van Artevelde, first published in 1834, had been more
the Philip Van Artevelde the critics all pronounced popular in printed form than on the stage, where it had
it nought as an acting play. I confess I could not been withdrawn after six performances. Charlotte Saunders
agree in their verdict, for, though wanting in light- Cushman (1816-76) was a distinguished American actress
ness & event, yet there was a nobleness & grandeur who was drawing large audiences in England in the later
1840's. Previously, in the Walnut Street Theater of Phila-
about the character of Philip as developed by Mac- delphia, she had acted as her own stage manager.
ready, & a power & interest about many of the scenes, 40 Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), the German meta-
which gave me, & seemed to me calculated to give physical philosopher. A new edition of his works, prepared by
any moderately cultivated audience, very high pleas- his son, had been issued in Germany within the previous two
ure. Dickens, in the conduct of his present story, years (1845-46).
98 Joseph Arnould and Robert Browning

earnest student: the manner even closely resembling desired me to convey to you his very kind regards &
Carlyle in his loftier & graver moods; I mean when he best wishes, speaking of you at the same time in a
does not give himself up to the grotesque whimsicality manner which would have, I know, gratified you to
which he seems to have caught from Richter. Alto- hear. I have not yet had time to go through your new
gether I think you must read these works. Tell me edition43 but I am looking forward to it as one of the
about it when you write next & my dear Browning, if great treats of my leisure. I like much your external
not too exacting, let me ask for a letter soon. If you shape & from what I can hear & learn think it not
knew the pleasure your letters give me, I should not unlikely that you may be much more widely circu-
ask this in vain. I should so like you to give me the lated in cloth at 16 s than in the former little well-
benefit of your thoughts on such great subjects as beloved tracts at 2 s 6 d. Your life at Florence is en-
that of the Progress of the Race as developed after viably happy: had I the energy, or one thousandth part
Fichte's theory in his book n[ow?]41 named Charac- of the energy you have, I should desire nothing so much
teristics of the Present age, which in [re]ality contains as such a life. Being as I am I know that nothing can
his whole plan of world history: [it] would be an in- keep me from lethargy, except the coarser stimuli of
finite refreshment to my mind if you would con- love of gold & power: under the influence of which I
descend occasionally to hold commune [sic] with it on can, I find, do lawyer's drudgery with sufficient
such points & then too I think our letters, having some patience & industry; as yet with very lenten remu-
worthier end than mere gossip might be more fre- neration-which however I trust is a little on the in-
quent. I trust Mrs. Browning's health will continue crease. My book, which you are kind enough to ask
improving. "Give my kindest regards to Browning & about is one of those {J.{fJ\£a a{3L{JAta which poor
his wife when you write" were my wife's general Charles Lamb use[d] to rank with some better com-
orders-while you take & give mine & Believe me your pany than they deserve." 'Tis a treatise on Sea-In-
warmly attached Friend J. Arnould41 surance & Shipping which has taken me 3 years & a
half of the utmost labour I could supply: a huge heap
Again there is an interval of something more of letterpress in 2 thick 8vo vols. with marginal notes,
than a year between Arnould's letters. This time, endless references & an index of about 150 pages. It
however, Arnould has news of immediate con- has been successful in Westminster Hall & is now
cern to Browning; for on 27 November 1848 bringing me the natural fruits of such work, in the shape
Samuel Phelps, who had acted the part of Tresh- of mercantile cases to advise upon, & disputed points
am in A Blot in the 'Scutcheon during its first of maritime law to clear up-in short, the success as
brief run in 1843, had brought out the play with far as it goes of this book, & a growing conviction that
it is better to be able to do one thing thoroughly, than
his company at Sadler's Wells Theater for six several imperfectly, has more than ever made me
nights (Phelps was to stage the play in the next resolute to give myself up wholly & entirely to the
year for an additional two performances). study of the Law, & as much of the practice thereof as
the patient labour of many years may ultimately en-
13 Markham Square. Chelsea title me to. My wife's failing health, & some little
Dec 26th 1848 share in the general loss arising from the Railway
Dear Browning Chorley & myself, with many other Mania of the year/45 have combined to make the
of your friends, were all at your play on the first night past year one of some uneasiness. But I am very
of its representation at Saddler's Wells. Chorley told happy to say that the first cause is very fast being
me he should write at once to express, as he can so removed by a rapid & I hope permanent improvement
well, the delight & gratification which we, in common in Maria's health, & as to the latter, I rely fully on
with a crowded audience felt, at the revival of your
noble play. It was indeed a grand triumph & Phelps
did his part thoroughly well both as actor & manager. 41 A tear in the page makes emendations in brackets neces-

The papers will have informed you of its success since sary here and at two more points in the same sentence.
41 The last words (those following while) are written up the
then. My dear Browning I am thoroughly ashamed of
right-hand margin.
having let nearly a year dribble away in a succession 48 Arnould, it appears, had been sent an advance copy of the
of petty cares & small concerns without having been collected edition of 1849 (see above, n. 35).
down to Hatcham. My poor wife during the greater 44 "In this catalogue of books which are no books-biblia
part of that time has been away from Town en- a-biblia-I reCKon Court Calendars, Directories, Pocket
deavouring to restore at the sea side her health which Books, Draught Boards botmd and lettered at the back,
has been very much shattered lately, & during the Scientific Treatises, Almanacks, Statutes at Large ..• "
time she was in London we were fully occupied in the -Charles Lamb, "Detached Thoughts on Books and Read-
pleasant employment of moving from our old house in ing," The Last Essays of FJia (1833), paragraph 3. In his
Victoria Square to our present abode (the address of short whimsical autobiography, Charles Lamb speaks of his
literary works "collected in two slight crown octavos and
which is as above) situated about a mile further west, pompously christen'd his works, tho' in fact they were his
in Chelsea, about 200 yards from Carlyle's residence. Recreations, and his true works may be found on the shelves
Did I tell you in my last letter, as I ought, that of Leaden Hall Street, filling some hundred Folios." Lamb's
Carlyle whom I happened to meet one forenoon at essay "The Superannuated Man" contains a similar senti-
John Chorley's, where I smoked a cigar with him, ment.
Donald Smalley 99

being in a year or two in the receipt of more than kindliness-but most truly it has been in show [sic}
sufficient professional emolument, to satisfy our only-you know how absurdly even a small distance
moderate wishes, & in the meanwhile nothing worse (in space) acts on selfish Londoners. If you also con-
has befallen us than being obliged to see less of our sider that my wife has been much away & etc--that
kind friends than we formerly used to do. Corragio & I have been in all senses struggling, & as yet without
operanza are always my watchwords, & with the com- more than a distant gleam of ultimate success, at a
parative restoration of my wife's health, I feel fully most time-engrossing profession, you will have per-
equal, with the best hopes for the future, of facing a haps some sort of ground not to hate me for remiss-
thousand times more than any difficulties that are ness which I can never forgive, with regard to which I
likely to meet us. Let this detail, perhaps impertinent,' can only resolve it shall not again be. But my dear
explain in some degree, I know it cannot excuse, our friend I can now no longer refrain from expressing the
having suffered so long a time to pass without having deep heartfelt joy which both Maria & myself have
seen your sister. We mean to go there immediately felt & feel, (for the feeling is really & strangely present
on our return to town (we are now for the Xmas both with her & with me on all occasions) at your
week at my father's in the country)45 & thenceforward happy entrance into the joy of being a father. May
trust there will be no more such breaks in so pleasant the Allgiver pour out the abundance of his blessing
an intercourse. My wife begs to join with me in kindest upon you and your dear wife & your boy. Maria &
regards & all the good wishes of this (with us) Christ- myself cannot help looking forward to the happiness,
mas Season to Mrs. Browning & yourself & believe me the deep true happiness that awaits the father & the
Yours ever most faithfully mother in tending & forming such a noble boy as yours
J. Arnould must be. As he advances we shall be most eager to
hear all about him & shall do so from his dear Aunt in
Two events of profound importance in the life England. Nay who knows whether now that "our
of the Brownings impelled Arnould to write again Italy shines o'er with civil swords"47-& friends in
within three months. On 9 March 1849 Robert England want comfort-that we may not, when the
Wiedemann Barrett ("Pen") Browning. only mother & child may safely travel, see you all back for
child of Robert and Elizabeth, was born. A few a summer at all events. But of this more at another
days after this happy occasion, news came of the season: & so of your book too about which I had so
death of Browning's mother, Sarah Anna Wiede- much to say that now I fear you would throw aside
as impertinence, if said. One thing only I will say, that
mann Browning, an event that affected the poet I could not have supposed the mere difference of type
so deeply that he was unable to master his grief & form could have made so advantageous a difference
and depression for some months.'s Arnould's in the ease & pleasure of the reading. One thing more
letter, written shortly after the death of Brown- I must say[,] that I like all the alterations I have made
ing's mother, shows Arnould's characteristic out, except only those in "over the Sea our galleys
sensitivity and tact. went,"'S which I had grown too fond of in its original
beauty ever to like so well in any other form. I was in
13 Markham Square, Chelsea Chapman & Hall's, on another account, last Tuesday
March 23 rd , 1849 & was told in answer to a query, that the sale was
My dear friend 'Ere you receive this you will know going on very steadily. But I must tell you more
why it is that you have not heard earlier from me. A about this & such like matters at another time when
letter which I had written off at once on first seeing your mind will be more apt for them. Now, dear
the good tidings of your being a father in the "Times" friend, I will do no more than convey to you, & beg
was just stopped 'ere I posted it, by a note from your you to convey to your dear wife, every good sincere,
sister. To have sent it containing as it did an unquali- & heartfelt wish for the happiness health & welfare
fied expression of our great joy & thankfulness at the of yourself, her & your boy-both from my wife &
most happy news of your having had a son born to your ever afft. friend
you & of your dear wife's being so well, would have J. Arnould
been a sort of falseness & hypocrisy of which I could
not have been guilty; so I have thought it better to The last of the six letters of 1846-50 is devoted
wait till you knew all. My dear Browning I have no almost wholly to Browning's Christmas-Eve and
right whatever to steal in between you & the great Easter-Day, a volume containing Browning's two
sorrow you must feel for the loss of her whom to know companion poems upon religious belief in the
was to love. On such a grief to such a spirit as yours
silence is the only sympathy: for condolence, con-
solation & such like I will whisper not a word. Of one a Amould's father owned a country home called White-
thing only be assured [,J that, when the first overflow cross, .. a lovely old house on the Thames near Wallingford
in Berkshire." (Kenyon, R.B. and A.D., p. 21.)
of sorrow has subsided in the hearts of your sister &
• The LeUers of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ed. F. G.
father, it shall be our care to do what little, & little Kenyon (New York, 1897). I, 396-403.
I fear it will be that we can-to mitigate in some de- 47 Anthony and Cleopatra I.iii.44-45.
gree their distress. Indeed, indeed I feel that I have 48 The lyric chanted by Paracelsus in Act IV, 11. 450-522,
been sadly wanting for a long time in proper shew of of Paracelsus.
100 Joseph Arnould and Robert Browning

mid-nineteenth century. It had been published Easter-Day in the letter just given seem curiously
on 1 April 1850, less than a month earlier. divided, with the praise heartier than it would
S Pump Court, Temple need be if it were intended merely to soften the
April 25 th 1850 unfavorable criticisms that Arnould feIt he owed
Dear Browning Browning as a sincere friend. From "less satis-
Our excellent friend Mr. Kenyon kindly affords me factory" to "never ... more grandly," "superb
a corner in his cover for these few lines: I have read magnificences," and the like is a wide distance.
re-read marked learned & really inwardly digested your Throughout the eight years of the correspond-
last Poem. I need not say that my creed is still rather ence, however, from the verse epistle of 1842
with 'Paracelsus' as he was, than as he is; but this I through the letter of 1850, Arnould's judgments
think I can most honestly say has not one whit in- frequently face two ways, his enthusiasms at
terfered with my powers of appreciation; for as to all variance with his doubts about Browning'S un-
you say about German Professorships & Straussism I orthodox style. Arnould had pronounced a simi-
agree to a word. Well then I must say quite honestly larly divided judgment upon Carlyle's Past and
that though your master hand has never dashed on the
Present. He had described this work to Domett as
canvas the colours of poetry more grandly, though
none but yourself could have written the Poem yet, as written "in a strain of style more hugely, enor-
a whole, it is less satisfactory to me than some of your mously, chaotic and volcanic" than even Carlyle
earlier inspirations. Call me limited, narrow, academic had yet employed. "I am sorry for this," Arnould
what you wish, but I cannot quite like the grotesque,4V had continued. "I think the book would have
wonderful inventive & ingenious as it is [,] of your done a million times the good it is ever likely to
opening, & this not so much on the ground of any mere do now, if he had not, as though wantonly and
individual dislike on my own part, as from the feeling with horse-laughter, driven away from his pages
that it may be a stumbling block to so many weaker all who have ever sworn by Addison and rejoiced
brethren in the critic world. In this however I find in the harmony of Robertson."51 It is a question,
myself opposed to many who would, I should have
however, whether Arnould did not in actuality
fancied a priori taken [sic] the same view as myself,
Chorley preeminent among the number. I have never respond more strongly than he himself realized to
known him I think so enthusiastic about anything the special rhetoric of Carlyle and the flexile, col-
of yours, and the grotesque he admired particularly, loquial idiom Browning was in process of develop-
from the vigorous contrast it lent to the 'strains of ing in 1842-50 as he gradually worked his way
higher mood' which abound in the Poem: & I know from the manner of Paracelsus (1835) toward his
that one of the main grievances of his critical life was highly individual style and subject matter in
his inability to get the reviewal of your work in the Men and Women (1855). Arnould had ended his
Athenaeum, which was done by an incompetent critique for Domett by giving Past and Present
hand. Still I don't agree with him & in all the sin- his enthusiastic approval, pronouncing it in spite
cerity of friendship should venture to ask you to
of all his strictures "the most satisfactory thing
think twice before you again allow your wondrous
facility for all the ingenuities of Hudibrastic verse to Carlyle has done;"52 and he later wrote Domett,
carry you so far aloof from the sympathies of readers "Browning and Carlyle are my two crowning
of severer taste. As to the superb magnificences of men amongst the highest English minds of the
your poem-your moonrise, your night-rainbow, your day."53 Though Arnould wished Carlyle would
St. Peter's, your visioned Form, your theory of "write more directly and plainly-more as he did
Christian Art-they are in the memories and filling when he wrote the life of Burns,"54 Sartor Re-
the hearts of hundreds of your true admirers. I have sartus and Past and Present, not the biography of
never read any book which more compelled me to go Burns, are, one gathers,65 the works on which
on suo fiatu iO or which left more indelible impressions. Arnould based his high estimate of Carlyle'S
I have been doing my possible to urge your Sister
genius. On the whole, Arnould's enthusiasms
to move more into our neighbourhood-Chelsea or
Brompton, where she would find many friends who in seem to have offered him a better guide than his
a busy London life are now prevented from seeing her
as often as they would wish. Do add your urgency to 41 Grotesque is here a noun.
the same request. My wife, I should tell you, is wholly 10 Suo flatu: [sailing] under its own breeze.
11 Kenyon, R. B. and A. D., pp. 68-69 (undated but
& entirely a devotee & has spoken sharp words to me
about May 1843).
for the exceptions I have ventured to make to the 51 Ibid., p. 70.
Poem. She begs to join me in best good wishes & 81 Ibid., p. 141 (19 September 1847).
kindest regards to yourself and Mr:o. Browning & I a.m 14 Ibid., p. 69 (undated but about May 1843).
dear Browning II Arnould wrote Domett tl1at Browning's Pauline was "a
ever faithfully yours J. Arnould strange, wild (in some parts singularly magnificent) poet-
biography ... in fact, psychologically speaking, his 'Sartor
Arnould's judgments on Christmas-Eve and Resartus'. "-Ibid., p.141 (19 September 1847). Italics mine.
Donald Smalley 101

critical theory: he had a feel for authentic work. the intimacy with Browning was resumed and
It led him to continue to pay homage to continued.
Browning's genius in years when Browning could Though Arnould was apparently in England
claim few appreciators. from time to time, it was to Italy rather than
Only scattered references link Browning and England that he retired upon leaving India in
Arnould after 1850. In December 1851 Arnould 1869.61 There is no record of a meeting between
wrote Domett that he had seen the Brownings, Arnould and Browning after 1851. Even at that
though only briefly, while they were in London. date, Arnould was becoming increasingly ab-
"He is absolutely the same man: her I like of all sorbed in the demands of his prospering legal
things-full of quiet genius."M In 1859, Arnould practice. 62 The letters of 1842-50 reflect the
accepted the post of Judge of the Supreme Court period of closest relationship between Arnould
at Bombay and the knighthood which the ap- and Browning. They provide us with a helpful
pointment carried with it.57 Arnould's leaving complement to the letters of Kenyon's Robert
England made awkward his continuing as a Browning and Alfred Domett and add to our
trustee of Browning's marriage settlement, but knowledge of an aspect of Browning's life during
he agreed to keep the responsibility rather than crucial years in the forming of the poet.
cause Browning undue inconvenience.58 In 1868
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Arnould (from Bombay) informed Domett (who
was still in New Zealand) that he had not written Urbana
to or heard from Browning since the death of 1141Ibid., p. 142.
Mrs. Browning seven years earlierj59 but the end- 17 Ibid., p. 24.
ing of the correspondence, he assured Domett at 68 The Letters of the Brownings to George Barrett, eds. Paul

a later date, was "quite as much through my Landis and Ronald Freeman (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press,
1958), pp. 244--281 passim.
fault as his." Though Browning was by now a fi8 Kenyon, R. B. and A. D., p. 143.
popular figure in London society and "made a eo Ibid., p. 143 also ("date torn off, but later").
god of," Arnould was sure that Domett would e1 W. Hall Griffin, "Robert Browning and Alfred Domett,"
find Browning delighted to see him upon his re- The Contemporary Review, LXXXVlI (1905), p. 104 n.; Kenyon,
R. B. and A. D., pp. 24-25. Arnould died at Florence in
turn. GO Domett did go back to England, and 1886.
Arnould's prediction proved justified. Domett's a Kenyon, R. B. and A. D., pp. 23-24; Griffin, "Early
Diary (1872-85) records at length how cordially Friends of Robert Browning," p. 430.

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