A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 488 pages of information about A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.).
her husband, from her manner of showing it, that she ranked his gift, the ’gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name,’ with that of everyone else.  It was below his dignity to complain of this state of things, so he put an end to it.  He:  ‘gave commands;’ and the smiles, too evenly dispensed, stopped all together.”  He does not fear to admit, as he does parenthetically, that there may have been some right on her side.  This was below his concern.  The Duke touches, in conclusion, on the dowry which he will expect with his second wife; and, with a suggestive carelessness, bids his guest remark—­as they are about to descend the staircase—­a rare work in bronze, which a noted sculptor has cast for him.

Hatred, born of jealousy, has its fullest expression in the “SOLILOQUY OF THE SPANISH CLOISTER” ("Dramatic Lyrics.”  Published in “Bells and Pomegranates.” 1842 to 1845):  a venomous outbreak of jealous hatred, directed by one monk against another whom he is watching at some innocent occupation.  The speaker has no ground of complaint against Brother Lawrence, except that his life is innocent:  that he is orderly and clean, that he loves his garden, is free from debasing superstitions, and keeps his passions, if he has any, in check.  But that, precisely, is a rebuke and an exasperation to the fierce, coarse nature of this other man; and he declares to himself, that if hate could kill, Brother Lawrence would not live long.  Meanwhile, as we also hear, he spites him when he can, and fondly dreams of tripping him up somewhere, or somehow, on his way to the better world.  He is turning over some pithy expedients, when the vesper bell cuts short his meditations.

WRATH, as inspired by a desperate sense of wrong, finds utterance in “THE CONFESSIONAL.” ("Dramatic Lyrics.”  Published in “Bells and Pomegranates.” 1842 to 1845.) A loved and loving girl has been made the instrument of her lover’s destruction.  He held a treasonable secret, which the Church was anxious to possess; and her priest has assured her that if this is fully revealed to him, he will, by prayer and fasting, purge its guilt from the young man’s soul.  She obtains the desired knowledge, reveals it, and joyfully anticipates the result.  When next she sees her lover, he is on the scaffold.  They have stifled her denunciations in a prison-cell.  Her body is wrenched with torture, as her soul with anguish.  She is scarcely human any more.  But she hurls at them unceasingly a cry which will yet reach the world.  “Their Pope and their saints, their heaven and their hell, their—­everything they teach, and everything they say, is lies, and again lies.”

“A FORGIVENESS” ("Pacchiarotto, and other Poems,” 1876) might serve equally as a study for jealousy, self-reproach, contempt, and revenge; the love which is made to underlie these feelings, and the forgiveness with which it will be crowned.

It is a story told in confession.  He who tells it had once a wife, who was dearer to him than anything else in the world.  He had also public duties, which he discharged with diligence and with success; but it was the thought of the wife’s love which nerved him to the fulfilment of these duties, and which rewarded it.

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A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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