[Footnote 29: A passing allusion is made to this Gomez case in one of the manuscript letters, the writer of which begs Cencini (clearly also an advocate), to send him the papers concerning it. The place it occupies in the thoughts of the two lawyers, as Mr. Browning depicts them, is very characteristic of the manner in which his imagination has embraced and vivified every detail of the situation.]
[Footnote 30: The poems to which I refer as now included in “Men and Women” will be found so in the editions of 1868 and 1888-9; though the redistribution made in 1863 has much curtailed their number.]
[Footnote 31: It was in this poem that Mr. Browning first adopted the plan of spelling Greek names in the Greek manner. He did so, as he tells us in the preface to his “Agamemnon,” “innocently enough;” because the change commended itself to his own eye and ear. He has even assured his friends that if the innovation had been rationally opposed, or simply not accepted, he would probably himself have abandoned it. But when, years later, in “Balaustion’s Adventure,” the new spelling became the subject of attacks which all but ignored the existence of the work from any other point of view, the thought of yielding was no longer admissible. The majority of our best scholars now follow Mr. Browning’s example.]
ARGUMENTATIVE POEMS. SPECIAL PLEADINGS.
The isolated monologues have a special significance, which is almost implied in their form, but is also distinct from it. Mr. Browning has made them the vehicle for most of the reasonings and reflections which make up so large a part of his imaginative life: whether presented in his own person, or, as is most often the case, in that of his men and women. As such, they are among those of his works which lend themselves to a rough kind of classification; and may be called “argumentative.”
They divide themselves into two classes: those in which the speaker is defending a preconceived judgment, and an antagonist is implied; and those in which he is trying to form a judgment or to accept one: and the supposed listener, if there be such, is only a confidant. The first kind of argument or discussion is carried on—apparently—as much for victory as for truth; and employs the weapons of satire, or the tactics of special-pleading, as the case demands. The second is an often pathetic and always single-minded endeavour to get at the truth. Those monologues in which the human spirit is represented as communing with itself, contain some of Mr. Browning’s noblest dramatic work; but those in which the militant attitude is more pronounced throw the strongest light on what I have indicated as his distinctive intellectual quality: the rejection of all general and dogmatic points of view. His casuistic utterances are often only a vindication of the personal, and therefore indefinite quality of human truth; and their apparent