Beyond the Brownings–Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

NPG Ax18347; Charles Babbage by Henri Claudet

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Charles Babbage is credited with originating the concept of a programmable computer. He was a visitor at John Kenyon’s parties and probably acquainted with the Brownings. There are several references to him in Elizabeth’s letters, including this passage from a letter from EBB to Robert Browning, 17 February 1845. This letter, part of Wellesley College Special Collections, is also in The Browning Letters digital collection at Baylor University through the Baylor-Wellesley collaboration:

Do you know Tennyson? that is, with a face to face knowledge? I have great admiration for him. In execution, he is exquisite,-and, in music, a most subtle weigher out to the ear, of fine airs. That such a poet shd submit blindly to the suggestions of his critics, (I do not say that suggestions from without may not be accepted with discrimination sometimes, to the benefit of the acceptor) blindly & implicitly to the suggestions of his critics, .. is much as if Babbage were to take my opinion & undo his calculating machine by it. Napoleon called poetry ‘science creuse’-which, although he was not scientific in poetry himself, is true enough. But anybody is qualified, according to everybody, for giving opinions upon poetry. It is not so in chymistry and mathematics. Nor is it so, I believe, in whist and the polka.    

The Armstrong Browning Library has three of Babbage’s letters in its collection.

Babbage-to-Booth-letterLetter from Charles Babbage to [James] Booth.
20 December 1856.

Babbage thanks Booth, the executor of Kenyon’s will, for the gift of a telescope, which had belonged to their valued friend, John Kenyon.

Many thanks to you and Miss Bayley for the kind thought of giving me a memorial of our valued friend Kenyon. I shall gladly accept the telescope which you propose for that purpose…

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Beyond the Brownings–Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Coleridge ABL-1Courtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

By Michael Milburn, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a first-generation Romantic best known for his poetry and literary criticism, also wrote widely on the subjects of theology, philosophy, science, and politics, in spite of his in part self-made reputation as an opium addict who failed to live up to his potential. He is renowned for such classics as “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “Christabel,” and “Kubla Khan.”

The ABL has eleven letters by Coleridge, ten of which are addressed to his brother George, several first editions, two annotated volumes, and over ninety other books which belonged to members of his family, primarily his descendants.

Coleridge-letter-1webColeridge-letter-2webDraft or Copy of a Letter from George Coleridge to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. [10 March 1798].

Coleridge and his brother George disagreed over Britain’s military actions against the revolutionary government in France. George, who was in favor of the British, wrote this letter in order to extend his hospitality to Coleridge despite their political differences.

We may forget that we are not political Brothers, and call to our Mind, that to philosophize on Government and to legislate are the Duty of a few, to cultivate domestic affections of all.

 The lack of signature, however, indicates that unless the document was a transcript, this version of the text, at least, remained an unsent draft.

Autograph draft manuscript of Hints respecting Beauty

Coleridge-Beauty-1webColeridge-Beauty-2webColeridge-Beauty-3webColeridge-Beauty-4webColeridge-Beauty-5Letter from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to [Mary Russell Mitford]. [8 July 1811].

 In this draft of a letter to Mary Russell Mitford, Coleridge developed some of the aesthetic ideas that would become famous in his “Essays on the Principles of Genial Criticism” and Biographia Literaria. After noting the errors that can arise from using words merely to express degree, he defines beauty in kind as “the reconciliation of ‘the many’ with ‘the one,’” offering the simple example of a triangle, in which three sides are reconciled into a single shape, and the ideal example of a circle, in which radii of many angles are brought together by the one center on which they converge.

Coleridge-02-Oct-1803-1webColeridge-02-Oct-1803-2webColeridge-02-Oct-1803-3webColeridge-02-Oct-1803-4webLetter from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to George Coleridge.  2 October 1803.

Coleridge experienced night terrors all his adult life, probably worsened by his addiction to opium and the periods of withdrawal when he would try to quit. In this letter, he tells his brother that when he tries to sleep, “such a Host of Horrors rush in—that three nights out of four I fall asleep struggling to lie awake, and start up & bless my own loud screams, that have awakened me.” He had described the experience poetically in “The Pains of Sleep,” written during the previous month, though not published until 1816.

Coleridge’s first volume of poetry

Coleridge-Poems-on-Various-Subjects-2webColeridge-Poems-on-Various-Subjects-1webColeridge-Poems-on-Various-Subjects-3web Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Poems on Various Subjects. London, Bristol: G. G. and J. Robinsons; J. Cottle, 1796.

Note the contemporary full tree calf binding, a technique in which the leather was stained to create a pattern resembling a tree.

Queen-Mab-2webColeridge-Notes-inside-webPercy Bysshe Shelley. Queen Mab. London: Printed and published by W. Clark, 1821.

In a note on his own poem, Percy Bysshe Shelley, a second-generation Romantic writer, advocates for a vegetarian diet as the most expedient solution to the problems facing humanity, whether medical or moral, decrying in particular “the brutal pleasures of the chase.” Coleridge could not resist the opportunity to let the wind out of Shelley’s sails by writing in the margin, “Mr. Shelley’s favourite diversion at present (1822) is hunting.”

 The comment is not in Coleridge’s collected marginalia.

Coleridge-Richard-3

Jeremy Taylor. The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living …: Together With Prayers Containing the Whole Duty of a Christian. The eleventh ed. London: Printed by Roger Norton for Richard Royston, 1676.

 This volume by the seventeenth-century divine Bishop Jeremy Taylor belonged to Coleridge and contains a brief marginal note by him. Coleridge-Richard-2Coleridge’s son Hartley, a poet in his own right, inscribed the copy in order to remind himself of his father’s legacy: “Hartley Coleridge / a small but precious / portion / of his promised inheritance.”

Coleridge-02-Oct-1813-1webColeridge-02-Oct-1813-2webColeridge-02-Oct-1813-3webColeridge-02-Oct-1813-4web

Letter from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to T. G. Street.
2 October 1813.

 Coleridge wrote to Street, the editor of the Courier, to complain of the Morning Chronicle’s coverage of the Napoleonic Wars. On this page, Coleridge refers to “the volcanic” Horrors of the French Revolution. The letter has yet to be published.

 

 

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Beyond the Brownings–William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

William Wordsworth ABL-2

Courtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

By Michael Milburn, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

William Wordsworth was the foremost of the early Romantic poets in England, known on the one hand for his use of familiar imagery and language; on the other, for his complex and contemplative blank verse; and in either case, for his devotion to nature. Notable works include Lyrical Ballads (1798 and 1800) and The Prelude, which was not published until after his death in 1850.

The ABL has several rare editions of Wordsworth’s poetry, including three inscribed copies, in addition to five unpublished or partially published letters.

Wordsworth-Poetical-Worksweb William Wordsworth. The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. New ed. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman, 1832.

The author’s inscription reads as follows: “To Lady Townshend Farquhar / in token of affectionate Regard / from her / Sincere Friend / Wm Wordsworth / Rydal Mount / 14th Novbr 1832.” Lady Maria Frances Geslip (née de Latour) was the widow of Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar, a Member of Parliament.

Wordsworth-Grace-Darling-1webWordsworth-Grace-Darling-2,3webWordsworth-Grace-Darling-4web William Wordsworth. Grace Darling. Carlisle: Printed at the office of Charles Thurnam, 1843.

Privately printed and inscribed by the author.

In his poem, Wordsworth celebrates the heroics of Grace Darling, who became a Victorian icon for her role in rescuing the survivors of the Forfarshire after it was shipwrecked near her father’s lighthouse in 1838. This extremely rare edition once belonged to the American musical theater composer Jerome Kern.

Worsdsworth-07-Aug-1web1Worsdsworth-07-Aug-2web2 Letter from William Wordsworth to Francis Merewether. 7 August [1829].

Francis Merewether was a High-Church priest and pamphleteer who had asked Wordsworth to speak on his behalf to Professor John Wilson, best known for his contributions to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine under the pseudonym of Christopher North. Wordsworth obliged with this reply, reporting that “Professor Wilson” would be “willing to look over” Merewether’s “papers . . . and to admit them if suitable.”

Lyrical-Balladsweb William Wordsworth. Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems. London: J. & A. Arch, 1798.

First edition, second issue. Possibly the first printing to be sold instead of privately distributed.

The anonymous publication of the Lyrical Ballads in 1798 was one of the most important events in British literary history. Wordsworth’s collection, with several contributions by Coleridge, ushered in a new era in which imagination and emotion mattered more than formal poetic diction.

Wordsworth-08-January-1827-1webWordsworth-08-January-1827-2webLetter from William Wordsworth to Allan Cunningham 8 January 1827.

The “Mr. Kenyon” to whom Wordsworth refers in this letter is probably John Kenyon, fellow poet and friend to Wordsworth and Coleridge, as well as to the Brownings, whom he introduced to each other. Wordsworth wants Cunningham to vote in favor of Kenyon’s acceptance to the Athenaeum club, whose members would eventually include Michael Faraday, Matthew Arnold, and William Makepeace Thackeray.

Wordsworth-13-June-1834-1web

Wordsworth-13-June-1834-2web Letter from William Wordsworth to John Abraham Heraud. 10 June [1834].

Wordsworth had recently been instructed to rest his eyes, so he had been unable to read Heraud’s Judgment of the Flood on his own. His excuse for not having the entire work read aloud suggests how he might have hoped his own philosophical poetry would be read, at least when he was not reciting it himself:

 You are a thinking writer–& I said “I must not go on with this, till I can have my eyes upon the page” & this I beg you would take as expressing of real admiration.

 

Dorothy-Wordsworth-1web Dorothy-Wordsworth-2,3webDorothy-Wordsworth-4webLetter from Dorothy Wordsworth to Joshua Watson and Archdeacon Watson. [2 June 1820].

Dorothy Wordsworth was William Wordsworth’s sister, close friend, and longtime collaborator. Her journals reveal many details about life in the household she shared with her brother and his family. Here, she comments on William’s health.

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New Research and Teaching Tool for 19th-Century Studies Unveiled

By Jeremy Land, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English

Baylor’s 19th Century Research Seminar (19CRS), an interdisciplinary forum for faculty and students in and outside of Baylor University to present and hear original research in all areas of nineteenth-century studies, is proud to announce the launch of its completely redesigned website. This project was developed in conjunction with Baylor’s English department and the Armstrong Browning Library. In the past, 19CRS’s blog was simply a message board to notify interested parties about upcoming events. The redesigned site will still keep our supporters informed about all the innovative research sponsored by 19CRS; however, the added features are designed to make the site more of a tool for all those interested in studying the nineteenth century.

19CRS has complied an exhaustive list of internet sites to support both research and teaching. Topics range from nineteenth century art to African-American studies to Victorian literature and everything else we could possibly compile.  All of these resources are either peer reviewed by NINES or hosted by a university so that we could guarantee the quality of the materials.  In addition we only selected sites that provide immediate access to records, images, manuscripts, or other digital information useful to scholars, students, and teachers.

In case you were unable to come to our monthly seminars, 19CRS’s new site has begun to catalog our past presenters’ presentations. If you missed a presentation, or perhaps you want to reference something from a lecture in your own research, you can now down load a PDF copy, when available, for your projects. Or if you really enjoyed the current lecture and felt there was not enough time to finish the discussion or were later inspired by what you heard, 19CRS’s blog now offers a discussion forum for interested parties.

Other features include a place for teachers to share syllabi, reviews showcasing important books from Baylor faculty and 19CRS presenters, and the Armstrong Browning Library’s latest acquisitions. Regardless of your level of experience or expertise, we think our new site has something to offer those interested in the nineteenth century. As always, we invite you to share in our new site, offer feedback on improving it, and to join us for our monthly lecture series.

19CRS Blog

Learn more about the 19th-Century Research Seminar here: http://blogs.baylor.edu/19crs/

 

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Beyond the Brownings: The Victorian Letter and Manuscript Collection

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Beyond-the-BrowningsScholars know the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University as a world-class research library devoted to the lives and works of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In addition to housing the world’s largest collection of books, letters, manuscripts, and memorabilia related to the Brownings, the library houses a substantial collection of primary and secondary materials related to nineteenth-century literature and culture. The Victorian Letter and Manuscript Collection includes almost 2,500 items from literary, political, ecclesiastical, scientific, and cultural figures in the nineteenth century. Letters, manuscripts, and books from Prince Albert, Queen Victoria, Matthew Arnold, Charles Babbage, J. M. Barrie, William Cullen Bryant, Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Michael Faraday, W. E. Gladstone, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Victor Hugo, Thomas Henry Huxley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, George MacDonald, John-Henry Newman, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, John Ruskin, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Greenleaf Whittier, and William Wordsworth will be featured in the exhibit. In future blogs about the exhibit you can find out how Elizabeth Barrett Browning was related to Charles Babbage, where Victor Hugo spent his summer vacation, who was b__k b__ll__ed, and what happened to Miss Brodie’s cow.

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Armstrong’s Stars: “Where is Waco, Texas?”

By Jennifer Borderud, Access and Outreach Librarian, Armstrong Browning Library

Noyes Headline

Account of Noyes’s lecture in the 18 January 1917 issue of the Lariat (The Texas Collection)

In her biography of Dr. A.J. Armstrong, chair of Baylor’s English Department from 1912-1952 and founder of the Armstrong Browning Library, Lois Smith Douglas recounts Dr. Armstrong’s efforts to bring English poet Alfred Noyes to Waco in 1917.  Douglas writes that the poet’s manager initially declined the invitation “with undisguised humor,” asking “‘Where is Waco, Texas?’” (93).

Undeterred by the remark, Dr. Armstrong arranged an additional thirteen speaking engagements for the author of the “The Highwayman” throughout Texas and the Southwest and succeeded in bringing Noyes to Baylor’s campus on 12 January 1917. Waco was Noyes’s first stop on his tour of the United States that year (Douglas 93-94).  Baylor’s student newspaper, The Lariat, wrote of the event:  “It is unprecedented in the history of Texas and the South that a poet belonging to the world’s great poets has visited this section” (“Alfred Noyes to Lecture Here” 1).  Ever the ambassador, Dr. Armstrong enthusiastically introduced Noyes to Baylor and Waco, and over the course of his 40-year career at Baylor, Dr. Armstrong made certain that Baylor and Waco came face-to-face with the world’s dramatic, literary, and musical talents.

Armstrong’s Stars, a new blog series, is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection.  Once a month we will feature a story about a celebrity that Dr. Armstrong brought to Baylor.  These stories will highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and feature collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.  Contributions to the blog series will be made by ABL and Texas Collection staff as well as by students from Baylor’s English Department, some of whom are also members of Sigma Tau Delta, Baylor’s English honor society.  We are particularly pleased to have members of Sigma Tau Delta participating in this series as Baylor’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, founded by Dr. Armstrong in 1925, sponsored many of these exciting events and ensured their success.

Sigma Tau Delta and Cornell

Members of Sigma Tau Delta with Dr. A.J. Armstrong (seated left of center) and actors Katharine Cornell (seated center) and Basil Rathbone (seated at far right) in 1934; Photo by Farmer, Waco, Texas (Armstrong Browning Library, Sigma Tau Delta Photo File)

Works Cited:

“Alfred Noyes to Lecture Here.”  Lariat 11 Jan. 1917:  1.  Web.  4 Sept. 2014.

Douglas, Lois Smith.  Through Heaven’s Back Door:  A Biography of A. Joseph Armstrong.  Waco, Texas:  The Baylor University Press, c1951.  Print.

To learn more about the life and career of Dr. Armstrong, see:

Lewis, Scott.  Boundless Life:  A Biography of Andrew Joseph Armstrong.  Waco, Texas:  Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University, 2014.  Print.  Now available here.

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The 2,000,000th Volume

By Rita S. Patteson, Director of the Armstrong Browning Library

When Jennifer Borderud and I chatted with University of Houston librarians Pat Bozeman and Julie Grob at the annual Rare Books and Manuscripts Preconference in Las Vegas in June, we learned a very interesting fact. In 1998, a special edition of Robert Browning’s Men and Women (Hammersmith: Doves Press, 1908) was the two-millionth volume added to the M.D. Anderson Library at the University of Houston.

And what a volume!  It is one of only thirteen copies printed on vellum, hand-decorated and signed by Edward Johnston, and specially bound in 1914 at Doves Press by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson. This two-volume edition contains the bookplates of three noted former owners: “The Doves Press. Ex Libris. Alfred Fowler”; “Ex Libris Cortland Field Bishop”; and “John S. Saks.”  It was sold at Christie’s New York auction house as part of Mr. Saks’ Doves Press collection and presented to the Anderson Library by the current and former University of Houston Libraries staff, with assistance from Detering Book Gallery, Inc.

Excuse me for being jealous!

Page 184, volume 2, of Doves Press Men and Women

Page from Baylor’s Doves Press edition (one of 250 printed on paper), alas, not one of the 13 on vellum!

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Dr. Armstrong’s “Mammoth” Pied Piper Pageant

Ninety years ago on 9 June 1924, Dr. A.J. Armstrong, founder of the ABL and chair of Baylor’s English department from 1912-1952, staged in the middle of Baylor University’s campus what the Waco Times-Herald called in an article on 1 June 1924 a “mammoth” pageant.  The pageant was based on Robert Browning’s poem “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and featured Baylor students as well as 400 Waco school children under the direction of Lillie Martin, professor of primary education at Baylor.  Parents of the children who participated in this dramatic presentation of Browning’s poem were instructed to provide their children “with a costume for a rat, something on the order of the brownie costumes, one piece with rat ears, a tail which should be stuffed with cotton or excellsior and perhaps wired.  The length of the tail,” the instructions continued, “should vary according to the age of the child.”

Baylor student Annie Lee Truett as the Pied Piper

Baylor student Annie Lee Truett as the Pied Piper

During the pageant, the children, dressed as white, gray, brown, and black rats, remained out of view of the crowd until they were lured by the sound of the Pied Piper’s flute from their hiding places in the doorways of buildings and the bushes around the Burleson Quadrangle.  After scurrying through the crowd, the children once again disappeared as they followed the Pied Piper, played by Annie Lee Truett, later returning to join the crowd as “children” for the remainder of the event.

Crowd at Pied Piper Pageant

Crowd at the Pied Piper Pageant. Dr. Armstrong is the man in white holding a little boy in his lap. (Photo: Whayne H. Farmer, Waco, Texas)

The pageant, which according to the Waco News Tribune on 10 June 1924 drew a crowd of several thousand from Waco and all over Texas, was one part of a larger program that featured the dedication of three stained-glass windows for the Browning Room in Carroll Library.  Mrs. Moselle Alexander McLendon presented Baylor with a window based on Browning’s “Pied Piper” poem.  Mrs. J.V. Brown on behalf of San Marcos Academy presented a window representing Browning’s “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix.”  And Mrs. E.D. Head, speaking for Mrs. Carrie C. Slaughter of Dallas, presented a window depicting Browning’s poem “The Guardian Angel.” The windows, designed by the Haskins Studio of Rochester, New York, were received by Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks.

Pied Piper Window

The Pied Piper Window, Leddy-Jones Research Hall, Armstrong Browning Library

The presentation was preceded by an operetta of The Pied Piper of Hamelin by R.H. Walthew and was sung by Baylor Professor W.N. Payne, Mrs. Royal C. Stiles, Mrs. Harold T. Dawson, and Mr. C.S. Cadwallader.  Professor Robert Markham accompanied the performance on the piano.  The crowd was invited to view the windows in the Browning Room at the conclusion of the program.  The three windows presented to Baylor at the 1924 Pied Piper Pageant can now be seen in the Leddy-Jones Research Hall of the Armstrong Browning Library.

 

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Selection for Margarett Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies Announced

During the Armstrong Browning Library’s annual Browning Day celebration on May 7, Pattie Orr, Vice President for Information Technology and Dean of University Libraries, publicly announced the selection of Dr. Joshua King, Associate Professor (effective August 2014) of English at Baylor University, as the next holder of the Margarett Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies.

Brown Chair Announcement

Dean Pattie Orr announces the selection of Dr. Joshua King as holder of the Margarett Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies

As Chair, Dr. King will serve as a scholar-in-residence for the Armstrong Browning Library, researching and publishing on materials related to the Library’s holdings and attending and designing scholarly and outreach events to promote the Library’s standing as a world center for Victorian studies.

Since its establishment by the Brown Foundation in 1971, this position has been held by members of the Baylor faculty as well as visiting international scholars. Past Chair holders include Dr. Jack W. Herring (1971-1984), Dr. Roger L. Brooks (1987-1994), Dr. Mairi Rennie (1996-2002), Dr. Stephen Prickett (2003-2008), and Dr. Kirstie Blair (2012).  Dr. King will begin his three-year term as Chair this summer (2014) and will be eligible for additional terms thereafter.

Browning Day Program 2014

Browning Day Program 2014

In addition to Dean Orr’s announcement, this year’s Browning Day, celebrating Robert Browning’s 202nd birthday, featured music organized by ABL Artist-in-Residence Carlos Colón and performed by Chris Martin, recognition of D.M. Edwards in appreciation of the D.M. Edwards Library Internship Endowed Scholarship Fund, and a presentation on The Browning Letters project.  The presentation, given by Darryl Stuhr and Eric Ames from Baylor University, Ian Graham from Wellesley College, and Anna Sander and Fiona Godber from Balliol College, was followed by a reception in the Library’s Seminar Room.  Visit the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog to learn more about the presentation and The Browning Letters project.

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…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–Moncure Daniel Conway (1832–1907)

Daniel Moncure ConwayMoncure Daniel Conway was an American abolitionist, Unitarian clergyman, and author. His life took many turns. He moved from being the son of a wealthy slaveholder in Virginia, to a Methodist minister, and to an outspoken abolitionist with transcendental tendancies. He traveled to England to become an advocate for abolition and to Venice, spending most of the remainder of his life in England as minister of the South Place Chapel, occasionally traveling back to the United States. In England, having become a journalist and a literary agent, he admired the poetry of Robert Browning and became a close acquaintance. After his wife died, he moved to France, devoting his life to the peace movement and to writing. He died alone in Paris.

RB-to-ConwayLetter from Robert Browning to Moncure Daniel Conway. 20 December 1881.

In this letter Browning explains the origin of a story he had recounted in the epilogue to his book, The Two Poets of Croisic, about a cricket and a singer, explaining that the story came from a Greek myth.

La-SaisiazRobert Browning. La Saisiaz: The Two Poets of Croisic. London: Smith, Elder and Company, 1878.

The story that Browning was explaining to Conway in the letter appears in the “Epilogue” to The Two Poets of Croisic.

Tell the gazer “’Twas a cricket

         Helped my crippled lyre, whose lilt

Sweet and low, when strength usurped

Softness’ place i’ the scale, she chirped?

The Armstrong Browning Library’s holdings related to Conway include three books and four letters.

 

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