…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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