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Mr. Browning was a stranger to her, but called to offer thanks for the compliment contained in the last couplet, and by a mistake of the servant was shown into Miss Barrett's room, to which only her most intimate friends were admitted. The acquaintance thus begun resulted in their marriage in 1846. The bride rose from her couch to be married, but her health improved, and during the remainder of her life continued reasonably good, although she was never strong.
The Brownings resided, during almost their entire married life, at Florence. In 1839 Mrs. Browning published "Sonnets from the Portuguese," which, contrary to the apparent meaning of the title, are original poems, and not translations. "Casa Guidi Windows," as the author says, " contains the impressions of the writer upon events in Tuscany of which she was a witness. It is a simple story of personal impressions, whose only value is in the intensity with which they were received, or in proving her warm affection for a beautiful and unfortunate country. The sincerity with which they are related indicates her own good faith and freedom from partisanship."
In 1856 appeared the longest of her poems, "Aurora Leigh," which she characterized as "the most mature of my works, and the one into which my highest convictions upon life and art have entered." life and art have entered." This novel in verse was, at least in part, written in England, whither the Brownings returned for a short time after a residence of eight years in Florence. Returning to Italy, Mrs. Browning put forth, in 1860, a little volume originally entitled "Poems before Congress," afterward published, with additions, under the title, "Napoleon III in Italy, and other Poems." She died in Florence in 1861.
Can't you imagine,” said her husband, in comparing his work with hers, “a clever sort of angel, who plots, and plans, and tries to build up something he wants to make you see as he sees it, shows you one point of view, carries you off to another, hammering into your head the thing he wants you to understand; and whilst this bother is going on, God Almighty turns you off a little star,—that's the difference between us. The true creative power is hers, not mine."
THE GREATEST NOVELIST OF THE ANALYTICAL SCHOOL.
MONG the novelists since Dickens and Thackeray no one can com
pare with George Eliot in native force and vigor, in ability to read, through the indications of their outward lives and actions, the underlying forces which form the character of men and women. Other writers have put before us the surface of life; George Eliot depicts for her readers the very souls of her characters. It is this ability to go deep into the inner lives of men, to see, and so to picture, the real beings who move within this outer shell we call ourselves, which gave her so strong a hold upon the public and imparted to her books a quality peculiarly their
Marian Evans was of Welsh descent, but she was born at South Farm, near Griff, in Warwickshire, England, in 1819. Her father, whose portrait she has drawn in the character of Adam Bede, was a land agent, but had started in life as a carpenter. He was a man of great ability, and was entrusted with the management of the estates of several large landowners in Warwickshire. His family, therefore, occupied a social position equal that of any of the professional people of the vicinity, and the circumstances of his life gave his gifted daughter the opportunity of gaining that wonderfully intimate knowledge of widely different classes of people which is shown in her novels. Mrs. Evans died when Marian had arrived at the age of fifteen, and after the marriage of an elder sister the management of the household fell upon her. She had received a good education, and was proficient in French, German, and music. After her father retired from active work, in 1841, she studied Latin and Greek, and became absorbed in philosophy, particularly in its relation to religion. Her first literary work was the translation of Strauss' "Life of Jesus," and was followed by similar work upon Feuerbach's "Essence of Christianity," and Spinoza's "Ethics." Mr. Evans dying in 1849, his daughter was induced to spend some months with her kind friends, the Brays and the family of the Artist D'Albert, abroad. Returning, she became sub-editor of the Westminster Review, and a member of the most brilliant literary circle of the time, numbering among her intimate friends Herbert Spencer, James and Harriet Martineau, and others of equal fame.
Beside her work as sub-editor, she contributed to the Review a number of the most remarkable essays that appeared in its pages. Among these were "Carlyle's
Life of Sterling,' Margaret Fuller," "Women in France,” “Evangelical Teaching," and "Worldliness and Otherworldliness."
She continued in this work until 1854, when she assumed the duties of a wife to Mr. George Henry Lewes, and of a mother to his sons. In 1857 she published a volume of short stories entitled "Scenes from Clerical Life," over the name of George Eliot, which she attached to all her later works, and which, until it became famous as that of the leading novelist of the time, effectually concealed her identity. It was at once evident to all who were in the secret that she was a true novelist, and she henceforth put all her energies into the works which will remain as classical specimens of English fiction. Her fame grew with the appearance of "Adam Bede," "The Mill on the Floss," "Silas Maruer," "Romola," "Felix Holt," and "Middlemarch"; "Daniel Deronda " did not increase her reputation, but well maintained it; "The Impressions of Theophrastus Such" has, however, been less read. After the death of Mr. Lewes she was married to Mr. John W. Cross, who had for many years been a close and faithful friend, but before the end of the year, 1880, she died. Opinion will always be divided as to which is her best book and which her finest character, but the woman who has enriched our literature with the high-souled carpenter, Adam Bede, and the pure unworldliness of Dinah Morris, who has brought us face to face with the doubts and fears, and, better, with the certainties, which filled the soul of Savonarola, may well be described as "an expression of the spirit of the age out of which she grew," or the "exponent of the thought of the third quarter of the nineteenth century." As such she will take her place among the strongest characters and the ablest minds that have given of their best for the benefit of mankind.
FLORENCE IN 1794.
pointed to the rising cloud.
Fra Girolamo's word was powerful; yet now that the new Cyrus had already been three months
in Italy, and was not far from the gates of Florence, his presence was expected there with mixed feelings, in which fear and distrust certainly predom ́inated. At present it was not understood that he had redressed any grievances; and the Florentines certainly had nothing to thank him for. He held their strong frontier fortresses, which Piero de' Medici had given up to him without securing any honorable terms in return; he had done nothing to quell the alarming revolt of Pisa, which had been encouraged by his presence to throw off the Florentine yoke; and "orators," even with a prophet at their head, could win no assurance from him, except that he would settle everything when he was once within the walls of Florence. Still, there was the satisfaction of knowing that the exasperating Piero de' Medici had been fairly pelted out for the ignominious surrender of the fortresses, and in that act of energy the spirit of the Republic had recovered some of its old fire.
The preparations for the equivocal guests were not those of a city resigned to submission. Behind the bright drapery and banners symbolic of joy, there were preparations of another sort made with
common accord by the government and people. Well hidden within walls there were hired soldiers of the Republic, hastily called in from the surrounding districts; there were old arms duly furbished, and sharp tools and heavy cudgels laid carefully at hand, to be snatched up on short notice; there were excellent boards and stakes to form barricades upon occasion, and a good supply of stones to make a surprising hail from the upper windows. Above all, there were people very strongly in the humor of fighting any personage who might be supposed to have designs of hectoring over them, they having lately tasted that new pleasure with much relish. This humor was not diminished by the sight of occasional parties of Frenchmen, coming beforehand to choose their quarters, with a hawk, perhaps, on their left wrist, and, metaphorically speaking, a piece of chalk in their right hand to mark Italian doors withal; especially as creditable historians imply that many sons of France were at that time characterized by something approaching to a swagger, which must have whetted the Florentine appetite for a little stone-throwing.