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VIII. MRS. ORR'S

CLASSIFICATION OF BROWNING'S POEMS.

I REGRET very much that there should be any question of classifying Mr. Browning's works ; but as I have been desired to classify them in the manner I thought least open to objection, I propose the following scheme; because its divisions are natural, or answering to received general forms of mental activity ; because only natural divisions supply terms large enough to cover in any degree the varied suggestions of the majority of the poems; because only such a system of division excludes all arbitrary judgment or undue emphasis of the motive or leading thought of the poems, whether displayed by them singly or as a whole,—while any judgment which gives prominence to motive, however justly recognized, in a work of art, is unjust to it as such, by ignoring the spontaneous creative impulse through which the motive has come to light; because even the partial misplacing of a poem among large mental categories fails to touch it as an artistic whole, while any mistaken attempt at specification by motive or feeling distorts it as an artistic whole. I propose this scheme, in short, because its defects are chiefly negative, not because I imagine that it is free from defects. The dramatic setting of most of the lyrics converts them into studies of character, and fits them nearly as much for the psychological group as for the lyrical, in which Mr. Browning's prefix dramatic has justified their inclusion. Several of the psychological poems are natural, though not intentional, satires. No one section, as judged by its contents, is firmly divided from the other : and I have introduced the heading “critical" with great doubt of its right to enter into the scheme at all; since all forms of criticism, not purely technical, belong to some branch of philosophy and are contained in that idea : but I have done so because Old Pictures in Florence raises too many questions to stand for anything but the expression of a generally critical mood; and I have allowed Aristophanes' Apology to keep it company, though, besides being critical in mood, it exhibits the nature of the man, and is therefore psychological,--the characteristics of his age, and is therefore historical,-an imaginary succession of incidents, and is therefore romantic,—and a philosophy of life which is at once artistic and practical.

BROWNING, 2.

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These facts are, however, of no importance in a scheme which is meant to expose the difficulties of classifying Mr. Browning's work rather than to overcome them: and in claiming a certain negative merit for this mode of grouping, I also disclaim for it any positive usefulness whatever. I put it in no sense forward as a working alternative to the rival plan. Its semi-scientific terms would alone suffice to prevent its serving as index to a popular abstract of Mr. Browning's poems. It simply conveys my sense of the dilemma in which the alleged necessity for anything calling itself a classification of these poems must land us.

A. ISOLATED GROUPS. 1. Dramas.

Herakles in “Aristophanes' ApoStrafförd. King Victor and King Charles. Agamemnon. The Return of the Druses.

3. Mythological Poems. A Blot in the 'Scutcheon.

Artemis Prologizes.
Colombe's Birthday.
A Soul's Tragedy.

Thamuris of Thrace (fragment of Luria.

song in “ Aristophanes' Apo. In a Balcony.

logy ”).

Pheidippides. 2. Translations from the Greek. Echetlos. Alkestis (Balaustion's Adventure). Pan and Luna.

logy."

B. CLASSIFIED GROUPS.

I.

In a year.

LYRICAL.
One Word More (to E. B. B.). Any Wife to any Husband.

Two in the Campagna.
I. Marching Along Cavalier

Misconceptions. II. Give a Rouse

A Serenade at the Villa. III. Boot and Saddle

Tunes.

One Way of Love. Garden Fancies.

Love in a Life. The Confessional.

Life in a Love.
The lost Mistress.

In three days.
Parting at Morning.
Song.

Women and Roses.
A Woman's last Word.

Before. Evelyn Hope.

After. Love among the Ruins.

The Guardian Angel (a picture at A Lover's Quarrel.

Fano).
Up at a Villa—Down in the City. Memorabilia.
A Toccata of Galuppi's.

Rudel to the Lady of Tripoli.
Home Thoughts from Abroad. The Worst of it.
Home Thoughts from the Sea. Too Late.
Saul.

Abt Vogler.
My Star.

May and Death. By the Fire-side.

Prospice.

LYRICAL (continued). Eurydice to Orpheus (a picture by Natural Magic. Leighton).

Magical Nature. A Face.

Numpholeptos. Epilogue to “ Dramatis Persone.” Prologue to “ The Two Poets of Prologue to " Pacchiarotto.

Croisic.”

II. NON-LYRICAL.

C. PHILOSOPHICAL. 1. In the Religious sense. Popularity. Christmas Eve and Easter-Day.

How it strikes a Contemporary. Rabbi Ben Ezra.

Deaf and Dumb, a Group by A Death in the Desert.

Woolner. Apparent Failure.

Youth and Art. La Saisiaz.

Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau. 2. In the Moral sense.

Pacchiarotto, and how he worked

in distemper. A Light Woman.

Shop. Dis aliter visum.

Pisgah Sights, I. Bifurcation.

Pisgah Sights, II. 3. In the Practical sense. Pietro of Abano. Earth's Immortalities (Fame).

4. In the Artistic sense. A Pretty Woman. Respectability.

Master Hugues of Saxe-Gotha. The Statue and the Bust.

Transcendentalism.

D. PSYCHOLOGICAL Pauline.

Johannes Agricola in Meditation. Paracelsus.

Pictor Ignotus. Sordello.

Fra Lippo Lippi. Pippa Passes.

Andrea del Sarto. The Lost Leader.

The Bishop orders his Tomb, &c. Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister. Bishop Blougram's Apology. The Laboratory

Cleon. Cristina

In a Balcony. Another way of Love.

James Lee's Wife.
Time's Revenges.

Caliban upon Setebos.
Incident of the French Camp. Confessions.
The Patriot; an old story.

A Likeness.
My last Duchess (Ferrara).

Sludge the Medium. Instans Tyrannus.

The Ring and the Book. Waring.

Red Cotton Night-Cap Country. The last Ride Together.

The Inn Album. A Grammarian's Funeral.

At the “Mermaid.”
Porphyria's Lover.

House.
An Epistle containing the strange Fears and Scruples.

medical experience of Karshish, Appearance
the Arab physician.

A Forgiveness.

ces.

PSYCHOLOGICAL (continued). The two Poets of Croisic, and Con- | Ned Bratts. clusion.

Clive. Fifine at the Fair.

Muleykeh. Martin Relph.

Concluding lines to II. Series of Halbert and Hob.

“Dramatic Idyls." Ivan Ivanovitch.

E. CRITICAL.
Old Pictures in Florence. Aristophanes' Apology.

F. HISTORICAL.
Hervé Riel.

Cenciaja.

G. ROMANTIC. How they brought the good news | The Pied Piper of Hamelin (a from Ghent to Aix.

child's story written for and Through the Metidja to Abd-el- inscribed to W. M. the younger). Kadr.

The Flight of the Duchess. Nationality in Drinks.

The Heretic's Tragedy (a middleCount Gismond-Aix in Provence.

age Interlude). The Boy and the Angel.

Protus. Mesmerism.

“ Childe Roland to the dark Tower The Glove (Peter Ronsard lo- came.” quitur).

Gold Hair ; a story of Pornic. The Italian in England.

St. Martin's Summer. In a Gondola.

Prologue to "La Saisiaz." The Twins.

Doctor (Dramatic Idyls).

H. DESCRIPTIVE.
De Gustibus.

Meeting at Night.

The Englishman in Italy.

I. SATIRICAL.
Gravely.

of Burial (a reminiscence of A.D. Holy Cross Day.

1676).

Epilogue to Pacchiarotto and Humorously.

other Poems. Earth's Immortalities (Love). Tray. Sibrandus Schafnaburgensis. Introductory Lines to the II. Series Filippo Baldinucci on the privilege of “ Dramatic Idyls."

IX.

NOTES ON THE GENIUS OF ROBERT BROWNING.

BY JAMES THOMSON.

(Read at the 3rd Meeting of the Browning Society, on Friday, Jan. 27, 1882.)
1. Br.'s Variety and Knowledge, p. 237. 4. Br.'s Activity and Rapidity, p. 242.
2. The Charge of Obscurity, p. 238. 5. Br.'s Manliness, p. 244.
3. The Charge of Harshness, p. 240, and 6. Br.'s Vitality, p. 245.

of Affectation, which really means 7. Br.'s Christianity, p. 246.
Naturalness, p. 241.

1. BR.'s Variety and Knowledge. Perhaps a reader looking for the first time through Browning's volumes would be first struck by the remarkable number and variety of his works, though these now cover a period of fifty years. On a somewhat closer acquaintance, this reader would surely be impressed with an ever-increasing astonishment at the prodigious amount and variety of knowledge brought to bear upon so vast a range of subjects. I mean not only, nor even mainly, knowledge of literature and art, but also what I may term knowledge of things in general. Marvellous as his acquirements in the former kinds must appear to one who, like myself, is neither scholar nor connoisseur, I am yet more overwhelmed by the immensity of his acquisitions in this other kind, by what Mr. Swinburne has happily summed up as “the inexhaustible stores of his perception.” Not all of us have the opportunity of mastering the contents of libraries and museums and art-galleries ; but all of us have the opportunity of mastering the common facts of nature and human life; yet it is precisely in these departments of knowledge that Browning's pre-eminence appears to me most decided. With the great majority of us the senses are dull, the perceptions slow and vague and confused ; Browning drinks in the living world at every pore. There exist, in fact, some men so rarely endowed that their minds are as revolving mirrors, which, without effort, reflect clearly everything that passes before them and around them in the world of life, and without effort retain all the images constantly ready for use; while we ordinary men can only with fixed purpose and long endeavour catch and keep some very small fragments of the whole. Chaucer, Rabelais, Shakspere, Ben Jonson, Goethe, Scott, Balzac, are familiar examples of this quietly rapacious, indefinitely capacious acquisitiveness, men of whom we can say, “They have learned everything and forgotten nothing”; and the star of Browning is of the first magnitude in this constellation.

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