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Lot 28
BROWNING, ROBERT (1812-1889, poet)

Sold for £ 1,680 (US$ 2,020) inc. premium
BROWNING, ROBERT (1812-1889, poet)
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ('Robert Browning'), to Miss [Barbara] Lyall, fulfilling her request for his opinion as to whether her brother's [Sir Alfred Lyall's] poem ['Retrospection'] is 'good in any way', returning it with thanks for the pleasure it has afforded him ('...I honestly think it very good indeed, a striking incident worthily commemorated and adequately rendered...'), and offering two suggestions for its improvement ('...I see no other defects than the trifling ones of a bad rhyme or two ("gleaming - dream in" – "quarter - water –"), which defects I should not mention were there anything greater to observe upon: besides, correction is easy...'), 1 page, octavo, integral leaf laid down on an album leaf with a near-contemporary note identifying Mrs R. Webb (née Barbara Lyall), naming her brother as the author of the poem 'Retrospection' and stating that it was afterwards published, with the original autograph envelope, stamped and postmarked, addressed to 'Miss Lyall, Palazzo Civrano, S.Gio. Grisostomo, Venezia', Palazzo Giustiniani-Recanati [Venice], 10 October 1883

Footnotes

  • Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall (1835-1911) was a long-serving civil servant in India, a literary historian and a poet. In India he rose to be Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, Lieutenant-Governor of the North West Provinces and Chief Commissioner of Oudh. He published Verses Written in India, 1889 (sixth edition 1905), and other books of poetry. He also wrote a life of Tennyson.

    Lyall is noted in the Cambridge History of England and America, volume XIII. The Victorian Age, as writing 'in a style very much his own, though Browning must have had considerable influence on his way of poetising thought if not of framing expression for it.' It is also stated there that most of his poems in Verses Written in India are 'rather studies of Indian, than of English, nature; and the situation between the two is sometimes strikingly put, as in Badminton, the half parodied, half serious Land of Regrets and the sombre Retrospection.'
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