Monday, July 2, 2007

Aldrich on Browning in his Pajahmas

To George E. Woodberry

Ponkapog, Mass., June 12, 1899.

Dear Woodberry,--Don't ever go away from home on a ten months' absence without leaving somebody behind to answer your letters for you. I have been swamped, and am only just getting my head out of my correspondence. I found my private affairs in a tangle, too, and not easy to straighten out. But the slug's in the bud, and God's in the sky, and the world is O. K., as Browning incidentally remarks. A propos of Browning, I've been reading his letters to "Ba" and "Ba's" letters to him and think it a shameful thing that they should be printed. All that ponderous love-making--a queer mixture of Greek roots and middle-age sickliness ("Ba" was 40 years old)--is very tedious. Here and there is a fine passage, and one is amused by the way the lovers patronize everybody they don't despise. But as a whole the book takes away from Browning's dignity. A man--even the greatest cannot stand being photographed in his pajahmas. Thank God, we are spared Shakespeare's letters to Anne Hathaway! Doubtless he wrote her some sappy notes. He did everything that ever man did.
. . .In haste as ever,

P. S. I met Browning on three occasions. He was very cordial to me in a man-of-the-world fashion. I did not care greatly for him personally. Good head, long body, short legs. Seated, he looked like a giant; standing, he just missed being a dwarf. He talked well, but not so well as Lowell. . . .

-from The Friendly Craft: a Collection of American Letters edited by Elizabeth Deering Hanscom, Ph.D. (New York: Macmillan, 1908) p. 202-203.

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