Those who have known Casa Guidi as it was could hardly enter the loved rooms now and speak above a whisper. They who have been so favoured can never forget the square anteroom, with its great picture and piano-forte, at which the boy Browning passed many an hour, — the little dining-room covered with tapestry, and where hung medallions of Tennyson, Carlyle, and Robert Browning, — the long room filled with plaster casts and studies, which was Mr Browning’s retreat, — and, dearest of all, the large drawing-room, where she always sat. It opens upon a balcony filled with plants, and looks out upon the old iron-gray church of San Felice. There was something about this room which seemed to make it a proper and especial haunt for poets. The dark shadows and subdued light gave it a dreamy look, which was enhanced by the tapestry-covered walls and the old pictures of saints that looked out sadly from their carved frames of black wood. Large book-cases, constructed of specimens of Florentine carving selected by Mr Browning, were brimming over with wise-looking books. Tables were covered with more gaily bound volumes, the gifts of brother authors. Dante’s grave profile, a cast of Keats’s face and brow taken after death, a pen-and-ink sketch of Tennyson, the genial face of John Kenyon, Mrs Browning’s good friend and relative, little paintings of the boy Browning, all attracted the eye in turn, and gave rise to a thousand musings. A quaint mirror, easy-chairs and sofas, and a hundred nothings that always add an indescribable charm, were all massed in this room. But the glory of all, and that which sanctified all, was seated in a low arm-chair near the door. A small table, strewn with writing-materials, books and newspapers, was always by her side.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Field

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