The Brownings almost invariably came over in the afternoon to tea on the grass terrace.1 Mr Hamilton Wild,2 the genial artist, was a constant guest at the villa, and painted a charming little picture that perished, unfortunately, in a Boston fire. With the picturesque background of the villa there were grouped around the tea-table the Brownings, Mr Landor, and my mother and father; in the distance my brothers Waldo and Julian playing games with Pen Browning, whilst I, an awkward little girl, sat on the garden-wall near the tea-table listening to the talk of the elders, as in memory I am listening today. It seems to me very vivid still. Would that I could record it word for word, so full of interest and vigour and covering such space of thought! Mr Browning and my father were always the principal talkers, and so to speak capped each other’s verses.3 … Mr Landor was most extravagant in the expression of his likes and dislikes. His admiration of Garibaldi amounted to hero worship, and he followed every act of his life with intense interest; not so with Louis Napoleon, for whom he had the greatest contempt, never losing a chance when he could utter his anathema against him. … Mrs Browning, with her face hidden under her large hat and curls, would be stirred past endurance by these assaults on her hero who was her ‘Emperor evermore’,4 and would raise her treble voice even to a shrill pitch in protest, until Mr Browning would come into the fray as mediator.
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