The Death and Funeral of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  • William Wetmore Story


You have before this heard of course of the death of Mrs Browning. … This was sudden and unexpected at the last, for though she had always been so frail that one only wondered what kept soul and body together at all, we had become so accustomed to thinking of her as different from all others in the matter of health that we began to think she might even outlast us. Fifteen years ago her physicians told her that life was impossible, yet she had lived and borne a child and written immortal verses and shown an amazing energy of spirit and intellect. But last winter I had many fears that she was failing. The death of her father had struck her a hard blow; then her sister’s death struck her again, as it were, when she was down, and I feared that her vital energy, great as it was, might not resist. Yet she revived and, as spring came on, went out to drive, and, though weak, began to gather herself together again, even at one time projecting a journey to Paris. This however was impossible. Yet she went to Florence by vettura and did not suffer more than usual, and we were all hesitating, at Leghorn, whether we should not abandon our scheme of Switzerland for another summer together in Siena when the fatal news of her death reached us. Browning was to have come down to spend Sunday with us, but on Saturday night she was attacked with difficulty of breathing, and at dead of night he was forced to run for a physician, Dr Wilson, who remained with her all night and took a very gloomy view.1


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • William Wetmore Story

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