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A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.)

The present edition of the Handbook includes a summary of Mr

had arrived, I had convinced

myself that where construction or arrangement was concerned, these faults could not be corrected: that I, at least, could discover no more artistic method of compressing into a small space, and to any practical purpose, an even relatively just view of Mr. Browning's work. The altered page-headings will, where they occur, soften away the harshness of the classification, while they remove a distinct anomaly: the discussion of such a poem as "Pauline" under its own title, such a one as "Aristophanes' Apology," under that of a group; but even this slight improvement rather detracts from than increases what little symmetry my scheme possessed. The other changes which, on my own account, I have been able to make, include the re-writing of some passages in which the needful condensation had unnecessarily mutilated the author's sense; the completing of quotation references which through an unforeseen accident had been printed off in an unfinished state; and the addition of a few bibliographical facts. By Mr. Browning's desire, I have corrected two mistakes: the misreading, on my part, of an historical allusion in "The Statue and the Bust," and of a poetical sentiment expressed in "Pictor Ignotus"--and, by the insertion of a word or sentence in the notice of each, expanded or emphasized the meaning of several of the minor poems. I should have stated in my first Preface, had not the fact appeared to me self-evident, that I owe to Mr. Browning's kindness all the additional matter which my
own reading could not supply: such as the index to the Greek names in "Aristophanes' Apology," and the Persian in "Ferishtah's Fancies;" the notes to "Transcendentalism," and "Pietro of Abano;" and that he has allowed me to study in the original documents the story of "The Ring and the Book." The two signed notes by which he has enriched the present edition have grown out of recent circumstances.


_January 11th, 1886._


The present edition of the Handbook includes a summary of Mr. Browning's "Parleyings," which from the contents of this volume, as well as from its recent appearance, finds its natural place in a Supplement.

I have added an Index to the six volumes of the "Works," which has been desired for greater facility of reference.

Various corrections and improvements of the nature indicated in the Preface to my second edition have been also made in the book.


_June 25th, 1887._


The deeply painful circumstances in which the Handbook re-appears have compelled me to defer the fulfilment of Mr. Browning's wish, that its quotation references should be adapted to the use of readers of his new edition. They also leave it the poorer by some interesting notes which he more than once promised me for my next reprint; I had never the heart to say to him: "Is it not safer to give them now?"

The correction, p. 149, of the note referring to p. 184 of "Aristophanes' Apology," was lately made by Mr. Browning in the Handbook, pending the time when he could repeat it in his own work. The cancelled footnote on my 353rd page means that he did remove the contradiction of which I spoke.

An open discussion on "Numpholeptos," which took place some months ago, made me aware that my little abstract was less helpful even than its brevity allowed, because I had emphasized the imagery of the poem where it most obscured--or least distinctly illustrated--its idea; and I re-wrote a few sentences which I now offer in their amended form. A phrase or two in "One Word More" has been altered for the sake of more literal accuracy. No other correction worth specifying has been made in the book.

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