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

Molinos was the founder of an exaggerated Quietism


25: It is difficult to reconcile this explicit denial of Pompilia's statements with the belief in her implied in her merely nominal punishment: unless we look on it as part of the formal condemnation which circumstances seemed to exact.]

[Footnote 26: A letter written in this strain was also produced on the trial; and Pompilia owned to having written it, but only in the sense of writing over in ink what her husband had traced in pencil--being totally ignorant of its contents.]

[Footnote 27: Count Guido thought, or affected to think, that these had been thrown by Caponsacchi.]

[Footnote 28: The disciple of Michael de Molinos, not to be confounded with Louis Molina, who is especially known by his attempt to reconcile the theory of grace with that of free will. Molinos was the founder of an exaggerated Quietism. He held that the soul could detach itself from the body so as to become indifferent to its action, and therefore non-responsible for it; and it was natural that all who defied the received laws of conduct, or were suspected of doing so, should be stigmatized as his followers. Molinism was a favourite bugbear among the orthodox Romanists of Innocent the Twelfth's day.]

[Footnote 29: A passing allusion is made to this Gomez case in one of the manuscript letters, the writer of which begs Cencini (clearly also an advocate), to send him the

papers concerning it. The place it occupies in the thoughts of the two lawyers, as Mr. Browning depicts them, is very characteristic of the manner in which his imagination has embraced and vivified every detail of the situation.]

[Footnote 30: The poems to which I refer as now included in "Men and Women" will be found so in the editions of 1868 and 1888-9; though the redistribution made in 1863 has much curtailed their number.]

[Footnote 31: It was in this poem that Mr. Browning first adopted the plan of spelling Greek names in the Greek manner. He did so, as he tells us in the preface to his "Agamemnon," "innocently enough;" because the change commended itself to his own eye and ear. He has even assured his friends that if the innovation had been rationally opposed, or simply not accepted, he would probably himself have abandoned it. But when, years later, in "Balaustion's Adventure," the new spelling became the subject of attacks which all but ignored the existence of the work from any other point of view, the thought of yielding was no longer admissible. The majority of our best scholars now follow Mr. Browning's example.]



The isolated monologues have a special significance, which is almost implied in their form, but is also distinct from it. Mr. Browning has made them the vehicle for most of the reasonings and reflections which make up so large a part of his imaginative life: whether presented in his own person, or, as is most often the case, in that of his men and women. As such, they are among those of his works which lend themselves to a rough kind of classification; and may be called "argumentative."

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