Page:Men of the Time, eleventh edition.djvu/196

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179
BROWNING.

kindness and moral influences in the treatment of lunatics. He was the first person in this country to give a systematic course of lectures on insanity, and his numerous writings and essays have had a marked influence upon the study of psychology as a branch of medical science. He was (1867) President of the Medico-Psychological Association; and in the same year he delivered a course of Lectures on Mental Diseases in Edinburgh University during the illness of Professor Laycock. In 1870 he resigned the Commissionership in Lunacy, in consequence of impairment of vision. He is now again connected with the Crichton Institution as Psychological Consultant.

BROWNING, Robert, poet and dramatist, was born in 1812, at Camberwell, Surrey, and educated at the University of London. His father's family being dissenters, his mind was trained and his character formed under influences less peculiarly English than those to which youths are exposed in the great public schools and Universities. At the age of twenty he went to Italy, and during his residence in that country he diligently studied its medieval history, and became acquainted with the life of the people. His first published attempt in poetry was "Pauline," a tale in verse, to which was appended "Paracelsus" (1835), a dramatic poem—dramatic in form, at least—in which the principal character is the celebrated empiric and alchymist of the sixteenth century. This work did not attract general attention; but among the discerning few it was welcomed as the production of a truly original mind, rich in performances, and richer still in promise. In 1837 Mr. Browning's tragedy of "Strafford" was presented on the stage in London, but it met with very moderate success, in spite of Macready's masterly personification of the hero. In 1840 Mr. Browning published "Sordello," a poem, the subject of which was drawn from the supposed life of the Provençal poet, mentioned in the sixth canto of Dante's "Purgatorio." The public pronounced this work to be an unintelligible rhapsody, and the author himself omitted "Sordello" from the edition of his collected poems. Between 1842 and 1846 there appeared from his pen several successive numbers of a collection of dramatic and lyric poems, to which he gave the title of "Bells and Pomegranates." Among these was a tragedy of striking poetical power, called "A Blot on the Scutcheon," which was produced at Drury Lane Theatre in 1843, but without marked success. Another play of his, "The Duchess of Cleves," was subsequently brought out at the Haymarket, Miss Cushman personating the heroine. In Nov., 1846, he married Miss Elizabeth Barrett, the distinguished poet (who died in 1861), and after his marriage he resided for some years in Italy, chiefly at Florence, making occasional visits to France and England. In 1849 his collected poems were published in two vols, in London, and reprinted in the United States. His "Christmas Eve and Easter Day" (1850), a poem embodying his impressions of the religious and spiritual aspects of the age, was followed by a collection of poems, entitled "Men and Women" (1855), one of the most powerful of his works. In addition to the above works, Mr. Browning has published "King Victor and King Charles;" "Dramatic Lyrics;" "Return of the Druses;" "Colombe's Birthday;" "Dramatic Romances;" "The Soul's Errand;" a new volume of Poems (1864); "The Ring and the Book," 4 vols.; "Balaustion's Adventure, including a Transcription from Euripides," 1871; "Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, Saviour of Society," 1871; "Fifine at the Fair," 1872; "Red Cotton Night-