‘A constant flow of anecdotes and social allusions’

  • W. H. Mallock


Jowett1 … asked me to breakfast with him in order that I might meet Browning. Browning … had been shown certain manuscript verses — precious verses of my own. He had sent me a message of a flattering kind with regard to them, and he now held out both his hands to me with almost boisterous cordiality. His eyes sparkled with laughter, his beard was carefully trimmed, and an air of fashion was exhaled from his dazzling white waistcoat. He did not embarrass me by any mention of my own performances. He did not, so far as I remember, make any approach to the subject of literature at all, but reduced both Jowett and myself to something like complete silence by a constant flow of anecdotes and social allusions, which, though not deficient in point, had more in them of jocularity than wit. He was not, perhaps, my ideal of the author of ‘Men and Women’, or the singer of ‘Lyric Love’ as ‘a wonder and a wild desire’;2 but there the great man was, and when I quitted his presence and found myself once more in undergraduate circles, I felt myself shining like Moses when he came down from the mount.3

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • W. H. Mallock

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