Autograph Letter Signed, two pages, octavo, 43 via Bocca di Leone [Rome], Friday, undated. To “My dear Reverend Hanna.” With the original black-bordered mourning envelope addressed in her hand.
“Will you allow us to introduce to you Mrs. Hamilton and her daughter, country-women of your own, who will commend themselves to you, I think, for better & closer reasons still. Mrs. Hamilton is much interested in the religious state of Italy, and whatever you can tell her about Tuscany in this relation will be listened to anxiously. If you give her a convert as a cameriera [chambermaid], by the way, you will do something very acceptable. She has asked me if I knew of such a person, and I could only refer her to you. We were glad to get your note with Mrs. Totteringham-whom we have not yet seen however, having attained simply to the exchanging of cards. Rome is very crowded, and not enchanting-to me at least. I shall not think of the Fountain of Trevi when I go away. Dear Florence keeps the first place with me still, and I wouldn’t exchange our Florentine cypresses for the Roman stone pines, not with Saint Peter’s thrown in. Yet we have all been well here, thank God. With my husband’s cordial regards to you.”
Written during the first of the Brownings’ two stays in Rome (where they went after spending seven years in Pisa and then Florence, following their marriage in September 1846). Robert and Elizabeth Browning arrived in Rome in November 1843. They stayed at the apartment of the American lawyer, poet and sculptor William Wetmore Story on via Bocca di Leone. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was working on Aurora Leigh at the time. Sadly the Story’s young son, Joe, caught a fever and died while they were there (hence the black-bordered stationery).
(Reference: Margaret Forster, Elizabeth Barrett Browning: The Life and Loves of a Poet.)
The recipient of this letter, the Rev. Robert Maxwell Hanna, was minister of the Free Church of Scotland, established in Rome in 1841. The Brownings are known to have inscribed poems to him. He is referred to several times in Philip Kelley, et al, eds., The Browning Correspondence, vol. 16 (2007).
This item is associated with these categories in our inventory:
- Lit – English/Irish