"How Gratifying"

Robert Browning and his son 'Pen', Ca' Rezzonico, Venice
There is a plaque on the wall of Ca' Rezzonico, which I always find amusing. It marks the death of the Victorian poet Robert Browning (1812-89), who is, rather endearingly, referred to as Roberto Browning. 

In 1887 Browning's only son 'Pen' bought Ca' Rezzonico on the strength of his recent marriage to a wealthy American heiress, Fannie Coddington. The couple quickly set about restoring the great Baroque pile, one of the grandest palazzi on the Grand Canal. 

Two years later Browning senior was staying at the Ca' Rezzonico when he fell ill. He had caught a chill while out walking in the fog on the Lido. The chill turned to bronchitis and the poet died in the evening of December 12th, 1889. 

On that day he had received a telegram from his publisher about the reception of his latest poem 'Asolando'. Pen read it out to his father: "Reviews in all this day's papers most favourable, edition nearly exhausted". 

'How gratifying' was Browning's response before lapsing into unconsciousness. They were his last words. 
Plaque to Robert Browning, Ca' Rezzonico, Venice.


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