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ROBERT BROWNING was bom in London, May 7, 1812. His father was a clerk in the Bank of England, had a taste for literature, and encouraged it in his son, to whom he gave a liberal education by private tutors and the means of travel

. Robert's first published book, “ Pauline," a poem, appeared anonymously in 1833Years afterward Dante Rossetti found a copy in the British Museum, suspected it to be Browning's work, and wrote to ask him if it were not his. So strong 2 the poet's individuality even in his youth. His drama of “ Paracelsus" appeared in 1835; and in the same year Macready, the actor, made Browning's acquaintance, conceived a strong liking for him, and asked him for

a play. Accordingly

, “Strafford” was produced, and was put upon the stage at Covent Garden, May 1, 1837. Macready and Helen Faucit had the principal parts, and the piece was well received. Browning then wrote the plays“ King Victor and King Charles * and “The Return of the Druses,” but they were not acted, and the masque entitled “Pippa Passes.” The masterpiece among his dramas, “A Blot in the

Scutcheon," is said to have been written in five days. It was presented at Drury Lane in February, 1843, with Mr. Phelps and Helen Faucit in the principal parts, and was triumphantly successful, in spite of the fact that Macready, who had had a misunderstanding with Browning, appeared to be rather desirous to have it fail

. Lawrence Barrett produced it in Washington, in 1885, taking the part of Thorold. Browning's next play was “Colombe's Birthday," which was published in 1844, but was not put upon the stage in London till 1852. It was played at the Howard Athenæum, Boston, Mass., in 1854. “Luria” and “ A Soul's Tragedy” were published in 1846. In that year he married Elizabeth Barrett, and they took up their residence in Florence, where they spent most of their time until her death in 1861. He died in Venice, December 12, 1889, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

DRAMATIS PERSONA

MILDRED TRESHAM,
GUENDOLEN TRESHAM.
THOROLD, Earl Tresham.
AUSTIN TRESHAM.
HENRY, Earl Mertoun.
GERARD, and other Retainers of Lord Tresham.

TIME, 17—

A BLOT IN THE 'SCUTCHEON

ACT I

SCENE 1.- THE INTERIOR OF A LODGE IN LORD TRESHAM'S

PARK. MANY RETAINERS CROWDED AT THE WINDOW, SUP-
POSED TO COMMAND A VIEW OF THE ENTRANCE TO HIS
MANSION. GERARD, THE WARRENER, HIS BACK TO A TABLE
ON WHICH ARE FLAGONS, ETC.

F

IRST RET. Ay, do ! push, friends, and then you'll push

down me ! —

What for? Does any hear a runner's foot
Or a steed's trample or a coach-wheel's cry?
Is the Earl come or his least poursuivant?
But there's no breeding in a man of you
Save Gerard yonder: here's a half-place yet,
Old Gerard !

Ger. Save your courtesies, my friend.
Here is my place.

Second Ret. Now, Gerard, out with it!
What makes you sullen, this of all the days
l' the year? To-day that young, rich, bountiful,
Handsome Earl Mertoun, whom alone they match
With our Lord Tresham through the country-side,
Is coming here in utmost bravery
To ask our master's sister's hand ?
Ger.

What then?
Second Ret. What then? Why, you, she speaks to, if she

meets
Your worship, smiles on as you hold apart
The boughs to let her through her forest walks,
You, always favourite for your no-deserts,
You've heard these three days how Earl Mertoun sues
To lay his heart and house and broad lands too
At Lady Mildred's feet; and while we squeeze
Ourselves into a mousehole lest we miss
One congee of the least page in his train,
You sit o' one side — “There's the Earl," say I-
“What then?" say you !

Third Ret.

I'll wager he has let
Both swans he tamed for Lady Mildred swim
Over the falls and gain the river !
Ger.

Ralph,
Is not to-morrow my inspecting-day
For you and for your hawks?
Fourth Ret.

Let Gerard be!
He's coarse-grained, like his carved black cross-bow stock,
Ha ! look now, while we squabble with him, look !
Well done, now is not this beginning, now,
To purpose ?

First Ret. Our retainers look as fine —
That's comfort. Lord, how Richard holds himself
With his white staff! Will not a knave behind
Prick him upright?

Fourth Ret. He's only bowing, fool !
The Earl's man bent us lower by this much.

First Ret. That's comfort. Here's a very cavalcade !

Third Ret. I don't see wherefore Richard, and his troop
Of silk and silver varlets there, should find
Their perfumed selves so indispensable
On high days, holidays! Would it so disgrace
Our family if I, for instance, stood --
In my right hand a cast of Swedish hawks,
A leash of greyhounds in my left? —
Ger.

With Hugh
The logman for supporter, in his right
The bill-hook, in his left the brushwood-shears !
Third Ret. Out on you, crab! What next, what next? The

Earl !
First Ret. Oh! Walter, groom, our horses, do they match
The Earl's? Alas, that first pair of the six
They paw the ground - Ah, Walter ! and that brute
Just on his haunches by the wheel !
Sixth Ret.

Ay — Ay!
You, Philip, are a special hand, I hear,
At soups and sauces : what's a horse to you?
D'ye mark that beast they've slid into the midst
So cunningly? - then, Philip, mark this further :
No leg has he to stand on!
First Ret.

No? That's comfort.
Second Ret. Peace, cook! The Earl descends. — Well,

Gerard, see
The Earl at least ! Come, there's a proper man,
I hope ! Why, Ralph, no falcon, Pole or Swede,

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