BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861). Poems before Congress. London: Chapman and Hall, 1860. 8° (185 x 120mm). (Without preliminary blank.) Red morocco gilt by the Rowfant bindery, preserving original red cloth covers at end, top edge gilt, others uncut (upper joints rubbed). Provenance: William F. Gable (bookplate dated 1910). With a tipped-in autograph letter, 1¼p., small 8°, signed 'your ever affectionate EBB,' to Mme. [Emil] Braun [formerly Anne Thomson], undated [?Casa Guidi, Florence, c. 1850], declining an invitation to a musical evening because 'Robert has just finished an exhortation to me against risking my life in such cold air, for the sake of even you & all the music of all the angels.' Her heart has been more affected by her kindness than it could have been by the music itself, and she adds that 'Robert will go to you of course.'
FIRST EDITION, published on 12 March 1860, the title referring to an expected congress on Italy which had failed to take place in January (the work was pirated in New York as Napoleon III in Italy and Other Poems). Madame Braun, born Anne Thomson, was married to the archaeologist, August Emil Braun. A letter in the Browning collection at the University of Texas, from Elizabeth to Mme. Braun, dated Casa Guidi Saturday evening [c. 1850], also concerns Elizabeth's illness ('I have not left the house these two months'). Both the Brownings attended a musical evening at the home of the Brauns on 28 February, 1854, together with the Prince of Prussia (Garrett A Browning Chronology, p. 96). In April 1845 Elizabeth had begun work on translations from the Greek poets which were for the 'Classical album' of Anne Thomson. Her letter above is not in Kelley & Hudson. Barnes A12.