Edited by Franklin T. Baker
shop Blougram and Mr. Sludge will not take place in the ranks of artistic creations. Nor can the poet's "special pleading" for such types, however ingenious it may be, whatever philanthropy of soul it may imply, be regarded as justification. Sometimes, indeed, the poet is led by his sympathy and his intellectual ingenuity into defences that are inconsistent with his own standards of the true and the beautiful.
The trait in Browning which appeals to the largest number of readers is his strenuous optimism. He will admit no evil or sorrow too great to be borne, too irrational to have some ultimate purpose of beneficence. "There shall never be one lost good," says Abt Vogler. The suicides in the morgue only serve to call forth his declaration:--
"My own hope is, a sun will pierce
The thickest cloud earth ever stretched;
That what began best can't end worst,
Nor what God blessed once, prove accurst."
He has no fear of death; he will face it gladly, in confidence of the lif