This book was written at the request of some of the members of the Browning Society, and was originally intended to be a primer. It bears the marks of this intention in its general scheme, and in the almost abrupt brevity which the desired limits of space seemed to impose on its earlier part. But I felt from the first that the spirit of Mr. Browning's work could neither be compressed within the limits, nor adapted to the uses, of a primer, as generally understood; and the book has naturally shaped itself into a kind of descriptive Index, based partly on the historical order and partly or the natural classification of the various poems.
realities constitutes him respectively a dramatic and a metaphysical poet; but, as the two kinds of reality are inseparable in human life, so are the corresponding qualities inseparable in Mr. Browning's work. The dramatic activity of his genius always includes the metaphysical. His genius always shows itself as dramatic and metaphysical at the same time.
Mr. Browning's genius is dramatic because it always expresses itself in the forms of real life, in the supposed experiences of men and women. These men and women are usually in a state of mental disturbance or conflict; indeed, they think much more than they act. But their thinking tends habitually to a practical result; and it keeps up our sense of their reality by clothing itself always in the most practical and picturesque language which thought can assume. It has been urged that he does not sink himself in his characters as a completely dramatic writer should; and this argument must stand for what it is worth. His personality may in some degree b