Not only was Elizabeth believed to be a hopeless invalid, but her father had forbidden any of his children to marry. He was a religious man, whose motto in his own household was apparently "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." He had the particular kind of piety that is most offensive to ordinary humanity. He gave his children, for whom he had a stern and savage passion, everything except what they wanted. He had an insane jealousy of any possible lover, and there is no doubt that he would have preferred to attend the funeral of any one of his children rather than a marriage. But Browning's triumphant love knew no obstacles, and he persuaded Elizabeth Barrett to run away with him. They were married in September, 1846, and shortly after left for Italy. Her father refused to see either of them in subsequent years, and returned his daughter's letters unopened. Is there any cause in nature for these hard hearts?
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