May 1860–February 1861, Letters 4668–4837
Volume 28 finds the Brownings in the last weeks of their winter sojourn at Rome. They return to Florence on 8 June 1860. Late in the month, EBB is informed that her sister Henrietta is seriously ill. Reports of her worsening condition trouble EBB throughout the summer. Nevertheless, she continues to write and publish: “A Musical Instrument” in the July issue of The Cornhill Magazine, and “King Victor Emanuel Entering Florence” in The Independent (New York) on 16 August. Further contributions to the latter include “The Sword of Castruccio Castracani” (30 August), “Summing Up in Italy” (27 September), “Garibaldi” (11 October), and “De Profundis” (6 December). Meanwhile, Garibaldi and his volunteers help to lift EBB’s spirits. By the end of July he controls Sicily, and a little over two months later he enters a defeated Naples. RB’s de facto guardianship of W.S Landor, begun two years before, continues with only minor disturbances. In her letters to friends and family, EBB comments freely on the old poet’s character flaws. The Brownings return to Florence on 11 October. They leave for Rome on 18 November, arriving on the 24th, the day of Henrietta’s death. The news reaches them in early December. EBB is devastated, and by the close of the volume in February 1861, she has not left her apartment.