"The Only Fault's With Time"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Browning, early in his literary career, cultivated the friendship of William Charles Macready, the greatest tragic actor of his time. The result of the friendship was a series of dramas encouraged by Macready but not enthusiastically received by the public. There can be no doubt, however, that the work helped to sharpen the talents which would later reach full maturation in the dramatic monologues. In one such drama, Luria, a historical figure of the fifteenth century, is cast as the protagonist of a tragedy. A noble Moor, he is the commander of the Florentine forces against the Pisans. His campaigns on the foreign battlefields are a brilliant success, but so is the scheme of his enemies at home to cover him with suspicion and thus undermine his influence and power in the city. Luria, much like Shakespeare's Coriolanus, is victimized by the fickle populace, but unlike Coriolanus he does not strike back in wrath against his false friends and patrons. Instead, he submits to the ignominy of a public trial and, overwhelmed with grief, later ends his life with poison in a final noble effort just before the falsity and rascality of the charges preferred against him are revealed. Prior to the suicide, Luria converses with Jacopo, the Secretary to the Commissary of the Republic of Florence, who has become convinced of the Moor's innocence:

And if, the trial past, their fame stand clear
To all men's eyes, as yours, my lord, to mine–
Their ghosts may sleep in quiet satisfied. . . .
The heart leads surllier: I must move with you–
As greatest now, who ever were the best.
So, let the last and humblest of your servants
Accept your charge, as Braccio's heretofore,
And tender homage by obeying you! [Jacopo goes.]
Another! Luria goes not poorly forth.
If we could wait! The only fault's with time;
All men become good creatures: but so slow!