The Ring and the Book "Facts Are Facts"

Robert Browning

"Facts Are Facts"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The speaker, defending Guido who has murdered his wife and her parents, sarcastically relates the events that led to the murder. Not believing Pompilia's story of her husband's cruelty and her own innocence, he says that her flight from her husband was an obvious sign of her guilt, especially since she went with a very handsome priest who was not wearing his clerical clothes. That flight had ended in Castelnuovo, just outside Rome, when Guido came upon the pair and demanded the priest's punishment; the court at Rome had disciplined the priest but not as severely as Guido thought it should. The speaker, moreover, agrees with Guido: all of the evidence insinuates that he was grossly wronged, and if future husbands are to have any peace, he must be rewarded for defending his honor. The quotation occurs right after the speaker has described the circumstances under which Guido discovered his wife and the priest in Castlenuovo.

But facts are facts and flinch not; stubborn things,
And the question "Prithee, friend, how comes my purse
I' the poke of you?"–admits of no reply.
Here was a priest found out in masquerade,
A wife caught playing truant if no more;
While the Count, mortified in mien enough,
And, nose to face, an added palm in length,
Was plain writ "Husband" every piece of him:
Capture once made, release could hardly be.
Besides, the prisoners both made appeal,
"Take us to Rome!"