E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The Ring and the Book. An idyllic epic by Robert Browning, founded on a cause célèbre of Italian history (1698). Guido Franceschini, a Florentine nobleman of shattered fortune, by the advice of his brother, Cardinal Paulo, marries Pompilia, an heiress, to repair his state. Now Pompilia was only a supposititious child of Pietro, supplied by Violante for the sake of preventing certain property from going to an heir not his own. When the bride discovered the motive of the bridegroom, she revealed to him this fact, and the first trial occurs to settle the said property. The count treats his bride so brutally that she quits his roof under the protection of Caponsacchi, a young priest, and takes refuge in Rome. Guido follows the fugitives and arrests them at an inn; a trial ensues, and a separation is permitted. Pompilia pleads for a divorce, but, pending the suit, gives birth to a son at the house of her putative parents. The count, hearing thereof, murders Pietro, Violante, and Pompilia; but, being taken red-handed, is executed.