One day while Douglas Jerrold was recuperating from a serious illness at a seaside resort, a parcel arrived containing Robert Browning's abstruse philosophical poem Sordello. Disregarding his doctor's order to refrain from reading, Jerrold naturally examined the poem. Having read a few lines, however, he was utterly dismayed to find himself quite unable to understand a thing.
When his wife later entered his room, Jerrold, convinced that the illness had damaged his brain, thrust the volume into her unexpecting hands, demanding to know what she made of it. She dutifully read as he anxiously waited. "I don't understand what the man means," she declared at last. "It is gibberish." A delighted smile then broke out on Jerrold's face. "Thank God!" he cried. "I am not an idiot!"