NO, Jansy! VN’s usage is correct. “Mollitious” in English is an adjectival form of the noun “mollitude.” To complicate matters, the rules allow us to form the noun “mollitiousness” from the adjective, giving us a legal but superfluous synonym for “mollitude.” Likewise, using the –ate and –ation suffixes, we can go from adj. “mollitious” to verb “mollitate” and yet another noun, “mollitation.” An even simpler noun ending gives us “mollity!” Of these four valid nouns (mollitude, mollitiousness, mollitation and mollity) VN preferred “mollitude.” It does have a nice resonance/rhyme with “solitude,” but the choice is quite arbitrary.

What makes English grammar so divinely agonizing is that adjectives often appear as noun-like. I can write
“Mollitude will prevail!”
“The mollitious will prevail!”
Here we have a hidden, implied noun modified by the adjective “mollitious.”

On 23/11/2008 16:08, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

Stan Kelly-Bootle [ to M.R ] are overlooking some basic linguistic “truths.” [...] Browning was a prodigious linguist, a master of Latin and Greek by age 14 or so [...] Re-”mollitude”: one must distinguish the different levels of “neologization.” [...]Latin roots especially were borrowed and grammatically Anglicized en masse with obvious meanings [...] But, as a separate word-forming mechanism, we have many “rules” in English whereby parts-of-speech can be transformed: nouns into adjectives; verbs into nouns; adjectives into adverbs[...] I hope this observation will reduce the “argufaction” over NATURAL variants such as “mollitude” (noun) and “mollitious” (adjective).

JM: A tropical country might favor the frequent choice of words which describe slow-moving, limp, lazy, soft things and their descriptive variations from etymological "molle" into "mole" ( moleza, molejo,  manemolência; v.amolecer/mollify), in an intuitive Latin-mood.
I prefer Browning's choice of "mollitious" (in Portuguese it comes as a noun, in regionalistic malicious "malemolencia)  -  to VN's "mollitude", as it was rendered in ADA (  "the luxury and mollitude of my first Villa Venus".) for which I found no equivalent in our modern popular usage or any clear meaning ("softness"=""moleza", "molenga").
Another strange ring in my lazy ears comes from VN's creation of "viatic" applied to roads ( as in "Glory" and "Lolita"). We find "viary" in this sense ( for  train or car highways), whereas "viatic" has acquired distinct meanings ( the holy-host carried by a priest to a moribund catholic; travel expenses; small change; food stored during travels).
Excuse me for this comparative "argufaction" on the English rules for "neologization", also because I have no examples of Browning's sentences to be certain that his variations are more in "toon" with another actual and thriving language.

S K-B: Jansy’s reference to literary “swans” reminds me that VN would also have picked up from his Cambridge days the donnish-waspish limerick that was still popular during my terms (1950-55)...
JM: Oh! Donnish humor?
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