917.  EBB to Hugh Stuart Boyd

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 5, 248–249.


March 2. 1842.

My ever very dear friend,

Do receive the assurance that whether I leave out the right word or put in the wrong one, you never can be other to me than just that while I live—& why not after I have ceased to live? And now––what have I done in the meantime, to be called ‘Miss Barrett’? “I pause for a reply”.[1]

Of course it gives me very great pleasure to hear you speak so kindly of my first paper. Some ‘bona avis’[2] as good as a nightingale must have shaken its wings over me as I began it! & if it will but sit on the same spray while I go on towards the end, I shall rejoice exactly fourfold. The third paper went to Mr Dilke today—& I was so fidgetty about getting it away, (& it seemed to cling to my writingcase with both its hands) that I wd not do any writing, even as little as this note, until it was quite gone out of sight. You know it is possible that he, the editor, may not please to have the fourth paper—but even in that case, it is better for the “Remarks” to remain fragmentary, than be compressed till they are as dry as a hortus siccus[3] of poets.

Certainly you do & must praise my number one too much– Number one (that’s myself) thinks so– I do really—& the supererogatory virtue of kindness may be acknowledged out of the pale of the Romish Church.

In regard to Gregory & Synesius, you will see presently that I have not wronged them altogether.

As you have ordered the Athenæums, I will not send one tomorrow so as to repeat my illfortune of being too late. But tell me if you would like to have any from me, & how many?

It was very kind in you to pat Flush’s head in defiance of danger & from pure regard for me.[4] I kissed his head where you had patted it; which association of approximations I consider as an imitation of shaking hands with you & as the next best thing to it– You understand—dont you? that Flush is my constant companion, my friend, my amuser, lying with his head on one page of my folios while I read the other? (Not your folios—I respect your books, be sure) Oh! I dare say if the truth were known, Flush understands Greek excellently well.

I hope you are right in thinking that we shall meet again. Once I wished not to live—but the faculty of life seems to have sprung up in me again, from under the crushing foot of heavy grief.

Be it all as God wills.

Believe me, your ever affectionate


Address: H S Boyd Esqr / 21 Downshire Hill / Hampstead.

Publication: LEBB, I, 99–100.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Julius Caesar, III, 2, 34.

2. “Lucky bird”; i.e., one that would have furnished good omens to a Roman augurer.

3. “Dry garden.”

4. Presumably Arabel took Flush with her when paying the visit forecast in letter 913.


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