1154.  EBB to Hugh Stuart Boyd

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 6, 328–329.


[mid-February 1843][1]

My very dear friend,

The image you particularly admire in Ossian, I admire with you—altho’ I am not sure that I have not seen it or its like, somewhere in a classical poet Greek or Latin– Perhaps Ld Byron remembered it when in the ‘Siege of Corinth’ he said of his Francesca’s uplifted arm, “You might have seen the moon shine through.”[2] It reminds me also that Macclise the artist, a man of poetical imagination, gives such a transparency to the ghost of Banquo in his picture of Macbeth’s banquet, that we can discern through it the lights of the festival.[3] That is good poetry for a painter—is it not?

I send you the magazines which I have just received from America, & which contain, one of them, “The cry of the human,’[’] & the other, four of my sonnets. My correspondent tells me that the “Cry” is considered there, one of the most successful of my poems—but you probably will not think so. Tell me exactly what you do think. At page 343 of Graham’s Magazine, editor’s table, is a review of me[4]—which however extravagant in its appreciation, will give your kindness pleasure. I confess to a good deal of pleasure myself from these American courtesies, expressed not merely in the magazines, but in the newspapers,—a heap of which has been sent to me by my correspondent .. the New York Tribune, The Union, The Union Flag &c .. all scattered over with extracts from my books & benignant words about their writer. Among the extracts is the whole of the review of Wordsworth from the London Athenæum[5]—an unconscious compliment, as they do not guess at the authorship, & one which you wont thank them for– Keep the magazines as I have duplicates.

Dearest Mr Boyd, since you admit that I am not prejudiced about Ossian, I take courage to tell you what I am thinking of.

I am thinking (this is said in a whisper, & in confidence .. of two kinds!) I am thinking that you dont admire him quite as much as you did three weeks ago.

Ever most affectionately yours

Elizabeth B Barrett.

Arabel not being here, I send her love without asking for it–

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

Publication: LEBB, I, 119–121 (as [ca. the end of January 1843]).

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by the receipt of the magazines and newspapers from Cornelius Mathews mentioned in letter 1153.

2. Byron, The Siege of Corinth (1816), line 1562. EBB refers to Boyd’s comment in letter 1148.

3. “The Banquet Scene in Macbeth,” by Daniel Maclise (1806–70), showing the Ghost of Banquo sitting in Macbeth’s place, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840.

4. For the text of this, see pp. 379–380.

5. We have been unable to locate this reprint, nor have we found copies of The Union and The Union Flag. EBB’s sonnet on Haydon’s portrait of Wordsworth was reprinted in both The New-York Daily Tribune and The New-York Weekly Tribune (see letter 1161, note 5).


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