1339.  EBB to Arabella (“Cissy”) Butler

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 7, 258–259.


Friday– July 29 [sic, for 28]. 1843. [1]

It is hard for me to express to you my dearest Sissy, how touched I am by this gift of yours, .. this very pretty & elegant purse! That you should think of me once & for a moment, when you are suffering yourself as much as I fear you do, would be a reason for me to thank you—but that you should have thought of me long enough to have completed the number of all these beautiful blue stitches, is such a very touching kindness, that I can only wish I were near enough to kiss the dear little hand which consented to be the instrument of it– It is a very very pretty purse: and if the prettiness of the gift is less thought of by me than the goodness of the giver, it is not the purse’s fault certainly. Thank you a hundred times, my dear Sissy– To hear that you were a great, great deal better, would give me more pleasure than if it were Fortunatus’s purse [2] & could not be emptied of guineas– And God, if it be His will, will cause me to hear soon that you are better—if it be His will, and if His wisdom choose health for you instead of sickness, as the best thing– I am sure that my dear Sissy never doubts of the wisdom & goodness of the decisions of God; & that she, who has known & loved Him so long in the face of His blessed Son, trusts him constantly in suffering as in joy, and receives willingly from His hands those “all things” which must “work together for good” [3] to her as to all who love Him–

There is our naughty George who is only good to you—(if he is good to you as dear Bummy says)—& I hope you will scold him well, Sissy, when you see him next, for his extreme impertinence, in daring to expect a letter from me, when I wrote a long letter to him which he never answered, more than a week ago.

At four oclock today I am going to try to follow your excellent example & take an airing in a chair. I am afraid I shall not like it as well as you do,—and indeed I shall not have your avenues of green shadow to drive about in, but must be satisfied with red shadows of houses instead. Well! I shall be satisfied, I hope, in any case! And in order to be so, I repress the laziness or cowardice which is at the bottom of my soul, & by force of which I prefer lying on the sofa to any chair whatever–

And now, dear Sissy, I am to confess to you that I have a little present for you, .. a book, .. which for several days has been meditating how to fly to you, .. and which is siezed with a fit of shame at the sight of your purse, lest you should imagine that, like the old Greek warriors, you and I are exchanging presents! [4] Promise not to think such a thing—promise to think it is only a coincidence of thoughts .. and the parcel shall go to you tomorrow or the day after. Now I shall consider that promise solemnly given!——

I will write to dearest Bummy another day!– Give my love to her, & a thousand thanks for her letters, & her hope of your being a shade better yesterday! May God bless you with the best blessings of Heaven & earth! I think very much of you, dear Sissy!

My love to Arlette—or I should rather say, all our loves to all of you– Mary Hunter is spending the last few days of her holidays with us, & seems to me to be grown almost too tall & old for schooldays. She does not sleep here, but at Miss Trepsacks: & now while I am writing, she & Arabel have walked up to St John’s wood to see Mr Boyd & Mrs Hayes,—tell Bummy.

Once more, may God bless you!

Your affectionate Ba–

Address: Miss Arabella Butler / 9 Lansdowne Place / Cheltenham.

Publication: None traced.

Manuscript: Armstrong Browning Library.

1. 29 July 1843 was a Saturday.

2. i.e., inexhaustible.

3. Romans, 8:28.

4. Iliad, VI, 226–236.


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