1657.  EBB to John Kenyon

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 9, 58–59.

50 Wimpole Street

July 22 [1844][1]

My dear cousin, you permit me to persecute you to the end of the world & farther .. & if I had known that I might & could do it, .. in time, .. I shd certainly have used the concession by sending you the only sheet I have had since we parted! It contains that ‘Rhapsody of Life’s progress’ which I told you I felt nervous about .. although I lean towards it myself. As to the long modern ballad, the printing of it in the present volumes appears impracticable when we remember that we shall pass the 270th page without it! I have written this morning a “Romance of a swan’s nest”[2] which as being briefer, .. & of a lighter & brighter colouring than the predominant tone of my poetry, I feel inclined to slip in before Pan–. You will be at home I trust this week! Oh, I shd like to finish the long poem, of course! But, even as it is, I have left out many a verse, which I set out with meaning to print in these two volumes!—and the volumes are thick enough & present broad mark enough to the darts of our enemies nevertheless, I am well aware.

After all the labour & excitement, the truth forces itself on me with an undeniable force, that I have had more pleasure & a more vivid sense of pleasure this summer, than I have been sensible to for several years, .. for five years,—or than I ever thought I cd attain again. For much of this, my dear kind friend, I have to thank you,–—because, you see, I was setting in to pain, with these very interests, .. & nothing except your goodness, cd have stopped me on my declivity. But I must not make my grateful thoughts burdensome to you. To me, they never can be burdensome … & not because they are not many.

You are enjoying the beauty & serenity of the scene you have chosen, .. I hope earnestly! Did you ever see the Pinney Cliffs in Dorsetshire & Devonshire, celebrated by Chatham?[3] When I thought that the most idealized scenery (that is, nearest to my ideal) of any I ever saw, they said that it was a blanker copy of your needles & the foliage about them!–

Ever affectionately yours


Address: John Kenyon Esqr / 3 Jubilee Terrace / Southsea / Isle of Wight.

Publication: None traced.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Year provided by the postmark.

2. “A Rhapsody of Life’s Progress” and “The Romance of the Swan’s Nest” were both included in the second volume of Poems (1844).

3. Theodore H. Mogridge, in A Descriptive Sketch of Sidmouth; Comprising Its Ancient and Modern History [1838?], p. 137, quotes William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708–78) as saying: “I have read, I have heard, of Pinney, but after all, the highest reach of my fancy, never pictured to me a spot, so diversified in its beauties—so fitted for contemplation—so peculiar in its combinations.” EBB described the scene in letter 684 as “the counterpart of Dreamland, on the earth.”


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