1731. EBB to Julia Martin
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 9, 172–175.
October 5th 1844
My dearest Mrs Martin,
I fancy that your kindness will be glad to hear what has relieved me much & delighted all of us,—the safe arrival of our dear travellers at Gibraltar. They had a passage of three weeks, with contrary winds all the time; & Henry suffered the usual penalty of this situation, though Stormie bore up gallantly. My letter was from the latter,—& written in the most animated spirits possible, full of present enjoyment & future expectation. “Give Papa our love” he says, “and tell him that we report ourselves “jolly”.[”] And the letter ended with an “hurrah for Malta”. You cannot think what an extreme joy the sight of his writing, & the satisfaction with which it is saturated to the very crossing of its ts & the dotting of its is .. gives us! I begin to be consoled, & to like the plan better! And then, Papa has heard from his man of business at Alexandria,—and he says that the seasons are healthy, & that he will pay his visitors every attention, & afford them the facility of seeing & hearing everything interesting,—& that there will be plenty of time for them to visit Thebes while the Statira is being loaded– Mr Kenyon says it is a spirited undertaking, & that I ought to applaud it instead of grumbling. He goes to Paris today, & is to have Rogers for a companion; notwithstanding which, he will not remain there, he vows to me, longer than a fortnight, if so long. My aunt & uncle Hedley returned from Ems to St Germains,—to remain until their house in Paris was prepared for them,—but the St Germains air proved too keen for him so late in the year, & he was forced to remove immediately & alone into Parisian lodgings. I am grieved to find that the morbid sensitiveness about his throat & chest, cannot have essentially diminished, to judge from this evidence—and I shall be by no means surprised to hear any day, that they have all gone back to Italy with its blue skies. There, he is always well. For the present winter, however, they will venture on staying in Paris. Dear Bummy will not overstay them long at St Germains, I believe,—& she is probably now about to turn her face to the Boulevards. Mrs Hedley spoke of her being well.
Well! Papa came back from Cornwall just as I came back to my own room,—& he was as pleased with his quarry as I was to have the sight again of his face. During his absence, Henrietta had a little Polka (which did not bring the house down on its knees—) and I had a transparent blind put up in my open window. There is a castle in the blind, and a castle-gateway, and two walks, & several peasants, & groves of trees which rise in excellent harmony with the fall of my green damask curtains, .. new, since you saw me last. Papa insults me with the analogy of a back window in a confectioner’s shop,—but is obviously moved when the sunshine lights up the castle, notwithstanding. And Mr Kenyon & everybody in the house grow ecstatic rather than otherwise, as they stand in contemplation before it, & tell me (what is obvious without their evidence) that the effect is beautiful, & that the whole room catches a light from it!– Well—& then, Mr Kenyon has given me a new table, with a rail round it, to consecrate it from Flushie’s paws, .. & large enough to hold all my varieties of vanities.
I had another letter from Miss Martineau the other day, .. and she says she has “a hat of her own,—a parasol of her own,”—and that she can “walk a mile with ease”!– What do miracles mean? Miracle or not, however, one thing is certain,—it is very joyful—and her own sensations, on being removed suddenly from the verge of the prospect of a most painful death, .. a most painful & lingering death, .. must be strange & overwhelming.
I hope I may hear soon from you, that you had much pleasure at Clifton, & some benefit in the air & change—and that dear Mr Martin & yourself are both as well as possible. Do you take in Punch? If not,—you ought– Mr Kenyon & I agreed the other day that we shd be more willing “to take our politics” from Punch than from any other of the newspaper oracles. Punch is very generous,—& I like him for everything except for his rough treatment of Louis Phillippe, whom I believe to be a great man .. for a king. And then it is well worth fourpence, to laugh once a week. I do recommend Punch to you. Douglas Jerrold is the editor I fancy; & he has a troop of “wits” .. such as Planché, Titmarsh, & the author of “Little Peddlington,” to support him.
And how do you get on with your allotment ground? Tell me everything. The change in the post office must be a great advantage,—as would be a change in the rector. For my own part, I never shd hesitate in such a case, to be a deserter,—but that, you know.
It appears probable, .. not impossible at any rate, .. that I shall have dear Miss Mitford in town sometime this winter. She is under a vow to come if she did not go to Tours, which she did not do; and I hold fast to the logical inference. In the case of her coming, it might be for two months, or six weeks at worst,—& a great pleasure to me, of course,—& the more so, that she always comes to lodgings close to us, & spends a part of every day with me.
Now I have written enough to tire you I am sure. May God bless you both! Did you read Coningsby, .. that very able book, without character, story, or specific teaching?– It is well worth reading, & worth wondering over. D’Israeli, who is a man of genius, has written, nevertheless, books which will live longer, & move deeper. But everybody shd read Coningsby. It is a sign of the times.
Believe me my dearest Mrs Martin
Your very affectionate
Publication: LEBB, I, 202–203 (in part).
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. i.e., to Paris, where she spent the greater part of this period in her life.
2. One example is a column entitled “Louis Philippe’s Visit to ‘Perfidious Albion’” (Punch, 28 September 1844, p. 147).
3. Mark Lemon (1809–70) was the editor of Punch until his death in 1870 when he was succeeded by Charles William Shirley Brooks (1816–74). Jerrold, James Robinson Planché (1796–1880), and William Makepeace Thackeray, who used the pseudonym Michael Angelo Titmarsh, were frequent contributors to Punch during this period. We have found no evidence that John Poole, author of Little Pedlington and the Pedlingtonians (1839), ever contributed to Punch.