1919.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 10, 223–224.


Friday Night. [16 May 1845] [1]

My friend is not “mistrustful” of me, no, because she don’t fear I shall make mainprize of the stray cloaks & umbrellas down-stairs, or turn an article for “Colburn’s” on her sayings & doings up-stairs—but, spite of that, she does mistrust .. so mistrust my common sense; nay, uncommon and dramatic-poet’s sense, if I am put on asserting it!—all which pieces of mistrust I could detect, and catch struggling, and pin to death in a moment, and put a label on, with name, genus & species, just like a horrible entomologist; only I wo’n’t, because the first visit of the North wind will carry the whole tribe into the Red Sea [2] —and those horns and tails and scalewings are best forgotten altogether. And now will I say a cutting thing and have done: have I treated my friend so,—or said even to myself, much less to her, she is even as—“Mr Simpson” [3] who desireth the honor of the acquaintance of Mr B. whose admirable works have long been his, Simpson’s, especial solace in private—and who accordingly is led to that personage by a mutual friend—Simpson blushing as only adorable ingenuousness can, and twisting the brim of his hat like a sailor giving evidence. Whereupon Mr B. beginneth by remarking that the rooms are growing hot—or that he supposes Mr S. has not heard if there will be another adjournment of the House tonight—whereupon Mr S. looketh up all at once, brusheth the brim smooth again with his sleeve, and takes to his assurance once more, in something of a huff, and after staying his five minutes out for decency’s sake, noddeth familiarly an adieu, and spinning round on his heel ejaculateth mentally—“Well,—I did expect to see something different from that little yellow commonplace man .. and, now I come to think, there was some precious trash in that Book of his.”– Have I said “so will Miss Barrett ejaculate”? [4]

Dear Miss Barrett, I thank you for the leave you give me, and for the infinite kindness of the way of giving it. I will call at 2: on Tuesday—not sooner, that you may have time to write should any adverse circumstances happen .. not that they need inconvenience you, because .. what I want particularly to tell you for now and hereafter,—do not mind my coming in the least, but,—should you be unwell, for instance,—just send or leave word, and I will come again, and again, and again—my time is of no importance, and I have acquaintances thick in the vicinity.

Now if I do not seem grateful enough to you, am I so much to blame? <Don’t let me forget to say, that> [5] You see it is high time you saw me, for I have clearly written myself out!

Ever yours,


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St / Cavendish Square.

Postmark: 12NN12 MY17 1845 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 14 [altered from “13”].

Published: RB-EBB, pp. 67–68.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Cf. Exodus 10:19.

3. There is a William Wooley Simpson of 8 Montague Place, listed in RB’s address book at 8 Montague Square (vol. 9, p. 393); however, we have no evidence to suggest that this is the Mr. Simpson to whom RB is referring. We are unable to provide additional information.

4. Here, RB made and marked out two false starts as follows: “And, remember, before you call any wish of mine extravagant, that I” and “You will.”

5. RB crossed out this passage and concluded his letter.


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