Correspondence

1922.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 10, 227–228.

[London]

Wednesday morning. [21 May 1845][1]

Indeed there was nothing wrong—how could there be? And there was everything right—as how shd there not be? And as for the ‘loud speaking,’ I did not hear any!—and, instead of being worse, I ought to be better for what was certainly (to speak it, or be silent of it,) happiness & honour to me yesterday.

Which reminds me to observe that you are so restricting our vocabulary, as to be ominous of silence in a full sense, presently. First, one word is not to be spoken—and then, another is not. And why? Why deny me the use of such words as have natural feelings belonging to them—and how can the use of such be “humiliating” to you?[2] If my heart were open to you, you cd see nothing offensive to you in any thought there or trace of thought that has been there—but it is hard for you to understand, with all your psychology (and to be reminded of it I have just been looking at the preface of some poems by some Mr Gurney where he speaks of “the reflective wisdom of a Wordsworth & the profound psychological utterances of a Browning”)[3] it is hard for you to understand what my mental position is after the peculiar experience I have suffered, & what a τι εμοι και σοι;[4] sort of feeling is irrepressible from me to you, when, from the height of your brilliant happy sphere, you ask, as you did ask, for personal intercourse with me. What words but ‘kindness’ .. but “gratitude”——but I will not in any case be unkind, & ungrateful, & do what is displeasing to you. And let us both leave the subject with the words—because we perceive in it from different points of view,—we stand on the black & white sides of the shield,—& there is no coming to a conclusion.

But you will come really on tuesday—& again, when you like & can together—& it will not be more “inconvenient” to me to be pleased, I suppose, than it is to people in general—will it, do you think? Ah—how you misjudge! Why it must obviously & naturally be delightful to me to receive you here when you like to come, & it cannot be necessary for me to say so in set words——believe it of

Your friend

EBB.

Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.

Postmarks: 1845 MY22 8Mg8 A; 10FN10 MY22 1845 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 14.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 70–72.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. The pronoun is underscored three times.

3. EBB is referring to the preface of Gurney’s Love’s Legends: Poems (1845) which concludes: “I make no pretension in these poems to the reflective wisdom of a Wordsworth, or to the deep psychological utterances of a Browning” (p. vi). See Reconstruction, A1111, as well as letter 1803.

4. “What have I to do with thee?” (Mark 5:7).

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