1951.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 10, 275–277.


Monday– [23 June 1845] [1]

I had begun to be afraid that I did not deserve to have my questions answered, .. & I was afraid of asking them over again– But it is worse to be afraid that you are not better at all in any essential manner (after all your assurances) & that the medical means have failed so far. Did you go to somebody who knows anything? because there is no excuse, you see, in common sense, for not having the best & most experienced opinion when there is a choice of advice—& I am confident that that pain shd not be suffered to go on without something being done. What I said about nerves, related to what you had told me of your mother’s suffering & what you had fancied of the relation of it to your own [2] —& not that I could be thinking about imaginary complaints—I wish I could. Not (either) that I believe in the relation .. because such things are not hereditary .. are they?—& the bare coincidence is improbable.— Well, but—I wanted particularly to say this——Dont bring the Duchess with you on wednesday. I shall not expect anything, I write distinctly to tell you—& I would far far rather that you did not bring it. You see it is just as I thought—for that whether too much thought or study did or did not bring on the illness, .. yet you admit that reading & writing increase it .. as they wd naturally do any sort of pain in the head—therefore if you will but be in earnest & try to get well first, we will do the “Bells” afterwards, [3] & there will be time for a whole peal of them, I hope & trust, before the winter. Now do admit that this is reasonable, & agree reasonably to it. And if it does you good to go out & take exercise, why not go out & take it? nay, why not go away & take it? Why not try the effect of a little change of air——or even of a great change of air—if it shd be necessary .. or even expedient? Anything is better you know .. or if you dont know, I know—than to be ill, really, seriously—I mean for you to be ill, who have so much to do & to enjoy in the world yet .. & all those bells waiting to be hung! So that if you will agree to be well first, I will promise to be ready afterwards to help you in any thing I can do .. transcribing or anything .. to get the books through the press in the shortest of times—and I am capable of a great deal of that sort of work without being tired, having the habit of writing in any sort of position, & the long habit, .. since, before I was ill even, I never used to write at a table (or scarcely ever) but on the arm of a chair, or on the seat of one, sitting, myself, on the floor, & calling myself a Lollard [4] for dignity. So you will put by your ‘Duchess’ .. will you not?—or let me see just that one sheet—if one shd be written—which is finished? .. up to this moment, you understand?—finished now

And if I have tired & teazed you with all these words it is a bad opportunity to take—and yet I will persist in saying through good & bad opportunities that I never did “give cause” as you say, to your being ‘suspicious of my suspiciousness’ as I believe I said before. I deny my ‘suspiciousness’ altogether—it is not one of my faults. Nor is it quite my fault, that you & I shd always be quarrelling about over-appreciations & under-appreciations—& after all I have no interest nor wish, I do assure you, to depreciate myself—& you are not to think that I have the remotest claim to the Monthyon prize for good deeds in the way of modesty of selfestimation. [5] Only when I know you better, as you talk of .. & when you know me too well, .. the right & the wrong of these conclusions will appear in a fuller light than ever so much arguing can produce now– Is it unkindly written of me? no—I feel it is not!—and that “now & ever we are friends,” (just as you think) I think besides, & am happy in thinking so, & could not be distrustful of you if I tried. So may God bless you my ever dear friend—& mind to forget the ‘Duchess’ & to remember every good counsel!— Not that I do particularly confide in the medical oracles. They never did much more for me than .. when my pulse was above a hundred a [sic, for &] forty with fever, … to give me digitalis to make me weak,—& when I could not move without fainting (with weakness) .. to give me quinine to make me feverish again. Yes—& they could tell from the stethoscope, how very little was really wrong in me .. if it were not on a vital organ—& how I shd certainly live .. if I didnt die sooner. But then, nothing has power over affections of the chest, except God & his winds—& I do hope that an obvious quick remedy may be found for your head. But do give up the writing, & all that does harm!——

Ever yours my dear friend–


Miss Mitford talked of spending wednesday with me—& I have put it off to thursday:—and if you shd hear from Mr Chorley that he is coming to see her & me together on any day, .. do understand that it was entirely her proposition & not mine, [6] & that certainly it wont be acceeded to, as far as I am concerned,—as I have explained to her finally. I have been vexed about it—but she can see him down stairs as she has done before,—& if she calls me perverse & capricious, (which she will do) .. I shall stop the reflection by thanking her again & again (as I can do sincerely) for her kindness & goodness in coming to see me herself, so far!——

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

Postmark: 10FN10 JU24 1845 B.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 24.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 101–103.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Sarah Anna Browning’s frail health is oftened mentioned in RB’s letters, e.g., see letters 1170 and 1252; see also vol. 3, pp. 309–310.

3. See letter 1944 in which RB explains that he wants to complete his “last four ‘Bells’” by autumn.

4. An allusion to the adherents of John Wycliffe (d. 1384); see letter 582.

5. Antoine Auget Montyon (1733–1820) established foundations to provide relief to the poor; to award good behaviour of children; to provide assistance to the sick and the infirm; and to award annual prizes for acts of virtue and courage.

6. EBB seems to have changed her mind from earlier statements that she would admit several visitors during the summer (see letters 1865 and 1916).


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