1984.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 4–6.


Saturday– [26 July 1845][1]

You say too much indeed in this letter which has crossed mine—& particularly as there is not a word in it of what I most wanted to know & want to know .. how you are .. for you must observe, if you please, that the very paper you pour such kindness on, was written after your own example & pattern, when, in the matter of my Prometheus, (such different wearying matter!) you took trouble for me & did me good. Judge from this, if even in inferior things, there can be gratitude from you to me!——or rather, do not judge—but listen when I say that I am delighted to have met your wishes in writing as I wrote,—only that you are surely wrong in refusing to see a single wrongness in all that heap of weedy thoughts, & that when you look again, you must come to the admission of it. One of the thistles is the suggestion about the line


‘Was it singing, was it saying,’[2]

which you wrote so, & which I proposed to amend by an intermediate ‘or’. Thinking of it at a distance, it grows clear to me that you were right, & that there shd be & must be no ‘or’ to disturb the listening pause. Now shd there? And there was something else, which I forget at this moment—& something more, than the something else. Your account of the production of the poem interests me very much—& proves just what I wanted to make out from your statement the other day, & they refused, I thought, to let me, .. that you are more faithful to your first Idea than to your first plan. Is it so? or not?. ‘Orange’ is orange—but which half of the orange, is not predestinated from all eternity—: is it so?

Sunday. I wrote so much yesterday & then went out, not knowing very well how to speak or how to be silent (is it better today?) of some expressions of yours—& of your interest in me—which are deeply affecting to my feelings—whatever else remains to be said of them. And you know that you make great mistakes, .. of fennel for hemlock, of four oclocks for five oclocks,[3] & of other things of more consequence, one for another,—& may not be quite right besides as to my getting well “if I please!” .. which reminds me a little of what Papa says sometimes when he comes into this room unexpectedly & convicts me of having dry toast for dinner, & declares angrily that [“]obstinacy & dry toast have brought me to my present condition, & that if I pleased to have porter & beefstakes instead, I shd be as well as ever I was, in a month. ..” But where is the need of talking of it? What I wished to say was this——that if I get better or worse .. as long as I live & to the last moment of life, I shall remember with an emotion which cannot change its character, all the generous interest & feeling you have spent on me——wasted on me I was going to write—but I would not provoke any answering—& in one obvious sense, it need not be so. I never shall forget these things, my dearest friend,—nor remember them more coldly. God’s goodness!—I believe in it, as in His sunshine here—which makes my head ache a little, while it comes in at the window, & makes most other people gayer—it does me good too in a different way. And so, may God bless you! & me in this .. just this, … that I may never have the sense, .. intolerable in the remotest apprehension of it, .. of being, in any way, directly or indirectly, the means of ruffling your smooth path by so much as one of my flintstones! —In the meantime you do not tire me indeed even when you go later for sooner .. & I do not tire myself even when I write longer & duller letters to you (if the last is possible) than the one I am ending now .. as the most grateful (leave me that word) of your friends


How cd you think that I shd speak to Mr Kenyon of the book?[4] All I ever said to him has been that you had looked through my Prometheus for me—& that I was not ‘disappointed in you’ .. those two things on two occasions. I do trust that your head is better.

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

Postmark: 10FN10 JY28 1845 A.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 35.; + Wednesday, July 30 / 3–4¾. p.m. [11].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 136–138.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. “The Flight of the Duchess,” line 512 (see Appendix IV, p. 379).

3. See the previous letter and no. 1963.

4. i.e., EBB’s An Essay on Mind (see letter 1975, note 5).


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