2020.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 59–61.


[Postmark: 4 September 1845]

Indeed my headaches are not worth enquiring about—I mean, they are not of the slightest consequence & seldom survive the remedy of a cup of coffee. I only wish it were the same with everybody—I mean, with every head! Also there is nothing the matter otherwise—& I am going to prove my right to a “clean bill of health” by going into the park in ten minutes. Twice round the inner enclosure is what I can compass now—which is equal to once round the world—is it not?

I had just time to be afraid that the parcel had not reached you– The reason why I sent you the poems was that I had a few copies to give to my personal friends, & so, wished you to have one; & it was quite to please myself & not to please you that I made you have it,—& if you put it into the ‘plum-tree’ [1] to hide the errata, I shall be pleased still, if not rather more. Only let me remember to tell you this time in relation to those books & the question asked of yourself by your noble Romans, [2]  .. that just as I was enclosing my sixty-pounds debt to Mr Moxon, I did actually & miraculously receive a remittance of fourteen pounds from the selfsame bookseller of New York [3] who agreed last year to print my poems at his own risk & give me ‘ten per cent on the profit.’ Not that I ever asked for such a thing! They were the terms offered. And I always considered the ‘per centage’ as quite visionary .. put in for the sake of effect, to make the agreement look better! But no—you see! One’s poetry has a real ‘commercial value,’ if you do but take it far away enough from the ‘civilization of Europe’. When you get near the backwoods & the red Indians, it turns out to be nearly as good for something as ‘cabbages,’ after all! Do you remember what you said to me of cabbages versus poems, in one of the first letters you ever wrote to me?—of selling cabbages & buying ‘Punches’? [4]

People complain of Dr Chambers & call him rough & unfeeling—neither of which I ever found him for a moment,—& I like him for his truthfulness, which is the nature of the man, though it is essential to medical morality never to let a patient think himself mortal while it is possible to prevent it, .. & even Dr Chambers may incline to this on occasion. Still he need not have said all the good he said to me on saturday—he used not to say any of it,—& he must have thought some of it: and, any way, the Pisa-case is strengthened all round by his opinion & injunction, so that all my horror & terror at the thoughts of his visit, (& it’s really true that I wd rather suffer to a certain extent than be cured by means of those doctors!) had some compensation. How are you? Do not forget to say! I found among some papers today, a note of yours which I asked Mr Kenyon to give me for an autograph, two years ago. [5]

May God bless you dearest friend!

And I have a dispensation from ‘beef & porter’ εις τους αιωνας. [6] ‘On no account’ was the answer!–

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

Postmarks: 12NN12 SP4 1845 A; 1AN1 SP4 1845 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 48.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 181–182.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. RB’s “Garden-Fancies. II.—Sibrandus Schafnaburgensis,” line 17.

2. i.e., if he had got as much money as expected from sales of his works; see letter 2006.

3. Henry G. Langley; for the terms of EBB’s agreement with him, see letter 1640.

4. In letter 1837.

5. See letters 1252 and 1253.

6. “Forever” (a common phrase in the New Testament, e.g., Romans 1:25).


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