2034.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 86–87.


Wednesday evening. [17 September 1845] [1]

But one word before we leave the subject, & then to leave it finally,—but I cannot let you go on to fancy a mystery anywhere, in obstacles or the rest. You deserve at least a full frankness,—& in my letter I meant to be fully frank. I even told you what was an absurdity, .. so absurd that I should far rather not have told you at all, only that I felt the need of telling you all: and no mystery is involved in that, except as an ‘idiosyncracy’ is a mystery. But the “insurmountable” difficulty is for you & everybody to see, .. & for me to feel, who have been a very byword among the talkers, [2] for a confirmed invalid through months & years, & who, even if I were going to Pisa & had the best prospects possible to me, should yet remain liable to relapses & stand on precarious ground to the end of my life. Now that is no mystery for the trying of “faith”,—but a plain fact, which neither thinking nor speaking can make less a fact. But dont let us speak of it.

I must speak however (before the silence) of what you said & repeat in words for which I gratefully thank you—& which are not ‘ostentatious’ though unnecessary words—for, if I were in a position to accept sacrifices from you, I would not accept such a sacrifice .. amounting to a sacrifice of duty & dignity as well as of ease & satisfaction .. to an exchange of higher work for lower work .. & of the special work you are called to, for that which is work for anybody. I am not so ignorant of the right uses & destinies of what you have & are. You will leave the solicitor generalships to the Fitzroy Kellys, & justify your own nature,—& besides, do me the little right, (over the over-right you are always doing me) of believing that I would not bear or dare to do you so much wrong, if I were in the position to do it.

And for all the rest I thank you .. believe that I thank you .. & that the feeling is not so weak as the word. That you should care at all for me has been a matter of unaffected wonder to me from the first hour until now—& I cannot help the pain I feel sometimes, in thinking that it would have been better for you if you never had known me– May God turn back the evil of me! Certainly I admit that I cannot expect you .. just at this moment, .. to say more than you say, .. & I shall try to be at ease in the consideration that you are as accessible to the “unicorn” [3] now as you ever could be at any former period of your life– And here I have done. I had done living, I thought, when you came & sought me out!—and why? & to what end? That, I cannot help thinking now. Perhaps just that I may pray for you—which were a sufficient end. If you come on saturday I trust to you to leave this subject untouched,––as it must be indeed henceforth–

I am yours


No word more of Pisa– I shall not go, I think.

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

Postmark: 10FN10 SP18 1845 M.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 54.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 203–204.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Cf. I Kings 9:7.

3. See letter 2031, note 3.


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