2037.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 89–90.


Thursday Mg [Postmark: 18 September 1845]

But you, too, will surely want, if you think me a rational creature, my explanation—without which all that I have said & done would be pure madness, I think—it is just “what I see” that I do see,—or rather it has proved, since I first visited you, that the reality was infinitely worse than I know it to be .. for at and after the writing of that first letter,[1] on my first visit, I believed—thro’ some silly or misapprehend[ed] talk, collected at second hand too—that your complaint was of quite another nature—a spinal injury irremediable in the nature of it:—had it been so—now speak for me, for what you hope I am, and say how that should affect or neutralize what you were, what I wished to associate with myself in you? But as you now are—! then if I had married you seven years ago, and this visitation came now first, I should be “fulfilling a pious duty,”[2] I suppose, in enduring what could not be amended—a pattern to good people in not running away .. for where were now the use and the good & the profit and——

I desire in this life, (with very little fluctuation for a man & too weak a one), to live and just write out certain things which are in me, and so save my soul– I would endeavour to do this if I were forced to “live among lions” as you once said[3]—but I should best do this if I lived quietly with myself and with you—that you cannot dance like Cerito[4] does not materially disarrange this plan—nor that I might (—beside the perpetual incentive and sustainment and consolation,) get, over and above the main reward, the incidental, particular and unexpected happiness of being allowed when not working to rather occupy myself with watching you, than with certain other pursuits I might be otherwise addicted to—this, also, does not constitute an obstacle, as I see obstacles.

But you see them—and I see you, and know my first duty and do it resolutely if not cheerfully.

As for referring again, till leave by word or letter—you will see.

And very likely, the tone of this letter even will be misunderstood—because I studiously cut out all vain words, protesting &c!—No—will it?


I said, unadvisedly, that Saturday was taken from me .. but it was dark and I had not looked at the tickets,—the hour of the performance is later than I thought: if to-morrow does not suit you, as I infer, let it be Saturday—at 3—and I will leave earlier, a little, and all will be quite right here: one hint will apprise me.

God bless you, dearest friend.


<Something else just heard, makes me reluctantly strike out Saturday

Monday then?>[5]

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: 3AN3 SP18 1845 D.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 55 [altered from “54”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 205–207.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Actually not RB’s “first letter” to EBB after their first meeting, but rather one written a day or two later, the one she asked him to destroy in letter 1925. Evidently, RB complied with her wish as he explained in letter 2085.

2. We have been unable to locate the source of this quotation.

3. In letter 1843 (see note 5).

4. Francesca Cerrito (1817–1909) was one of the great ballet dancers of her generation. “She was bondante et abondante, vivacious, voluptuous and with great strength and brio” (C.B.C. Wilson, A Dictionary of Ballet, 3rd ed., 1974).

5. The passage in brackets was enclosed as a postscript on a separate slip of paper.


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