2041. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 93–95.
Wednesday—Eg [24 September 1845]
I walked to town, this morning, and back again—so that when I found your note on my return, and knew what you had been enjoining me in the way of exertion, I seemed as if I knew, too, why that energetic fit had possessed me and why I succumbed to it so readily. You shall never have to intimate twice to me that such an insignificant thing, even, as the taking exercise should be done. Beside, I have many motives now for wishing to continue well– But Italy just now .. oh, no! My friends would go thro’ Pisa, too.
On that subject I must not speak[.] —And you have “more strength to lose,” and are so well, evidently so well,—that is, so much better, so sure to be still better—can it be that you will not go!
Here are your new notes on my verses—where are my words for the thanks? But you know what I feel, and shall feel—ever feel—for these and for all. The notes would be beyond price to me if they came from some dear Phemius of a teacher—but from you!
The Theatricals “went off” with great éclat, and the performance was really good, really clever or better– Forster’s “Kitely” was very emphatic and earnest, and grew into great interest, quite up to the poet’s allotted tether, which is none of the longest. He pitched the character’s key note too gravely, I thought; beginning with certainty, rather than mere suspicion of evil. Dickens’ “Bobadil” was capital—with perhaps a little too much of the consciousness of entire cowardice .. which I don’t so willingly attribute to the noble would-be pacificator of Europe, besieger of Strigonium &c—but the end of it all was really pathetic, as it should be, for Bobadil is only too clever for the company of fools he makes wonderment for—having once the misfortune to relish their society, and to need but too pressingly their “tobacco-money” what can he do but suit himself to their capacities?– And D. Jerrold was very amusing and clever in his “Country Gull”—and Mr Leech superb in the Town Master Mathew– All were good, indeed, and were voted good, and called on, and cheered off, and praised heartily behind their backs & before the curtain– Stanfield’s function had exercise solely in the touching up (very effectively) sundry “Scenes”—painted scenes—and the dresses, which were perfect, had the advantage of Mr Maclise’s experience. And—all is told!
And now,—I shall hear, you promise me, if anything occurs—with what feelings I wait and hope, you know. If there is no best of reasons against it, Saturday, you remember, is my day– This fine weather, too!
May God bless my dearest friend.
Ever yours RB
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St
Postmark: PD 10FN SP25 1845 A.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 56.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 209–210.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. i.e., the Carduccis (see letter 2033, note 2).
3. See Appendix IV, p. 401, notes 6, 7 and 10.
4. A character in the Odyssey “introduced by Homer as a musician among Penelope’s suitors. Some say that he taught Homer, for which the grateful poet immortalized his name” (Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary).
5. The Athenæum for 27 September (no. 935, p. 949), in a notice taken from The Times, explains “that a party of gentlemen, well known to the literary world, performed Ben Jonson’s admirable comedy of Every Man in His Humour, on Saturday night [20 September].” After listing the cast and characters, the notice continues: “To all persons conversant with the current literature of the day, the above names will be perfectly familiar. Mr. Forster is celebrated as a connoisseur of the drama, and as the biographer of the republican statesmen whose lives were published in Lardner’s Cyclopædia. Mr. Charles Dickens is the immortal ‘Boz;’ Mr. Mark Lemon is the writer of several successful pieces, and, if report be trusted, the editor of Punch … Mr. Douglas Jerrold is one of the most powerful supporters of Punch, and the first comic dramatist of the day; Mr. [John] Leech is the caricaturist to Punch.” The review did not mention the contributions made by Clarkson Stanfield (1793–1867) and Daniel Maclise (1806–70), both accomplished artists, in supplying scenery and costumes; they were unable to perform because of stage fright.