Correspondence

2059.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 116–118.

[London]

[Postmark: 11 October 1845]

Dear Mr Kenyon has been here again & talking so (in his kindness too) about the probabilities as to Pisa being against me .. about all depending ‘on one throw’ & the ‘dice being loaded’ &c .. that I looked at him aghast as if he looked at the future through the folded curtain & was licensed to speak oracles:—& ever since I have been out of spirits .. oh, out of spirits!—& must write myself back again, or try. After all he may be wrong like another—& I should tell you that he reasons altogether from the delay .. & that “the cabins will therefore be taken” & the “circular bills” out of reach! He said that one of his purposes in staying in town, was to ‘knout’ me every day—did’nt he?

Well—George will probably speak before he leaves town, which will be on monday!—and now that the hour approaches, I do feel as if the house stood upon gunpowder, & as if I held Guy Fawkes’s lantern in my right hand– And no! I shall not go. The obstacles will not be those of Mr Kenyon’s finding .. and what their precise character will be I do not see distinctly. Only that they will be sufficient, & thrown by one hand just where the wheel shd turn, .. that, I see—& you will, in a few days–

Did you go to Moxon’s & settle the printing matter?[1] Tell me. And what was the use of telling Mr Kenyon that you were ‘quite well’ when you know you are not? Will you say to me how you are, saying the truth? & also how your mother is.?

To show the significance of the omission of those evening or rather night visits of Papa’s .. for they came sometimes at eleven & sometimes at twelve, .. I will tell you that he used to sit & talk in them, & then always kneel & pray with me & for me—which I used of course to feel as a proof of very kind & affectionate sympathy on his part, & which has proportionably pained me in the withdrawing. They were no ordinary visits, you observe, .. & he could not well throw me further from him than by ceasing to pay them—the thing is quite expressively significant. Not that I pretend to complain, nor to have reason to complain. One should not be grateful for kindness, only while it lasts: that would be a short-breathed gratitude. I just tell you the fact, .. proving that it cannot be accidental.

Did you ever, ever tire me? Indeed, no .. you never did. And do understand that I am not to be tired “in that way,” though as Mr Boyd said once of his daughter, one may be so “far too effeminate.” No– If I were put into a crowd I should be tired soon—or, apart from the crowd, if you made me discourse orations De Coronâ[2] .. concerning your bay even .. I should be tired soon … though peradventure not very much sooner than you who heard—. But on the smooth ground of quiet conversation (particularly when three people dont talk at once as my brothers do .. to say the least!) I last for a long while:—not to say that I have the pretention of being as good & inexhaustible a listener to your own speaking as you could find in the world– So please not to accuse me of being tired again. I cant be tired & wont be tired you see–

And now, since I began to write this, there is a new evil & anxiety—a worse anxiety than any .. for one of my brothers is ill,—had been unwell for some days & we thought nothing of it, till today saturday,—& the doctors call it a fever of the typhoid character .. not typhus yet .. but we are very uneasy. You must not come on wednesday if an infectious fever be in the house—that must be out of the question. May God bless you. I am quite heavy[-]hearted today, but never less

your EBB.

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

Postmark: 8NT8 OC11 1845 E.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 65.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 226–228 (as 10–11 October 1845).

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Regarding the forthcoming publication of Dramatic Romances and Lyrics, the seventh number of the Bells and Pomegranates series.

2. One of the most famous orations of Demosthenes; ostensibly, it is a defence of Ctesiphon, who was prosecuted for urging his fellow citizens to award a golden crown to the great orator.

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