2074.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 139–141.


[Postmark: 27 October 1845]

How does one make “silent promises” .. or, rather, how does the maker of them communicate that fact to whomsoever it may concern? I know, there have been many, very many unutterable vows & promises made,—that is, thought down upon, the white slip at the top of my notes, .. such as of this note,—and not trusted to the pen,—that always comes in for the shame,—but given up, and replaced by the poor forms to which a pen is equal—and, a glad minute I should account that, in which you collected and accepted those “promises”—because they would not be all so unworthy of me—much less you! I would receive, in virtue of them, the ascription of whatever worthiness is supposed to lie in deep, truest love, and gratitude,—


Read my silent answer there too! [1]

All your letter is one comfort: we will be happy this winter, and after, do not fear– I am most happy, to begin, that your brother is so much better: he must be weak and susceptible of cold, remember.

It was on my lip, I do think, last visit, or the last but one, to beg you to detach those papers from the “Athenæum[’]s” gâchis: [2] certainly this opportunity is most favorable, for every reason: you cannot hesitate, surely: at present those papers are lost—lost for practical purposes: do pray reply without fail to the proposers; [3] no, no harm of these really fine fellows, who could do harm (by printing incorrect copies, and perhaps eking out the volume by supposititious matter .. ex-gr. They strengthened & lengthened a book of Dickens’, in Paris, by adding quant. suff. of Thackeray’s “Yellowplush-Papers” .. as I discovered by a Parisian somebody praising the latter to me as Dickens’ best work!)– [4] And who do really a good straightforward un-American thing: you will encourage “the day of small things” [5] —tho’ this is not small, nor likely to have small results. I shall be impatient to hear that you have decided. I like the progress of these Americans in taste, their amazing leaps, like grasshoppers up to the sun—from .. what is the “from,” what depth, do you remember, say, ten or twelve years back?—to—Carlyle, & Tennyson, & you!– So children leave off Jack of Cornwall [6] and go on just to Homer.

I can’t conceive why my proof does not come– I must go to-morrow and see. In the other, I have corrected all the points you noted, [7] —to their evident improvement. Yesterday I took out “Luria” & read it thro’, the skeleton– I shall hope to finish it soon now– It is for a purely imaginary Stage,—very simple and straightforward. Would you .. no, Act by Act, as I was about to propose that you should read it,—that process would affect the oneness I most wish to preserve. [8]

On Tuesday—at last, I am with you– Till when be with me ever, dearest– God bless you ever.


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: PD 10FN OC27 1845 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 68–69. [9]

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 250–251.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. RB has centered this sentence for emphasis.

2. Idiomatically, “mess” (see letter 2019, note 4).

3. Here RB wrote and lightly crossed out: “who would be very apt to.”

4. Dickens’s Master Humphrey’s Clock. [Omitting the latter part consisting of “Barnaby Rudge”.] (To which are added, Papers by Mr. Yellowplush. [By W.M. Thackeray.]), 2 vols., Baudry’s European Library, Paris, 1841.

5. Zechariah 4:10.

6. A reference to the fairy tale “Jack the Giant Killer,” in which the hero, Jack, is the son of a Cornish farmer.

7. See Appendix IV, pp. 390–392, for the text of these “points.”

8. RB did, in fact, send Luria “Act by Act”; see Appendix IV, note 14.

9. EBB placed letter 2077 in the same envelope with this one, apparently because the later letter was sent with proofsheets wrapped in a cover sheet, hence the double numbers in the docket.


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