2078.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 144–145.


[?28] [October 1845] [1]

I write in haste, not to lose time about the proof. You will see on the papers here my doubtfulnesses such as they are [2] —but silence swallows up the admirations .. & there is no time. ‘Theocrite’ [3] overtakes that wish of mine which ran on so fast—and the ‘Duchess’ grows & grows the more I look—and ‘Saul’ is noble & must have his full royalty some day. Would it not be well, by the way, to print it in the meanwhile as a fragment confessed .. sowing asterisks at the end. Because as a poem of yours it stands there & wants unity, & people cant be expected to understand the difference between incompleteness & defect, unless you make a sign. For the new poems—they are full of beauty. You throw largesses out on all sides without counting the coins: how beautiful that ‘Night & Morning’ .. & the ‘Earth’s Immortalities’ .. & the ‘Song’ too– And for your ‘Glove’, all women should be grateful,—& Ronsard, honoured, in this fresh shower of music on his old grave .. though the chivalry of the interpretation, as well as much beside, is so plainly yours, .. could only be yours perhaps. And even you are forced to let in a third person .. close to the doorway .. before you can do any good– What a noble lion you give us too, with the “flash on his forehead”,—& “leagues in the desert already” as we look on him!– And then, with what a ‘curious felicity’ you turn the subject ‘glove’ to another use & strike De Lorge’s blow back on him with it, in the last paragraph of your story!– And the versification! And the lady’s speech—(to return!) so calm, & proud—yet a little bitter!

Am I not to thank you for all my pleasure & pride in these poems?—while you stand by & try to talk them down, perhaps–

Tell me how your mother is—tell me how you are … you who never were to be told twice about walking. Gone the way of all promises, is that promise?

Ever yours EBB

Address: None.

Postmark: None. This letter and envelope apparently accompanied the proofsheets of the second half of Dramatic Romances and Lyrics and EBB’s “papers” containing her critical notes.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 73.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 252–253 (as [?29 October 1845]).

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. It is certain that EBB wrote this letter along with her critical notes on either the evening of the 28th or the morning of the 29th since RB responds to her notes in the following letter. Considering that EBB may have had the proofsheets some time before RB’s visit of the 28th, and owing to her usual diligence in such matters, we suggest the earlier date.

2. For the text of these, see Appendix IV, pp. 390–392.

3. i.e., “The Boy and the Angel.”


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