Correspondence

2084.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 151–152.

[London]

Wednesday. [5 November 1845][1]

I had your note last night, & am waiting for the book today,—a true living breathing book let the writer say of it what he will. Also when it comes it wont certainly come ‘sine te’.[2] Which is my comfort.

And now—not to make any more fuss about a matter of simple restitution—may I have my letter back?[3] .. I mean the letter which if you did not destroy .. did not punish for its sins long & long ago .. belongs to me—which, if destroyed, I must lose for my sins, .. but, if undestroyed, which I may have back,—may I not? is it not my own? must I not?—that letter I was made to return & now turn to ask for again in further expiation. Now do I ask humbly enough? And send it at once, if undestroyed—do not wait till saturday–

I have considered about Mr Kenyon & it seems best, in the event of a question or of a remark equivalent to a question, to confess to the visits ‘generally once a week’ .. because he may hear, one, two, three different ways, .. not to say the other reasons & Chaucer’s charge against “doubleness.”[4] I fear .. I fear that he (not Chaucer) will wonder a little—& he has looked at me with scanning spectacles already & talked of its being a mystery to him how you made your way here; & I, who though I can bespeak selfcommand, have no sort of presence of mind (not so much as one would use to play at Jack straws) did not help the case at all. Well—it cannot be helped. Did I ever tell you what he said of you once—“that you deserved to be a poet—being one in your heart & life”: he said that of you to me, & I thought it a noble encomium & deserving its application.

For the rest .. yes! you know I do—God knows I do—whatever I can feel is for you .. & perhaps it is not less, for not being simmered away in too much sunshine as with women accounted happier– I am happy besides now—happy enough to die now. May God bless you, dear—dearest.

Ever I am yours–

The book does not come—so I shall not wait.

Mr Kenyon came instead, & comes again on friday he says, & Saturday seems to be clear still.

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

Postmark: 10FN10 NO6 1845 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 75.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 257–258.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. “Without you.”

3. As previously explained (see letter 2037, note 1), probably not the first letter he wrote after the first visit, but rather one he wrote a few days later, to which EBB responded in letter 1925. See the following letter in which he says he destroyed it.

4. An allusion to the “Ballad in the Praise, or Rather Dispraise, of Women, for Their Doubleness.” This ballad appears in folio 321 in the 1602 edition of Chaucer’s works, ed. T. Speght, which was in the Brownings’ library. A copy of this volume sold as lot 567 in Browning Collections (see Reconstruction, A629). It is no longer included among Chaucer’s works.

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