Correspondence

2110.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 194–196.

[London]

Sunday Night. [23 November 1845][1]

But a word to-night, my love—for my head aches a little,—I had to write a long letter to my friend at New Zealand,[2] and now I want to sit and think of you and get well—but I must not quite lose the word I counted on.

So, that way you will take my two days and turn them against me? Oh, you! Did I say the “root” had been striking then, or not rather, that the seeds, whence the roots take leisure and grow, they had been planted then—and might not a good heart & hand drop acorns enough to grow up into a complete Dodona-grove,[3]—when the very rook, say farmers, hides and forgets whole navies of ship-wood one day to be, in his summer storing-journeys? But, this shall do– I am not going to prove what may be, when here it is, to my everlasting happiness.

—And “I am kind”—there again! Do I not know what you mean by that? Well it is some comfort that you make all even in some degree, and take from my faculties here what you give them, spite of my protesting, in other directions. So I could not when I first saw you admire you very much, and wish for your friendship, and be willing to give you mine, and desirous of any opportunity of serving you, benefitting you,—I could not think the finding myself in a position to feel this, just this and no more, a sufficiently fortunate event .. but I must needs get up, or imitate, or .. what is it you fancy I do? .. an utterly distinct, unnecessary, inconsequential regard for you, which should,—when it got too hard for shamming at the week’s end,—should simply spoil, in its explosion and departure, all the real and sufficing elements of an honest life-long attachment and affection! that I should do this, and think it a piece of kindness does ..

Now, I’ll tell you what it does deserve, and what it shall get. Give me, dearest beyond expression, what I have always dared to think I would ask you for .. one day! Give me .. wait—for your own sake, not mine who never, never dream of being worth such a gift .. but for your own sense of justice, and to say, so as my heart shall hear, that you were wrong and are no longer so, give me so much of you—all precious that you are—as may be given in a lock of your hair– I will live and die with it, and with the memory of you—this at the worst! If you give me what I beg,—shall I say next Tuesday .. when I leave you, I will not speak a word: .. If you do not, I will not think you unjust, for all my light words but I will pray you to wait and remember me one day—when the power to deserve more may be greater .. never the will. God supplies all things—may he bless you, beloved! So I can but pray, kissing your hand.

RB

Now pardon me, dearest, for what is written .. what I cannot cancel, for the love’s sake that it grew from.

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The “Chronicle” was thro’ Moxon, I believe.[4] Landor had sent the verses to Forster at the same time as to me, yet they do not appear. I never in my life less cared about people’s praise or blame for myself, and never more for its influence on other people than now– I would stand as high as I could in the eyes of all about you—yet not, after all, at poor Chorley’s expense whom your brother, I am sure unintentionally, is rather hasty in condemning; I have told you of my own much rasher opinion and how I was ashamed and sorry when I corrected it after. C. is of a different species to your brother, differently trained, looking different ways—and for some of the peculiarities that strike at first sight, C. himself gives a good reason to the enquirer on better acquaintance. For “vulgarity”—no![5] But your kind brother will alter his view, I know, on further acquaintance .. and,—woe’s me!—will find that “assumption’s” pertest self would be troubled to exercise its quality at such a house as Mr K.’s where every symptom of a proper claim is met half way and helped onward far too readily.

Good night, now. Am I not yours—are you not mine? and can that make you happy too?

Bless you once more and for ever! That scrap of Landor’s being for no other eye than mine—I made the foolish comment, that there was no blotting out—made it some four or five years ago, when I could read what I only guess at now,—thro’ my idle opening the hand and letting the caught bird go—but there used to be a real satisfaction to me in writing those grand Hebrew characters—the noble language![6]

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: 12NN12 NO24 1845 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 77.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 287–289.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. See the preceding letter.

3. The oracle of Zeus at Dodona in Epirus was revealed by the rustling of the leaves of oak trees, which the priests interpreted.

4. RB had sent Moxon a copy of Landor’s verses; see letter 2101. However, it is possible that Landor himself supplied a copy to The Morning Chronicle; the manuscript, dated 19 November, is at Yale.

5. Underscored three times.

6. See letter 2108, note 5.

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