2120.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 210–211.


Saturday evening [29 November 1845] [1]

This is the mere postscript to the letter I have just sent away. By a few minutes too late, comes what I have all day been waiting for, .. & besides (now it is just too late!) now I may have a skein of silk if I please, to make that knot with, .. for want of which, two locks, meant for you, have been devoted to the infernal gods already .. fallen into a tangle & thrown into the fire .. & all the hair of my head might have followed, for I was losing my patience & temper fast, .. & the post to boot. So wisely I shut my letter, (after unwisely having driven everything to the last moment!)—& now I have silk to tie fast with .. to tie a ‘nodus’ .. ‘dignus’ [2] of the celestial interposition—& a new packet shall be ready to go to you directly.

At last I remember to tell you that the first letter you had from me this week, was forgotten, (not by me) forgotten, & detained, so, from the post—a piece of carelessness which Wilson came to confess to me too frankly for me to grumble as I should have done otherwise.

For the staying longer, I did not mean to say you were wrong not to stay. In the first place you were keeping your father ‘in a maze’, as you said yourself—& then, even without that, I never know what o’-clock it is .. never. Mr Kenyon tells me that I must live in a dream—which I do.—time goes .. seeming to go round rather than go forward. The watch I have, broke its spring two years ago, & there, I leave it in the drawer .. & the clocks all round, strike out of hearing, or at best, when the wind brings the sound, one upon another in a confusion. So you know more of time than I do or can.

Till monday then! I send the ‘Ricordi’ to take care of the rest [3]  .. of mine. It is a touching story—& there is an impracticable nobleness from end to end in the spirit of it. How slow (to the ear & mind) that Italian rhetoric is! a language for dreamers & declaimers. Yet Dante made it for action—& Machiavelli’s prose can walk & strike as well as float & faint.

The ring is smaller than I feared at first, & may perhaps.—

Now you will not say a word. My excuse is that you had nothing to remember me by, while I had this & this & this & this .. had much too much!

If I could be too much

Your EBB

Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham.

Postmark: None. EBB sent this letter with its envelope inside letter 2119.

Docket: None. [4]

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 299–300.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by EBB’s mention of a “mere postscript” and her reference to “a skein of silk,” the metaphor with which she concluded the preceding letter.

2. “A knot come worthy” (cf. Horace, Ars Poetica, line 191, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough).

3. See letter 2103, note 3.

4. See the preceding letter, note 10.


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