2148. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 263–265.
Saturday 4.p.m. [Postmark: 27 December 1845]
I was forced to leave off abruptly on Christmas morning—and now I have but a few minutes before our inexorable post leaves: I hoped to return from Town earlier. But I can say something—and Monday will make amends. “Forever” and forever I do love you, dearest—love you with my whole heart—in life, in death–
Yes,—I did go to Mr Kenyon’s—who had a little to forgive in my slack justice to his good dinner—but was for the rest, his own kind self—and I went, also, to Moxon’s—who said something about my number’s going off “rather heavily”—so let it!
—Too good, too, too indulgent you are, my own Ba, to “acts” first or last; but all the same, I am glad and encouraged. Let me get done with these, and better things will follow–
Now, bless you, ever my sweetest—I have you ever in my thoughts– And on Monday, remember, I am to see you–
Your own RB
See what I cut out of a Cambridge Advertiser of the 24th—to make you laugh!
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St
Postmark: 8NT8 DE27 1845 B.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 89.
Publication: RB-EBB, p. 345.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Enclosed was a cutting from The Cambridge Advertiser (24 December 1845) containing “A Few Rhymes for the Present Christmas” by J. Purchas. It was headed by four epigraphs, including a quotation from “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship.” In the quotation from Pindar, translated “A message to those who comprehend,” the second Greek word has been underlined and an exclamation mark made in the left-hand margin, presumably by RB. The cutting reads as follows:
A FEW RHYMES FOR THE PRESENT
By J. Purchas, Esq., B.A.
Written for “The Cambridge Advertiser.”)
“This age shows to my thinking, still more infidels to Adam,
“Than directly, by profession, simple infidels to God.”
Elizabeth B. Barrett.
“Φωνᾶτα συνετοῖσι,” κ.τ.λ.
Pindar. Olymp. II.
“Poor Tom’s a cold!” Lear.
“Brothers! be gentle to this one appeal,—
“Want is the only woe God gives you power to heal!”
Hon. Mrs. Norton.
Christmas come again?—Old fellow!
Sure you travel railroad pace:
For my blood is scarcely thawed, since
Last I looked upon your face:
Partly for yourself I love you,
Partly for your generous cheer;
You should love me too—you know I
Wrote a song on you last year.
Well, and how shall we keep Christmas?
Mirth shall flash for wine shall flow;
And what say you to a piquant,
Kiss beneath the mistletoe?
Maiden mine! nay—do not blush so—
Looking with that sidelong glance,
’Twas but gently that I pressed your
Little white hand in the dance.
Christmas is a liberal season,—
As we tread the festal floor,
Act we not the part of Dives
To the Lazarus at our door;
For there is a cry in England,—
Let us lull it while we can,*
Ere the Masses rise against us,
Like one individual Man.
Lolling idly o’er our breakfast
With The Times at our right hand,
How we simper at starvation
Being rampant in the land!
And we say “The papers vamp up
“All this story of distress,”—
Oh! but God speaks through the people,
And the People through the Press!
I’m digressing—pardon, Christmas!
I grow serious, though no saint;
’Tis an awful thing, when hunger
Makes a mighty nation faint!
Apropos of saints and Scrooges,
Christmas! on your day I vote,
That we send them to the—Brocken,
Save they wear a petticoat.
We will have no vain regretting,
Cares, nor discontent, nor tears,
We will have no painful memories,
Rising from the gulf of years.
We’ll believe that human goodness
May lie deeper than the lip;
And that life hath matters loftier
Even than steam-engines and scrip.
Still, dear Reader, may your shares rise!
If you give the poor their due;
And my pretty bright-eyed maiden!
What good wish have I for you?
You—whose scissors from its native
Column soon will pare this strain—
May you wear the orange-blossom,
Before Christmas comes again!
* “The landed aristocracy in general, unquestionably “wish not to create a blaze.” The wish is not Utopian. There is reason to suppose it might very easily be gratified. If landholders were to lower their rents a little, and insist that the labourer should receive decent wages, they would be tolerably sure “not to create a blaze.” “Blazes” are created by starvation and the workhouse! “Skilly” and seven shillings a week occasion “blazes.” Those who wish “not to create a blaze,” instead of drinking the labourer’s health, should give him something to drink theirs!”—Punch, No. 232, Dec. 20. 1845.