2177. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 11, 323–325.
Saturday. [Postmark: 17 January 1846]
Did my own Ba, in the prosecution of her studies, get to a book on the forb .. no, unforbidden shelf—wherein Voltaire pleases to say that “si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer”?– I feel, after reading these letters, .. as ordinarily after seeing you, sweetest, or hearing from you .. that if marriage did not exist, I should infallibly invent it. I should say, no words, no feelings even, do justice to the whole conviction and religion of my soul—and tho’ they may be suffered to represent some one minute’s phase of it, yet, in their very fulness and passion they do injustice to the unrepresented, other minute’s, depth and breadth of love .. which let my whole life (I would say) be devoted to telling and proving and exemplifying, if not in one, then in another way—let me have the plain palpable power of this,—the assured time for this .. something of the satisfaction .. (but for the fantasticalness of the illustration) .. something like the earnest joy of some suitor in Chancery if he could once get Lord Lyndhurst into a room with him, and lock the door on them both, and know that his whole story must be listened to now, and the “rights of it”,—dearest, the love unspoken now you are to hear “in all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth .. at the hour of death, and”—
If I did not know this was so,—nothing would have been said, or sought for—(your friendship, the perfect pride in it, the wish for, and eager co-operation in, your welfare, all that is different, and, seen now, nothing.)
I will care for it no more, dearest. I am wedded to you now– I believe no human being could love you more—that thought consoles me for my own imperfection—for when that does strike me, as so often it will,—I turn round on my pursuing self, and ask—“What if it were a claim, then,—what is in Her, demanded rationally, equitably, in return for what were in you—do you like that way?”—and I do not, Ba—you, even, might not—when people everyday buy improveable ground, and eligible sites for building, and don’t want every inch filled up, covered over, done to their hands! So take me, and make me what you can and will—and tho’ never to be more yours, yet more like you, I may and must be– Yes, indeed .. best, only love!
And am I not grateful to your Sisters—entirely grateful for that crowning comfort,—it is “miraculous”, too, if you please—for you shall know me by finger-tip intelligence or any art magic of old or new times .. but they do not see me, know me—and must moreover be jealous of you, chary of you, as the daughters of Hesperus, of wonderers and wistful lookers up at the gold apple—yet instead of “rapidly levelling eager eyes”—they are indulgent? Then .. shall I wish capriciously they were not your sisters, not so near you, that there might be a kind of grace in loving them for it? but what grace can there be when .. yes, I will tell you—no, I will not—it is foolish—and it is not foolish in me to love the table and chairs and vases in your room–
Let me finish writing to-morrow; it would not become me to utter a word against the arrangement .. and Saturday promised, too—but though all concludes against the early hour on Monday, yet—but this is wrong—on Tuesday it shall be, then,—thank you, dearest! You let me keep up the old proper form, do you not?– I shall continue to thank, and be gratified &c as if I had some untouched fund of thanks at my disposal to cut a generous figure with on occasion! And so, now, for your kind considerateness thank you .. that I say, which God knows, could not say, if I died ten deaths in one to do you good, “you are repaid”–
To-morrow I will write, and answer more– I am pretty well—and will go out to-day,—tonight. My Act is done, and copied—I will bring it. Do you see the Athenæum? By Chorley surely—and kind and satisfactory. I did not expect any notice for a long time—all that about the “mist”, “unchanged manner” and the like is politic concession to the Powers that Be .. because he might tell me that and much more with his own lips or unprofessional pen, and be thanked into the bargain—yet he does not– But I fancy he saves me from a rougher hand—the long extracts answer every purpose.
There is all to say yet—tomorrow!
and ever, ever your own,—God bless you!
Admire the clean paper .. I did not notice that I have been writing on a desk where a candle fell! See the bottoms of the other pages!
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St
Postmark: 8NT8 JA17 1846 B.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 100.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 396–398.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” (Voltaire, L’Evangile du jour, 1769, “Epitre à L’Auteur du Nouveau Livre des trois Imposteurs,” line 22).
2. John Singleton Copley (1772–1863), later (1827) 1st Baron Lyndhurst, had been Lord Chancellor in Canning’s administration and was appointed again in Peel’s administration in 1841. He was involved, about this time, in “an unsuccessful attempt to reunite the broken ranks of the conservative party” (DNB).
3. Cf. the Litany in The Book of Common Prayer.
4. Tennyson, The Hesperides (1832), st. ii, line 60.
5. A review of Dramatic Romances and Lyrics, the seventh of the Bells and Pomegranates series, appeared in The Athenæum for 17 January 1846 (no. 951, pp. 58–59); for the text of this review, see pp. 371–374.