2182.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 11–12.


Thursday Mg [Postmark: 22 January 1846]

But you did not get the letter last evening—no, for all my good intentions—because somebody came over in the morning and forced me to go out .. and,—perhaps,—I knew what was coming, and had all my thoughts there <that is, here now, with my own letter from you.>: [1] I think so—for this punishment, I will tell you, came for some sin or other last night– I woke—late, or early—and, in one of those lucid moments when all things are thoroughly perceived, .. whether suggested by some forgotten passage in the past sleep itself, I don’t know—but I seemed to apprehend, comprehend entirely, for the first time, what would happen if I lost you—the whole sense of that closed door of Catarina’s came on me at once, and it was I who said,—not as quoting or adapting another[’]s words, but spontaneously, unavoidably, “In that door, you will not enter, I have” … And, dearest, the


Unwritten it must remain; [2]


What is on the other leaf, [3] is no ill-omen, after all,—because I strengthened myself against a merely imaginary evil—as I do always; and thus—I know I never can lose you,—you surely are more mine, .. there is less for the future to give or take away than in the ordinary cases, where so much less is known, explained, possessed,—as with us—understand for me,—my dearest–


And do you think, sweet, that there is any free movement of my soul which your pen-holder is to secure? [4] —well, try!—it will be yours by every right of discovery—and I, for my part, will religiously report to you the first time I think of you “which, but for your present I should not have done”—or is it not a happy, most happy way of ensuring a better fifth act to Luria than the foregoing? See the absurdity I write .. when it will be more probably the ruin of the whole—for was it not observed in the case of a friend of mine once,—who wrote his own part in a piece for private theatricals, and had ends of his own to serve in it,—that he set to work somewhat after this fashion [“]Scene 1st A breakfast chamber. Lord & Lady A at table. Lady A./ No more coffee, my dear?—Lord A/ One more cup! (Embracing her). Lady A./ I was thinking of trying the ponies in the Park—are you engaged? Lord A./ Why, there’s that bore of a Committee at the House till 2. (Kissing her hand)”—And so forth, to the astonishment of the auditory, who did not exactly see the “sequitur” in either instance[.] —Well, dearest, whatever comes of it, the “aside”, the bye-play, the digression, will be the best, and only true business of the piece– And tho’ I must smile at your notion of securing that by any fresh appliance, mechanical or spiritual, yet I do thank you, dearest,—thank you from my heart, indeed—(and I write with Bramahs alway<s>—not being able to make a pen!)

If you have gone so far with Luria, I fancy myself nearly or altogether safe: I must not tell you,—but I wished just these feelings to be in your mind about Domizia, and the death of Luria—the last act throws light back on all, I hope– Observe only, that Luria would stand, if I have plied him effectually with adverse influences, in such a position as to render any other end impossible without the hurt to Florence which his religion is, to avoid inflicting—passively awaiting, for instance, the sentence and punishment to come at night, would as surely inflict it as taking part with her foes: his aim is to prevent the harm she will do herself by striking him—so he moves aside from the blow. —But I know there is very much to improve and heighten in this fourth act, as in the others—but the right aspect of things seems obtained and the rest of the work is plain and easy.

I am obliged to leave off—the rest to-morrow—and then dear Saturday! I love you utterly, my own best, dearest–




Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 JA22 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 103.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 410–412.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Bracketed passage is interpolated above the line.

2. i.e., the opening stanza of “Catarina to Camoëns”:


On the door you will not enter,

I have gazed too long—adieu!

Hope withdraws her peradventure—

Death is near me,—and not you!

Come, O lover,

Close and cover

These poor eyes, you called, I ween,

‘Sweetest eyes, were ever seen.’


3. This begins page 2.

4. See the preceding letter.


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