Correspondence

2191.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 28–30.

[London]

Friday morning. [30 January 1846][1]

Let it be this way, ever dearest– If in the time of fine weather, I am not ill, .. then .. not now .. you shall decide, & your decision shall be duty & desire to me, both—I will make no difficulties. Remember, in the meanwhile, that I have decided to let it be as you shall choose .. shall choose. That I love you enough to give you up “for your good”, is proof—(to myself at least) that I love you enough for any other end:—but you thought too much of me in the last letter– Do not mistake me– I believe & trust in all your words—only you are generous unawares, as other men are selfish.

More, I meant to say of this,—but you moved me as usual yesterday into the sunshine, & then I am dazzled & cannot see clearly. Still I see that you love me & that I am bound to you!—& “what more need I see” you may ask,—while I cannot help looking out to the future, to the blue ridges of the hills, to the chances of your being happy with me– Well! I am yours as you see—& not yours to teaze you. You shall decide everything when the time comes for doing anything—and from this to then, I do not, dearest, expect you to use “the liberty of leaping out of the window,” unless you are sure of the house being on fire! Nobody shall push you out of the window—least of all, I.

For Italy .. you are right– We should be nearer the sun, as you say, & further from the world, as I think—out of hearing of the great storm of gossipping, when “scirocco is loose”.[2] Even if you liked to live altogether abroad, coming to England at intervals, it would be no sacrifice for me––and whether in Italy or England, we should have sufficient or more than sufficient means of living, without modifying by a line that “good free life” of yours which you reasonably praise—which, if it had been necessary to modify, we must have parted, .. because I could not have borne to see you do it,—though, that you once offered it for my sake, I never shall forget–

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Mr Kenyon stayed half an hour, & asked, after you went, if you had been here long. I reproached him with what they had been doing at his club (the Athenæum) in blackballing Douglas Jerold, for want of something better to say—& he had not heard of it– There were more black than white balls, & Dickens was so enraged at the repulse of his friend, that he gave in his own resignation like a privy councillor.[3]

But the really bad news is of poor Tennyson. I forgot to tell you—I forget everything– He is seriously ill with an internal complaint & confined to his bed, as George heard from a common friend.[4] Which does not prevent his writing a new poem—he has finished the second book of it—and it is in blank verse & a fairy tale, & called the University,[5] the university-members being all females. If George has not diluted the scheme of it with some law from the Inner Temple, I dont know what to think—it makes me open my eyes. Now is’nt the world too old & fond of steam, for blankverse poems, in ever so many books, to be written on the fairies? I hope they may cure him, for the best deed they can do. He is not precisely in danger, understand—but the complaint may run into danger—so the account went.

And you? how are you? Mind to tell me. May God bless you– Is monday or tuesday to be our day?– If it were not for Mr Kenyon I should take courage & say monday—but tuesday & saturday would do as well—would they not?

Your own Ba–

Shall I have a letter?–

Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.

Postmark: 1846 JA31 8Mg8 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 109.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 426–427.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. “England in Italy,” line 116.

3. The minutes of The Athenæum Club, kindly searched for us by The Hon. Librarian, Miss S.J. Dogson, reflect that Jerrold was not entered as a candidate, successful or unsuccessful, in the period 1841 to 1850. Furthermore, no election took place between 21 April 1845 and 2 February 1846. Dickens, who was elected in 1838, remained a member until his death in 1870; there is no notice in the minutes of his offering to resign at this time. Obviously, EBB’s source for this information was mistaken.

4. Doubtless George Venables; see letter 2175, note 4.

5. Eventually published in 1847, the poem was entitled The Princess.

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