2192. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 30–31.
Friday evening. [30 January 1846]
Something, you said yesterday, made me happy—“that your liking for me did not come & go”—do you remember? Because there was a letter, written at a crisis long since, in which you showed yourself awfully, as a burning mountain, & talked of “making the most of your fire-eyes”, & of having at intervals “deep black pits of cold water”!—and the lava of that letter has kept running down into my thoughts of you too much, until quite of late—while even yesterday I was not too well instructed to be “happy,” you see! Do not reproach me! I would not have ‘heard your enemy say so’—it was your own word! And the other long word idiosyncrasy seemed long enough to cover it; and it might have been a matter of temperament, I fancied, that a man of genius, in the mystery of his nature, should find his feelings sometimes like dumb notes in a piano— .. should care for people at half past eleven on tuesday, and on wednesday at noon prefer a black beetle– How you frightened me with your “fire-eyes!” “making the most of them” too! & the “black pits”, which gaped .. where did they gape? who could tell?—. Oh—but lately I have not been crossed so, of course, with those fabulous terrors—lately that horror of the burning mountain has grown more like a superstition than a rational fear!—and if I was glad .. happy .. yesterday, it was but as a tolerably sensible nervous man might be glad of a clearer moonlight, showing him that what he had half shuddered at for a sheeted ghoule, was only a white horse on the moor. Such a great white horse!—call it the “mammoth horse”—the “real mammoth”, this time!
Dearest, did I write you a cold letter the last time? Almost it seems so to me! the reason being that my feelings were near to overflow, & that I had to hold the cup straight to prevent the possible dropping on your purple underneath. Your letter, the letter I answered, was in my heart .. is in my heart—& all the yeses in the world would not be too many for such a letter, as I felt & feel. Also, perhaps, I gave you, at last, a merely formal distinction .. & it comes to the same thing practically without any doubt!—but I shrank, with a sort of instinct, from appearing (to myself, mind) to take a security from your words now, (said too on an obvious impulse) for what should, would, must, depend on your deliberate wishes hereafter——. You understand—you will not accuse me of over-cautiousness & the like– On the contrary, you are all things to me, .. instead of all & better than all! You have fallen like a great luminous blot on the whole leaf of the world .. of life & time .. & I can see nothing beyond you, nor wish to see it. As to all that was evil & sadness to me .. I do not feel it any longer—it may be raining still, but I am in the shelter & can scarcely tell. If you could be too dear to me you would be now—but you could not—I do not believe in those supposed excesses of pure affections—God cannot be too great.
Therefore it is a conditional engagement still—all the conditions being in your hands, except the necessary one, of my health. And shall I tell you what is “not to be put in doubt ever”?—your goodness, that is .. & every tie that binds me to you. “Ordained, granted by God” it is, that I should owe the only happiness of my life to you, & be contented & grateful (if it were necessary) to stop with it at this present point. Still I do not—there seems no necessity yet– May God bless you, ever dearest!–
Your own Ba–
Postmark: None. Letter was enclosed with no. 2195.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 430–431.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Although this letter and no. 2195 were enclosed in the same envelope, we have placed this letter here, as it is a response to no. 2190.
2. See the beginning of letter 1926.
3. Cf. Hamlet, I, 2, 170.
4. See note 6 in letter 2195.