Correspondence

2216.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 82–84.

[London]

Thursday Mg [Postmark: 19 February 1846]

My sweetest, best, dearest Ba I do love you less, much less already, and adore you more, more by so much more as I see of you, think of you: I am yours just as much as those flowers; and you may pluck flowers to pieces or put them in your breast; it is not because you so bless me now that you may not if you please one day––you will stop me here; but it is the truth and I live in it–

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I am quite well, indeed, this morning—noticeably well, they tell me, and well I mean to keep if I can–

When I got home last evening I found this note[1]—and I have accepted, that I might say I could also keep an engagement, if so minded, at Harley St—thereby insinuating that other reasons may bring me into the neighbourhood than the reason—but I shall either not go there, or only for an hour at most (I also found a note headed “strictly private and confidential”—so here it goes from my mouth to my heart—pleasantly proposing that I should “start in a few days” for St Petersburgh, as secretary to somebody going there on a “mission of humanity”—grazie tante![2])

Did you hear of my meeting someone at the door whom I take to have been one of your brothers?

One thing vexed me in your letter– I will tell you, the praise of my letters: Now, one merit they have—in language mystical—that of having no merit. If I caught myself trying to write finely, graphically &c &c nay, if I found myself conscious of having in my own opinion, so written—all would be over! yes, over! I should be respecting you inordinately, paying a proper tribute to your genius, summoning the necessary collectedness,—plenty of all that! But the feeling with which I write to you, not knowing that it is writing: with you, face and mouth and hair and eyes—opposite me, touching me, knowing that all is as I say, and helping out the imperfect phrases from your own intuition,—that would be gone—and what in its place? “Let us eat & drink for tomorrow we write to Ambleside.”[3] No, no, love, nor can it ever be so, nor should it ever be so, if,—even if, preserving all that intimate relation, with the carelessness, still, somehow, was obtained, with no effort in the world, graphic writing and philosophic and what you please—for I will be,—would be, better than my works and words, with an infinite stock beyond what I put into convenient circulation whether in fine speeches fit to remember, or fine passages to quote. For the rest, I had meant to tell you before now, that you often put me “in a muse” when you particularize letters of mine—“such an one was kind” &c I know, sometimes I seem to give the matter up in despair– I take out paper and fall thinking on you, and bless you with my whole heart and then begin. “What a fine day this is”! I distinctly remember having done that repeatedly—but the converse is not true by any means that (when the expressions may happen to fall more consentaneously to the mind’s motion) .. that less is felt—oh no! But the particular thought at the time has not been of the insufficiency of expression, as in the other instance–

Now I will leave off—to begin elsewhere—for I am always with you, beloved, best beloved! Now you will write? And walk much, and sleep more? Bless you, dearest—ever–

Your own RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 FE19 1846.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 119.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 473–474.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. From EBB’s comments in letter 2379, it is clear that this note was an invitation from the Misses Cocker of 46 Charlotte St., Portman Square. They were cousins of Dr. White’s (see letter 2220, note 1).

2. “Thanks very much.” In the ensuing letters it becomes apparent that Moses Montefiore had invited RB to accompany him on his journey in aid of the Russian Jews (see letter 2223, note 5). Probably this invitation came as a result of the Browning family’s business connection with the House of Rothschild (Montefiore’s wife’s aunt was married to Nathan Rothschild). However, John Coulter, in Browning Society Notes (15, nos. 2–3, 1985, 14–15), speculates that the invitation may have come by way of RB’s neighbor, David William Wire, who was a solicitor and “friend of Montefiore, and accompanied him on a similar mission to the East in 1839.”

3. Cf. Isaiah 22:13.

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