2225.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 101–103.


Wednesday Mg [Postmark: 25 February 1846]

Once you were pleased to say, my own Ba, that “I made you do as I would”– [1] I am quite sure, you make me speak as you would, and not at all as I mean—and for one instance, I never surely spoke anything half so untrue as that “I came with the intention of loving whomever I should find”– No!—wreathed shells, and hollows in ruins, and roofs of caves may transform a voice wonderfully, make more of it or less, or so change it as to almost alter .. but turn a “no” into a “yes” can no echo, (except the Irish one)—and I said “no” to such a charge, and still say “no”– I did have a presentiment—and tho’ it is hardly possible for me to look back on it now without lending it the true colours given to it by the event, yet I can put them aside, if I please, and remember that I not merely hoped it would not be so—(not that the effect I expected to be produced would be less than in anticipation, certainly I did not hope that—but that it would range itself with the old feelings of simple reverence and sympathy and friendship—that I should love you as much as I supposed I could love, and no more)—but in the confidence that nothing could occur to divert me from my intended way of life, I made .. went on making arrangements to return to Italy—you know—did I not tell you I wished to see you before I returned?– And I had heard of you just so much as seemed to make it impossible such a relation could ever exist: I know very well, if you choose to refer to my letters you may easily bring them to bear a sense, in parts, more agreeable to your own theory than to mine, the true one—but that was instinct, Providence—anything rather than foresight: now I will convince you! yourself have noticed the difference between the letters and the writer—the greater “distance of the latter from you”—why was that? Why if not because the conduct begun with him, with one who had now seen you,—was no continuation of the conduct, as influenced by the feeling, of the letters—else, they, if near, should have enabled him,—if but in the natural course of time and with increase of familiarity,—to become nearer—but it was not so! The letters began by loving you after their way—but what a world-wide difference between that love and the true, the love from seeing and hearing and feeling .. since you make me resolve, what now lies blended so harmoniously, into its component parts—oh, I know what is old from what is new, and how chrystals may surround and glorify other vessels meant for ordinary service, than Lord N’s! [2] But I don’t know that handling may not snap them off, some of the more delicate ones—and if you let me, love, I will not again, ever again, consider how it came and whence, and when, so curiously, so pryingly,—but believe that it was always so,—and that it all came at once, all the same,—the more unlikelinesses the better, for they set off the better the truth of truths that here—(“how begot? how nourished?”) [3]  .. here is the whole wondrous Ba filling my whole heart and soul; and over filling it, because she is in all the world, too, where I look, where I fancy, at the same time, because all is so wondrous and so sweet, do you think that it would be so difficult for me to analyze it, and give causes to the effects in sufficiently numerous instances, was to “justify my presentiment”? Ah, dear, dearest Ba, I could, could indeed .. could account for all, or enough! But you are inconscious, I do believe, of your power—and the knowledge of it would be no added grace,—perhaps! So let us go on—taking a lesson out of the world’s book in a different sense—you shall think I love you for—(tell me, you must, what for)—while in my secret heart I know what my “mission of humanity” means, and what telescopic & microscopic views it procures me– Enough! wait, one word about the “too kind letters”—could not the same Montefiore understand that tho’ he deserved not one of his thousand guineas, yet that he is in disgrace if they bate him of his next gift by merely ten? It is all too kind—but I shall feel the diminishing of the kindness, be very sure! Of that there is, however, not too alarming a sign in this dearest, because last, of all—dearest letter of all—till the next!

—I looked yesterday over the “Tragedy”—and think it will do after all. I will bring one part at least next time,—and “Luria” take away, if you let me—so all will be off my mind—and April and May the welcomer! Don’t think I am going to take any extraordinary pains—there are some things in the “Tragedy” I should like to preserve and print now—leaving the future to spring as it likes, in any direction,—and these half-dead, half-alive works fetter it, if left behind–

Yet one thing will fetter it worse, only one thing—if you, in any respect, stay behind! You that in all else help me, and will help me, beyond words, beyond dreams,—if, because I find you; your own works stop—“then comes the Selah and the voice is hushed” [4] —oh, no, no, dearest,—so would the help cease to be help & the joy to be joy, Ba herself to be quite Ba, and my own Siren singing song for song. [5] Dear love, will that be kind, and right, and like the rest? Write and promise that all shall be resumed, the romance-poem [6] chiefly—and I will try and feel more yours than ever now. Am I not with you in the world, proud of you—and vain, too, very likely, which is all the sweeter if it is a sin as you teach me. Indeed dearest, I have set my heart on your fulfilling your mission—my heart is on it! Bless you, my Ba.

Your RB

I am so well as to have resumed the shower-bath (this mg)—and I walk, especially near the elms and stile—and mean to walk, and be very well—and you, dearest?

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 FE25 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 123 [altered from “122”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 491–493.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. See letter 2223.

2. i.e., the Marquis of Northampton, President of the Royal Society (see letter 2220, note 2).

3. The Merchant of Venice, III, 2, 65.

4. EBB, An Essay on Mind, line 1229 (see letter 2145, note 4).

5. Cf. the last line of Landor’s “To Robert Browning”; for the text see letter 2105.

6. See letter 2227 for EBB’s response. See also letter 1852, note 13, for an earlier reference to EBB’s plans to write a novel in verse, which were realized in 1857 with Aurora Leigh.


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