Correspondence

2227.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 105–107.

[London]

[Postmark: 26 February 1846]

I confess that while I was writing those words I had a thought that they were not quite yours as you said them– Still it comes to something in their likeness .. but we will not talk of it & break off the chrystals––they are so brittle, then? do you know that by an “instinct.” But I agree that it is best not to talk– I “gave it up” as a riddle long ago. Let there be ‘analysis’ even, & it will not be solution. I have my own thoughts of course .. & you have yours .. & the worst is that a third person looking down on us from some snow-capped height, & free from personal influences, would have his thoughts too, .. & he would think that if you had been as reasonable as usual you would have gone to Italy—— I have by heart (or by head at least) what the third person would think. The third person thundered to me in an abstraction for ever so long, & at intervals I hear him still .. only you shall not today because he talks ‘damnable iterations’[1] & teazes you. Nay .. the first person is teazing you now perhaps, without going any further .. and yet I must go a little further, just to say (after accepting all possible unlikelinesses & miracles, because everything was miraculous & impossible) that it was agreed between us long since that you did not love me for anything––your having no reason for it, is the only way of your not seeming unreasonable. Also for my own sake, I like it to be so––I cannot have peace with the least change from it. Dearest .. take the baron’s hawthorn bough[2] which in spite of his fine dream of it, is dead since the other day & so much the worse than when I despised it last … take that dead stick & push it upright into the sand as the tide rises .. & the whole blue sea draws up its glittering breadth & length towards & around it. But what then? What does that prove? .. as the philosopher said of the poem. So we ought not to talk of such things; & we get warned off even in the accidental illustrations taken up to light us. Still, the stick certainly did not draw the sea.

Dearest & best you were yesterday, to write me the little note! You are better than the imaginations of my heart .. & they, as far as they relate to you (not further) are not desperately wicked, I think. I always expect the kindest things from you, & you always are doing some kindness beyond what is expected—& this is a miracle too, like the rest—now is’nt it? When the knock came last night, I knew it was your letter, & not another’s. Just another little leaf of my Koran! How I thank you .. thank you! If I write too kind letters as you say .. why they may be too kind for me to send .. but not for you to receive .. & I suppose I think more of you than of me, which accounts for my writing them .. accounts & justifies. And that is my reflection not now for the first time– For we break rules very often … as that exegetical third person might expound to you clearly out of the ninety sixth volume of the Code of conventions .. only you are not like another, nor have you been to me like another .. you began with most improvident & (—will you let me say?—) unmasculine generosity .. and Queen Victoria does not sit upon a mat after the fashion of Queen Pomare,[3] nor should.

But .. but .. you know very fully that you are breaking faith in the matter of the ‘tragedy’ & Luria—you promised to rest—& you rest for three days. Is it so that people get well? or keep well? Indeed I do not think I shall let you have Luria. Ah—be careful, I do beseech you—be careful. There is time for a pause, & the works will profit by it themselves. And you! And I … if you are ill!–

For the rest, I will let you walk in my field, & see my elms as much as you please .. though I hear about the showerbath with a little suspicion. Why, if it did you harm before, should it not again? and why should you use it, if it threatens harm? Now tell me if it has’nt made you rather unwell since the new trial!—tell me, dear dearest–

As for myself, I believe that you set about exhorting me to be busy, just that I might not reproach you for the over-business– Confess that that was the only meaning of the exhortation. But no .. you are quite serious, you say. You even threaten me in a sort of underground murmur, which sounds like a nascent earthquake,—& if I do not write so much a day directly, your stipendiary magistrateship will take away my license to be loved .. I am not to be Ba to you any longer .. you say!– And is this right?—now I ask you– Ever so many chrystals fell off by that stroke of the baton, I do assure you– Only you did not mean quite what you said so too articulately, & you will unsay it, if you please, & unthink it near the elms.

As for the writing, I will write .. I have written .. I am writing– You do not fancy that I have given up writing?—no. Only I have certainly been more loitering & distracted than usual in what I have done .. which is not my fault—nor yours directly .. and I feel an indisposition to setting about the romance—the hand of the soul shakes. I am too happy & not calm enough I suppose, to have the right inclination. Well—it will come. But all in blots & fragments there are verses enough to fill a volume done in the last year.

And if there were not .. if there were none .. I hold that I should be Ba, & also your Ba .. which is “insolence” … will you say?

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

Postmark: 10FN10 FE26 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 121.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 494–496.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. I Henry IV, I, 2, 90.

2. A reference to EBB’s fable (see letter 2219), which RB completed in letter 2222.

3. Pomare IV became queen of Tahiti in 1827. In 1836 the French sent missionaries to the island, but on the advice of Pritchard, the English missionary and consul, they were driven out. When the French returned two years later, they forced the queen to open the island to settlement. Once more heeding the advice of Pritchard, she appealed for British protection; her request was denied, however, and in 1843 she was deposed. She died in 1877. EBB mentions her in Aurora Leigh, V, 822.

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