2228. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 107–108.
Thursday. [Postmark: 26 February 1846]
As for the “third person”, my sweet Ba, he was a wise speaker from the beginning; and in our case he will say, turning to me—“the late Robert Hall,—when a friend admired that one with so high an estimate of the value of intellectuality in woman should yet marry some kind of cook[-]maid-animal, as did the said Robert,—wisely answered—“you can’t kiss Mind”!– May you not discover eventually” .. (this is to me) .. “that mere intellectual endowments,—tho’ incontestably of the loftiest character,—mere Mind, tho’ that mind be Miss B’s—cannot be kissed—nor, repent too late the absence of those humbler qualities, those softer affections which, like flowerets at the mountain’s foot, if not so proudly soaring as, as, .. as” .. and so on, till one of us died, with laughing or being laughed at! So judges the third person! and if, to help him, we let him into your room at Wimpole St, suffered him to see with Flush’s eyes, he would say with just as wise an air– “True, mere personal affections may be warm enough .. but does it augur well for the durability of an attachment that it should be wholly, exclusively based on such perishable attractions as the sweetness of a mouth, the beauty of an eye? I could wish, rather, to know that there was something of less transitory nature co-existent with this—some congeniality of Mental pursuit, some” … would he not say that? But I can’t do his platitudes justice because here is our post going out and I have been all the morning walking in the perfect joy of my heart—with your letter—and under its blessing—dearest, dearest Ba—let me say more to-morrow. Only this now, that you—ah, what are you not to me!
My dearest love, bless you—till to-morrow when I will strengthen the prayer; (no, lengthen it!)
Ever your own RB
“Hawthorn”—to show how Spring gets on!
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St
Postmark: 8NT8 FE26 1846 A.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 124.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 496–497.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. A Baptist divine (1764–1831) renowned as a thinker and orator. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.), “in 1808 he married the servant of a brother minister. His proposal of marriage had been made after an almost momentary acquaintance and, according to the traditionary account, in very abrupt and peculiar terms; but, judging from his subsequent domestic life, his choice did sufficient credit to his penetration and sagacity.”
2. This line is written on an integral page denoting that RB was enclosing a sprig of hawthorn which is preserved at Wellesley College.