2243.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 135–136.


Friday evening [6 March 1846] [1]

Always you, is it, who torments me?—always you? Well! I agree to bear the torments as Socrates his persecution by the potters:—& by the way he liked those potters, as Plato shows, & was fain to go to them for his illustrations .. as I to you for all my light. Also, while we are on the subject, I will tell you another fault of your Bartoli .. his ‘choice Tuscan’ filled one of my pages, in the place of my English better than Tuscan.

For the letter you mentioned, I meant to have said in mine yesterday, that I was grateful to you for telling me of it—that was one of the prodigalities of your goodness to me .. not thrown away, in one sense, however superfluous. Do you ever think how I must feel when you overcome me with all this generous tenderness, only beloved! I cannot say it.

Because it is colder today I have not been down stairs, but let tomorrow be warm enough & ‘facilis descensus’ [2] – There’s something infernal to me really, in the going down,—& now too that our cousin is here! Think of his beginning to attack Henrietta the other day .. [‘]‘So Mr C. [3] has retired & left the field to Surtees Cook– Oh .. you need’nt deny .. it’s the news of all the world except your father– And as to him, I dont blame you—he never will consent to the marriage of son or daughter– Only you should consider, you know, because he wont leave you a shilling, &c &c …”– You hear the sort of man. And then in a minute after .. “and what is this about Ba?”– ‘About Ba’ said my sisters, “why who has been persuading you of such nonsense?”– “Oh!– ‘my authority is very good’—perfectly unnecessary for you to tell any stories, Arabel!—a literary friendship, is it?” … and so on … after that fashion! This comes from my brothers of course, but we need not be afraid of its passing beyond, I think, though I was a good deal vexed when I heard first of it last night & have been in cousinly anxiety ever since to get our Orestes safe away from those Furies [4] his creditors, into Britainy again. He is an intimate friend of my brothers besides the relationship, & they talk to him as to each other––only they ought’nt to have talked that … & without knowledge too.

I forgot to tell you that Mr Kenyon was in an immoderate joy the day I saw him last, about Mr Poe’s ‘Raven’ as seen in the Athenæum extracts, [5] & came to ask what I knew of the poet & his poetry, & took away the book. It’s the rhythm which has taken him with ‘glamour’, I fancy– Now you will stay on monday till the last moment, & go to him for dinner at six.

Who “looked in at the door”? nobody– But Arabel a little way opened it, & hearing your voice, went back. There was no harm—is no fear of harm. Nobody in the house would find his or her pleasure in running the risk of giving me pain .. I mean my brothers & sisters would not–

Are you trying the music to charm the brain to stillness? Tell me. And keep from that ‘Soul’s tragedy’ which did so much harm—oh, that I had bound you by some Stygian oath not to touch it.

So my rock .. may the birds drop into your crevices the seeds of all the flowers of the world—only it is not for those, that I cling to you as the single rock in the salt sea.

Ever I am

your own.

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

Postmark: 10FN10 MR7 1846 A.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 127.; + Monday, March 9. / 3½–6¼. p.m. (51.)

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 521–522.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. “Easy the descent” (cf. Æneid, VI, 126, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough).

3. i.e., Henrietta’s suitor, Mr. Chapman. The cousin referred to here is Samuel Goodin Barrett from Jamaica.

4. In Æschylus’s Eumenides, Orestes is rescued from the Furies by Athena.

5. A review in The Athenæum of 28 February (no. 957, pp. 215–216) quoted the poem at length and said of Poe that “the utmost extent of his ambition has been to be unintelligible.”


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