Correspondence

2251.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 147–148.

[London]

[Postmark: 12 March 1846]

When my Orpheus writes “Περι λιθων,”[1] he makes a great mistake about onyxes—there is more true onyx in this letter of his .. that I have just read .. than he will ever find in the desert land he goes to—. And for what “glitters on the ground,” it reminds me of the yellow metal-sparks found in the Malvern Hills, & how we used to laugh years ago at one of our geological acquaintances, who looked mole-hills up that mountain-range in the scorn of his eyes, saying … “Nothing but mica!!”!! Is anybody to be rich through ‘mica’, I wonder? through “Nothing but mica”?! “As rich as .. as rich as” ........ Walter the Pennyless?[2]

Dearest, best you are nevertheless, and it is a sorry jest which I can break upon your poverty, with that golden heart of yours so apprehended of mine! Why if I am ‘ambitious’ .. is it not because you love me as if I were worthier of your love, .. & that, so, I get frightened of the opening of your eyelids to the unworthiness? ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep’[3]––there, is my “ambition for afterward”. Oh—you do not understand how with an unspeakable wonder, an astonishment which keeps me from drawing breath, I look to this Dream, & ‘see your face as the face of an angel’,[4] & fear for the vanishing, .. because dreams & angels do pass away in this world– But you .. I understand you, & all your goodness past expression .. past belief of mine .. if I had not known you .. just you. If it will satisfy you that I should know you, love you, love you .. why then indeed … Because I never bowed down to any of the false gods— .. I know the gold from the mica, .. I! My own beloved! you should have my soul to stand on if it could make you stand higher. Yet you shall not call me ‘ambitious’.

Today I went down stairs again, & wished to know whether you were walking in your proportion—& your letter does call you ‘better,’ whether you walked enough or not .. & it bears the Deptford postmark. On Saturday I shall see how you are looking. So pale you were last time! I know Mr Kenyon must have observed it,—(Dear Mr Kenyon .. for being ‘kinder & kindest’—) & that one of the ‘augurs’ marvelled at the other! By the way I forgot yesterday to tell you how Mr Burges’s ‘apt remark’ did amuse me. And Mr Kenyon who said much the same words to me last week in relation to this very Wordsworth junior, writhed, I am sure, & wished the ingenious observer with the lost plays of Æschylus——oh, I seem to see Mr Kenyon’s face!– He was to have come to tell me how you all behaved at dinner that day .. but he keeps away .. you have given him too much to think of perhaps.

I heard from Miss Mitford today that Mr Chorley’s hope is at an end in respect to the theatre, & (.. I must tell you ..) she praises him warmly for his philosophy & fortitude under the disappointment. How much philosophy does it take, .. please to instruct me, .. in order to the decent bearing of such disasters? Can I fancy one, shorter than you, by a whole head of the soul, condescending to ‘bear’ such things? No, indeed.

Be good & kind, & do not work at the Tragedy .. do not!–

So you & I have written out all the paper in London! At least, I send & send in vain to have more envelopes ‘after my kind,’[5] & the last answer is, that a “fresh supply will arrive in eight days from Paris, & that in the meanwhile, they are quite out in the article.” An awful sign of the times, is this famine of envelopes .. not to speak of the scarcity of little sheets:—& the augurs look to it all, of course!–

For my part I think more of Chiappino– Chiappino holds me fast–

But I must let you go—it is too late– This dearest letter, which you sent me! I thank you for it with ever so much dumbness. May God bless you & keep you, & make you happy for me–

Your Ba–

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

Postmarks: 12NN12 MR12 1846 A; 1AN1 MR12 1846.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 130.; + Saty March 14. / 3–5¾. p.m. (52.)

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 532–533.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. “About stones.”

2. One of the leaders of peasants during the First Crusade begun in 1096.

3. Proverbs 6:10.

4. Cf. Acts 6:15.

5. Cf. Genesis 1:11.

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