2258.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 157–159.


Tuesday. [17 March 1846] [1]

“Out of window” would be well, as I see the leap, if it ended (so far as I am concerned) in the worst way imaginable– I would “run the risk” (Ba’s other word) rationally, deliberately,—knowing what the ordinary law of chances in this world justifies in such a case; and if the result after all was unfortunate, it would be far easier to undergo the extremest penalty with so little to reproach myself for,—than to put aside the adventure,—waive the wondrous probability of such best fortune, in a fear of the barest possibility of an adverse event, and so go to my grave, Walter the Penniless, [2] with an eternal recollection that Miss Burdett Coutts once offered to wager sundry millions with me that she could throw double-sixes a dozen times running—which wager I wisely refused to accept because it was not written in the stars that such a sequence might never be– I had rather, rather a thousand-fold lose my paltry stake, and be the one recorded victim to such an unexampled unluckiness that half a dozen mad comets, suns gone wrong, and lunatic moons must have come laboriously into conjunction for my special sake to bring it to pass—which were no slight honor, properly considered! —And this is my way of laughing, dearest Ba, when the excess of belief in you, and happiness with you, runs over and froths if it don’t sparkle—underneath is a deep, a sea not to be moved. But chance, chance! there is no chance here! I have gained enough for my life– I can only put in peril the gaining more than enough. You shall change altogether my dear, dearest love—and I will be happy to the last minute on what I can remember of this past year– I could do that. Now, jump with me out, Ba!– If you feared for yourself—all would be different, sadly different. But saying what you do say, promising “the strength of arm”—do not wonder that I call it an assurance of all being “well”! —All is best, as you promise—dear, darling Ba! and I say, in my degree, with all the energy of my nature, as you say, promise as you promise—only meaning a worship of you that is solely fit for me—fit by position,—are not you my “mistress”? Come, some good out of those old conventions, in which you lost faith after the Bower’s disappearance [3] —(it was carried by the singing angels, like the House at Loretto, [4] to the Siren’s Isle—where we shall find it preserved in a beauty “very rare and absolute” [5] )—is it not right you should be my Lady, my Queen? and you are, and ever must be, dear Ba—because I am suffered to kiss the lips, shall I ever refuse to embrace the feet? I kiss lips, and embrace feet, love you wholly, my Ba! May God bless you.

Ever your own RB


It would be easy for Mr Buckingham to find a Merchant-ship bound for some Mediterranean port and, after a week or two in harbour, to another, and perhaps a third– Naples, Palermo, Syra, Constantinople, & so on—the expense would be very trifling—but the want of comfort enormous for an Invalid—the one advantage is the solitariness of the one passenger among all those rough new creatures—I like it much, and soon get deep into their friendship, but another has other ways of viewing matters– No one article provided by the ship in the way of provisions can anybody touch. Mr B. must lay in his own stock—and the horrors of dirt and men’s-ministry are portentous—yet by a little arrangement before-hand much might be done. Still, I only know my own powers of endurance, and counsel nobody to gain my experience—on the other hand, were all to do again, I had rather have seen Venice so,—with the five or six weeks[’] absolute rest of the mind[’]s eyes—than any other imaginable way,—except Balloon-travelling.

Do you think they meant Landor’s Count Julian, [6] the “subject of his tragedy” sure enough,—and that he was the friend of Southey? So it struck me–

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St

Postmark: None.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 137.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 542–544.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by RB’s reference to “Landor’s Count Julian,” to which EBB responds in the following letter.

2. The peasant leader during the First Crusade, mentioned in letter 2251 (see note 2).

3. In EBB’s “The Lost Bower,” lines 296–350.

4. i.e., the Santa Casa (House of the Virgin Mary) at Loreto, near Ancona. Reputedly, the house was transported by angels from Nazareth to Italy in order to save it from destruction.

5. “The Lost Bower,” line 130.

6. i.e., for “Southey’s urn by the Adriatic” in letter 2253 (see note 8); however, in the following letter, EBB suggests Shelley’s “Julian and Maddalo” (1824) rather than Landor’s 1812 play.


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