2265.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 166–168.


[Postmark: 21 March 1846]

I do not understand how my letters limp so instead of flying as they ought with the feathers I give them, & how you did not receive last night, nor even early this morning what left me at two oclock yesterday. But I understand now the not hearing from you—you were not well. Not well, not well .. that is always “happening” at least. And Mr Moxon, who is to have his first sheet, whether you are well or ill!. It is wrong .. yes, very wrong—and if one point of wrongness is touched, we shall not easily get right again—as I think mournfully, feeling confident (call me Casandra, [1] but I cannot jest about it) feeling certain that it will end (the means being so persisted in) by some serious illness—serious sorrow, .. on yours & my part.

As to Monday, Mr Kenyon said he would come again on Sunday .. in which case, Monday will be clear. If he should not come on sunday, he will or may on monday,—yet .. oh, in every case, perhaps you can come on monday—there will be no time to let you know of Mr Kenyon—& probably we shall be safe .. & your being in town, seems to fix the day. For myself I am well enough, & the wind has changed, which will make me better—this cold weather oppresses & weakens me—but it is close to April & cant last & wont last .. it is warmer already. Beware of the notes! They are not Ba’s .. except for the insolence—nor EBB’s .. because of the carelessness. If I had known, moreover, that you were going to Moxon’s on monday, they should have gone to the fire rather than provoked you into superfluous work for the short interval. Just so much are they despised by both EBB & Ba. [2]

I am glad I did not hear from you yesterday because you were not well, & you must never write when you are not well. But if you had been quite well, should I have heard?—I doubt it– You meant me to hear from you only once, from thursday to monday. Is it not the truth now that you hate writing to me?

The Athenæum takes up the ‘Tales from Boccaccio’ [3] as if they were worth it, & imputes in an underground way the authorship to the members of the “coterie” so called——do you observe that? There is an implication that persons named in the poem, wrote the poem themselves. And upon whom does the critic mean to fix the song of “Constancy” .. the song which is “not to puzzle anybody” who knows the tunes of the songwriters? The perfection of commonplace it seems to me– It might have been written by the “poet Bunn”. [4] Dont you think so?

While I write this you are in town, but you will not read it till sunday unless I am more fortunate than usual. On monday then!– And no word before? No—I shall be sure not to hear tonight– Now do try not to suffer through Luria– Let Mr Moxon wait a week rather– There is time enough.

Ever your Ba–

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

Postmark: 8NT8 MR21 1846 A.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 135.; + Monday, March 23. / 3–5¾. p.m. (54.)

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 549–550.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. The Trojan princess who possessed the gift of prophecy but with the accompanying curse that her prophecies were never believed.

2. For the text of EBB’s notes on Luria, see vol. 11, pp. 393–399.

3. Powell’s Tales from Boccaccio, with Modern Illustrations, and Other Poems was reviewed in the 21 March 1846 issue of The Athenæum (no. 960, pp. 288–289). In the passages that appeared, Talfourd, Horne and RB were mentioned. Also included was the “Second Damsel’s Song” with the subtitle “Constancy.” In the following letter RB identifies Chorley as the author of the review, which is confirmed by the marked file of The Athenæum, now at City University (London). Tales had been reviewed with Browning’s Dramatic Romances and Lyrics in the New Quarterly Review; see letter 2171, note 11.

4. The name given by Punch to Alfred Bunn (1796–1860) because of his feeble attempts at writing verse. He was the manager of two of London’s three patent theatres, Drury Lane and Covent Garden. In 1833 he was instrumental in getting a bill for the abolition of patent theatres thrown out of the House of Lords, which led to his being universally disliked by the artistic community.


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