2266. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 168–169.
Sunday. [22 March 1846]
Oh, my Ba—how you shall hear of this tomorrow—that is all! I hate writing? See when presently I only write to you daily, hourly if you let me? Just this now. I will be with you tomorrow in any case—I can go away at once, if need be—or stay—if you like you can stop me by sending a note for me to Moxon’s before 10 oclock—if anything calls for such a measure–
Now briefly,—I am unwell and entirely irritated with this sad Luria– I thought it a failure at first, I find it infinitely worse than I thought—it is a pure exercise of cleverness, even where most successful,—clever attempted reproduction of what was conceived by another faculty, and foolishly let pass away. If I go on, even hurry the more to get on, with the printing,—it is to throw out and away from me the irritating obstruction once & forever. I have corrected it, cut it down, and it may stand and pledge me to doing better hereafter– I say, too, in excuse to myself,—unlike the woman at her spinning-wheel, “He thought of his flax on the whole far more than of his singing”—more of his life’s sustainment, of dear, dear Ba he hates writing to, than of these wooden figures—no wonder all is as it is!
There is a pure piece of the old Chorley leaven for you, just as it reappears ever and anon and throws one back on the mistrust all but abandoned! Chorley knows I have not seen that Powell for nearly fifteen months—that I never heard of the book till it reached me in a blank cover—that I never contributed a line or word to it directly or indirectly—and, I should think he also knows that all the sham learning, notes &c all that saves the book from the deepest deep of contempt, was contributed by Heraud (a regular critic in the Athenæum),—who received his pay for the same: he knows I never spoke in my life to “Jones or Stephens”—that there is no “côterie” of which I can, by any extension of the word, form a part—that I am in this case at the mercy of a wretched creature who to get into my favor again (to speak the plain truth) put in the gross, disgusting flattery in the notes—yet Chorley, knowing this, none so well,—and what the writer’s end is—(to have it supposed I, and the others named—Talfourd, for instance, are his friends and helpers)—he condescends to further it by such a notice, written with that observable & characteristic duplicity, that to poor gross stupid Powell it shall look like an admiring “Oh, fie—so clever but so wicked!”—a kind of D’Orsay’s praise—while to the rest of his readers, a few depreciatory epithets & slight sneers convey his real sentiments, he trusts! And this he does, just because Powell buys an article of him once a quarter and would expect notice– I think I hear Chorley—“You know, I cannot praise such a book—it is too bad”—as if, as if—oh, it makes one sicker than having written Luria, there’s one comfort! I shall call on Chorley and ask for his account of the matter. Meantime nobody will read his foolish notice without believing as he & Powell desire!
Bless you, my own Ba– Tomorrow makes amends to
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St.
Postmark: 10FN10 MR23 1846 A.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 140.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 550–552.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. See note 3 in the preceding letter.
3. Count D’Orsay, Lady Blessington’s great friend, known for his charm, wit, and looks, and for whom Dickens named his son (see letter 2348). However, from this and other references, it is apparent that his charm did not work on RB.