2274.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 182–184.


Thursday Morning. [Postmark: 26 March 1846]

Sometimes I have a disposition to dispute with dearest Ba, to wrench her simile-weapons out of the dexterous hand (that is, try and do so)—and have the truth of things my way and its own way, not hers, if she be Ba—(observe, I say nothing about ever meeting with remarkable success in such undertakings; only, that they are entered on sometimes): but at other times I seem as if I must lie down, like Flush, with all manner of coral necklaces about my neck, and two sweet mysterious hands on my head, and so be forced to hear verses on me, Ba’s verses, in which I, that am but Flush of the lower nature, am called loving friend and praised for not preferring to go “coursing hares”—with “other dogs”[1]—so I will lie now, as you will have it, and say in Flush-like tones (the looks that are dog’s tones)—I don’t don’t know how it is, or why, or what it all will end in, but I am very happy and what I hear must mean right, by the music,—tho’ the meaning is above me,—and here are the hands—which I may, and will, look up to, and kiss—determining not to insist any more this time that at Miss Mitford’s were sundry dogs, brighter than “brown” … See where, just where, Flush stops discreetly! “Eter ..—nity” he would have added, [“]but stern death” &c &c[.]

I treat these things lightheartedly, as you see—instead of seriously, which would at first thought seem the wiser course—“for after all, she will find out one day &c”– No, dearest,—I do not fear that! <—Why make uneasy words of saying simply I shall continue to give you my best flowers,>[2] all I can find—if I bring violets, or grass, when you expected to get roses,—you will know there were none in my garden, that is all–

And for you,—as I may have told you once,—as I tell myself always—you are entirely what I love—not just a rose plucked off with an inch of stalk, but presented as a rose should be, with a green world of boughs round,—all about you is “to my heart”—(to my mind, as they phrase it)—and were it not that, of course, I know when to have done with fancyings and merely flitting permissable “inly-sayings with heart-playing,[”][3]—and when it is time to look at the plain “best” thro’ the lack of “good” and “better” circumstances and accidents,—I do say,—were the best blessing of all, the blessing I trust and believe God intends, of your perfect restoration to health,—were that not so palpably best,—I should catch myself desirous that your present state of unconfirmed health might never pass away! Ba understands, I know!– After all, it will always stay, that luxury,—if but thro’ the memory of what has been, and may recur,—that deepest luxury that makes my very heartstrings tremble in the thought of,—that I shall have a right, a duty,—where in another case, they would be uncalled for, superfluous, impertinent: tapers ordinarily burn best let alone,—with all your light depending on the little flame, the darkest night but for it,—why, stand off—what good can you do, so long as there is no extraordinary evil to avert, breaking down of the candlestick to prevent? But here—there will be reason as well as a delight beyond delights in always leaning so close over, all but holding the flame in the hollow of one’s hand! I shall have a right to think it is not mere pleasure, merely for myself, that I care and am close by—and as that, which thus is called “not for myself,” is, after all, in its essence, most for myself,—why, it is a luxury, a last delight!–

—In the procurement of which there will be this obstacle, or grave matter to be first taken into consideration,—that the world will “change colour” about it, will have its own thoughts on the subject. I have my own thoughts on its subject, the affairs of the world and the pieces of perfect good fortune it approves of, and stamps for enviable—and, on the whole, the world has quite a right to treat me unceremoniously,—I having begun it. As for the “seeing out of window once”—those who know nothing about us but our names had better think that was the way, than most others; and the half-dozen who know a little more, may hear the true account if they please, when they hear anything—those who know all, all necessary to know, will understand my 137 letters here and my 54 visits .. see, I write as if this were to be pleaded to-night .. would it were! As if you had to write the meeting between Hector and Andromache, not the parting![4] By the way, dearest, what enchanted poetry all your translations for Miss Thomson are—as Carlyle says! “Nobody can touch them, get at them!” How am I the better for Nonnus, and Apuleius? Now, do you serve me well there?

I shall hear to-morrow of Mrs Jameson’s etchings, and discourses? And more good news of you, darling? I am quite well to-day—going out with my sister to dine next door[5]—then, over tomorrow, and the letter, will come Saturday, my day.

Bless you, my own best, dearest– I am your own


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St.

Postmark: 8NT8 MR26 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 143.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 562–564.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Cf. “To Flush, My Dog,” lines 49–51.

2. The passage in angle brackets is inserted above the line, which has been obliterated, apparently by RB.

3. Cf. EBB, “Catarina to Camoëns,” lines 13–14.

4. See the postscript to letter 2271.

5. Perhaps with the Brownings’ “landlord, Mr. Holcombe, who owned a good deal of the adjoining land … [and] lived in a house close to ours” (Sarianna Browning in response to a query by Hall Griffin, RB’s biographer, November 1902; MS in the BL).


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