2286.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 200–202.


[Postmark: 1 April 1846]

Now—dear, dearest Ba—let me begin the only way! And so you are kissed whether you feel it or not—thro’ the distance—what matter? Dear love, I return from town—my writing has gone away—you remain, and we are together—as I said, it would be, so it is! And here is your letter, and here are recollections of all the letters for so long, all the perfect kindnesses which I did not answer, meaning to answer them one day—and, one day, look to receive (I may warn you) a huge sheetful of answers to bygone interrogatories,—sins of omission remedied according to ability—and you will stare like a man, I read of somewhere, who asked his neighbour “how he fed that mule of his, so as to keep it in such good case?”—and then, struck by some other fancy, went on to talk of other matters till the day’s end—when, on alighting at their Inn (for these two were journeying, and the talk began with the stirrup-cup)—the other, who had been watching his opportunity, breaking silence for the first time, answered—“With oats and hay”! Observe that the only part of the story I parallel is the surprise at the end—(for I am not going to get whipped before I deserve, Amine [1] (Ba mine)[.] At all events I will answer this last dear note,—The “good [2] you do me, I see you cannot see nor understand yet—there is my answer! Here, in this instance, I corrected everything,—altered, improved– Did you notice the alterations (curtailments) in Luria? Well, I put in a few phrases in the second part of the other,—where Ogniben speaks—and hope that they give a little more insight as to his character—which I meant for that of a man of wide speculation and narrow practise,—universal understanding of men & sympathy with them, yet professionally restricted claims for himself, for his own life. There, was the theology to have come in! [3] He should have explained, “the belief in a future state, with me, modifies every feeling derivable from this present life– I consider that as dependent on foregoing this—consequently, I may see that your principles are perfectly right and proper to be embraced so far as concerns this world, tho’ I believe there is an eventual gain, to be obtained elsewhere, in either opposing or disregarding them,—in not availing myself of the advantages they procure.” Do you see? —As a man may not choose to drink wine; for his health’s sake, or from a scruple of conscience &c—and yet may be a good judge of what wine should be, how it ought to taste– Something like this was meant—and when it is forgotten almost, and only the written thing with a shadow of the meaning stays,—you wonder that the written thing gets to look better in time? Do you think if I could forget you, Ba, I should not reconcile myself to your picture—which already I love better than yesterday, and which, to revenge, I know I shall by this time to-morrow like less, so far less! Well, and then there is Domizia—I could not bring her to my purpose– I left the neck stiff that was to have bowed of its own accord—for nothing graceful could be accomplished by pressing with both hands on the head above! I meant to make her leave off her own projects thro’ love of Luria: as it is, they in a manner fulfil themselves, so far as she has any power over them, and then, she being left unemployed, sees Luria, begins to see him,—having hitherto seen only her own ends which he was to further .. Oh, enough of it! I have told you, and tell you, and will tell you, my Ba, because it is simple truth,—that you have been “helping” me to cover a defeat, not gain a triumph. If I had not known you so far these works might have been the better,— as assuredly, the greater works, I trust will follow,—they would have suffered in proportion! If you take a man from prison and set him free .. do you not probably cause a signal interruption to his previously all-ingrossing occupation, and sole labour of love, of carving bone-boxes, making chains of cherry-stones and other such time beguiling operations—does he ever take up that business with the old alacrity? No! But he begins ploughing, building—(castles he makes, no bone-boxes now)– I may plough & build—but there,—leave them as they are!

Here an end till to-morrow—my best, dearest– I am very well to-day—I forgot to say anything yesterday: You did not go down stairs, for all your good intentions, I hope! this morning I mean: observe how the days are made—the mornings are warm and sunny—after gets up such a wind as now howls—what a sound! The most melancholy in the whole world I think.

No—I can’t do what I had set down—keep my remonstrance and upbraiding on the Homer-subject till to-morrow and then speak arrows. [4] —What do you mean, Ba, by “remembering” those lines you give me [5] —have you no more written down? Quite happy and original they are—but to-morrow—this is waited for—dearest, bless you ever!

Your RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St.

Postmark: 8NT8 AP1 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 147.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 578–580.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. See letter 2275, note 2.

2. See letter 2282.

3. i.e., the sermon he deleted (see letters 2260 and 2278).

4. Cf. Hamlet, III, 2, 396.

5. Presumably the lines contained in letter 2283 (see note 5).


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