2292.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 210–212.


Saturday. [4 April 1846] [1]

Oh, my two letters—and to turn from such letters to you, to my own Ba!– I very well know I am not grateful enough, if there is any grace in that, any power to avert punishment, as one hopes! But all my hope is in future endeavour—it is, my Ba,—this is earnest truth. And one thing that strikes me on hearing such prognostications of Mrs Jameson’s opinion on our subject—is that,—as far as I am concerned .. or yourself, indeed—we must make up our mind to endure the stress of it, and of such opinions generally, with all resignation .. and by the time we can answer,—why, alas, they are gone & forgotten, so that there’s no paying them for their impertinence. —I mean,—that I do not expect,—as a foolish fanciful boy might, that on the sudden application of “Hymen’s torch” [2] (to give the old simile one chance more),—our happiness will blaze out apparent to the whole world lying in darkness, like a wondrous “Catherine-wheel,” now all blue, now red, and so die at the bed amid an universal clapping of hands—I trust a long life of real work “begun, carried on and ended,” as it never otherwise would have been (certainly by me .. and if I dare hope, by you, dearest, it is because you teach me to aspire to the height)—that the attainment of all that happiness of daily, hourly life in entire affection, which seeing that men of genius <need rather more> [3] —ah, these words!– I cannot look back and take up the thread of the sentence,—but I wanted to say—we will live the real answer, will we not, dearest? All the stupidity against “genius” “poets,” and the like, is got past the stage of being treated with patient consideration and gentle pity—it is too vexatious, if it will not lie still, out of the way, by this time. What is the crime, to his fellow man or woman (not to God, I know that—these are peculiar sins to Him,—whether greater in his Eyes, who shall say?)—but to mankind, what is the crime which would have been prevented but for the “genius” involved in it? A man of genius ill-treats his wife—well, take away the “genius”—does he so naturally improve? See the article in to-day[’]s Athenæum about the French Duel [4] —far enough from “men of genius” these Dujarriers &c—but go to-night into half the estaminets [5] of Paris, and see whether the quarrels over dice and sour wine present any more pleasing matter for contemplation au fond [6] Sin is sin every where and the worse, I think, for the grossness– Being fired at by a Duellist is a little better, I think also, than being struck on the face by some ruffian. These are extreme cases—but go higher and it is the same thing– Poor, cowardly miscreated natures abound—if you could throw “genius” into their composition, they would become more degraded still, I suppose!

I know I want every faculty I can by any possibility dare,—want all, and much more, to teach me what you are, my own Ba, and what I should do to prove that I am taught, and do know.

I will write at length to you to-morrow, my all beloved– I am, somehow, overflowing with things to say, and the time is fearfully short .. my proofs have just arrived—here they are, not even glanced over by me– (To-morrow, love! not one thing answered in my letters, as when I read and read them to-night I shall say to myself!) Bless you, dearest, dearest–


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St

Postmark: None. Letter was enclosed with proofsheets under separate cover sheet.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 150.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 587–588.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by RB’s reference to the article in The Athenæum of 4 April 1846.

2. The Tempest, IV, 1, 97.

3. The text in angle brackets has been crossed out.

4. See note 5 in the preceding letter.

5. “Public houses,” or “bars.”

6. “Deep,” or “profound.”


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