2309.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 241–242.


Monday Mg [13 April 1846][1]

I shall receive a note from you presently, I trust—but this had better go now—for I expect a friend, and must attend to him as he wants to go walking—so, dearest—dearest, take my—last work I ever shall send you, if God please!

A word about a passage or two,—I had forgotten to say before—gadge[2] is a real name (in Johnson, too) for a torturing iron—it is part of the horror of such things that they should be mysteriously named,—indefinitely,—“The Duke of Exeter’s Daughter”[3] for instance … Ugh! —Besides, am I not a rhymester? Well, who knows but one may want to use such a word in a couplet with “badge”—which, if one reject the old & obselete “fadge,” is rhymeless–

Then, Chiappino remarks that men of genius usually do the reverse .. of beginning by dethroning &c and so arriving with utmost reluctancy at the acknowledgment of a natural & unalterable inequality of Mankind—instead of that, they begin at once, he says, by recognizing it in their adulation &c &c– I have supplied the words “at once”, and taken out “virtually”, which was unnecessary,—so that the parallel possibly reads clearlier.[4] I know there are other things to say—but at this moment my memory is at fault.

Can you tell me Mrs Jameson’s address?

My sea-friend’s[5] opinion is altogether unfavourable to the notion of an invalid’s trusting himself alone in a merchant vessel—he says—“it will certainly be the gentleman’s death.” So very small a degree of comfort can be secured amid all the inevitable horrors of dirt, roughness, &c[.] The expenses are trifling in any case, on that very account– Any number of the “Shipping Gazette” (I think) will give a list of all vessels about to sail, with choice of ports—or on the walls of the Exchange one may see their names placarded, with reference to the Agent—or he will, himself, (my friend) do his utmost with a ship owner (Chas. Walton), we both know, and save some expense, perhaps– I made him remark the difference between my carelessness for accom[m]odations, and an invalid’s proper attention beforehand—but he persisted in saying nothing can be done, nothing effectual– My time is out—but I must bless you my ever dearest Ba—and kiss you–

Ever your own RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: None. Letter was sent in a parcel with a copy of Bells and Pomegranates, No. VIII.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 152.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 593–594, as [6 April 1846].

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by RB’s request for Mrs. Jameson’s address, which EBB supplies in the following letter, as well as his sending a copy of the last number of Bells and Pomegranates, published on this day.

2. A Soul’s Tragedy, I, 332. The word “gadge” does not appear in Johnson’s Dictionary (1775).

3. More commonly called the rack, the English version was so named for John Holland, Duke of Exeter (1395–1447), who, along with other noblemen, had the device built for the Tower of London, of which he was the Constable.

4. A Soul’s Tragedy, II, 509–514. It is unclear whether this change was made as a result of EBB’s notes.

5. Probably Capt. Pritchard (see letter 2300, note 2), whose friend, Charles Walton, was a ship-owner and marine insurance broker.


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