2301. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 230–231.
Thursday evening [9 April 1846]
I thought you had not written to me tonight, ever dearest! Nine oclock came & went, & I heard no postman’s knock, .. & I supposed that I did not deserve (in your mind) to hear it at all. At last I rang the bell & said to Wilson .. [‘]‘Look in the letter box—there may be a letter perhaps. If there should be none, you need not come up stairs to tell me—I shall understand.” So she left me—&, that time, I listened for footsteps .. the footsteps of my letter. If I had not heard them directly, what should I have thought?
You are good & kind, .. too good & kind, .. always, always!—& I love you gratefully & shall to the end, & with an unspeakable apprehension of what you are in yourself, & towards me:—yet you cannot, you know,—you know you cannot, dearest .. “submit” to me in an opinion, any more than I could to you, if I desired it ever so anxiously. We will talk no more however on this subject now– I have had some pain from it, of course .. but I am satisfied to have had the pain, for the knowledge .. which was as necessary as possible, under <the> circumstances, for more reasons than one.
Dearest .. before I go to talk of something else .. will you be besought of me to consider within yourself, .. & not with me to teaze you,—why the “case”, spoken of, should “never in likelihood be your own”? Are you & yours charmed from the influence of offensive observations .. personally offensive? “The most unhappy thing that could happen to you”, is it, on that account, the farthest thing?
Now—! Mrs Jameson was here today, & in the room before, almost, I heard of her being on the stairs. It is goodnatured of her to remember me in her brief visits to London—& she brought me two or three St Sebastians with the arrows through them, etched by herself, to look at—very goodnatured! Once she spoke of you—“Oh,” she said, “you saw Mr Browning’s last number! Yes, I remember how you spoke of it. I suppose Mr Kenyon lent you his copy …” And before I could speak, she was on another subject. But I should not have had heart to say what I meant & predetermined to say, even if the opportunity today had been achieved. As if you could not be read except in Mr Kenyon’s copy!– I might have confessed to my own copy, even if not to my own original .. do you not think?
Before she came, I went down to the drawing room, I & Flush, & found no one there .. & walked drearily up & down the rooms, &, so, came back to mine. May you have spent your day better. There was sunshine for you, as I could see. God bless you & keep you. Saturday may be clear for us, or may not—& if it should not be clear, certainly monday & tuesday will not .. what shall be done? Will you wait till wednesday? or will you (now let it be as you choose!) come on saturday, running the risk of finding only a parcel .. a book & a letter .. & so going away, if there should be reasons against the visit. Because last monday was known of, & I shall not ascertain until saturday whether or not we shall be at liberty. Or .. shall we at once say wednesday?– It is for your decision. You go out on saturday evening .. & perhaps altogether there may be a conspiracy against saturday. Judge & decide.
I am writing as with the point of a pilgrim’s staff rather than a pen. “We are all strangers & pilgrims”. Can you read anywise?
I think of you, bless you, love you—but it would have been better for you, never to have seen my face perhaps, though Mr Kenyon gave the first leave. Perhaps!!– I “flatter” myself tonight, in change for you–
Best beloved I am your Ba–
Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmark: 10FN10 AP10 1846 C.
Docket, in RB’s hand: 150.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 609–610.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. Obscured by ink blot.
3. Four woodcuts of St. Sebastian appeared in Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art; see letter 2276, note 5.
4. Cf. Hebrews 11:13.