2320.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 260–262.


Saty [Postmark: 18 April 1846]

So my dear, own Ba has good sense, best sense. Whatever Flush’s may be! Do you think .. (to take the extreme horn of a certain dilemma I see) .. that [1]

Now, dearest, somehow I can’t write the great proof down—I will tell you on monday: as to my good sense .. I was wrong to give such a praise to myself in the particular case you were alluding to at the time—the good sense of the bird which finds out its mate amid a forest-full of birds of another kind! Why the poorest brown butterfly will seek out a brown stone in a gravel walk, or brown leaf in a flower bed, to settle on and be happy .. (and I suppose even dear Carlyle is no longer my brown leaf,—at least, I could not go last night. I will, however, try again on Monday,—after leaving you,—with that elixir in my veins).

Mrs Paine’s note is charming. I thank you, dearest, for sending it—(How I like being reminded of thanks, due from me to you, which I may somehow come near the expression of! I am silent about an infinity of blessings—but I do say how grateful I am for this kindness!) .. Now, there is the legitimate process,—the proper benefit received, in the first instance, and profitted by, and thence grows in proper time the desire of being admitted to see you—so different from the vulgar “Georgianas” [2] who, possibly, hearing of the privelege extended to such a person as this we speak of, would say, with the triumphant chuckle of low cunning, “ah,—I will get as far, by one stroke of the pen—by one bold desire ‘to be thought of as I think of her’!” She could but ask and be refused! Whereas Mrs Paine was already in possession of much more of dear, dear Ba, than could be taken away even by a refusal—beside, her reverence would have made her understand and acquiesce even in that. Therefore, I am glad, sympathisingly glad she is rewarded, that good, gentle Mrs Paine! I will bring her note with me.

Because, here is Mr Kenyon’s, and Landor’s [3] (which had been sent to Moxon’s some days ago,—whence the delay[)]—and Mrs Jameson’s. All kind and indulgent and flattering in their various ways .. but, my Ba, my dear, dear Ba,—“other praises disregarding,—I but harken those of yours—only saying” [4]  .. Ah, it is wrong to take the sacrificial vessel and say,—“See, it holds my draught of wine, too”!– I will not do so <not parody your verses> [5] again. And I like to be praised now, in a sense, much, much more than ever—but, darling,—oh how easily, if need were, I could know the world was abusing at its loudest outside,—if you were inside .. tho’ but the thinnest of gauze canopies kept us from the buzzing! [6] This is only said on this subject,—struck out by it,—not of it,—for the praise is good true praise and from the worthies of our time—butyou, I love,—and there is the world-wide difference. And what ought I to say to Mr Kenyon’s report of me? Stand quietly, assentingly? You will agree to this at least, that he cannot know what he says—only be disposed to hope and believe it is so: still, to speak so to you—what would I not do to repay him, if that could be! What a divinely merciful thought of God for our sake .. that we cannot know each other,—infallibly know—as we know other things, in their qualities! For instance, I bid you know my love for you (which would be knowing me)—I complain that you do not, cannot—yet,—if you could .. my Ba, would you have been ever quite my Ba? If you said, calmly as when judging of material objects, “there is affection, so much, and sincerity, and admiration &c yes, that I see,—of course, for it is there, plainly”– So I should lose the delight crowning the delight,—first of the fact, as I know it,—and then of this,—that you desired to know it, chose to lean forward, and take my poor testimony for a fact, believing thro’ desire, or at least will to believe—so that I do, in the exercise of common sense, adore you, more and more, as I live to see more, and feel more. So let me kiss you, my pearl of women– Do I “remember” praying God to bless me thro’ the blessing on you? Shall I ever forget to pray so, rather! My dear—dearest, I pray now, with all my heart,—may He bless you—and what else can now bless your own RB?–

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 AP18 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 161.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 635–637.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. RB has made what appears to be an opening single quotation mark here, but nothing more follows.

2. A reference to Georgiana Bennet (see letter 2314, note 4).

3. See letter 2313; Kenyon’s letter has not survived.

4. EBB, “Catarina to Camoëns,” lines 11–13.

5. RB has interpolated the passage in angle brackets between the lines.

6. See the second paragraph in letter 2318.


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