2322.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 264–266.


Tuesday. [21 April 1846] [1]

I would not say to you yesterday, perhaps could not, that you wrote ever so much foolishness to me in the morning, dearest, & that I knew it ever so well. There is no use, no help, in discussing certain questions: some sorts of extravagance grow by talking of: shake this elixir, & you have more & more bubbles on the surface of it. So I would not speak—nor will I write much. Only I protest .. from my understanding .. from my heart—& besides I do assert the truth .. clear of any “affectation”, this time, .. & it is that you always make me melancholy by using such words. It seems to me as if you were in the dark altogether, & held my hand for another’s!—let the shutter be opened suddenly,—& the hand .. is dropped perhaps .... must I not think such thoughts, when you speak such words?– I ask you if it is not reasonable. No, I do not ask you. We will not argue whether eagles creep, or worms fly– And see if it is distrust on my part! Love, I have learnt to believe in. I see the new light which Reichenbach shows pouring forth visibly from these chrystals tossed out. [2] But when you say that the blue, I see, is red, & that the <little chrystals are the fixed stars of the Heavens, how> [3] am I to think of you but that you are deluded .. mistaken?—& in what? in love itself? ——Ah—if you could know .. if you could but know for a full moment of conviction, how you depress & alarm me by saying such things, you never would say them afterwards, I know. So trust to me, even as I trust to you .. & do not say them ever again, .. you, who never flatter!– Is it not enough that you love me? Is there anything greater? And will you run the risk of ruining that great wonder by bringing it to the test of an ‘argumentum ad absurdum’ such as I might draw from your letter. Have pity on me my own dearest, & consider how I must feel to see myself idealized away, little by little, like Ossian’s spirits into the mist .. till .. ‘Gone is the daughter of Morven’!– [4] And what if it is mist or moon-glory, if I stretch out my hands to you in vain, & must still fade away farther? Now you will not any more. When the world comes to judge between us two, or rather over us both, the world will say (even the purblind world, as I myself with wide-open eyes!) that I have not been generous with my gifts—no,—you are in a position to choose .. & you might have chosen better .. that is my immoveable conviction. It has been only your love for me, .. which I believe in perfectly as love .. & which, being love, does not come by pure logic, as the world itself may guess .. it has been only, wholly & purely your love for me which has made a level for us two to meet & stand together– There, is my fact against your fiction!– Now let us talk no more. We cannot agree, because we stand in different positions … “I hear a voice you cannot hear”! .. I am on the black side of the knight[’]s shield. Presently you will hear perhaps, & see– Shall you love me then? When the ideal breaks off, when the light is gone, .. will you love me then for the love which I shall bear you then as now, .. the only real thing?

In the meantime I did but jest about the letters– I know you care for mine .. because I care for yours so infinitely: it is a lesson learnt by heart– Tonight I shall write again!–

Your own Ba–

Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.

Postmark: None. Envelope bears only a cancellation stamp.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 157.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 639–641.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by EBB’s reference to RB’s last visit.

2. In Reichenbach’s Abstract of “Researches on Magnetism …” (see letter 2287, note 2), he explains that in a darkened room, magnets and chrystals give off a light visible to sensitive persons. In the case of one patient, the light she saw was blue; another patient saw stars in the light (p. 25). Cf. Aurora Leigh, VII, 566–567.

3. EBB has interpolated the text in angle brackets over approximately a line of an obliterated passage.

4. A district on the northwest coast of Scotland in Argyllshire, Morven figures prominently in James Macpherson’s poems of Ossian. We have been unable to trace EBB’s quotation in those works.


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