Correspondence

2323.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 266–267.

[London]

Tuesday. [Postmark: 21 April 1846]

My dearest Ba, my sweetest, only love must sit, if she please, in the gondola chair and let me talk to-day, not write to her—for my head aches,—from pure perversity,—and a little from my morning spent over a novel of Balzac’s[1]that is it, not any real illness, I know—however, the effect is the same– Beside I got tired with the long walk from Carlyle’s last night—for I went and saw him to heart’s content—and he talked characteristically and well, and constringingly, bracingly– He has been in the country a little,—that is, has gone down to see his wife occasionally who was on a visit at Croydon,—whence she only returned on Saturday. He told me he had read my last number,—and that he had “been read to”—some good reader had recited “the Duchess” to him– Altogether he said wonderfully kind things and was pleased to prophesy in the same spirit,—God bless him! We talked for three or four hours—he asked [me] to come again soon, and I will.

Here are two letters—Chorley’s, one—and the other from quite another kind of man, an old friend who “docks ships”[2] or something like it,—a great lover of “intelligibility in writing”, and heretofore a sufferer from my poetry–

My love, I send you such things with exactly as much vanity as .. no comparison will serve! it is the French vulgarism—comme .. n’importe quoi! Cela me pousse à la vanité comme—n’importe quoi![3]

Will you have a signi[fi]cative “comme” of another kind? “Je me trouve bête ce matin comme .. trente-six oies!”[4]—(I assure you this is no flower culled from Balzac this morning—but a little “souvenir” of an old play–[)]

Now, if I were to say to myself something is dear as “thirty-six Bas”—I should be scared, as when looking into a mirror cut into façettes one is met on every note by the same face, twenty times repeated—nothing can add to my conception of the one Ba—my one, only—ever dear, dearest Ba– “What perfect nonsense” says Ba—<and nonsensical I will be .. all she pleases>[5] so long as let live & die her very own—.

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St.

Postmark: 8NT8 AP21 1846.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 163.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 641–642.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Balzac’s Les Comédiens sans le savoir had just been published, but perhaps RB is referring to La Messe de l’Athée (1836) which he recommends to EBB in letter 2332.

2. See letter 2309, note 5.

3. “Such things make me feel vain, as does anything of that sort.”

4. “I feel as silly this morning as thirty-six geese.”

5. RB has written the passage in angle brackets above a line that he has deleted.

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