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2329.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 275–276.

[London]

[Postmark: 24 April 1846]

How I sympathize with poor Cloten when he complains that “he is in the habit of saying daily many things fully as witty as those of Posthumus, men praise so—if men would but note them”! [1] – I feel jealous of the success and “praise” of my Ba,—falling as they do on the mere asides and interjectional fits and starts of the play,—when its earnest soliloquy, the very soul and substance of it all, never reaches her ear, nor calls down her dear, dear words.

Yet do I say that I feel jealous? Rather, I acquiesce gladly in the ignorance .. because when the words, the golden words, are brought in to me by the inferior agents, and honestly transferred by them to the real moving powers .. they, even, find the reward too much, too much, till they .. till they resolve (on the other side of a sheet) [2] to keep silence and be grateful till death help them to speak.

Well, my dear, own dearest .. the week has got to its weary end, and tomorrow I shall trust to be with you– I continue to feel better,—and this morning’s rain, in the opinion of the learned, will be succeeded by warm weather,—May is just here, beside.

Let me say how a word of praise from your brother gratifies me– I feel his kindness in other respects—feel it deeply—as I do that of the rest of your family: because .. after these extravagant flatteries of mine you find such just fault with,—wherein I go the length of attributing to you the authorship of the Drama of Exile, and Geraldine and Bertha and many more poems which I used to suppose my Ba’s,—after that undue glorification, you will bear to be told, by way of “set-off”—that I cannot help thinking, you, of all your family, are the most ignorant of your own value—very ignorant you are, my sweet Ba,—but they cannot be, and their kindness to me becomes centupled “for reasons, for reasons”–

Now let me kiss you—which kiss, as I am to really kiss you to-morrow, my sweetest, I shall dare tell the truth of to myself, and say “The real will be better”– At other times, with a longer perspective of days, and days after them, until .. why, then I make the best of pity and say “Can the real be better .. what can be better than the best?” Still—remember my “peculiarity”—with the greater I keep the less, you let me say and praise me for saying– So, with all the dear hope of to-morrow,—now, my Ba—and now, I kiss you. May God bless you, best and dearest–

RB

No letters that are letters—here is one however from Arnould just arrived—an Oxford Prize Poet, [3] and an admirable dear good fellow, for all his praise—which is better.

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 AP24 1846 A.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 166.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 651–652.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. This quotation does not occur in Cymbeline, although it is in keeping with Cloten’s character.

2. At the bottom of the first page, with very little room, RB started a line with the word “resolve” but deleted it and resumed his thought at the top of the second page.

3. In 1834 Arnould won Oxford’s Newdigate prize for English verse with a poem called “The Hospice of St. Bernard.” His verses in response to RB’s presentation copy of Dramatic Lyrics (the third of the Bells and Pomegranates series) appear in letter 1062.

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