Correspondence

2331.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 279–281.

[London]

Sunday. [26 April 1846][1]

See what a brain I have,—which means, you have! The book I ought to put in my pocket,[2]—and fancy I leave on the table,—is picked up in our lane and presented to me on my return—so my reason, which told you I had forgotten it, the book,—was wrong,—and my instinct which told me, all the time, that I could not forget even so poor a matter if it tended to you,—that was right, as usual! (Don’t think that I forgot the said book on the former occasions .. I wanted to look thro’ it first, so as to be able to correct any possible mistakings, in case you should ask, or should not ask, my siren! I read the book during the voyage–[)]

Will you tell me what number of the “League” contains the notice of you?[3] I can get it directly. I did not ask you yesterday, being just as much master of myself as I commonly am when with you—but after-wisdom comes duly for a consolation, and mine was apparent in a remark I made last night– “Here is truly an illusion broken” I said—“for not very long ago I used to feel impatient at listening to other peoples’ commendations of her, as if they were usurping my especial office,—they could not see what I see, not utter what I could utter: and now, at the beginning of my utterance, the hand closes my mouth, while its dear fellow shuts my eyes,—I may not see what everybody sees, nor say what the whole world says,—I, that was to excel them all in either function! So now I will change my policy and bid them praise, praise, praise, since I may not”– Will you let me hear them, my Ba? You know, Chesterfield forbids his son to play on an instrument himself[4] .. “for you can pay musicians” he says—“and hear them play”!!– Where may I hear this “discourser of most excellent music”?[5]

In your last letter you spoke of “other women”, and said they might “love me”—just see! They might love me because of something in me, lovingness in me, which they never could have evoked .. so the effect produces the cause, my dear “inverter!” If there had been a vague aimless feeling in me, turning hither & thither for some object to attach itself to and spend itself on, and you had chanced to be that object .. I should understand you were very little flattered and how a poplar does as well for a vine-prop as a palm tree—but whatever love of mine clings to you was created by you, dearest,—they were not in me, I believed,—those feelings,—till you came: so that, mournful & degrading as it sounds, still it would, I think, be more rational to confess the possibility of their living on, tho’ you withdrew,—finding some other—oh no,—it is,—that is as great an impossibility as the other,—they came from you, they go to you—what is the whole world to them!

May God bless you, repay you– He can–

Well, Ba, do you see the “Examiner”?[6] That is very kind, very generous of Forster: there are real difficulties in the way of this prompt, efficient, serviceable notice—for he has a tribe of friends, dramatists, actors—“conflicting interests” &c &c to keep the peace among,—and he quite understands his trade,—how compensation is to be made, and an equilibrium kept in the praises so as to offend nobody,—yet see how he writes, with a heap of other businesses on his shoulders! I thank him very sincerely, I am sure.

Tell me how you are, beloved—all-beloved! I am quite well to-day,—have been out.

Do you remember our friend Bennet of Blackheath? (Don’t ejaculate “le Benêt!”[7]) He sent me letters lately<—and I returned a copy of Luria to save compliments>[8] and words—here is his answer .. <…>[9] (I will at once confess I could not read it,) but Ba bids me send, and what am I but Ba’s own, very very own

RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50 Wimpole St

Postmark: PD 10FN AP27 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 168.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 655–657.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. RB is probably referring to De’ Simboli by Bartoli; see letter 2242 and its note 3. We take RB’s comment about “possible mistakings” as a reference to notes he made on the inside front cover; although now effaced, they are still apparent (see Reconstruction, A168).

3. For EBB’s response, which she gave only after RB’s second request in letter 2334, see no. 2335.

4. In “Letter CXLVIII,” dated “April 19, O.S. 1749” from Letters Written by the Late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield to His Son (1774), I, 407.

5. Cf. Hamlet, III, 2, 359.

6. The Examiner of 25 April 1846 reviewed Luria and A Soul’s Tragedy, the eighth and last part of the Bells and Pomegranates series (for the text, see pp. 384–387).

7. “The simpleton,” referring to Georgiana Bennet (see letter 2314). “Bennet of Blackheath” is a reference to William Cox Bennett (see letter 2060). Both names occur frequently in future correspondence between RB and EBB.

8. The passage in angle brackets has been written above an obliterated line.

9. About half a line has been obliterated.

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