Correspondence

2335.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 286–288.

[London]

Tuesday. [28 April 1846][1]

Dearest, you are not to blame the post, nor even me. The reason you did not get the letter, was simply that Henrietta slept over the hour, & let it lie on the table till past eight. Still, you should have had it before three perhaps. Only the wrong was less a wrong than you fancied.

For my wrongs, dearest beloved, they are mine I confess, & not yours .. ah, you are “evilly persecuted, & entreated”[2] of me, I must allow. Yet as, with all my calumnious imputations, I think softly to myself seven times seven times a day that no living man is worthy to stand in your footsteps, .. why you must try to forgive & (not[3]) forget me. Do I teaze you past enduring, sometimes? Yes, yes. And was’nt it my fault about the ‘imaginary woman’, .. that heiress, in an hypothesis, of the “love” I “made”? Yes, yes, yes—it was, of course. Unless indeed she came out of that famous mist, which you fined me away into, .. the day you slew & idealized me, remember![4]—&, now I begin to consider, I think she did! So we will share the fault between us, you & I .. The odium of it, I was going to say .. but odium is by no means the right word, perhaps.

The truth of all is, that you are too much in the excess of goodness, .. that you spoil me! There, it is!– Did I not tell you, warn you, that I never was used to the purple & fine linen of such an infinite tenderness? If you give me back my sackcloth, I shall know my right hand from my left again,[5] perhaps, .. guess where I stand .. what I am .. recover my common sense. Will you? No—do not–

And for the League newspaper, you mistook me, & I forgot to say so in my letter yesterday. I told you only that the League paper had mentioned me—not noticed me. It was just .. I just shall tell you, .. that you may not spend another thought on such a deep subject .. it was a mere quotation from the “cornships in the offing”, with a prefatory “.. as that exquisite poet Miss B .. says”.[6] Now you are done with the winter of your discontent?[7] You are with the snowdrops, at any rate. But last year there was a regular criticism on my poems in that League paper, & I had every reason to thank the critic.[8] I have heard too that Cobden is a very gracious reader of mine .. & that his Leeds (liege) subjects generally do me the honours of popularity, more than any other people in England. There’s glory for you, talking of palmtrees.

Ah—talking of palmtrees, you do not know what a curious coincidence your thought is with a thought of mine, which I shall not tell you now .. but some day perhaps.[9] There’s a mystery! talking of Venice!

For Balzac, I have had my full or overfull pleasure from that habit of his you speak of, .. & which seems to prove his own good faith in the life & reality of his creations, in such a striking manner. He is a writer of most wonderful faculty—with an overflow of life everywhere—with the vision & the utterance of a great seer– His French is another language—he throws new metals into it .. malleable metals, which fuse with the heat of his genius.[10] There is no writer in France, to my mind, at all comparable to Balzac—none—but where is the reader in England to make the admission?—none, again .. is almost to be said.

But, dearest, you do not say how you are; & that silence is not lawful, & is too significant. For me, when the wind changed for a few hours today, I went down stairs with Flush, & had my walk in the drawingroom. Mrs Jameson has written to proclaim her coming tomorrow at four,—so I shall hear of Luria I think. Remember to bring my verses,[11] if you please, on your thursday– And if dreaming of me should be good for making you love me, let me be dreamt of .. go on to dream of me: & love me, my beloved, ever so much, without grudging,—because the love returns to you, all of it, .. as the wave to the sea, .. & with an addition of sundry grains of soiling sand, to make you properly grateful. Take care of yourself– May God take care of you

for your own Ba–

Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey; [in postal clerk’s hand: Missent to Peckham, J.E.].

Postmarks: 10FN10 AP29 1846 A; 3AN3 AP29 1846 E.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 163.; + Thursday, April 30. / 3–5¾. p.m. (62.)

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 662–664.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. An echo of Exodus 5:22, Deuteronomy 26:6, and Acts 7:19.

3. Underscored three times.

4. See letter 2325.

5. Cf. Matthew 6:2.

6. Referring to exportation of corn from Ireland, where food supplies were scarce, The League for 18 April 1846 (p. 511) quoted lines 50–53 from EBB’s “The Cry of the Human,” which they introduced with the following remark: “Well may we exclaim with that exquisite and true poetess, Miss Barrett: ‘The rich preach “rights” and future days, / And hear no angel scoffing; / The poor die mute—with ardent gaze / On corn-ships in the offing.’”

7. Cf. Richard III, I, 1, 1.

8. Although we have been unable to verify it, in December 1844 EBB told Kenyon that she had heard that the review was “probably written by Mr. Cobden himself” (see letter 1782). For the text of this review, see vol. 9, pp. 378–380.

9. Cf. Sonnets from the Portuguese (1856), XXIX.

10. Cf. Aurora Leigh, I, 399–400.

11. i.e., Arnould’s verses on RB’s poetry (see letter 2329, note 3), to which EBB responds in letter 2338.

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