2343.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 299–300.


Tuesday. [Postmark: 5 May 1846]

Yes, you were right, my Ba—our meeting was on the 20th of last May: the next letter I received was the 14th and that ran in my head, no doubt, yesterday. You must have many such mistakes to forgive in me when I undertake to talk and “stare” at the same time .. well for me if they are no more serious mistakes!

I referred to my letters—and found much beside the date to reflect on. I will tell you. Would it not be perilous in some cases,—many cases—to contrast the present with the very early Past. The fruit time, even when there is abundant fruit,—with the dewy springing and blossoming? One would confess to a regret at the vanishing of that charm, at least, if it were felt to be somehow vanished out of the present. And, looking upon our experience as if it were another’s,—undoubtedly the peril seems doubled—with that five months’ previous correspondence .. only then,—after all the curiosity, and hope and fear,—the first visit to come! And after,—shortly after,—you know—the heightened excitement that followed [1]  .. I should not believe in the case of another,—or should not have believed,—that the strange delight could last .. no more than I should think it reasonable to wonder, or even grieve, that it did not last—so long as other delights came in due succession. Now, hear the truth! I never, God knows, felt the joy of being with you as I felt it yesterday [2] – The fruit of my happiness has grown under the blossom, lifting it and keeping it as a coronet—not one feeling is lost, and the new feelings are infinite. Ah, my Ba, can you wonder if I seem less inclined to see the adorable kindness in those provisions, and suppositions, and allowances for escape, change of mind &c you furnish me with,—than to be struck at the strange fancy which, as I said, insists on my being free to leave off breathing vital air the moment it shall so please me!

And when I spoke of “dishonouring suppositions” I had not the faintest approximation to an idea of standing in your eyes for a magnanimous keeper of promises, vow-observer, and the rest– All that is profoundly pitiable! But to change none of my views of the good of this life and the next, and yet to give up my love on the view (for instance) which sees that good in money, or worldly advancement,—what is that if not dishonouring?

All the while, I know your thought, your purpose in it all, .. I believe & am sure—and I bless you from my heart. You will soon know, what you have to know: I believe, before hand, I repeat.

I am rather out of spirits to-day—thus I feel toward you when at all melancholy .. you would undo me in withdrawing from me your help, undo me, I feel! When, as ordinarily, I am cheerful, I have precisely the same conviction– Does that prove nothing, my Ba?

Well, I give up proving, or trying to prove anything: from the beginning I abjured mere words—and now, much more!

Let me kiss you, ever best and dearest! My life is in the hand you call “mine”,—if that hand would “shake” less from letting it fall, I earnestly pray God may relieve you of it nor ever let you be even aware of what followed your relief! For what should one live or die in this world? [3]

I am wholly yours–

Did I not meet two of your Brothers yesterday in the Hall? Pray take care of this cold wind—be satisfied with the good deeds of the last few days.

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 MY5 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 175.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 675–677.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. See letter 1925, note 2.

2. Underscored three times.

3. Cf. Sonnets from the Portuguese (1856), XXIII.


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