2346. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 304–305.
Wednesday. [Postmark: 6 May 1846]
Dearest Ba let me [be] silent, as on other occasions, over what you promise: one reads of “a contest in generosity”, and how this party was as determined to give, as that party not to accept—far from anything so graceful, I am compelled to clutch at the offering,—I take all, because, because—because I must, now! May God requite you, my best beloved!
I met Mrs Jameson last evening and she began just as I prophesied .. “but” said she “I will tell you all when you come and breakfast with me on Thursday—which a note of mine now on its way to you, desires may happen”! —A large party at Chorley’s, and admirable music, not without a pleasant person or two. I wish you could hear that marvelous Pischek, with his Rhine Songs, and Bohemian melodies. Then a Herr Kellerman told a kind of crying story on the violoncello, full of quiet pathos, and Godefroi,—if they so spell him—harped like a God harping,—immortal victorious music indeed! Altogether a notable evening .. oh, the black ingratitude of man .. these few words are the poor “set-off” to this morning’s weary yawning, and stupefaction. To-night having to follow beside! So near you I shall be! (Mrs J. is to [be] at the Procters’ to night too.[)] Oh, by the way, and in the straight way to make Ba laugh .. Mrs J.’s first word was “What? Are you married?”– She having caught a bit of Miss Chorley’s enquiry after “Mrs Browning’s” health i.e. my mother’s– Probably Miss Heaton’s friend, who is my intimate, heard me profess complete infidelity as to—homœopathy .. que sais-je? But of all accusations in the world .. what do you say to my having been asked if I was not the author of Romeo & Juliet, and Othello? A man actually asked me that, as I sate in Covent Garden Pit to see the second representation of “Strafford”– I supposed he had been set on by somebody .. but the simple face looked too quiet for that impertinence– I was muffled up in a cloak, too,—so I said “no—so far as I am aware”. (His question was, “is not this Mr Browning the author of &c &c”) After the play, all was made clear by somebody in Macready’s dressing room—two burlesques on Shakspeare were in the course of performance at some minor theatre by a Mr Brown, or Brownley, or something Brown-like—and to these my friend had alluded.
own, own RB
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St
Postmark: PD 8NT MY6 1846 B.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 176.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 681–682.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Dieudonné Joseph Guillaume Félix Godefroid (1818–97) was a Belgian harpist, pianist and composer. Johann Baptist Pischek (1814–73), a Bohemian baritone, had debuted in London in 1845. His “voice was rich and expressive over a range of two octaves, and his use of the mezza voce and falsetto was particularly admired” (The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1980, 14, 774). Christian Kellermann (1815–66) was a Danish cellist.
2. “What do I know?”
3. The second in the short run of five performances of Strafford took place on 2 May 1837.
4. Cf. The Merchant of Venice, III, 2, 65.
5. “Earthly fame.”
6. “Make haste slowly.”
7. Presumably the one EBB mentioned in letter 2314.