2355.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 317–319.


Monday. [11 May 1846] [1]

It is too bad, or too good, or something. Almost I could reproach you, & quite would thank you!. yet do not let it be so again. You are supernaturally kind .. kindestest, bestestest, [2]  .. &, so, dearestest by the merest justice; only, to think of your hastening home, as if you were under an obligation to write to me in the face of the seven worlds, .. that is too much, & shall not be again … now see that it shall not. I seem to hear the rattling of the chain all this distance. And do, for the future, let it be otherwise. When you are kept in London, or in any way hindered, or unwell, .. in any case of the sort, let the vow be kept by one line, which, too late for the day’s post, may reach me the next day,—& I shall not be uneasy at eight oclock, but wait “as those who wait for the morning.” [3] In the meanwhile how I thank you!– The second dear letter comes close in the footsteps of the first, as your goodnesses are so apt to do.

Well!—and whatever you may think about wednesday, I [4] am pleased, & feel every inclination to ‘return thanks’ myself in reply to the bishop of Lincoln. [5] I send the letter back lest you should want it. The worst is that you are likely to have a very bad headache with the noise & confusion—& the bishop’s blessing on the dramatists of England, will not prevent it, I fear–

Look what is inside of this letter .. look! I gathered it for you today when I was walking in the Regent’s Park. Are you surprised? Arabel & Flush & I were in the carriage—& the sun was shining with that green light through the trees, as if he carried down with him the very essence of the leaves, to the ground, .. & I wished so much to walk through a half open gate along a shaded path, that we stopped the carriage & got out & walked, & I put both my feet on the grass, .. which was the strangest feeling!.. & gathered this laburnum for you. It hung quite high up on the tree, the little blossom did, and Arabel said that certainly I could not reach it—but you see! It is a too generous return for all your flowers: or, to speak seriously, a proof that I thought of you & wished for you—which it was natural to do, for I never enjoyed any of my excursions as I did today’s—the standing under the trees & on the grass, was so delightful. It was like a bit of that Dreamland which is your especial dominion: & I felt joyful enough for the moment, to look round for you, as for the cause. It seemed illogical, not to see you close by. And you were not far after all, if thoughts count as bringers near– Dearest, we shall walk together under the trees some day!–

And all those strange people moving about like phantoms of life– How wonderful it looked to me!—& only you, .. the idea of you .. & myself seemed to be real there! And Flush a little, too!——

Ah—what .. next to nonsense, .. in the first letter, this morning! So you think that I meant to complain when we first met, of your “loving me only for my poetry”.! Which I did not: simply because I did not believe that you loved me! .. for any reason. For the rest, I am not over-particular, I fancy, about what I may be loved for. There is no good reason for loving me, certainly, & my earnest desire (as I have said again & again) is, that there should be by profession no reason at all. But if there is to be any sort of reason, why one is as welcome as another .. you may love me for my shoes, if you like it … except that they wear out. I thought you did not love me at all—you loved out into the air, I thought—— A love a priori, as the philosophers might say, & not by induction, any wise! Your only knowledge of me was by the poems (or most of it)—& what knowledge could that be, when I feel myself so far below my own aspirations, morally, spiritually—? So I thought you did not love me at all– I did not believe in miracles then, nor in ‘Divine Legations’ [6] … but my miracle is as good as Constantine’s, [7] you may tell your bishop on wednesday when he has delivered his charge.

Is it eight oclock, or three? You write a ‘8 [8] which looks like both, or at least either.

Love me, my only beloved,—since you can– May God bless you!

I am ever & wholly your Ba–

Say how you are.

Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.

Postmark: 10FN10 MY12 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 171.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 695–697.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. An allusion to the anecdote given by RB in letter 1825.

3. Cf. Psalm 130:6.

4. Underscored twice.

5. John Kaye (1783–1853), Bishop of Lincoln since 1827, was the Chairman of the Royal Literary Fund, and, according to the report in The Morning Chronicle of 14 May 1846 (p. 6), he “most ably performed the duties” at the anniversary dinner on 13 May, at which RB was in attendance.

6. Presumably an allusion to The Divine Legation of Moses (1738–41) by William Warburton, Bishop of Gloucester (1698–1779).

7. According to legend, Constantine the Great had a vision in which a cross appeared to him in the sky; it bore the words “in hoc signo vinces” (“by this sign shalt thou conquer”).

8. Written as an incomplete “8.”


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