Correspondence

2356.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 319–321.

[London]

Tuesday. [Postmark: 12 May 1846]

My Ba, your flower is the one flower I have seen, or see, or shall see—when it fades “I will bless it till it shine’[’],[1] and when I can bless you no longer, it shall fade with me and my letters and .. perhaps .. my ring. Ba, if .. I was going to say, if you meant to make me most exquisitely happy .. and you did, surely mean it .. well, you succeed, as you know! And I see you on the grass, and am with you as you properly acknowledge. And by this letter’s presence & testimony, I may judge you to be not much the worse, .. not fatigued .. is it so? Oh, it was a good inspiration that led you thro’ the half-opened gate and under the laburnum,—and, better still, that made you see us, “one day walking by the trees together”– When, all I shall say is,—I hope, in spite of that felicity to remember and feel this, as vividly as now–

For “the chain you hear rattle” .. there comes the earthly mood again and the inspiration goes away altogether! So you being Miss Barrett and not my Ba for the moment, I will give you none of my, and Ba’s, siren-island illustrations, but ask you, what a fine lady would say if you caught at her diamond necklace and cried—“You shall wear no such chains, .. indeed you shall not!” Why even Flush is proud of his corals and blue beads, you tell me! As for me,—being used to bear sundry heavier chains than this of writing to you .. owning the degradation of being, for instance, forced to respire so many times a minute in order to live—to go out into the open air so as to continue well—with many similarly affronting impositions on a free spirit .. on the whole, I can very patiently submit to write a letter which is duly read, and forgiven for its imperfections, and interpreted into a rationality (sometimes) not its own, and then answered by the sweetest hand that ever ministered to the dearest, dearest Ba that ever was imagined, or can be! Ba,—there are three siren’s isles, you know: I shall infallibly get into the farthest of them, a full thirty yards from you and the tower,—so as to need being written to .. for the cicale make such a noise that you will not be able to call to me—which is as well, for you may .. that is, I might,—break my neck by a sudden leap on the needles of rocks .. as I remember the boatman told me.

As for what you wrote yesterday .. the mode of my expressing my love .. I never think of it,—I have none—no system, nor attempt at such a thing. I begin and end by saying I love you—whatever comes of it– There is one obvious remark to make however .. that unless I had loved you,—and felt that every instant of my life depended on you for its support and comfort,—I should never have dreamed of what has been proposed and accepted .. your own goodness at the very beginning would have rendered that superfluous .. for I was put in possession of your friendship,—might write to you, and receive letters—might even hope to see you as often as anybody .. would not this have sufficed a reasonable friendship? May not Mr Kenyon be your satisfied friend?– But all was different—and so …

––So I am blessed now—and can only bless you, Ba! Goodbye, dearest, till tomorrow: and next day, which is ours. At 8—eight I conjecture my martyrdom may take place .. oh, think of me and help me! I shall feel you,—as ever. You forgot the letter after all .. can you send it? It may be convenient to produce .. as I know nobody of them all—terrible it is altogether! “At six” the dinner begins– I shall get behind my brother Dramatists .. and say very little about them, even.

Kiss me, in any case, of failure, or success,—and the one will be forgotten, and the other doubled, centupled—to your own RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 MY12 1846 O.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 180.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 697–698.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. EBB, “Catarina to Camoëns,” line 146.

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