Correspondence

2357.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 321–322.

[London]

Tuesday. [12 May 1846][1]

When you began to speak of the islands, the three islands, I thought you were going to propose that you should live in one, & Flush in one, & I in the third: & almost it was so, .. only that you took, besides, the “farthest” for yourself!– Observe!—always I write nonsense, when you send me a letter which moves me like this, .. dearest, .. my own!

Today Mrs Jameson has been here, & having left with me a proof about Titian,[2] she comes again tomorrow to take it. I think her quite a loveable person now– I like her more & more. How she talked of you today, & called you the most charming companion in the world, setting you too on your right throne as “poet of the age”. Would’nt it have been an ‘effect’ in the midst of all, if I had burst out crying? And what with being flurried, frightened, & a little nervous from not sleeping well last night, I assure you it was quite possible——but happily on every account, I escaped that “dramatic situation”. I wish .. no, I cant wish that she would’nt talk of you as she does whenever she comes here—. And then, to make it better, she told me how you had recited “in a voice & manner as good as singing”, my ‘Catarina’. How are such things to be borne do you think, when people are not made of marble? But I took a long breath, & held my mask on with both hands.

You will tell me of the Marc Antonio prints,—will you not? Remember them on thursday. Raffael’s .. are they not?[3] I shall expect ever so much teaching, & showing, & explaining .. I, who have seen & heard nothing of pictures & music, from you who know everything—so the cicale must not be too loud for that. Did ever anyone say to you that you were like Raffael’s portrait——not in the eyes, which are quite different, but in the lower part of the face, the mouth, & also the brow? It has struck me sometimes—& I had it on my lips today as a question to Mrs Jameson. I think I was mad today altogether. But she did not see it—(I mean my madness .. not your likeness!)[4]—went away unconsciously.

Here, at last, is the letter![5] Careless that I was yesterday!–

And you take me to be too generous if you fancy that I proposed giving up the daily letter which is my daily bread. I meant only that you should not, for the sake of a particular post, tire yourself, hurry yourself, .. do what you did yesterday. As for the daily letter, I am Ba—not Miss Barrett. Now, am I Miss Barrett? am I not Ba rather, & your Ba?– I should like to hear what will be heard tomorrow. Oh—I should like to be under the table, or in a pasty, after the fashion of the queen’s dwarf when Elizabeth was queen[6] & Shakespeare, poet. Shall you be nervous, as I was with Mrs Jameson? Oh no,—why should you be nervous? You will do it all well & gracefully– I am not afraid for you. It is simply out of vain-glory that I wish to be there!– Only .. the dramatists of England … where in the world are they just now? Or will somebody prove ten of them,—because nought after one, makes exactly ten? Mr Horne indeed—. But I wish the toast had been ‘the poets of England,’ rather. May God bless you, any way! “I love you whatever comes of it”. Yes, unless sorrow of yours shd come of it, that is what I like to hear. Better it is, than a thousand praises of this thing & that thing, which never were mine .. alas!– Also, loving me so, you can be made happy with laburnum-leaves!– Dearest—most dear!– Dare I speak, do you think?

Exactly at eight tomorrow, & exactly at three the next day, I shall be with you—being at every hour

Your very own.

The walk did me no harm. But you say nothing of yourself—!

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

Postmark: 10FN10 MY13 1846 B.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 172.; + Thursday, May 14. / 3–5¾. (65.)

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 699–700.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. “The House of Titian” is the first of six essays in Mrs. Jameson’s Memoirs and Essays (1846).

3. See letter 2354, note 2.

4. The passage in parentheses has been interpolated above the line.

5. i.e., the invitation to the dinner of the Royal Literary Fund, which RB sent with letter 2353; he asked for its return in the preceding letter.

6. Presumably a reference to the story of Geoffrey Hudson (1619–82), who, only eighteen inches tall when nine years old, was presented in a pie at a dinner for Charles I and Henrietta Maria.

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