Correspondence

2362.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 329–331.

[London]

Friday– [Postmark: 15 May 1846]

The sun is warm, and the day, I suppose, is fine,—but my Ba will have been kept at home by the vile wind—most vile—even I feel it! So the spring passes away without the true spring feeling—all the blossoms are fast going already—and one’s spirits are affected, I dare say. Did you not think me intolerable yesterday with my yawning and other signs of fatigue you noticed? Well now—I do think a little is said by all that: might one not like or even love .. just short of true love,—so long as the spirits were buoyant and the mind cheerful,—and when the contrary befell,—some change might appear, surely!–

The more I need you the more I love you, Ba,—and I need you always—in joy, to make the joy seem what it is—and in any melancholy that I can imagine, more still, infinitely more, I need you—tho’ melancholy, I certainly was not—only tired a little .. all I mean to say is, that at times when I could, I think, shut up Shelley, and turn aside from Beethoven, and look away from my noble Polidiro,[1]—my Ba’s ring .. not to say the hand .. ah, you know, Ba, what they are to me![2]

I have to go out to-day, to my sorrow—to the Garrick Club,[3] and a friend there—(My sister tells me we have to go to the Flower-show next Wednesday unless the day be rainy. I shall hear from Mr. Kenyon, I expect.)

Let me end the chapter we began yesterday, about speech-making and adepts in it of various kinds, by telling you what my father made me laugh by an account of, the other day .. only it should be really told, and not written. He had a curiosity to know how would-be Parliamentary members canvassed .. and as the Chamberlain of the City, Sir James Shaw,[4] came into the Bank for that purpose (there being Livery men there, or whatever they are called, with votes)—my father followed to hear how he would address people. Sir James, a gigantic man, went about as his friends directed .. or rather pushed and shoved him .. and whenever they reached an Elector the whole cortège stopped, Sir James made his speech, the friends, book & pencil in hand, recorded the promise the moment it was made, and forthwith wheeled round their candidate to the next man .. no word of speechification being to be wasted once its object accomplished, since time pressed,—so now fancy. Friends (to Sir J) “Mr Snooks, Sir James!” Sir J. (with his eyes shut, and head two feet above Snooks) “When Charles Fox came into Parliament,[5] he came into Parliament with a profusion of promises, of which I’ll defy Charles Fox’s best friends to say that he ever kept a single one”—(Friends twitch him)—“Thankee Sir,”—“Mr Smith.” “When Charles Fox came into Parliament .. thankee, Sir”—“Mr Thompson”—“When Charles Fox .. thankee!” &c &c[.] And so on from man to man, never getting beyond this instructive piece of anecdotical history,—till at the very last a little Elector, reaching to the great man’s elbow, let him go to the full length of the sentence’s tether from admiration of such an orator .. did not say briefly “yes” or “no” as the others had done .. So Sir James arrived duly at .. “kept a single one. Thus .. if .. as it were .. eh? oh!” Here he opened his eyes with a start, missing the pushing and driving from his friends in the rear—and finding it was only this little man,—he abruptly stopped .. was not going to spend more eloquence on him! There, Ba,—you tell me you write nonsense .. I do the thing, the precise thing! But no more nonsense because I am going to kiss you, which is wise, and love you with my whole heart & soul forever, which is wiser, and pray you to love me, dear, dear Ba, which is the wisest! Sweetest, may God bless you,–

Your very own RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 MY15 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 182.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 703–705.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. RB is referring to his engraving of Polidoro da Caravaggio’s “Andromeda” (see letter 1851, note 12).

2. See letter 2119, note 4.

3. Founded in 1831 for persons connected with the theatre, the Garrick Club was housed in Probatt’s Hotel, 35 King Street, Covent Garden. In 1864, the club moved to its present location in Garrick Street (Richard Hough, The Ace of Clubs, 1986, pp. 15–27).

4. James Shaw (1764–1843) was Chamberlain of London (1831–43) and M.P. for the City (1806–18).

5. Probably Charles Richard Fox (1796–1873), M.P. for the Tower Hamlets Borough from 1841 to 1847.

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