Correspondence

2380.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 12, 356–357.

[London]

Monday. 12 o’clock. [25 May 1846][1]

I get nothing by the post this morning:—perhaps at next delivery!– Well, I had the unexpected largess yesterday, you know. At this time last year the letters came once a week! Now the manna falls as manna should, omitting only the seventh day.[2]

Do you know, my Ba,—the Campbell mystery is all but solved, to my thinking, by supposing, as one may, that those foolish ladies confound their cousin’s friend Brown, an indubitable Scot and Lord Jeffray’s nephew,[3] (—and their intimate for aught I know)—with me– He is in town now,—did dine with them just before I saw him a fortnight ago,—and may meditate happiness with Miss Campbell, and be provided with a paragon of a “sister” besides. Those ladies have been to Scotland—may easily know him there and see “sights” with him here– Is not all this likely? It is not worth writing about to White, nor a visit to him at Doctors’ Commons; but when I next chance on his company, I will enquire.

Here is the review—which I like very much—the introductory, abstract remarks might be better,—but so it always is when a man, having really something to say about one precise thing, (your poems) thinks he had better preface it by a little graceful generality. All he wanted to write, I agree in, thoroughly agree,—tho’ I cannot but fancy my own selection,—that might be,—of passages and single poems!

And, dearest, I venture to keep back the “Statesmen,”—as I asked leave to do yesterday, for the reasons then given—may I keep it back?

Also I return those sketches,[4]—now they have been in your hand, they cannot lie about here—(I keep brown paper with your writing on it <and string, and the wrappage of this pen of mine[5]—to be sure!>[6]) so I shall get you to bear with them again, two or three being added, just as I find them. There is, too, the ode which was presented to me on my departure from Rome by an enthusiastic Roman,—red ribbon and all! And last of all you have my play as altered by Macready:[7] greater excisions had been determined on, but the appearance of the printed copy had the effect I intended .. it would have been too ludicrous to leave out the whole of the first scene, for instance (as was in contemplation), and then to tell the public “my play” had been acted– I refer to this silly business only to show you what success or non-success on the stage means and is worth. It is all behind me now—so far behind!

Now I will wait and see what next post may bring me from dearest Ba—Ba, the dear, and the beloved, e sopra tutto,[8] the tall! Does she not “stand high in the affection”—of her very own

RB?

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St

Postmark: None. Letter was sent with a parcel under a separate cover sheet.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 185.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 729–730.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by RB’s reference in the following letter to the parcel he is sending with this letter.

2. Cf. Exodus 16:22–30.

3. Thomas Brown (1802–73) was the son of Lord Francis Jeffrey’s sister Marion. We have been unable to identify the Misses Cocker’s friend, Miss Campbell, nor have we been able to verify that Thomas Brown ever married.

4. The ones she returned to him in letter 2374.

5. The one she gave him in January 1846 (see letter 2181).

6. The passage in angle brackets has been interpolated below the first part of the line in parenthesis.

7. RB is referring to the transcript, in Sarianna Browning’s hand, of A Blot in the ’Scutcheon, as altered by Macready, which sold as lot 193 in Browning Collections (see Reconstruction, E36). For an account of RB’s quarrel with Macready over the latter’s handling of the play, see SD1191 (vol. 7, pp. 391–392).

8. “And above all.”

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