Correspondence

2386.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 2–4.

[London]

Thursday. [28 May 1846][1]

Dearest dearest, I thought I had lost my letter tonight, for not a sound came like a postman’s knock .. I thought I had lost my letter, talking of losing jewels. I waited & waited, & at last broke silence to Arabel with, ‘when will the post come?’ ‘Not tonight,’ said she—“it is nearly ten”. On which I exclaimed so pitifully & with such a desperate sense of loss, [‘]‘You mean to say that I shall have no letter tonight”?.. that after she had laughed a very little, she went downstairs to search the letterbox & brought me what I wanted.

And you think it possible that I should give up my letters & their golden fountain?—I!,—while I live & have understanding!– I cant fancy what manner of eagles you believe in. If in real live eagles, .. why it is as probable as any other thing of the sort, that I (or you) should be snatched away by an eagle … the eagle who used to live, for instance, at the Colisæum of Regent’s Park.[2] And when I ride away upon an eagle, I may take a wrong counsel perhaps that hour from other birds of the air: … but till then, I am yours to have & to hold, .. unless, as you say, you open your hand wide & cry with a distinct voice, ‘Go’. It shall be your doing & not mine, if we two are to part—or God’s own doing, through illness & death. And the way to avert danger is to avoid observation & discussion, as much as we can—& we have not been frightened much yet, .. now have we?– As for wednesday, there is time to think. But how can you leave your sister? You cannot. So unless you derange your ‘myth’ altogether, & find a trysting place for us, .. each mounted on an eagle, .. in Nephelococ[c]ygia,[3] we had better be satisfied, it seems to me, with monday & saturday.

I was out today as you saw by my letter, which with my own hand I dropped into the post. I liked to do it beyond what you discern. And how the sun shone,—& the little breath of wind could do nobody harm, I felt. Also there was the autography in the shopwindow to see, before I sate down in the shop. So you were thought of by necessity, besides the freewill.

Do you not see that I am bound to you hand & foot? Why do you not see what God sees?–

But it is late, & the rest must be for tomorrow. The sender of the rosetree,[4] sent today a great heliotrope—so, presently, you will have to seek me in a wood.

Everywhere your own

Ba.

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

Postmark: 1AN1 MY29 1846 B.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 184.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 737–738.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. The Colosseum in Regent’s Park included a Gothic aviary, and, according to a report in The Times of 1 January 1841, there were eagles living there.

3. i.e., “Νεφελοκοκκυγίαν,” “Cloudcuckoobury,” (Aristophanes, The Birds, 819, trans. Benjamin Bickley Rogers). This image appears in EBB’s Aurora Leigh, III, 324.

4. See the second paragraph in letter 2375.

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