Correspondence

2393.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 13–15.

[London]

Tuesday. [Postmark: 2 June 1846]

You understand, dearest beloved, all I could mean about your sister’s coming here. Both I was afraid of not being liked enough .. which was one reason, & none the less reasonable because of your being ‘infatuated’ .. (oh, that is precisely the word to use, & indeed I never falter to myself in the applying of it!)—and I felt it to be impossible for me to receive so near a relative of yours, your own only sister, as I should another & a stranger. There would be the need in me of being affectionate to your sister! how could I not? & yet, how could I? Everything is at once too near & too far—it is enough to make me tremble to think of it—it did, when Mr Kenyon made his proposition. I would rather, ten times over, receive Queen Victoria & all her court––do you understand? can you misunderstand? can you pretend to fancy, as you talked yesterday, that the reluctance came from my having ‘too many visitors,’ or from any of those common causes. Why, she is your sister—& that was the cause of the reluctance. You will not dare to turn it into a wrong against yourself.

Now I am going to ask you a question, dearest of mine, & you will consider it carefully & examine your own wishes in respect to it, before I have any answer. In fact it is not necessary to treat of the subject of it at all at this moment—we have a great deal of time before us. Still, I want to know whether, upon reflection, you see it to be wiser & better for me to go to Italy with Miss Bayley, or with any other person who may be willing to take me, (supposing I should find such a plan possible) & that you should follow with Mr Chorley or alone, .. leaving other thoughts for another year. Or if I find this scheme as far as I am concerned, impossible, shall we gain anything, do you think, on any side of the question that you can see, by remaining quietly as we are, you at New Cross, & I here, until next year’s summer or autumn? Shall we be wiser, more prudent, for any reason, or in any degree, by such a delay—?

It is the question I ask you—it is no proposal of mine, understand—nor shall I tell you my own impression about it– I have told you that I would do as you should decide, & I will do that & no other. Only on that very account it is the more necessary that you should decide well, & according to the best lights of your own judgement & reason–

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I forgot to talk to you yesterday of your Statesmen[1] which I read with a peculiar sort of pleasure, coming & going as I see you & miss you. There is no mistaking your footsteps along the sands.

May God bless you, dear dearest!– Say how your head is, & love me so much more than Machiavelli, as to spare it from farther injury. It is not hard to think of you today in this chair where you were sitting yesterday—do you think it is?–

Your own Ba–

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

Postmark: PD 8NT JU2 1846 C.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 187.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 747–749.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. EBB had first requested to see this a few weeks earlier (see letter 2374, note 4), and, although RB teased her in the next few letters about not bringing it, he had obviously given it to her within the past week.

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