Correspondence

2395.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 16–18.

[London]

Tuesday Night– [2 June 1846][1]

My own dearest who are never to offend me!– And, true, that is—because I have tried, before now, to be offended, & could not, .. being under a charm. So it is not my fault but yours, that never you see me angry–

But your head, my head .. is it better, dearest, by this time, or is it ringing & aching even, under the crashing throat-peals of Mr Landor’s laughter? he laughs, I remember, like an ogre—he laughs as if laughter could kill, & he knew it, thinking of an enemy– May it do his friends no harm tonight! How I think of you, &, in every thought, love you! Yes, surely I can love you as if I were worthier!—& better perhaps than if I were better, .. though that may sound like a riddle– And dear dearest, why do you talk of your faults so? It is not at all gracious of you indeed. You are on a high hill above me where I cannot reach your hand—(in the myths, be it understood) & you sigh & say—querulously … ‘By & bye I may have to take a step down lower’– Now is that gracious of you, or worthy of your usual chivalry? You ought to be glad, on the contrary, to be so much nearer me—! in the myths, be it understood!– For out of the myths we are near enough, as near as two hearts can be, .. I believe .. I trust!–

You will not mistake what I said to you this morning my own beloved—you will not?– My promise to you was to place the decision in your hands—& my desire is simply that you should decide according to your judgement & understanding .. I do not say, your affections, this time. Now it has struck me that you have a sort of instinct ..

But no—I shall not write on that subject tonight. Rather I will tell you what I have been doing today to be so very, very tired– Today I paid my first visit—not to Mr Kenyon but to an older friend than even he .. to Miss Trepsack .. learn that name by heart .. whom we all of us have called ‘Treppy’ ever since we could speak. Moreover she has nursed .. tossed up .. held on her knee .. Papa when he was an infant,—the dearest friend of his mother & her equal, I believe, in age—so you may suppose that she is old now. Yet she can outwalk my sisters, & except for deafness, which, dear thing, she carefully explains as “a mere nervous affection,”—is as young as ever. But she calls us all “her children” .. & I, you are to understand, am “her child,” par excellence .. her acknowledged darling & favorite,—perhaps because tenderly she thinks it right to carry on the love of her beloved friend, whom she lived with to the last.–– Once she saw you in the drawing room—& you perhaps saw her. She dines here every sunday, & on the other days of course often, & has the privelege of scolding everybody in the house when she is out of humour, & of being ‘coaxed’ by slow degrees back into graciousness– So, she had full right to have me on my first visit—had she not? and the goodness & kindness & funniness of the reception were enough to laugh & cry over. First .. half way up stairs, I found a chair, to sit & rest on. Then the windows were all shut up, because I liked it so in my room. And then, for occulter reasons, a feast was spread for Arabel & Flush & me, which made me groan in the spirit, & Flush wag his tail, to look upon .. ice cream & cakes, which I was to taste & taste in despite of all memories of dinner an hour before .. and cherry-brandy!!! which I had to taste too, .. just then saved alive by an oath, on Arabel’s part, that I was “better without it’[’]. Think of dear Treppy!—of all the kindness, & fondness! Almost she kissed me to pieces as the ‘darlingest of children’. So I am glad I went—& so is Flush, who highly approves of that class of hospitable attentions, & wishes it were the way of the world everyday. But I am tired!—so tired!– The visiting is a new thing–

It is an old one that I should write such long letters. If I am tired, you might retort with the Ed io anche![2] Yet you will not, because you are supernaturally good,—& as it was in the beginning, ever shall be,[3] you say!–

But will you explain to me some day why you are sorry for Italy having been mentioned between us, & why you would rather prefer Nova Zembla?[4] So as to kill me the faster, is it?

Your Ælian says that the oldest painters used to write under a tree, when they painted one, ‘This is a tree’.[5] So I must do, I suddenly remember, under my jests .. I being, it would appear, as bad an artist in jesting, as they were in painting. Therefore .. see the last line of the last paragraph .. ‘This is a jest.’

And this is the earnest thing of all .. that I love you as I can love—& am for ever .. living & dying ..

Your own–

Take care of the head .. I[6] entreat!—& say how you are!—& how your mother is! I am grieved to hear of that relapse!–

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

Postmarks: 12NN12 JU3 1846 A; 1AN1 JU3 1846; 4Eg4 JU3 1846 E.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 188.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 750–752.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. “And I too.”

3. Cf. the Gloria Patri in The Book of Common Prayer.

4. Situated in the Arctic Ocean, Nova Zembla is a cold and inhospitable place.

5. Claudius Ælianus, Historiæ Variæ, bk. X, ch. x.

6. Underscored twice.

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