2396.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 18–19.


Wednesday Mg [Postmark: 3 June 1846]

I will tell you, dearest: your good is my good, and your will mine; if you were convinced that good would be promoted by our remaining as we are for twenty years instead of one, I should endeavour to submit in the end .. after the natural attempts to find out and remove the imagined obstacle: if,—as you seem to do here,—you turn and ask about my good,—yours being supposed to lie uninfluenced by what I answer .. then, here is my truth on that subject, in that view,—my good for myself: Every day that passes before that day is one the more of hardly endurable anxiety and irritation, to say the least; and the thought of another year’s intervention of hope deferred—altogether intolerable! Is there anything I can do in that year—or that you can do—to forward our object? Anything impossible to be done sooner? If not ..

You may misunderstand me now as at first, dear, dearest Ba: at first I sate quietly, you thought,—do I live quietly now, do you think? Ought I to show the evidence of the unselfishness I strive, at least, to associate with my love, by coolly informing you “what would please me.”

But I will not say more, you must know .. and I seem to know that this question was one of Ba’s old questions .. a branch-licence, perhaps, of the original inestimable one, that charter of my liberties, by which I am empowered to “hold myself unengaged, unbound” &c. &c[.] [1]

Good Heaven: I would not,—even to save the being asked such questions,—have played the horseleech that cries “give, give”, in Solomon’s phrase [2] —“Do you let me see you once a week? Give me a sight once a day!– May I dare kiss you? Let me marry you to-morrow!”

But to the end, the very end .. I am yours: God knows I would not do you harm for worlds—worlds! I may easily mistake what is harm or not– I will ask your leave to speak,—at your foot, my Ba: I would not have dared to take the blessing of kissing your hand, much less your lip .. but that it seemed as if I was leading you into a mistake,—as did happen—and that you might fancy I only felt a dreamy, abstract passion for a phantom of my own creating out of your books and letters, and which only took your name .. That once understood, the rest you shall give me. In every event, I am your own.


12 o’clock I thought another letter might arrive. This must go as we shall set off presently to Mr Kenyon’s.

I did understand the question about my sister. [3] I mean, that you felt somewhat so, incredible as it seems—only I believe all you say, all: to the letter, the iota .. think of that, whenever I might ask and do not—or speak, and am silent .. but I am getting back to the question discussed above, which I ought not to do—understand me, dearest dearest! See me, open the eyes, the dear eyes, and see the love of your


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 4Eg4 JU3 1846 D.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 198.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 752–753.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Doubtless a reference to EBB’s qualification in accepting RB’s proposal of marriage (see letter 2044), in which she told him that he was “absolutely free .. ‘unentangled’.”

2. Proverbs 30:15.

3. See the opening paragraph of letter 2393.


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