2398.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 20–21.


Wednesday evening. [3 June 1846][1]

Nothing at all, had it to do with your Magna Charta,[2] beloved, that question of mine. After you were gone the other day & I began turning your words over & over,—(so, I make hay of them to feed the horses of the sun!) it struck me that you had perhaps an instinct of common sense, which, with a hand I did not see & a voice I could not hear, drew you perhaps—— … So I thought I would ask. For after all, this is rather a serious matter we are upon, & if you think that you are not to have your share of responsibility .. that you are not to consider & arrange & decide, & perform your own part, .. you are as much mistaken as ever I was– ‘Judge what I say’.[3] For my part, I have done, it seems to me, nearly as much as I can do. I do not, at least, seem to myself to have any power to doubt even, of the path to choose for the future. If for any reason you had seen wisdom in delay, it would have been a different thing—& the seeing was a possible thing, you will admit. I did not ask you if you desired a delay, but if you saw a reason for it. In the meantime I was absolutely yours, I remembered thoroughly, .. & the question went simply to enquire what you thought it best to do with your own.

For me I agree with your view– I never once thought of proposing a delay on my own account– We are standing on hot scythes, & because we do not burn in the feet, by a miracle, we have no right to count on the miracle’s prolongation. Then nothing is to be gained—& everything may be lost—& the sense of mask-wearing for another year, would be suffocating– This for me. And for yourself, I shall not be much younger or better otherwise, I suppose, next year. I make no motion, then, for a delay, further than we have talked of, .. to the summer’s end.

My good .. happiness!– Have I any that did not come from you, that is not in you, that you should talk of my good apart from yours? I shudder to look back to the days when you were not for me. Was ever life so like death before? My face was so close against the tombstones, that there seemed no room even for the tears. And it is unexampled generosity of yours, that, having done all for me, you should write as you always do, about my giving .. giving!– Among the sons of men there is none like you as I believe & know, .. & every now & then declare to my sisters.

Dearest, if I vexed you, teazed you, by that question which proved unnecessary .. forgive me! Had you uncomfortable thoughts in the gardens today? Perhaps! And I could not smooth them away, though I drew as near as I dared .. though I was in a carriage at seven oclock, running a mystical circle round your tents & music. Did you feel me, any more than if I were a “quick spider”,[4] I wonder!

Henrietta & Arabel were going to spend the evening with cousins of ours, & as the carriage waited for the plaiting of Henrietta’s hair, or the twisting of the ringlets, Arabel said to me ‘Will you go for a quarter of an hour’? And in a minute, we were off .. she & Flush & Lizzie & I. Never did I expect again to see so many people—but I thought of one so much that my head was kept from turning round—& we drove once round the ‘inner circle,’ so called, & looked up to Mr Kenyon’s windows—& there, or there, you were, certainly![5] —& either there, or there, you were being disquieted in your thoughts by me, as certainly! Ah forgive me. After all, .. listen .. I love you with the fulness of my nature– Nothing of all this unspeakable goodness & tenderness is lost on me .. I catch on my face & hands every drop of all this dew.

So now .. you are not teazed?—we are at one again, & may talk of outside things again?–

But first, I must hear how the head is– How is it, best & dearest? And you had my letter at last, had you not? Because I wrote it as usual, of course. May God bless you—& me as I am altogether your own—

Twice (observe) I have been out today—the first time, walking. Also, twice have I written to you——

Say how your mother is—& yourself!——

George & Henrietta were asked to meet you at Mr Kenyon’s—but only today, & too late to forestall other engagements. Did you enjoy any of it?– Tell me–

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

Postmark: 8NT8 JU4 1846 H.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 190.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 754–756.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. See letter 2396, note 1.

3. Cf. I Corinthians 10:15.

4. Paracelsus, I, 39.

5. For RB’s invitation from Kenyon, see letter 2385.


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