2399. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 21–23.
Thursday. [Postmark: 4 June 1846]
“Vex me,” or “teaze me,” my own Ba, you cannot: I look on it indeed, after a moment, as only the natural effect of your strange disbelief in yourself, and ignorance of our true relation one to the other by every right and reason. Only, Ba, you are wrong—doubly; that is, you would be wrong if your own estimate of your power over me were the true one—for,—tho’ it is difficult for me to fancy these abstractions and fantastic metamorphoses (as how one could feel without one’s head,—or how I could live without the love of you now I have once got it)—yet, since you make me, I will fancy I lose my head and love you no longer .. and then .. (which is now) .. now, do you think I am so poor a creature as to go on adding to my faults, and letting you gently down, as the phrase is, with cowardly excuses, “postponing” this, and “consenting to delay” the other,—and perhaps managing to get you to do the whole business for me in the end? I hope & think I should say at once—Oh, no more of this!– But see how right I was—“an instinct, you seem to see”– So, I have been thinking:—there are but few topics of our conversation from which any such impressions could arise: was it that I have asked more than once, if you could really bear another winter in London, (in all probability a severe one)—and again,—if you could get to Italy by any ordinary means without the same opposition you will have to encounter for my sake .. —My Ba, as God knows, all that was so much pure trembling attempting to justify myself for the overgreatness of the fortune, the excess of the joy,—if I could but feel that there was a little of your own good in it too—that you would gain that much advantage at least by my own inestimable advantage! If you knew how,—spite of all endeavours,—how happy I have been .. which is a shame to confess,—but how very happy to hear that you could not without a degree of danger stay here .. could no more easily leave England with Miss Bailey than with me! It seemed to justify me, as I say .. And so of the “wishing I had not mentioned Italy”—I wish your will to be mine, to originate mine, your pleasure to be only mine,—expressed first: it will be my pleasure .. but all is wrong if you take the effect, seek to know it, before the cause—what does it matter that I should prefer Italy to Nova Zembla? So, you ought to have begun by saying “we will go there”, and then my pleasure in obedience had been naturally expressed– Did I not ask you whether you had not, after all, thought of going to Italy first—to Pisa, or Malta,—from the very beginning? Always to justify myself! Always!
But .. this too is misunderstood. Let me say humbly, I should prefer to go with you to Italy or any place where we can live alone for some little time, till you can know me, be as sure of me as of yourself– Nor am I so selfish, I hope, as that (because my uttermost pride & privilege and glory above all glories would be to live in your sick-room and serve you,)—as that, on that account, I would not rather see you in a condition to need none of my service .. the next thing to serving you, is to be .. what shall I say? .. served by you .. loved by you, made happy by you .. it is the being an angel, tho’ there might be archangels–
And if now you do not understand,—well, I kneel to you, my only Ba, and pray you to give yourself to me in deed as in word, the body as the heart and mind,—and now!—at any time .. you know what I cannot say, I cannot, I think,—if I know myself—love you more than I do .. but I shall always love you thus—and thus, in any case, happen what God may ordain–
I know this is taking the simple experimental question too seriously to heart .. but such experiments touch at the very quick & core of the heart .. I cannot treat them otherwise—ought I?
You will see Miss Bailey to-day: Mr Kenyon asked if I were going to call to-day .. “if not, Miss B. would”–
I have your letter .. the short note, not the promised one .. for all this writing about the question .. but I could not merely say—“Oh, no .. you mistake .. I had rather, upon the whole, not wait”——
Even now the feeling, in its subsiding, hinders me from speaking of the delightful account of “Treppy” .. whom I remember, now, perfectly .. and what comfort is in this dear note!
Bless you, my “darlingest creature”,—my Ba!
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.
Postmark: 8NT8 JU4 1846 A.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 199.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 756–758.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Sic, for Bayley. RB is responding to EBB’s query in letter 2393.