Correspondence

2400.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 23–25.

[London]

Thursday. [4 June 1846][1]

You are too perfect, too overcomingly good & tender—dearest you are, & I have no words with which to answer you. There is little wonder indeed that I, being used so long to the dark, should stumble & mistake, & see men like trees walking[2]—& yet I must tell you that I did not mistake to the extent you have set down for me .. & that never was I so dull, so idiotic & ungrateful, as to fancy you into one ‘waiting to let me down gently with cowardly excuses’– Since I first looked you in the face, & before that day, I have been incapable of defiling the idea of you with such an unworthy imputation. And surely what I did fancy, was consistent with the fullest faith in you & in the completest verity of your affection for myself. You might have had reasons, surely, which I did not see, without aggrieving me in any fashion. So do not make me out too stupid—it is bad enough actually. Yes—those questions you refer to, turned me down that path: and do tell me how I could be expected to guess at the real drift of them, after having been accustomed to walk rather with men than with angels!– Ah—and now even, that I see, it makes me smile & sigh together. To say that I am not worthy, all at once grows too little to say. No one could be worthy of such words from you. You are best, best! How much more do you want me to owe to you, when I begin by owing to you all things, .. the only happiness of my life?

As to Italy, I thought of it first, so I am in no danger of thinking that you engage me as female courier & companion .. the feminine of what Mr Bezzi[3] wants to be, Miss Bayley told me today. So if it is the same thing to you, we will put off Nova Zembla a little—— But how is it possible to jest, with this letter close by?– Dearest of all, believe that I am grateful to you as I ought to be .. penetrated .. touched to the bottom of my heart with the sense of what you have been to me & are,—dearest beloved!

So do not reproach me with my dull questions, on saturday. I wont ask them any more, .. & I did not mean by them the wickedness you thought .. so now let us be tranquil & happy till the fine weather ends. Brightly it begins, does it not? So hot it is today—so very hot in this room! Miss Bayley came just as I had been out walking & was tired—but she talked & interested me—& I found out from her that you were not in the gardens when we drove round them, but in the house when I looked up at the windows. Very happy & agreeable you all were, she said, at Mr Kenyon’s—though Mrs Jameson missed the flower-show–

I forgot to tell you that Treppy is a Creole—she would say so as if she said she was a Roman. She lived, as an adopted favorite, in the house of my great grandfather in Jamaica for years, & talks to the delight of my brothers, of that “dear man” who, with fifty thousand a year, wore patches at his knees & elbows, upon principle. Then there are infinite traditions of the great great grandfather, who flogged his slaves like a divinity—: & upon the beatitude of the slaves as slaves, let no one presume to doubt, before Treppy. If ever she sighs over the slaves, it is to think of their emancipation. Poor creatures, to be emancipated!——

May God bless you dear dearest!– Shall I ever be better, I wonder, than the torment of your life?– It is I who want to be ‘justified’, & not you my beloved,—except as to your good sense for having made such a choice.

Such as I am however, I am

Your very own

Ba–

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

Postmark: 10FN10 JU5 1846.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 191.; + Saturday. June 6. / 3–5¾. p.m. (69.) [sic, for 70].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 758–759.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Cf. Mark 8:24.

3. EBB’s meaning is not exactly clear, but it is possible that Giovanni Aubrey Bezzi (Kenyon’s friend) was trying to find a way to finance travel to Italy. See the fifth paragraph of letter 2388.

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