Correspondence

2407.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 36–38.

[London]

Tuesday evening [9 June 1846][1]

Best, dearest beloved, .. would it not be strange if you were not so to me?– How do you think I feel, hearing you say such things .. finding such thoughts in your mind? If it is not worthy of you to have a burden set on your shoulders & to be forced into the shadow of disquietudes not your own, yet this divine tenderness is worthy of you .. worthy of your nature,—as I know & recognize!– May God help me to thank you, for I have not a word.

Practically however, see how your proposal would work. It could not work at all, unless circumstances were known—and if they were known, at the very moment of their being known you would be saved, dearest, all the trouble of coming up stairs to me, by my being thrown out of the window to you .. upon which, you might certainly pick up the pieces of me & put them into a bag & set off for Nova Zembla.[2] That would be the event of the working of your proposition. Yet remember that I will accede to whatever you shall choose—so think for us both. You know more of the world & have more practical sense than I—& if you did not, had not, you may do what you like with your own, as surely as the Duke of Newcastle might–[3]

For Mrs Jameson, I never should think of telling her ‘all’– I should not, could not, would not!—& the gods forefend that you should think of telling Mr Kenyon, any more. Now, listen. Perfectly I understand your reasons, your scruples .. what are they to be called? But I promise to take the blame of it. I will tell dear Mr Kenyon hereafter that you would have spoken, but that I would not let you—wont that do? wont it stop the pricking of the conscience? Because, you see, I know Mr Kenyon, .. & I know perfectly that either he would be unhappy himself, or he would make us so. He never could bear the sense of responsibility. Then, as he told me today, & as long ago I knew, .. he is “irresolute”, timid in deciding. Then he shrinks before the dæmon of the World—and “what may be said” is louder to him than thunder. And then again, & worst of all, he sees afar off casualty within casualty, & a marriage without lawyers, would be an abomination in his sight.[4] Moreover, to discover ourselves to him, & not submit to his counsels, would be a real offence .. would it not? As it is, it may seem natural & excusable that we two of ourselves should poetically rush into a foolishness—but if we heard counsel, & rejected it!! Do you see? …

He came here today, dear Mr Kenyon, & is to come with Miss Bayley on friday, & take me in the carriage to drive, & to see his house. I must go, but dread it .. shrink from it—yes, indeed. As for Mr Lough, how could I have ‘bound him with Styx nine times round him’?[5] It is easier to bind Mrs Jameson. Oh no! You were right, & I was wrong in my first inclination about Mr Lough.

And yesterday I was not tired to signify. I shall not be ill, my beloved,—I think I shall not. I am as perfectly well now in all respects, (except that I have not strength for much exercise & noise & confusion, ..) as it is possible to be. So do not be anxious about me—rather spend your dear thoughts of me in loving me, .. dear, dearest!

You breakfast with Mrs Jameson, & I shall remember not to long too much for the eight oclock letter at night– Remember you, not to be hurried as to the writing of it.

Oh! I had a letter from my particular Bennet this morning, .. & my Georgiana desires me, instantly to say why I presumed not to write to her before. I am commanded out of all further delays. ‘Did I receive her letter,’ she wonders!!!! Georgiana is imperative.

May God bless you, you who bless me!–

I am wholly your own.

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

Postmark: 10FN10 JU10 1846 A.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 194.; + Thursday. June 11. / 3–5¾. 5m. p.m. (70.) [sic, for 71].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 771–773.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. See letter 2395, note 4.

3. Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham Clinton (4th Duke of Newcastle, 1785–1851). On 3 December 1830, he made “his famous and long-remembered question in reference to some of his tenants ejected at Newark: ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I please with mine own?’” (DNB).

4. Cf. Luke 16:15.

5. Pope, Ode for Musick. On St. Cecilia’s Day (1713), 90–92.

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