Correspondence

2410.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 41–43.

[London]

Friday morning. [Postmark: 12 June 1846]

I must write very little today, dearest, because Mr Kenyon, as a note from him just tells me, comes at half past two for me, & in the meantime I am expecting a visit from my uncle Hedley, who arrived yesterday while we were together. Scarcely could Henrietta keep him, she says, from coming up stairs “to see Ba”! We just escaped, therefore. I have been thinking that having the barbarians down on us, may be at least a means of preserving us from going into the wilderness ourselves .. myself .. if I were taken away as I told you, to Tunbridge, Dover, or other provinces of Siberia. How should I bear, do you think, to be taken away from you? Very badly!—though you will not hear of my being able to love you as I ought––when that is precisely the only thing I can do, it seems to me, at all worthily of you.

Ora pro me[1] in Mr Kenyon’s carriage to-day– I am getting so nervous & frightened!– I shall feel all the while as if set on a vane on the top of St Paul’s .. can you fancy the feeling? I do wish I were safe at home again, reading your letter .. which will come tonight—will .. shall .. must.. according to the letter & spirit of the Law.

You made the proposal to me about New Cross, yesterday, out of consideration & kindness to me! I understand it so, thanking you. For the rest, I need not, I am certain, assure you that it would be the greatest pain to me at any time, to be wanting in even the forms of respect & affection, towards your family—& that I would not, from a mere motive of shyness, hazard a fault against them—you will believe this of me. But the usual worldly form (if the world is to give the measure) would be against my paying such a visit—& under ordinary circumstances it never is paid––not so. Therefore the not paying it, is not an omission of an ordinary form of attention—that is what I mean to say. And to keep all dear to you quite safe & away from all splashing of the mud which we cannot ourselves hope to escape, is the great object,—it does seem to me. Your father & mother would be blamed (in this house, I know, if not in others) for not apprizing my father of what they knew—— As it is, there is evil enough—though there is a way of escaping that evil.

As it is. ——Now I do beseech you to consider well whether you will not have too much pain in finding that they suffer it, (after every precaution taken) .. to render all this which we are about, wise & advisable. They will suffer, to hear you spoken of as we both shall be spoken of .. be perfectly sure!– They will suffer, to have to part with you so——& the circumstances, perhaps, will not help to give them confidence in the stranger, who presumes so, to enter their family– I ask you not to answer this!—only, to think of it in time, lest you should come to think of it too late. Put it between the leaves of Machiavel,—that at need, you may confute yourself as well as M. Thiers.[2]

Beloved, say how you are—& how your mother is. Here I must end—to be ready for dear Mr Kenyon, & casualties of uncles &c. Think of me, love me—my heart is full of you.

I am your Ba–

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

Postmark: PD 8NT JU12 1846 D.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 195.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 773–774.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. “Pray for me.”

2. Louis Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877) was a French statesmen and writer. The first volume of his Histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire (21 vols., 1845–62) had appeared the previous year. From EBB’s comments in letters 2393 and 2402, it is evident that RB was reading Machiavelli during this period. He owned two different editions of Il Principe, which formed lots 892 and 893, respectively, of Browning Collections (see Reconstruction, A1514 and A1515).

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