Correspondence

2412.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 45–47.

[London]

Friday. [12 June 1846][1]

But dearest, dearest .. when did I try to dissuade you from telling all to your father & mother? Surely I did not & could not. That you should “wound them to the very soul & for ever” .. I am so far from counselling it, .. that I would rather, I think, as was intimated in my letter of this morning, .. to have all at an end at once—rather! Certainly rather, .. when the alternative would be your certain unhappiness & remorse. A right, they have, to your entire confidence; & for me to say a word against your giving it … may God forbid! Even that you should submit your wishes to theirs in this matter, would be no excess of duty– I said so, I think, in my letter of this morning.

At the same time, I am of opinion, .. which was what I meant to put into words, .. that, in the case of their approving in the sufficient degree .. & of your resolving finally on carrying out our engagement … you should avoid committing them further than is necessary, &, so, exposing them to unpleasant remarks & reproaches from my family .. to go no farther. You think that nothing can be said– I wish I could think so. You are not to be restrained perhaps .. but you are to be advised .. & it would be a natural step for your father, to go straight to his friend Mr Kenyon– Do you see what might be done though you are ‘of age’—& for not doing which, your father might be reproached? And more, there would be to do, besides. Therefore I thought that you should avoid, as far as possible, committing him openly .. making him a party in the eyes of the world .. (as would be done by my visit to New Cross for instance)—yet I may be wrong here, .. & you, in any case, are the master, to act as you see best.

And, looking steadily at the subject, do you not see, .. now that we look closely besides, .. how mortifying to the just pride of your family, as well as to your own selfrespect, is every possible egress from these unhappy circumstances? Ah—I told you—I told you long ago! I saw that at the beginning. Giving the largest confidence to your family, you still must pain them—still–

For the rest .. you are generous & noble as always—but, no, .. I shall refuse steadily for reasons which are plain, to put away from me God’s gifts .. given perhaps in order to this very end .. & apart from which, I should not have seen myself justified, .. even as far as now I vaguely, dimly seem .. to cast the burden of me upon you. No. I care as little for money as you do—but this thing I will not agree to, because I ought not. At the same time, you shall be at liberty to arrange that after the deaths of us two, the money should return to my family .. this, if you choose—for it shall be by your own act hereafter, that they may know you for what you are—. In the meanwhile, I should laugh to scorn all that sort of calumny .. even if I could believe it to be possible. Supposing that you sought money, you would not be quite so stupid, the world may judge for itself, as to take hundreds instead of thousands, & pence instead of guineas– To do the world justice, it is not likely to make a blunder on such a point as this.

I wish, if you can wish so, that you were the richer– I could be content to have just nothing, if we could live easily so. But as I have a little without seeking it, you must, on the other hand, try to be content, & not be too proud.

As to Lord Monteagle, .. dearest .. you will do what you like of course, though I do not understand exactly what your object is. A pension on literary grounds is the more difficult to obtain, that the fund set apart for that end, is insufficient, I believe. Then if you are to do diplomacy for it,[2] .. how do you know that you may not be sent to Russia, or somewhere impossible for me to winter in? If you were fixed in London, .. what then? You know best what your own views are, & wishes are– I would not cross them, if you should be happier so, or so.

And do you think that because this may be done, or not done .. & because that ought not to be borne .. we can make any change .. act any more openly .. face to face, perhaps—voice to voice? Alas, no!– You said once that women were as strong as men, .. unless in the concurrence of physical force. Which is a mistake. I would rather be kicked with a foot, .. (I, for one woman! ..) than be overcome by a loud voice speaking cruel words. I would not yield before such words– I would not give you up if they were said ..: but, being a woman & a very weak one, (in more senses than the bodily, ..) they would act on me as a dagger would, .. I could not help dropping, dying before them– I say it that you may understand. Tyranny? Perhaps. Yet in that strange, stern nature, there is a capacity to love—& I love him—& I shall suffer, in causing him to suffer. May God bless you. You will scarcely make out these hurried straggling words—& scarcely do they carry out my meaning. I am for ever

your Ba

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

Postmark: 10FN10 JU13 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 196.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 777–779.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. See letter 2422, in which RB explains that Milnes had “promised” him an “Embassy.” Evidently RB had mentioned this to EBB during a visit.

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