2417. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 53–54.
Tuesday. [Postmark: 16 June 1846]
As to ‘practical sense’ I never saw, I confess, much to praise you for—but you began by making a great profession of it, please to remember—&, otherwise, you certainly ought to know more of the world & the wisdom thereof than I, or you are dull, dearest mine, and one might as well call the sun so on this burning dazzling morning, when everything is at a white heat. Then for the ‘calmness’ .... I did not call your eyes ‘green’ after all .. nor did I mean what you would force on me for a meaning in the other way:—you pretend to misunderstand? Eyes, at least, that had the mastery with me from the beginning!—& it was so long, so long, (as you observed yourself), that I could not lift up mine against them—they were the mystic chrystal walls, so long!——
After you were gone yesterday & I had done with the roses (exquisite roses!) & had my coffee, I saw my uncle Hedley who had been enquiring about me, said my sisters, all the afternoon, .. for it was he who came when we heard the greetings on the stairs—& he told me that his wife & daughter were to be in London early in July .. so that we shall have the whole squadron sooner than we thought—drawn up like a very squadron .. my other aunt, Miss Clarke, coming at the same time, & my cousin with her, Arlette Butler. But only those two will be in the house here, & they will not be for very long, nor will they be much in the way, I hope.
Shall I tell you? I repented yesterday .. I repented last night .. I repent today, having made the promise you asked of me. I could scarcely sleep at all last night, through thinking that I ought not to have made it. Be generous, & free me from that promise. To be true to you in the real right sense, I need no promises at all—& if an argument were addressed to me in order to separate us, I should see through the piteous ingenuity of it I think, whatever ground it took, & admit no judgement & authority over your life to be higher than your own. But I have misgivings about that promise, because I can conceive of circumstances .. Loose me from my promise, & let me be grateful to you, my beloved, in all things & ways, & hold you to be generous in the least as in the greatest. What I asked of you, was as different as our positions are—different beyond what you see or can see. No third person can see,—no second person can see .. what my position is & has been .. I do not enter on it here. But there is just & only one way in which I may be injured by you, .. & that is, in being allowed to injure you––so remember, remember, .. to the last available moment.
Then .. I have lived so in a dream for very long!—& everything, all undertakings, all movements, seem easy in dream-life. The sense of this has lately startled me. To waken up suddenly & find that I have wronged you––what more misery?—& I feel already that I am bringing you into a position which will <by some or many—> be accounted unworthy of you– Well—we will not talk of it—not now! there is time for the grave consideration which must be. Let us both think.
And may God bless you ever dearest!– You are the best & most generous of all in the world!– Whatever my mistake may be, it is not concerning that. Also I love you, love you.– Premature things I say sometimes, which are foolish always. Tell me how you are .. tell me how your mother is—but speak of your own head .. tam chari .. particularly. Overcoming, the heat is—& I do hope that Mrs Jameson wont come after all.
Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmark: 8NT8 JU16 1846.
Docket, in RB’s hand: 198.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 785–786.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Bracketed passage is interpolated above the line.
2. “So dear” (cf. Horace, Odes, I, xxiv, 2, trans. C.E. Bennett).