2423. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 62–64.
Wednesday. [17 June 1846]
Dearest & ever dearest, try to forgive me when I fall so manifestly short of you in all things! It is the very sense of this which throws me on despairs sometimes of being other than a bane to your life—and then .. by way of a remedy .. I begin to be a torment to it directly. Forgive me. Whatever I may say I am as wholly yours as if you held me in your hand, & I would do for you any extravagance, as if it were a common thing, at a word—& what is before us is only a common thing, since I have looked to it from the beginning. Oh—I may talk when I am out of spirits—but you know, & I know best of all, that I could not withdraw myself from you, unless you said ‘Go’—could not—I have no power. Fine talking, it is of me, to talk of withdrawing myself from you! You know I could not at all do it, let ever so many special pleaders come to prove to me that you would be more prosperous & happy without me. “Then” I would say .. “let him put me away. I cant put myself away, because I am not mine but his.” Assuredly I would say just that, & no more. So do you forget that I have teazed you & pained you … pained you! .. I will try not to pain you, my own, own dearest, any more. I have grown to love you instead of the whole world; & only one thing (.. you understand what that is ..) is dreadful & intolerable to me to imagine .. But now it is done with,—& you shall teach me hereafter to make you happy instead of the contrary. So .. yes—you are kissed this time! .. upon both eyes, .. that they may not see my faults. And afterwards I will tell you a paradox .. that if I loved you a hundred times less, I should run into such offences less in exact proportion. And finally I will give you a promise .. not to teaze you for a week—which were a wonderful feat for me!—the teazer par excellence.
Today I deserved to hear of your head being worse—but it is better, I thank God—& your mother is better—all such comforting news! But it was no news that you did not go to Greenwich today,—for Mrs Jameson came for me to drive at about six, & she & I were in Regent’s Park until nearly eight. Then she went somewhere to dinner, & I who had had tea, came home to supper!—— I like her very much—more & more, certainly—and we need not be mysterious up to the usual mark of mystery, because I told her .. told her .. what might be told—& she was gracious to the uttermost—not angry at all,—& said that “Truth was truth, & one could breathe in the atmosphere of it, & she was glad I had told her.” Of you, she said, that she admired you more than ever—yes, more than ever .. for the “manner in which as a man of honour you had kept the secret”—so you were praised, & I, not blamed .. & we shall not complain, if our end is as good as our beginning. Also we talked of your poetry & of you personally, & I was pleased, .. which proves a little what was said—and I heard how you were invited as a “celebrity” for the Countess Hahn Hahn to see you, & how you effaced yourself with ever so much gracefulness; yet not too much, to omit charming the whole room. Mrs Jameson praises you always, as nobody does better. And tomorrow .. will you be surprised to hear that tomorrow at half past four, I am to go again with her, .. to see Rogers’s pictures? Is it wrong? shall I get into a scrape? She promised laughingly that I should be incognita to the only companion she thought of taking..a Mrs Bracebridge, I think—& Mr Rogers himself is not to be visible—& she herself will mention it to nobody. It was hard to say ‘no’—yet perhaps ‘no’ would have been better. Do you think so? Mrs Bracebridge is an artist & lives or lived on Mount Hymettus!—and she is not to hear my name even.
Now—goodnight, very dear!—most dear of all! I will not teaze you for a fortnight, I think. Ah—if ever I can do that again, you shall not be pained, .. you shall think that my heart & life are in you, & that, if they seem to flutter, it is that they go deeper. All I am is yours—which is different from .. all I have. ‘All I have,’ is when I may lean my head down on the shoulder–
So let me be your own
Of those two letters, one was in the post before seven the evening before. Now, is it not too bad?
Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmark: 10FN10 JU18 1846 D.
Docket, in RB’s hand: 201.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 795–797.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. Samuel Rogers (1763–1855), poet and banker, had gradually built up one of the finest private collections of art during this period.
3. Probably a reference to Mrs. Selina Bracebridge, who was the author of Notes Descriptive of a Panoramic Sketch of Athens (Coventry, ), which was published for the benefit of a fund to build a protestant chapel at Athens.
4. A mountain not far from Athens, famous for its honey and its marble; however, we have been unable to verify the exact location of Mrs. Bracebridge’s residence.