2424.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 64–66.


Thursday. [Postmark: 18 June 1846]

Did you really kiss me on the two eyes, my Ba? I cannot say “perhaps at the very time I was thinking of you,”—more than “when I was breathing”—I breathe always, think of you always,—kiss you almost always. You dear, dearest Ba! Do pain me so again and again,—if you will so cure me every time! But you should not imagine that I can mistake the motive,—as if you loved me less and therefore wrote—oh, no—but there is no getting rid of these mistakings before the time: they bear their fruit and die away naturally .. the hoe never cuts up all their roots– I shall trust to hear you say one day I am past such mistaking—but—at Amalfi?

I am very glad, love, you go to Mr Rogers’ to-day—what harm can follow? The evil in the other case was a very precise & especial one. [1] They say his pictures are well worth seeing. Tell me, make me see you seeing! I am glad, too, Mrs Jameson knows .. but her graciousness I expected, because the causes you were able to give her would really operate just in that manner: indeed they are the sole causes of the secresy we have observed. I cannot help liking Mrs Jameson more, much more since her acquaintance with you. Hazlitt says somewhere that the misery of consorting with country-people is felt when you try for their sympathy as to favorite actors– “Liston?” says the provincial, “I never heard of him” [2] —but—whoever knows Miss Barrett .. “Ba,” they are not going to be let know .. of such a person I know something more than of any other.

Talking of Hahn-Hahn, read this note of Mrs Carlyle’s [3] —altho’ to my mortification I find that the wise man is not so peremptory on the virtue of one of Ba’s qualities as I, the ignorant man, must continue to be. Never mind,—perhaps “in the long run” I may love you as if you were exactly to Mrs Carlyle’s mind!

I want to tell you a thing not to be forgotten about Florence as a residence for any time .. You spoke of the bad water at Ravenna .. which if a serious inconvenience anywhere is a very plague in Italy; well, the medical people, according to Valléry, [4] attribute the black hollow cheeks and sunk eyes and general ill health of the Florentines to their vile water,—impregnated with lead, I think: there is only one good fountain in the city—that opposite Santa Croce: I religiously abstained from drinking water there—and felt the privation the more from having just left Rome, where the water is the most perfectly delicious and abundant and, they say, wholesome—in the world– That one objection is decisive against Ravenna—but then, why do the English all live at Florence?

It makes me happy to hear of your achievements and not of any ill result—happy! Is it quite so warm to-day?– If it were to rain to-morrow (!), if—our party would be postponed till the next day, Saturday, I believe .. there was a kind of understanding to that effect—now, in that case, might I go to you to-morrow? In the case of real heavy rain only––the letter tomorrow will tell me perhaps ..

Goodbye, dearest dearest; I love you wholly–


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 JU18 1846 A.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 209.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 797–798.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. A reference to her decision not to accept Lough’s invitation to visit his studio; see letters 2402, 2404, and 2405.

2. RB is referring to Hazlitt’s essay “On Actors and Acting” in The Round Table (1817), II, 236–242.

3. EBB’s comments in the following letter and in letter 2428, make it clear that this was an invitation, presumably to a breakfast at Carlyle’s on the following Wednesday, where Countess Hahn-Hahn would be the guest of honour. This is confirmed by RB’s references in letters 2426 and 2429 to her books, as well as his allusion to her in letter 2434. He had met her at least once before, at the Procters’ (see letter 2401).

4. Valery is the pseudonym for Antoine Claude Pasquin, whose Historical, Literary, and Artistical Travels in Italy, A Complete and Methodical Guide for Travellers and Artists was first translated from French into English in 1839 by C. Ebenezer Clifton. In the general description of Florence, Valery states: “The marble fountain in the piazza of Santa Croce, one of the few fountains in Florence, ill-supplied, furnishes almost the only potable water in the town, where everybody drinks the unwholesome tartarous water of his own well, which produces the leaden hue and liver diseases of the inhabitants” (p. 353).


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