2425. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 66–68.
Thursday evening. [18 June 1846]
But I have not been to Mr Rogers’s today, after all. I had a note from Mrs Jameson, to put off our excursion to saturday .. if I consented to saturday! but of course I would not consent to saturday—and as she intimated that another day would do as well, we shall have another day fixed, I suppose. What a good fruit it would be of the confession I made in the park, if she were to ask you to go!!! Oh, I should like that– I should like it notwithstanding the drawbacks. It would be a fair gain upon the usual times of meeting—only that I could not care quite as much for the pictures—yet, those too, I should like to see with you, rather than apart from you. And you never saw them .. you! Is there a hope of her asking you when you are at Greenwich together? Now I have got this into my head, it will not go out again—oh, you must try & enchant her properly at Greenwich & lead her into asking you. Yet, with you or without you in the body, the spirit of you & the influence of you are always close to my spirit when it discerns any beauty or feels any joy:—if I am happy on any day it is through you wholly, whether you are absent or present, dearest, & ever dearest!–
And so, instead of Mr Rogers’s pictures, I have been seeing you in my thoughts, as I sate here all alone today. When everybody was at dinner I remembered that I had not been out—it was nearly eight .. there was no companion for me unless I called one from the dinner-table,—& Wilson, whom I thought of, had taken holiday. Therefore I put on my bonnet, as a knight of old took his sword, .. aspiring to the pure heroic, .. & called Flush, & walked down stairs & into the street, all alone––that was something great!– And, with just Flush, I walked there, up & down in glorious independence. Belgium might have felt so in casting off the yoke. As to Flush, he frightened me a little & spoilt my vain-glory—for Flush has a very good, stout vain-glory of his own, &, although perfectly fond of me, has no idea whatever of being ruled over by me!—(he looks beautiful scorn out of his golden eyes, when I order him to do this or this) .. & Flush chose to walk on the opposite side of the street,—he would,—he insisted on it! and every moment I expected him to disappear into some bag of the dogstealers, as an end to his glory, à lui. Happily, however, I have no moral with which to point my tale—it’s a very immoral story, & shows neither Flush nor myself punished for our sins. Often, I am not punished for my sins, .. am I? You know that .. dearest, dearest!– But then, even you are not <punished for your sins …> when you flatter so!—— Ah, It is happy for you, & for your reputation in good taste & sense, that you cannot very well say such things except to me, who cannot believe them. For the rest, the eyes were certainly blinded, .. being kissed too hard.
How I like Mrs Carlyle’s note!– You will go of course. But it will not rain to-morrow, & you shall not have the advantage of coming through it to me, .. for this reason (among others far better), that I have engaged to see, at three or four perhaps, a friend of ours from the country– She is in London for only two days & wrote to beg me to see her, & today I escaped by half a rudeness, &, if I do tomorrow, it will be by a whole rudeness. So, not tomorrow! And, if Saturday should be taken from us, we must find three days somehow next week—it will be easily done.
As to Florence, the flood of English is the worst water of all in the argument—and then Dr Chambers “warned me off” Florence, as being too cold for the winter. It would be as well not to begin by being ill,—& half I am afraid of Ravenna—though Ravenna may not be cold, & though Shelley may belie it altogether. “A miserable place” he calls it in the Letters. Still I observe that his first impressions are apt to be darker than remain. For instance, he began by hating Pisa, & preferred it to most places, afterwards. There is Pisa by the way!– Or your Sorrento .. Salerno .. Amalfi .. you shall consider if you please—find a new place if you like.
It is my last letter perhaps till I see you. May God bless you, I lift up my heart to say. How happy I ought to be, .. & am, .. with your thoughts all round me, so, as you describe! Let them call me your very own
Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmarks: T PAID 19JU19 1846; 1AN1 JU19 1846 E.
Dockets, in RB’s hand: 202.; + Saturday, June 20. / 3–5¾. 5.m. p.m. (72.) [sic, for 73].
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 799–800.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. To visit her family, as EBB indicates in August 1851 in a letter to Julia Martin (LEBB, II, 17).
3. Presumably an allusion to Belgium’s independence from the Netherlands in 1830, possibly suggested by recent political events in Belgium, including a congress in Brussels of delegates from various Liberal organizations in Belgium on 14 June 1846, which was in response to the conservative Catholic ministry formed by the King earlier that year.
4. “To him.”
5. Bracketed passage is interpolated above the line.
6. In a letter to Mary Shelley from Ravenna, dated 9 August 1821, Shelley wrote: “Ravenna is a miserable place; the people are barbarous & wild, and their language the most infernal patois that you can imagine” (Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments, ed. Mrs. Shelley, 1840, II, 311). EBB’s copy of this work sold as lot 1089 in Browning Collections (see Reconstruction, A2102).