2428. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 70–72.
Sunday. [21 June 1846]
I write to you in the drawing room & have brought down with me, I find, no smaller paper—but it cant be filled, can it? though I have to tell you the great news about the lilies .. that all, except two, are in full blow .. & that the two are unfolding .. I can almost see the leaves move. I told you how it would be. They will live, .. & last longer than the roses, .. which I shall have to tell you by history as well as prediction, presently. The next news is not so good,—for I have had a note from Mrs Jameson to the effect that she will come to take me to the pictures tomorrow, monday—so that there will be no time to be diplomatic—. My hope was of your meeting her at Mr Carlyle’s, before she could arrange anything finally,—& really I do feel as disappointed as if I had had a reason for the hope. Now, unless we have another miracle, there’s an end, I suppose.
Think of my having left Flush behind me fast asleep. He dashes at the door in the most peremptory way, & nearly throws me backward when I open it, with his leaping-up-joy .. if it is not rather his reproach.
Now I am here all alone, except Flush—sitting, leaning against the open window with my feet curled up, &, at them, Flush curled up too; & I writing on my knee more meo. Rather cooler it seems, but rather too hot still it is, I think. How did you get home? how are you, dearest? And your mother? tell me of her, & of you! You always you know (do you know?) leave your presence with me in the flowers,—and, as the lilies unfold, of course I see more & more of you in each apocalypse. Still, the saturday’s visit is the worst of all to come to an end, as always I feel. In the first place, stands sunday, like a wall without a door in it!– no letter! Monday is a good day & makes up a little, but it does not prevent tuesday & wednesday following .. more intervening days than between the other meetings .. or so it seems. I forgot to tell you that yesterday I went to Mr Boyd’s house .. not to see him, but as a preliminary step to seeing him. Arabel went to his room to tell him of my being there—we are both perhaps rather afraid of meeting after all these years of separation. Quite blind he is—& though scarcely older than Mr Kenyon, (perhaps a year or two or three) so nervous, that he has really made himself infirm, & now he refuses to walk out or even to go down stairs. A very peculiar life he has led ever since he lost his sight, which he did when he was quite a young man—and a very peculiar person he is in all possible ways. His great faculty is .. memory .. & his great passion .. Greek—to which of late he has added Ossian. Otherwise, he talks like a man of slow mind, which he is, .. & with a child’s way of looking at things, such as would make you smile—oh, he talks in the most wonderfully childish way! Poor Mr Boyd. He cares for me perhaps more than he cares for any one else .. far more than for his own only daughter,—but he is not a man of deep sensibility, &, if he heard of my death, would merely sleep a little sounder the next night. Once he said to me that whenever he felt sorry about anything, he was inclined to go to sleep. An affectionate & grateful regard .. grateful for many kindnesses .. I bear him, for my part. He says that I should wear the crown in poetry, if I would but follow Pope—but that the dreadful system of running lines one into another, ruins everything. When I talk of memory, I mean merely the mechanical faculty. The associative, which makes the other a high power, he wants. So I went to his house in St John’s Wood yesterday, & saw the little garden. Poor Mr Boyd. There, he lives, all alone—& never leaving his chair! yet cheerful still, I hear, in all that desolation. As for you & Tennyson, he never heard of you .. he never guesses at the way of modern literature .. & it is the intense compliment to me when he reads verses of mine, “notwithstanding my corrupt taste,” .. to quote his own words.
Dearest, do you love me today? I think of you,—which is quite the same thing. Think of me tomorrow at half past four when Mrs Jameson comes, & I shall have all that exertion to go through without the hope of you. Only that you are always there .. here!—& I, your very own
Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmark: 10FN10 JU22 1846 A.
Docket, in RB’s hand: 203.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 803–805.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. “According to my custom.”