2429.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 72–73.


Monday. [Postmark: 22 June 1846]

If I only thought for myself in this instance, I should at once go and mount guard before your house so as to see you, at least, for a moment as you leave it.

—To hope for a word would never do .. you might be startled, or simply not like such a measure, and in simili incontri [1] I will not run risks—but I should be able to see you, my Ba .. why do I not go then? People at doors and windows are also able, alas, to see me too—so I stay .. if this is staying away when I can see the curled-up feet and kiss them beside,—ever-dear feet!

Do you know the days and the times and the long interval,—you, as I know? How strange that you should complain, and I become the happier! If I could alter it, and make you feel no subject for complaint any longer, I would,—surely I would, and be happy in that too, I hope .. yet the other happiness needs must be given up in that case .. I cannot reason it out. I excuse my present selfish happiness by feeling I would not exchange the sadness of being away from you for any imaginable delight in which you had no part. But I will have this delight, too, my Ba, of imagining that you are gratified by what you will see to-day. Tell me all, and what is said, and how you are at the end.

Thank you meanwhile for the picture of poor Mr Boyd .. then he never has seen you, since he was blind so long ago! How strange and melancholy: you say he is “cheerful” however .. in that case,—think of unhappy Countess Faustina [2] with her “irresistible longings,” and give her as much of your commiseration as she ought to get. What a horrible book .. how have I brought in what I prescribed to myself silence about– Such characters as Faustina produce the very worst possible effect on me .. I don’t know how they strike other people—but I am at once incited “debellare superbos” [3] —to try at least and pull down the arrogant—contempt would be the most Christian of all the feelings possible to be called forth by such a woman. Let me get back to you, my own dearest-dearest,— I do “love you to-day,” if you must ask,—and bidding me think of you is all very well—never bid me not think of you!—and so never find out that there could be a bidding I am unable to obey. But what is mere “thinking”? I kiss your hand, and your eyes, and now your lips, [4] —and ask for my heart back again, to give it and be ever giving it. No words can tell how I am your own.

My mother is much better,—observably so, to-day. Oh, dearest,—I want you to read Landor’s Dialogue between Tasso and his sister, in the second volume, [5] —with the exquisite Sorrentine scenery—do read it. I see your Tasso [6] with his prominent eyes as if they were ever just brightening out of a sorrow that has broken over them.

How I like (“love” is not my word now) but like Landor, more and more!

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 JU22 1846 O.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 212.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 805–806.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. “In such meetings.”

2. See letter 2426, note 1. An English translation of Gräfin Faustine was published in 1844, and RB was presumably reading this in anticipation of seeing Countess Hahn-Hahn at Carlyle’s a few days later. In chapter three of The Countess Faustina, the narrator compares Faustina’s occasional complaints about her lover’s “apparent coldness” to “some notes of the nightingale’s song,” which “sound like heart-rending complaints, because inexpressible longings are repeated in them” (p. 37).

3. “To subdue the arrogant” (Vergil, Æneid, VI, 853).

4. Cf. Sonnets from the Portuguese (1856), XXXVIII.

5. “Tasso and Cornelia” is one of the “Imaginary Conversations” in The Works of Walter Savage Landor (1846), II, 182–185.

6. Probably an allusion to EBB’s “A Vision of Poets,” lines 359–363.


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