2437.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 84–85.


Friday Morning. [Postmark: 26 June 1846]

I drew the table to the fire before I wrote this. Here is cool weather, grateful to those overcome by last week’s heat, I suppose!—much as one conceives of a day’s starvation being grateful to people who were overfeasted some time back. But the coolness—(that is, piercing cold as the north wind can make)—sets me to ponder on what you said yesterday,—of considering summer as beginning next Wednesday, or thereabout, and ending by consequence with September. Our time is “at the Summer’s end”: [1] and it does strike me that there may be but too many interpositions beside that of “my own will” .. far too many! If those equinoctial winds disturb the sea, and the cold weather adds to the difficulties of the land-journey .. then the will may interpose or stand aloof .. I cannot take you and kill you .. really, inevitably kill you! As it is .. or rather, as it might be, I should feel during a transit under the most favorable circumstances possible, somewhat as the performer of that trick by which a full glass of water resting on the open hand is made to describe a circle from above to below and back without spilling a drop .. thro’ some goodnatured suspension, in the operator’s interest, of just a fundamental law of the universe, no more! Therefore if any September weather shall happen in September .. let us understand and wait .. another year! and another, and another.

Now, have I ever, with all those askings, asked you once too often,—that is, unnecessarily—“if this should be,”—or “when this should be?” What is my “will” to do with it? Can I keep the winds away, alas? My own will has all along been annihilated before you,—with respect to you– I should never be able to say “she shall dine on fish, or fruit,”—“she shall wear silk gloves or thread gloves”—even to exercise in fancy that much “will over you” is revolting– I will this, never to be “over you” if I could!

So, you decide here as elsewhere—but do decide, Ba, my own only Ba—do think, to decide: I can know nothing here as to what is gained or lost by delay or anticipation– I only refer to the few obvious points of the advantage of our “flight not being in the winter” [2] —and the consideration that the difficulty in another quarter will never be less nor more,—therefore is out of the question.

I will tell you something I meant to speak of yesterday. Mrs Jameson said Mr Kenyon had assured her, with the kindest intentions, that it was quite vain to make those offers of company to Pisa or elsewhere,—for your Father would never give his consent, and the very rationality of the plan, and probability of the utmost benefit following the adoption of it, would be the harder to forego the more they were entertained—whereupon, “having the passions of his kind he spoke some certain things”,—bitter and unavoidable. Then Mrs J. spoke too, as you may imagine; apparently from better knowledge than even I possess. Now I relate this to your common sense, my Ba—it is not hard to see that you must be silent and suffering, where no other can nor will be either—so that if a verdict needs must be pronounced on our conduct, it will be “the world’s” and not an individual’s—and for once a fair one. Mrs Jameson’s very words were .. (arising from what has been, observe,—what is irrevocably past, and not what may be)—“I feel unhappy when in her presence .. impelled to do her some service, and impeded .. Can nothing be done to rescue her from this? ought it to continue?” —So speaks .. not your lover!—who, as he told you, did long to answer “someone will attempt, at least!” But it was best, for Mrs Jameson would be blamed afterward, as Mr K might be abused, as ourselves will be vituperated, as my family must be calumniated .. by whom?

Do you feel me kiss your feet while I write this?– I think you must, Ba! There is surely,—I trust, surely no impatience here, in this as in the other letter—if there is, I will endeavour to repress it .. but it will be difficult—for I love you, and am not a stock nor a stone– And as we are now,—another year!

Well, kissing the feet answers everything, declares everything—and I kiss yours, my own Ba.

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St

Postmark: 8NT8 JU26 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 215 [altered from “214”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 815–816.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Cf. Pippa Passes, IV, 249.

2. Cf. Matthew 24:20.


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