2444. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 91–93.
Tuesday morning [Postmark: 30 June 1846]
The gods & men call you by your name, but I never do—never dare. In case of invocation, tell me how you should be called by such as I? not to be always the “inexpressive He” which I make of you. In case of courage for invocation!——
Dearest .. (which is a name too) read on the paper inside what I have been studying about Salerno since we parted yesterday. Forsyth is too severe in his deductions, perhaps, from the apothecaries, but your Naples-book will not help me to contradict him, saying neither the one thing nor the other. The word we could not read in the letter yesterday, was La Cava—& La Cava is a town on the way between Naples & Salerno, which Mrs Stark describes as “a large town with porticoes on each side of the High Street, like those at Bologna.” To which the letter adds, remember, “enchantingly beautiful, very good air & no English!’[’] Then there is Vietri, mentioned by Forsyth, between La Cava & Salerno, & on the bay. It is as well to think of all three. Were you ever at either? Amalfi itself appears to be very habitable. Oh—and your Naples book says of Salerno, that it is illuminated by fireflies, & that the chanting of frogs covers the noises of the city. You will like the frogs, if you dont the apothecaries, & I shall like the fireflies if I dont the frogs—but I do like frogs, you know, & it was quite a mistake of yours when you once thought otherwise.
Now I am going out in the carriage, to call on Mr Kenyon, & perhaps to see Mr Boyd. Your flowers are more beautiful than they were yesterday if possible: & the fresh coolness helps them to live, so, that I hope you may see some of them on saturday when you come. On saturday!—— What a time to wait! If not for them, yet for me. Of the two, it is easier for them, certainly. They only miss a little dew & air.
I shall write again tonight,—but I cannot be more then than now, nor less ever than now
Here is a coincidence. Hardly had you left me, when passing near the table at the end of the room, I saw a parcel there. Remember your question about the ‘Year of the World’. Precisely that! With a note, the counterpart of yours—desiring an opinion!——
May God bless you, dear, dear!– Did I ever think I should live to thank God that I did not die five years ago?– Not that I quite, quite dare to do it yet. I must be sure first of something.
Which is not your love, my beloved—it is a something still dearer & of more consequence.
[Enclosure, in EBB’s hand]
Though placed between the beauties of sea & land, of cultivated & rude nature, the city is so unhealthy that its richer inhabitants remove to Vietri during the hot months. In proof of its bad air, I remarked here a number of apothecaries!—
Its white houses curving round the haven at the water’s brink, the mountains crowding close behind the city, the ruins of its Gothic castle on the olive-covered hill above, together mirrored in the waveless water, itself alternate shine & shadow—’tis a noble sight–
The view from Salerno is one of the loveliest pictures in Italy.—— A clear-complexioned, open-eyed, & bright faced city is modern Salerno, .. & its streets & piazza were all astir—
Letters from Naples.
This town .. the approach to which is enchanting … boasts a tolerably good inn!!——
Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmark: PD 8NT JU30 1846 C.
Docket, in RB’s hand: 209.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 823–825.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Cf. As You Like It, III, 2, 10.
2. EBB copied extracts from several books on travels in Italy, which she enclosed with this letter, as given above.
3. John Forsyth was the author of Remarks on Antiquities, Arts, and Letters During an Excursion in Italy in the Years 1802 and 1803 (1813).
4. Notes on Naples and Its Environs (1838) by a Traveller. A copy of this volume inscribed “Robert Browning, with the best regards of B.W. Procter” sold as lot 956 in Browning Collections (see Reconstruction, A1759).
5. EBB is referring to SD1255.
6. Travels on the Continent (1820) by Mariana Starke, p. 481.
7. Notes on Naples, p. 277.
8. See letter 2156, in which EBB responded to RB’s anecdote from Ælianus about a frog by saying “I think I like frogs too.”
9. William Bell Scott (1811–90), poet, artist, and critic, and later associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, had just published The Year of the World. He presented an inscribed copy to EBB and one to RB, both of which sold as part of Browning Collections, the latter as part of lot 1063 (see Reconstruction, A2053 and A2054).
10. Remarks on Antiquities, p. 338.
11. Notes on Naples, pp. 275–278.
12. Travels on the Continent, pp. 481–482.