2445. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 93–95.
Tuesday. [Postmark: 30 June 1846]
I have looked in the map for “L....”, the place praised in the letter, and conclude it must be either Ceva, (La Ceva, between Anocera [sic, for Nocera] and Salerno, about four miles from the latter, and on the mountain-side, I suppose .. see a map, my Ba!)—or else Lucera, (which looks very like the word .. and which lies at about sixty miles to the N.E of Naples, in a straight line over the mountains and roadless country, but perhaps twice as far off by the main way thro’ Avellino, Ariano, Bovino and Troia—(exactly 120 Italian miles now that I count the posts)– So that there would be somewhat of a formidable journey to undertake after the sea voyage– I daresay at Ceva there is abundance of quietness, as the few who visit Salerno do not go four miles inland,—can you enquire into this?
How inexpressibly charming it is to me to have a pretext for writing thus .. about such approaches to the real event—these business-like words, and names of places! If at the end you should bring yourself to say “But you never seriously believed this would take place”—what should I answer, I wonder?
Let me think on what is real, indisputable, however .. the improvement in the health as I read it on the dear, dear cheeks yesterday: this morning is favorable again .. you will go out, will you not?
Mr Kenyon sends me one of his kindest letters to ask me to dine with him next week—on Wednesday. I feel his kindness, just as you feel in the other case, & in its lesser degree, I feel it,—and then I know,—dare think I know whether he will be so sorry in the end,—loving you as he does. I will send his letter that you may understand here as elsewhere.
I think my head is dizzy with reading the debates this morning—Peel’s speech and farewell. How exquisitely absurd, it just strikes me, would be any measure after Miss Martineau’s own heart, which should introduce women to Parliament as we understand its functions at present—how essentially retrograde a measure! Parliament seems no place for originating, creative minds—but for secondrate minds influenced by and bent on working out the results of these—and the most efficient qualities for such a purpose are confessedly found oftener with men than with women—physical power having a great deal to do with it beside. So why shuffle the heaps together which, however arbitrarily divided at first, happen luckily to lie pretty much as one would desire,—here the great flint stones, here the pebbles .. and diamonds too– The men of genius knew all this[,] said more than all this, in their way and proper place on the outside, where Miss M. is still saying something of the kind—to be taken up in its time by some other Mr Cobden and talked about, and be-leaguered. But such people cannot or will not see where their office begins and advantageously ends; and that there is such a thing as influencing the influencers, playing the Bentham to the Cobden, the Barry to a Commission for Public Works, the Lough to the three or four industrious men with square paper caps who get rules and plummets and dot the blocks of marble all over as his drawings indicate. So you and I will go to Salerno or L..... (not to the L…akes, Heaven forefend!) and if we “let sail winged words, freighted with truth from the throne of God”—we may be sure——
.. Ah, presumption all of it! Then, you shall fill the words with their freight, and I will look on and love you,—is that too much? Yes—for any other—no—for one you [know] is yours–
Your very own
For the quick departing yesterday our day was not spoken of .. it is Saturday, is it not?
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St
Postmark: 8NT8 JU30 1846 O.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 218 [altered from “217”].
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 825–827.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Peel’s resignation speech, given in the Commons on 29 June, was reported at length in The Times, as well as in The Morning Chronicle and other daily newspapers. The Morning Chronicle also contained extracts from the French press regarding Peel’s resignation.
2. Placement of parentheses is RB’s own.
3. Shelley, Ode to Naples (1824), lines 98–99, slightly misquoted.