2454.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 106–107.


Thursday. [Postmark: 2 July 1846]

Dear, you might as well imagine you had never given me any other of the gifts, as that you did not call me, as I tell you: you spoke quickly, interrupting me, and, for the name, “I can hear it, ’twixt my spirit and the earth-noise intervene”: [1] do you think I forget one gift in another, even a greater? I should still taste the first freshness of the vinegar, (or whatever was the charm of it)—tho’ Cleopatra had gone on dissolving pearl after pearl in it: [2] I love you for these gifts to me now—hereafter, it seems almost as if I must love you even better, should you choose to continue them to me in spite of complete knowledge: I feel this as often as I think of it, which is not seldom.

Do you know, Mrs Jameson asked me to go and see her on Friday Morning: would you like me to go? What I like .. do not fancy,—because your own pleasure is to be consulted. Should you fear the eyes, which can, on occasion, wear spectacles? If not .. and if our Saturday will not be interfered with .. and if you can tell me the hour “later than twelve” you mean to appoint, .. so that my call may be neither too early nor too late, .. why, then, Ba, dearest, dearest—

La cava,—is surely our cave, Ba—early in October will be vintage-time,—no fire flies: there will be this advantage in the vicinity of Naples .. that thro’ the Rothschild’s House there we can, I believe, receive and dispatch letters without any charge [3] —which otherwise would be an expensive business in Italy: the œconomy of a Post office there is astounding: a stranger goes to a window and asks for A’s or Z’s letters .. not even professing himself to be “A”. or “Z”—whereupon the official hands over sundry dozens of letters, without a word of enquiry, out of which the said stranger picks what pleases him, and paying for his selection, goes away and there an end. At Venice, I remember, they offered me, with other letters, about ten or fifteen for the Marquis of Hastings who was not arrived yet. I had only to say “I am sent for them” .. At Rome a lady lamented to me the sad state of things .. “A letter might contain Heaven only knew what, and lie at the office and”—“I might go and get it,” I said. “You? Nay, my husband might”, she answered, as one mightily wronged.

But of your dear self now—the going out will soon and effectually cure the nervousness, we may be sure. I am most happy, love, to hear of the walking and increased strength. So you used to like riding on a donkey? Then you shall have a mule, un bel mulo, and I will be your muleteer, walk by your side—and you will think the moment you see him of the wicked shoeing of cats with walnut-shells, for they make a mule’s shoes turn up, for all the world like large shells,—those on his forefeet at least. Will the time really come then? Meanwhile, your visitors .. let us hope they will go sight-seeing or call-making, do anything but keep the house on our days .. The three hours seem as a minute .. if they are to be curtailed,—oh, no—no, I hope. Tell me all you can, dearest .. and let me tell you all I can, little as it is, in kissing you, my best and dearest Ba, as now kisses your very own——

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 JY2 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 220 [altered from “219”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 833–834.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. “Catarina to Camoëns,” lines 110–111.

2. An allusion to the tradition that Cleopatra amazed Antony at a sumptuous banquet she gave for him by toasting him with a strong drink, in which she had dissolved a pearl ear-drop.

3. Because of the Browning family’s business connection with the House of Rothschild.


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