Correspondence

2457.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 110–112.

[London]

Friday morning. [Postmark: 3 July 1846]

I am forced to say something now which you will not like & which I, for my part, hate to say—but you shall judge how impossible it is for me to see you tomorrow.

The visitors did not come last night; & as this morning we expected them hourly, the post brought a letter instead, to the effect that they were to arrive just on saturday .. leaving us to calculate the time of arrival between one p.m. to five or six. If at one, .. Papa will be in the house & likely to stay in it all day after .. which would be a complication of disadvantages for us: and if at three .. why even so, my aunt would ‘admire[’] a little the reason of my not seeing her at once, & there would be questions & answers à faire fremir.[1] So dearest dearest, I must try to live, these two days more, without seeing you—& indeed it will be hard work—the very light of the sun tomorrow, let it be ever so bright a sun, will only reproach the day with what it ought to have been .. our day, instead of everybody’s day or nobody’s day, a poor, blank, dreary day. What, when the clock is at three, .. oh what will keep me, I wonder, from being sullen to my aunt & sulkey to my cousin? They will think me (if my ministering angel should not throw me some hallowing thought of you, best beloved!) considerably fallen off in the morale, however the improvement may be, of the bodily health– I shall be as cross, as cross .. well, if I am less than cross, you must be right after all, & I, “une femme miraculeuse”[2] without illusion!– It is too bad, too bad. The whole week—from monday to monday! And I do not positively fix even monday, though I hope for monday:—but monday may be taken from us just as saturday is—& the Hedleys are to come on tuesday .. only not to this house. I wish they were all at Seringabatam.[3]

Do not mind it however. Yes, mind it a little, .. Robert, but not overmuch—because the day shall not be lost utterly .. I shall take care. I will be on the watch for half days when people go out to shop .. that solemn business of life, .. & we will have our lost day back again .. you will see. But I could not get to Mrs Jameson’s this morning, not being quite well enough. It is nothing as illness,—I tell you the truth, dear—& even now I feel better than I did in the early morning. It was only just enough to prevent my going. And if I had gone I should not have seen you—you would not go in time—you would not perhaps even have my letter in time. The stars are against us for the moment, it seems.

Write to me, think of me, love me. You shall hear on saturday & on sunday, & we will settle about monday. After all, it would have been difficult to have met you at Mrs Jameson’s, observing the ‘fitness of things’:[4]—and as I am subject to the madness of saying ‘Robert’ without knowing it …!

May God bless you– Say how you are! Dont let me slide out of your mind through this rift in the rock. I catch at the jutting stones.[5]

I am your own Ba–

Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.

Postmark: 5EV5 JY3 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 213.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 837–838.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. “To make you shudder.”

2. “A miraculous woman.”

3. Seringapatam was in Mysore State, India. EBB’s cousin, Robert (“Robin”) Hedley had been sent there with his regiment in late May 1846 (see letter 2285, note 8).

4. Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones (1749), book iv, chapter 4.

5. This imagery seems to echo lines 161–163 in EBB’s translation of Prometheus Bound (1850).

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