2463. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 119–121.
Sunday. [5 July 1846]
Will it do if you come on wednesday, dearest? It will be safer I think—and, with people staying in the house, it is necessary, you see, to consider a little. My aunt is so tired with her journey that she is not likely to go out at all tomorrow—& when I remember that you dine with Mr Kenyon on that wednesday, it seems marked out for our day– Still I leave it to you—. Never have we been so long parted, & perhaps by wednesday you may forget me——ah no! Now I will not make the time longer by being unkind .. or even unjust.
I meant to write you a long letter today,—but first my aunt & cousin were here telling me all the statistics of Arabella Hedley’s marriage,—& then Mr Kenyon came, .. & on such a very different subject, his talk was, that he has left me quite depressed—. It appears that poor Mr Haydon, in a paper entering into his reasons for selfdestruction, says, that he has left his manuscripts to me, with a desire for me to arrange the terms of their publication with Longman. Of course it has affected me naturally .. such a proof of trust when he had so many friends wiser & stronger to look to—but I believe the reference to be simply to the fact of his having committed to my care all his private papers in a great trunk .. one of three which he sent here. Two years ago when we corresponded, he made me read a good part of his memoirs, which he thought of publishing at that time, .. & then he asked me (no, it was a year & a half ago) to speak about them to some bookseller .. to Longman, he said, I remember, then. I explained, in reply, how I had not any influence with any bookseller in the world,—advising him besides not to think of printing, without considerable modification, what I had read. In fact it was .. with much that was individual & interesting, .. as unfit as possible for the general reader—fervid & coarse at once, with personal references blood-dyed at every page—. At the last, I suppose, the idea came back to him of my name in conjunction with Longman’s– I cannot think that he meant me to do any editor’s work—for which (with whatever earnestness of will) I must be comparatively unfit, both as a woman & as personally & historically ignorant of the persons & times he writes of. I should not know how one reference would fall innocently, & another like a thunderbolt on surviving persons. I only know that without great modification, the memoirs should not appear at all .. that the scandal would be great if they did. At the same time you will feel with me, I am sure, you who always feel with me, that whatever is clearly set for me to do, I should not shrink from under these circumstances, whatever the unpleasantness may be, more or less, involved in the doing. But if Mr Serjt Talfourd is the executor .. is he not the obviously fit person––well!—there is no need to talk any more. Mr Kenyon is to try to see the paper. It was Mr Forster who came to tell him of this matter & to get him to communicate it to me. Poor Haydon!
Dearest, I long for you to come & bring me a little light. Tell me how you are—now tell me. Tell me too how your mother is.
My aunt’s presence here has seemed to throw me back suddenly & painfully into real life out of my dream-life with you——into the old dreary flats of real life. She does not know your name even—she sees in me just Ba who is not your Ba—& when she talks to me .. seeing me so .. I catch the reflection of the cold abstraction as she apprehends it, & feel myself for a moment a Ba who is not your Ba .. sliding back into the melancholy of it!– Do you understand the curious process I talk of so mistily? Do you understand that she makes me sorrowful with not talking of you while she talks to me? Everything, in fact, that divides us, I must suffer from—so I need not treat metaphysically of causes & causes .. splitting the thinner straws–
Once she looked to the table where the remains of your flowers are, .. & said, “I suppose Miss Mitford brought you those flowers”. ‘No’, I answered, ‘she did not’ .. “Oh no”, began Arabel with a more suggestive voice, “not Miss Mitford’s flowers”– But I turned the subject quickly.
Robert!—how did you manage to write me the dear note from Mrs Jameson’s? how could you dare write & direct it before her eyes? What an audacity that was of yours. Oh—and how I regretted the missing you, as you proved it was a missing, by the letter! Twice to miss you on one day, seemed too much ill luck … even for me, I was going to write .. but that would have been a word of my old life, before I knew that I was born to the best fortune & happiest, which any woman could have, .. in being loved by you.
Dearest, do not leave off loving me– Do not forget me by wednesday. Shall it be wednesday? or must it be thursday? answer you.
I am your own Ba.
Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmark: 10FN10 JY6 1846 A.
Docket, in RB’s hand: 216.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 846–848.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. Letter 2460.