Correspondence

2465.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 122–124.

[London]

Monday. [Postmark: 6 July 1846]

When I read, after the reasons for not seeing you to-day, this—“still I leave it to you,”—believe, dearest, that I at once made the sacrifice and determined to wait till Wednesday,—as seemed best for you, and therefore for me: but at the letter’s very end, amid the sweetest, comes “Wednesday .. or must it be Thursday?”—what is that? what “must” is mine? Shall you fear, or, otherwise suffer, if we appoint Wednesday?

Oh, another year of this! yet I am not, I feel, ungrateful to the Past .. all the obstacles in the world can do nothing now,—nothing: earlier, they might have proved formidable annoyances. I have seen enough of you, Ba, for an eternity of belief in you .. and you,—as you confess, you cannot think “I shall forget”–

All you can, you compensate me for the absence—that such letters, instead of being themselves the supremest reward and last of gains, should be—compensation, at the best! Am I really to have you, all of you and altogether, and always? If you go out of your dream-life can I lie quietly in mine?– But I hold your hand and hear your voice thro’ it all.

How do these abrupt changes in the temperature affect you? Yesterday at noon, so oppressively hot—this morning, a wind and a cold … Do you feel no worse than usual? If you do not tell me,—you know, I cannot keep away. Then, this disinspiriting bequest of poor Haydon’s journal .. his “writings”—from which all the harm came, and, it should seem, is still to come to himself and everybody beside—let us all forget what came of those descriptions, and vindications and explanations interminable,—but as for beginning another sorrowful issue of them,—it is part & parcel of the insanity—and to lay the business of editing the “twenty-six” (I think) volumes, with the responsibility, on you—most insane! Unless, which one would avoid supposing, the author trusted precisely to your ignorance of facts and isolation from the people able to instruct you: take one little instance of how “facts” may be set down—in the “Athenæum” was an account of Haydon’s quoting Waller’s verse about the eagle reached by his own feather on the arrow,—which he applied to Maclise and some others,[1] who had profited by their intimacy with him to turn his precepts to account and so surpass him in public estimation: now, Maclise was in Haydon’s company for the first time at Talfourd’s on that evening when I met your Brother there[2] .. so said Talfourd in an after-supper speech: and Forster, to whom I mentioned the circumstance, assured me that Maclise “called on Haydon for the first time only a few months ago” .. I suppose, shortly after– Now, what right has Maclise, a fine generous fellow, to be subjected to such an imputation as that?– With an impartial prudent man, acquainted with the artists of the last thirty years, the editing might turn to profit: I do hope for an exercise of Mr Kenyon’s caution here, at all events– And then how horrible are all these posthumous revelations,—these passions of the now passionless, errors of the at[-]length better-instructed! All falls unfitly, ungraciously– The triumphs or the despondencies, the hopes or fears, of—whom? He is so far above it all now! Even in this life,—imagine a proficient in an art or science—who, after thirty or sixty years of progressive discovery, finds that some bookseller has disinterred and is about publishing the raw first attempt at a work which he was guilty of in the outset!

All of which you know better than I—what do you not know better? Nor as well?– That I love you with my whole heart, Ba, dearest Ba, and look up into your eyes for all light and life. Bless you.

Your very own—

I am going to Talfourd’s tomorrow (to dine)—and perhaps to Chorley[’]s in the evening– If I can do any bidding of yours at Talfourd[’]s .. but that seems improbable,—with Mr Kenyon, too! But (this between our very selves) the Talfourds, or at least Mrs T., please to take one of their unimaginably stupid groundless dislikes to him.

 

 

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 JY6 1846 A.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 224 [altered from “223”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 848–850.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. RB is referring to a comment in Haydon’s obituary in The Athenæum for 27 June 1846 (no. 974, p. 663): “He was, at length, outstripped by many whom his own genius had brought about him; and has been heard to exclaim, in allusion to the success of Cope and Maclise, and his own ill fortune, in the recent cartoon competitions at Westminster Hall:—

 

That eagle’s fate and mine are one

Which, on the shaft that made him die,

Espied a feather of his own,

Wherewith he wont to soar so high.”

 

2. RB had met George at Talfourd’s in December 1845 (see letters 2130 and 2131).

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