Correspondence

2472.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 134–135.

[London]

Tuesday evening. [7 July 1846][1]

Yes—I understand you perfectly .. and it should be exactly as you say .. & it is just that, which requires so much adroitness,—& such decision & strength of hand, to manage these responsibilities. Somebody is wanted to cut & burn, & be silent afterwards. I remember that bitter things are said of Shelley & Leigh Hunt beyond all the bitterness of alcohol. Olives do not taste so, though steeped in salt. There are some curious letters by poor Keats about Hunt, & they too are bitter. It would be dreadful to suffer these miseries to sow themselves about the world, like so much thistle-down .. the world, where there are thistles enough already, to make fodder for its wild asses!–

As to Landor .. oh, I did not remember the note you speak of in the satire you speak of—but you remember everything … even me– Is it not true that Landor, too, is one of the men who carry their passions about with them into everything, as a boy would, pebbles .. muddying every clear water, with a stone here & a stone there. The end is, that we lose the image of himself in the serene depth, as we might have had it—& the little stone comes to stand for him. How unworthy of such a man as Landor, such weakness is! To think with one’s temper!! One might as well be at once Don Quixote, & fight with a warming-pan.

But I did not remember the former opinion. I took it for a constitutional fancy of Landor’s, & did not smile much more at it than at my own “profundity in German”, which was a matter of course .. of course. For have I not the gift of tongues?[2] Dont I talk Syriac .. as well as Flush talks English—& Hebrew, like a prophetess[3] … & various other languages & dialects less familiarly known to persons in general than those aforesaid? So, profound indeed, must be the German & the Dutch! And perhaps it may not be worth while to answer Mr Landor’s note for the mere purpose of telling him anything about it.

Dearest!—I have written all this before I would say a word of your coming, just to think a little more—& down all these pages I have been thinking, thinking, of you .. of your possible coming .. what nonsense they must be! Well! & the end is that, let it be wise or unwise, I must & will see you tomorrow—— I cannot do otherwise. It is just as if Flush had been shut up in a box for so many days. My spirits flag .. & I could find it in my heart to grow cross like Landor & deny Göthe. So come, dearest dearest—& let the world bark at our heels if it pleases. I will just turn round & set Flush at it–

For two or three days I have not been out—not for two days .. not out of this room. This evening at seven, when they were all going to dinner, I took Wilson with me & drove into the park for air. It will do me good perhaps—but your coming will, certainly. So come, my dearest beloved!– At three, remember.

Your own Ba.

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

Postmark: 10FN10 JY8 1846 B.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 219.; + Wednesday, July 8th / 3–6! p.m. (75.) [sic, for 76].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 856–857.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Cf. I Corinthians 12:30. EBB is alluding to Landor’s comment in letter 2464.

3. In a review of EBB’s Poems (1844) in The League of 7 December 1844, EBB was referred to as “a prophetess, to whom an angel proffered the choice between health with the loss of inspired powers; or a continuance of physical weakness and suffering, compensated by a double outpouring of the divine spirit into her soul” (see vol. 9, pp. 378–380, for the complete text of this review).

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