2474.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 138–139.


Thursday– [Postmark: 9 July 1846]

See what an account we have this morning, of La Cava .. “quite impossible for the winter”. What does “quite impossible” quite mean, I wonder? I feel disappointed. As to Palermo, you would rather be in Italy, & so would I, perhaps. Salerno seems questionable too,—& Vietri .. what of Vietri? I dont at all see why we should receive the responses of this friend of my friend [1] who is not so very much my friend, as if they were oracular & final. There must be the right of appeal for us to other authorities. Will you investigate & think a little? For my part I shall not care to what place we go, except for the climate’s sake—the cheapness too should be considered a little: &, for the rest, every place which you should like, I should like, & which you liked most, I should like most—everything is novelty to me, remember.

My uncle Hedley has just come now, & I must quicken my writing. Oh, to be so troubled just now .. just now!—— But I wrote to Mr Serjeant Talfourd last night, & told him as fully & as briefly as I could, the whole position .. and, that vexation, I shall try now to throw behind me, after the fashion of dear Mr Kenyon’s philosophy. I put the thought of you, beloved, between me & all other thoughts—surely I can, when you were here only yesterday. So much to think of, there is!– One thing made me laugh in the recollection. Do you mean to tell Mrs Jameson that you are going to marry me, “because it is intolerable to hear me talked of”? That would be an original motive– “So speaks the great poet”!——

Ah Flush, Flush!—he did not hurt you really? You will forgive him for me? The truth is that he hates all unpetticoated people, & that though he does not hate you, he has a certain distrust of you, which any outward sign, such as the umbrella, reawakens– But if you had seen how sorry & ashamed he was yesterday!—I slapped his ears & told him that he never should be loved again: and he sate on the sofa (sitting, not lying) with his eyes fixed on me all the time I did the flowers, with an expression of quite despair in his face. At last I said, ‘If you are good, Flush, you may come & say that you are sorry’ .. on which he dashed across the room &, trembling all over, kissed first one of my hands & then another, & put up his paws to be shaken, & looked into my face with such great beseeching eyes, that you would certainly have forgiven him just as I did. It is not savageness– If he once loved you, you might pull his ears & his tail, & take a bone out of his mouth even, & he would not bite you. He has no savage caprices like other dogs & men I have known.——

Writing of Flush, in my uncle comes, & then my cousin, & then my aunt … by relays! and now it is nearly four & this letter may be too late for the post which reaches you irregularly– So provoked I am!—but I shall write again, tonight, you know–

Dearest, you did me so much good yesterday! Say how your head is—& remember saturday– Saturday will be clear through Chiswick [2] ——may the sun shine on it!–

Your own Ba–

Think of the dreadful alternative as set forth in this m∙s!—— The English .. or a bad climate!—— Can it be true?

[Enclosure, in unidentified hand]

… La Cava is impossible for the winter owing to the damp and cold. At no season should any person remain out at the hour of sunset– An hour afterwards the air is dry and healthy– [3] This applies to all Italy, and is a precaution too often neglected– Salerno has bad air too near it, to be safe as a residence. Besides, it is totally without the resources of books, good food, or medical advice– Palermo would be agreeable in the winter, and not very much frequented by English– However, where good climate exists, English are to be found– Murray’s “Southern Italy” would give every particular as to the distance of La Cava from the sea.

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

Postmark: PD 8NT JY9 1846 B.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 220.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 862–864.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Mary Minto, as indicated by EBB’s letter to her the previous week (see letter 2448); however, we have been unable to identify Mary Minto’s friend.

2. Evidently EBB and RB were planning to meet at Chiswick, ostensibly to view the Duke of Devonshire’s gardens, which EBB had visited ten years earlier with Miss Mitford. However, the excursion was called off because of bad weather, as indicated in the fourth paragraph of letter 2478.

3. At this point EBB has interpolated “Is this at La Cava? Ba.”


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