2478.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 147–148.


Friday [Postmark: 10 July 1846]

And I am disappointed, dearest, in this news of La Cava—after which it would be madness to think of going there: the one reason we have to go at all is simply for your health—I mean, that if the seclusion were the main object, we might easily compass that here. All places are utterly indifferent to me if I can inhabit them with you—why should Palermo please me less than Italy proper? The distance is considerable, however, and the journey expensive. I wonder whether the steamer will sail for Leghorn as last year. As for the travelling English, they are horrible and, at Florence, unbearable .. their voices in your ear at every turn .. and such voices!– I got to very nearly hate the Tribune [1] for their sakes. Vietri is close to Salerno and must be obvious to the same condemnation– Your friend speaks from personal experience, I presume– She may well say that the baneful effects of the hour of sunset (i.e. the Avemmaria) [2] are too much overlooked “in all Italy”– I never heard of them before—but an infinity of “crotchets” go from Italian brain to brain about what, in eating or drinking or walking or sleeping, will be the death of you: still, they may know best. The most dreadful event that could happen to me would be your getting worse instead of better .. God knows what I should do! So whatever precaution we can take, let us take.

Oh, poor Flush,—do you think I do not love and respect him for his jealous supervision,—his slowness to know another, having once known you? All my apprehension is that, in the imaginations downstairs, he may very unconsciously play the part of the dog that is heard to “bark violently” while something dreadful takes place: yet I do not sorrow over his slapped ears, as if they ever pained him very much—you dear Ba!

And to-morrow I shall see you– Are you, can you be, really “better” after I have seen you? If it is not truth .. which I will not say .. such an assurance is the most consummate flattery I can imagine .. it may be recorded on my tombstone “RB—to whom this flattery was addressed; that, after the sight of him, Ba was better, she said”– If it is truth .. may you say that, neither more nor less, day by day, year by year thro’ our lives—and I shall have lived indeed!

How it rains—how it varies from hot to cold! a pretty vantage-ground whence we English can look and call other climates bad or indifferent! Now if tomorrow resembles to-day, will the Chiswick expedition hold good? I shall consider that I may go unless a letter comes to-morrow .. which would have to be written to-day. How pleasant it would be to make our days always Wednesday and Saturday .. could not that be contrived? So much for considerateness and contentedness!

I want, now, to refer as little as possible to the sad subject .. but I am glad you have written,—glad too that you are not severe on me for some hasty speeches—which did, indeed, mean as you say .. vexation at your having been vexed. And, I will just add, you remark excellently on the wound to self love making itself that remedy, rather than the wound to the affections .. yet there are instances .. Romilly loses his wife .. so does poor Laman Blanchard– [3]

So I go on writing, writing about all but what my heart is full of! Let me kiss you, ever dearest. Tomorrow will soon arrive—meanwhile, and forever I am your own


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 JY10 1846.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 228 [altered from “227”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 866–868.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. The octagonal domed hall in the Uffizi which houses the finest works of art from the Medicean collection, including the “Venus dei Medici.” It was designed by Bernardo Buontalenti (1536–1608) and decorated by Bernardino Poccetti (1548–1612), and was the subject of a painting by Johann Zoffany (1734–1810), “Tribune of the Uffizi,” which is now at Windsor Castle.

2. The Angelus, one of the prayers said at Vespers or Evensong, which falls at sunset.

3. Samuel Laman Blanchard (1804–45) was an author and editor, with whom RB had corresponded. After the protracted illness and death of Blanchard’s wife in December 1844, he suffered a breakdown and took his own life exactly two months after her death. Samuel Romilly (1757–1818), a determined advocate of legal reform, committed suicide only a few days after the death of his wife.


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