Correspondence

2479.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 149–150.

[London]

Sunday. [Postmark: 12 July 1846]

When I made you promise to refer no more to that subject in your letter (which I must wait a day and a night for, alas!)—I did not engage myself to the like silence .. perhaps because I was not bidden—or, no! there is a better reason; I want to beg your pardon, dearest, for all that petulancy,—for the manner of what I said rather than the matter,—there is a rationality in it all, if I could express trulier what I feel—but the manner was foolish and wrong and unnecessary to you—so do forgive and forget it. You would understand and sympathize if you knew—not me, whom you do know in some degree,—but so much of my early life as would account for the actual horror and hatred I have of those particular doctrines of the world—and the especially foolish word about the “travelling” meant something like the not unnatural thought that if in this main, sole event for all good or all evil in my life,—if here the world plucked you from me by any of the innumerable lines it casts,—with that indirectness, too,—then, I should simply go and live the rest of my days as far out of it as I could. <…>[1]

The simple thing to say is, that I who know you to be above me in all great, or good feelings and therefore worship you, must be without excuse to talk inconsiderately as if I, sitting by you and speaking of the same subject, must needs feel more acutely more strongly in one respect where, indeed, it wants very little pre[-]eminence in heart or brain to feel entirely the truth—a simplest of truths. It would have been laughable if I had broken out on Mrs Procter’s bitterness of speech,[2] for instance .. just as though you were the slower of us two to see the nature of it! So I do again ask your pardon, dearest Ba! You said you loved me no less yesterday than ever—how must I love you and press closer to you more and more, and desire to see nothing of the world behind you, when I hear how the world thinks, and how you think! You only, only adorable woman, only imaginable love for me! And all the hastiness and petulancy comes from that .. some one seems to come close (in every such maxim of the world’s) and say “What is she—to so much a year? Could you be happy with her except in May fair—and there whom could you not be happy with!”

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It is as I expected—Rachel plays on Wednesday in Phèdre,[3] and our friend writes to say he has secured places. May nothing overcast the perfect three hours on Tuesday,—those dear, dear spaces of dear brightness: why cannot a life be made up of these .. with the proper interposition of work, to justify God’s goodness so far as poor mortality and its endeavours can,—a week of Tuesdays—then a month—a year—a life! I most long to see you again,—always by far the most I long,—the next day—the very day after I have seen you—when it is freshest in my mind what I did not say while I might have said it,—nor ask while I might have been answered,—nor learn while you would have taught me, <…>[4] no, it is indescribable. Did I call yesterday “unsatisfactory”? Would I had it back now! Or better, I will wish you here where I write, with the trees to see and the birds to hear thro’ the open window. I see you on this old chair against the purple back .. or shall you lie on the sofa? Ba, how I love you, my own perfect, unapproachable mistress–

Let me kiss your feet—and now your hands and your eyes—and your lips now, for the full pardon’s sake, my sweetest love–

Ever your own—

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 10FN10 JY12 1846 A.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 229 [altered from “228”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 868–870.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Here RB began a sentence: “You see, hither to I have,” which he crossed out.

2. A reference to her comment that “it was a pity he [RB] had not seven or eight hours a day of occupation,” as reported to EBB by Kenyon (see letter 2305).

3. RB gives a report of her performance in letter 2489 (see note 3). EBB had written dispargingly about this French actress in letter 2221 (see note 11).

4. RB wrote and crossed out: “feel when the vibrations settle and the.”

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