Correspondence

2484.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 157–159.

[London]

Wednesday morning [Postmark: 15 July 1846]

And is it true of today as you said it would be, ever dearest, that you wish to be with me? Let me have the comfort or luxury rather, of the thought of it, before tomorrow takes you a step farther off.

At dinner my aunt said to Papa .. “I have not seen Ba all day—and when I went to her room, to my astonishment a gentleman was sitting there”. “Who was that” said Papa’s eyes to Arabel– “Mr Browning called here today,” she answered– “And Ba bowed her head”, continued my aunt, “as if she meant to signify to me that I was not to come in”—— “Oh,” cried Henrietta, “that must have been a mistake of yours. Perhaps she meant just the contrary”. “You should have gone in”, Papa said, “& seen the poet.” Now if she really were to do that the next time!—— Yet I did not, you know, make the expelling gesture she thought she saw. Simply I was startled. As to Saturday we must try whether we cannot defend the position .. set the guns against the approaches to right & left .. we must try.

In speaking too of your visit this morning, Stormy said to her .. “Oh Mr Browning is a great friend of Ba’s! He comes here twice a week—is it twice a week or once, Arabel?”

While I write, the Hedleys come—& Mrs Hedley is beseeching me into seeing Mr Bevan whom perhaps I must see, notwithstanding Flush’s wrongs–

By the way, I made quite clear to Flush that you left the cakes, & they were very graciously received indeed–

Dearest, since the last word was written, Mrs Hedley came back leading Mr Bevan, & Papa who had just entered the room found the door shut upon him .. I was nervous .. oh, so nervous! & the six feet, & something more, of Mr Bevan seemed to me as if they never would end, so tall the man is. Well—& he sate down by me according to my aunt’s arrangement; and I, who began to talk a thousand miles from any such subject, with a good reason for the precaution, found myself thrown headforemost into ecclesiastical architecture at the close of about three minutes——how he got there all his saints know best! It’s his subject .. par excellence. He talks to Arabella about arches & mullions——he cant talk of anything else, .. I suspect. And because the Trinity is expressed in such a form of church-building, the altar at the east, & the baptistery at the door, .. there’s no other lawful form of a church, none at all! Not that he has an opinion!—he ‘adopts opinions’, but would not think for himself for the world at the risk of ultimate damnation! .. which was the amount of his talk today .. & really it does not strike me as wisdom, now that I set it down so– Yet the man expressed himself well & has a sensible face—he is a clever third-class man, I think—better than the mass for sense, but commonplace essentially. Only, inasmuch as ecclesiastical architecture is not my subject, I may think otherwise of him when I know him otherwise. I do not dislike him now. And then I am conscious how you spoil me for common men, dearest!– It is scarcely fair on them.

My aunt (Mrs Hedley) said when she introduced him—“You are to understand this to be a great honour—for she never lets anybody come here except Mr Kenyon, .. & a few other gentlemen” … (laughing). Said Papa—“Only one other gentleman, indeed. Only Mr Browning, the poet … the man of the pomegranates.” Was that likely to calm me, do you think? How late it is—I must break off.

Tonight I shall write again– Dearest beloved,

I am your own always.

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

Postmark: 8NT8 JY15 1846 D.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 224.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 875–876.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

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