Correspondence

2486.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 161–162.

[London]

Wednesday. [Postmark: 15 July 1846]

Dearest Ba, I am anxious to know what cannot yet be told me, how that unforseen visit has worked—tell me the moment you can,—and fully, whatever happens.

“Suspicious”—anything in the world rather than that, you are! When you have mistrusted your own power over me, I believed always in the mistrust … which, indeed, matters little except to yourself: for if I would, certainly, have the truth seen as the truth, and our true position understood,—yet .. there is,—ought I not to be ashamed at saying?—an exquisite, final grace and endearingness in the ignorance, strange as I must account it. You doubly trust me,—with the treasure, and then, with the knowledge that it is a treasure, or such a treasure– Ba, when I think of it all, my whole heart becomes one gratitude to you,—I am only yours, grateful for ever. It is the only kind of thoughts in which you shall not share (there are many in which you cannot)—the thoughts to my inmost self as I go over what you say and do and try to clear up to myself the precise fascination in each: you shall not know what you do .. but shall continue to do and to let me know. I love you entirely. Where can you change so that I shall not love you more and more, as I grow more able and worthier? I cannot sit for twenty four hours by you as I sit for three—as it is, I take myself to task for not doing something here at home to justify in some measure my privilege & blessing—and the only thing that keeps conscience quiet comparatively is .. the old expedient! .. that the Future engages to do for me what the present cannot. Under your eyes, I will hope to work and attain your approval. I know that when you were only the great Poet and not my Ba, I would have preferred your praise,—as competent to praise .. to that of the whole world—I remember distinctly, and know I should have done so: and now, if I put aside the Poet and only (what an “only”!) see my dearest, dearest lady of that hair, and eyes, and hands, and voice, and all the completeness that was trusted to my arms yesterday—why, I feel that if she, never having written a line, said “What Miss Barrett may think I do not know, but I am content with what you show me” .. then, dearest, should not I be content?

I called on Moxon—and called at Carlyle’s to no purpose– He was out, & will leave town (said the servant) next Saturday– Mrs Carlyle has already left it.[1] So, no Rag Fair[2] for the present, or probably ever! This was my fault,—I having let several Sundays go by. I must write to Mr Kenyon and try if he will come on his own account. Moxon tells me that he has sold fifteen hundred of Tennyson’s Poems in a year—and is about to print another edition in consequence[3]—if that is the case, and Tennyson gets, say, only half a crown by the sale of each copy, expenses deducted,—he will have received £178,—little enough, as payments are made to Punch-literature, but enough to live upon, whatever the awful fiat decides! Tennyson “is going” to Switzerland presently with Moxon—but is liable to fits of indecision– He did talk of going to Italy (of course!), but the other day, time being up, his brother[4] was forced to proceed alone. Moxon is coming here first.

Now I will kiss you, dearest, and hope that Wimpole Street stands where it did, unhurt by explosions of any kind. I have got a letter from Procter asking me to go to-day, which I cannot do– Ever your own, very own

RB.

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street. / Cavendish Square.

Postmark: 8NT8 JY15 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 231 [altered from “230”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 877–878.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. In an unhappy parting with her husband, Jane Welsh Carlyle left London on July 4 and went to Seaforth House, Liverpool. Her visit there was primarily for recuperation from ill health. Carlyle joined her a few weeks later on 23 July (Carlyle, 20, 220 and 257–258).

2. An allusion to the old and used clothes market for the poor, which was situated in the Houndsditch area. The market was busiest at Sundays, and was known as a place of much bantering.

3. In 1845 Moxon published 1500 copies of Tennyson’s Poems (1842)—the third edition—and “in 1846 Moxon printed an additional 2000 copies” (June Steffensen Hagen, Tennyson and His Publishers, 1979, p. 66).

4. Frederick Tennyson (1807–98), elder brother of Alfred Lord Tennyson, was visiting from Italy where he had lived for several years. The poet had considered travelling with him on his return, but could not decide before it was time for Frederick to depart (Charles Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson, 1949, pp. 214–215). Tennyson and Moxon left for the continent on 2 August, and returned twenty-eight days later.

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