Correspondence

2487.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 162–164.

[London]

Wednesday evening. [15 July 1846][1]

Well! I anticipated your asking, I think, & told you fully this morning. It was a chronicle I sent you, rather than a letter– And nothing is left to tell you—for I did not go out all day .. nor yesterday. Which was wrong. But I had visitor on visitor today, .. my old maid[2] coming to bring me her baby to look at, to Flush’s infinite delight. Whenever she comes he devotes himself to her, stays with her down stairs, lies on the corner of her gown, &, for the most part, forbears going to sleep. Tomorrow I mean to go out––tomorrow,—when you are beginning to think rather less of me.

Is’nt it ungrateful of me? I[3] think so

I am glad, at least, that I do not appear to you ‘suspicious’. Because I dislike suspicious people myself, and it has struck me often in the midst of the dislike … ‘That is how I must appear to him”. Ah—but you are too indulgent to me, my own dearest .. too dearest! … & you draw crooked inferences for me, shutting both the eyes .. the near-sighted eye & far-sighted eye.[4] Or is it, in that strange sight of yours, that I walk between the far & the near objects, in an invisible security? Or is it (which were best) that I am too near, to be seen even by the near-sighted eye, .. like a hand brought close to the eyelashes, which, for over-closeness, nobody can see? Let me be too near to be seen——always too near!—dearest, dearest!—— Never will I complain that you do not see me! Be sure of that, now.

Once I used to be more uneasy, & to think that I ought to make you see me. But Love is better than Sight, & Love will do without Sight– Which I did not understand at first. I knew it was enough for me, that you should love me—— That it was enough for you, I had to learn afterwards.

And ‘Grateful’ is my word & not yours– I am grateful to you, if to owe you all the sense of life, all the renewal of hope, all the possibility of happiness .. if to owe these things to another, consciously, feelingly, shall pass for gratitude, .. then I am grateful to you, Robert—— Do you not know it, that I should say it again? For me, it seems to me that I can do nothing in return. To love you!—— Why no woman in the world could do less–

I am glad, both for the public & Tennyson, that his poems sell so well—& presently you will do as well or better .. & I, half as well perhaps,—so that we shall be too rich, which will spoil it all .. wont it?

Mr Horne sent me the Daily News today, .. the number containing his verses on Haydon[5]––& I cut from it an advertisement, for the purpose of bidding you observe that the land journey, or river-voyage, is very much cheaper than the sea-voyage by the steamers[6]—unless the direct vessel to Leghorn should go as last year, & I fear it will not. The steamer-charges of the Oriental company are immense. Nineteen guineas to Gibraltar even! Twenty eight, I think, to Naples. As for the advertisement I send it only for what it suggests– And there is time enough for calculations, all ways suggestible.

May God bless you, dear, dear!– How is the head? Shall it be better, without me, until saturday? Say how it is.

Among all my visitors, the only one I expected, never came! No Mrs Jameson again today!

Dearest, I am your very own

Ba–

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

Postmark: PD 10FN JY16 1846 B.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 225.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 878–880.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. EBB’s former maid, Elizabeth Crow, had been with EBB from August 1838 until the spring of 1844, when it was discovered that she had secretly married another member of the household staff, William Treherne. Their first child, a girl, was born on 5 June 1844 at Middle Raven, Lincolnshire. They named her Mary Elizabeth, but she was called “Lizzie.” Crow’s new baby, Ellen, was born on 29 June at St. Pancras.

3. Underscored twice.

4. RB mentioned his “shortsighted eye” in letter 2133.

5. Miss Mitford had sent Horne’s verses to EBB earlier; see letter 2461, note 2.

6. Apparently an advertisement placed by the Continental and Oriental Transit Company in The Daily News of 29 June 1846, which offered passage to India via “the most beautiful parts of Europe” and promising “the best hotel, railway, and steamboat accommodation.” Three routes were offered, all terminating at Marseilles.

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