2489. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 166–167.
Thursday. [Postmark: 16 July 1846]
I should be doing your own dear face (which I see so perfectly thro’ the distance)—too great a wrong if I so much as answered the charge of “not remembering”; I see the face smile above the hand that writes! As if one may not say that a division, a wound, smarts more on the first day, and aches more on the next—! As if I do not prefer the fresh sharp regret to the settling of … what I trust in God and you I never shall feel! However, if it will please you to know, I do feel to-day as earnest a longing to be with you again as if your two letters were not here,—as if Tuesday lay only an hour behind instead of the two long days!
I think your Father’s words on those two occasions, very kind,—very! They confuse,—perhaps humble me .. that is not the expression, but it may stay. I dare say he is infinitely kind at bottom. I think so, that is, on my own account,—because, come what will or may, I shall never see otherwise than with your sight. If he could know me, I think he would soon reconcile himself to all of it,—know my heart’s purposes toward you: but that is impossible—and with the sincere will to please him by any exertion or sacrifice in my power, I shall very likely never have the opportunity of picking up a glove he might drop. In old novels, the implacable father is not seldom set upon by a round dozen of ruffians with blacked faces from behind a hedge,—and just as the odds prove too many, suddenly a stranger (to all save the reader) leaps over an adjacent ditch, &c “Sir, under Providence, I owe you my life!” &c &c How does Dumas improve on this in “Monte Cristo”—are there “new effects”?
Absurdity! Yet I would fain .. fain! You understand.
To talk about my “spoiling you for other conversers” is .. oh, leap over hedge & ditch, some body, to the rescue! If I praise myself for anything in our intimacy it is that I never .. but I won’t go into it. And putting my own experience aside and in its place, it strikes me that what Ba ranks as a “third-rate man” may pass justly for a paragon, & marvel among men as the world has a right to class them. I am quite sure if I had been present and much had uttered itself about mullions .. somebody would have looked a very babe in knowledge, and perhaps made Ba blush for him and her own waste of love and praise. So he retreats where he may keep it all in virtue of being what he is, ever is, and shall be, her own
The river-voyage is not only the cheaper but by far the more interesting .. all to consider is the fatigue to you,—what else?
I am very well to-day. Rachel’s Phèdre was admirable last night,—quite thro’ Racine up to Euripides. The declaration-scene with Hippolytus exquisite .. I must tell you.
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street, / Cavendish Square.
Postmark: 8NT8 JY16 1846 B.
Docket, in EBB’s hand: 232 [altered from “231”].
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 880–881.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. EBB had mentioned in letter 2402 that she was reading Le Comte de Monte Cristo.
2. In letter 2484, EBB called her cousin’s future husband a “clever third-class man.”
3. See letter 2479, note 3. The Athenæum for 18 July (no. 977, p. 740) declared that Rachel “is not—she never can be—Phédre, as completely as she is Camille.”