Correspondence

2490.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 168–169.

[London]

Thursday. [16 July 1846][1]

Dearest, if you feel that, must I not feel it more deeply? Twice or three times lately he has said to me “my love”, and even “my puss”, his old words before he was angry last year, .. & I quite quailed before them as if they were so many knife-strokes. Anything, but his kindness, I can bear now.

Yet I am glad that you feel that .. The difficulty (almost the despair!) has been with me, to make you understand the two ends of truth .. both that he is not stone .. & that he is immoveable as stone. Perhaps only a very peculiar nature could have held so long the position he holds in his family—. His hand would not lie so heavily, without a pulse in it—. Then he is upright—faithful to his conscience. You would respect him, .. & love him perhaps in the end. For me, he might have been king & father over me to the end, if he had thought it worth while to love me openly enough—yet, even so, he should not have let you come too near. And you could not (so) have come too near—for he would have had my confidence from the beginning, & no opportunity would have been permitted to you of proving your affection for me, & I should have thought always what I thought at first– So the nightshade & the eglantine are twisted, twined, one in the other, .. & the little pink roses lean up against the pale poison of the berries .. we cannot tear this from that, let us think of it ever so much!

We must be humble & beseeching afterwards at least, & try to get forgiven—— Poor Papa! I have turned it over & over in my mind, whether it would be less offensive, less shocking to him, if an application were made first——. If I were strong, I think I should incline to it at all risks—but as it is, .. it might .. would, probably, .. take away the power of action from me altogether. We should be separated you see, from that moment, .. hindered from writing .. hindered from meeting .. & I could evade nothing, as I am—not to say that I should have fainting fits at every lifting of his voice—through that inconvenient nervous temperament of mine which has so often made me ashamed of myself. Then .. the positive disobedience might be a greater offence than the unauthorized act—— I shut my eyes in terror sometimes—— May God direct us to the best–

Oh—do not write about this, dearest, dearest!– I throw myself out of it into the pure, sweet, deep thought of you .. which is the love of you always. I am yours .. your own– I never doubt of being yours. I feel too much yours. It is might & right together. You are more to me, beside, than the whole world——

Write nothing of this, dearest of all!—it is of no use. Today .. this morning .. I went out in the carriage, & we drove round the Park,—and Mrs Jameson did not come afterward—— Will she put it off till saturday? I have heard nothing against saturday, by the way, worse than that conjecture of mine.

And I have written you, perhaps a teazing, painful letter .. I, who love you today .. [‘]‘as much as ever”. It is my destiny, I sometimes think, to torment you. And let me say what I will, remember how nothing that I say can mean a doubt—you never shall have reason to reproach me for the falseness of cowardice—that double falseness .. both to me & to you. Only I wish this were Christmas day, & we … even at Salerno .. in the “bad air”![2] There’s no harm in such a wish—now is there?

Ever & ever I am your own Ba.

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

Postmarks: 10FN10 JY17 1846 A; 12NN12 JY17 1846 D; 8NT8 JY17 1846.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 226.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 881–883.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. An allusion to information provided by Mary Minto about Italy, which EBB had enclosed with letter 2474.

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