Correspondence

2499.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 180–182.

[London]

Wednesday– [22 July 1846][1]

Dearest, what you say is unnecessary for you to say—it is, in everything so of course & obvious! You must have an eccentric idea of me if you can suppose for a moment such things to be necessary to say– If they had been unsaid, it would have been precisely the same, believe me, in the event–

As to the way of living––now you shall arrange that for yourself– You shall choose your own lodging, order your own dinner .. & if you choose to live on locusts & wild honey,[2] I promise not to complain .. I shall not indeed be inclined to complain .. having no manner of ambition about carriages & large houses, even if they were within our possibilities,—which they may not be, according to Mr Surtees’s[3] calculation or experience. The more simply we live, the better for me! So you shall arrange it for yourself, lest I should make a mistake! .. which, in that question, is a just possible thing.

One extravagance I had intended to propose to you .. but it shall be exactly as you like, and I hesitate a little as I begin to speak of it. I have thought of taking Wilson with me, .. for a year, say, if we returned then—if not, we might send her home alone .. & by that time, I should be stronger perhaps & wiser .. rather less sublimely helpless & impotent than I am now– My sisters have urged me a good deal in this matter——but if you would rather it were otherwise, be honest & say so, & let me alter my thoughts at once– There is one consideration which I submit to yours, .. that I cannot leave this house with the necessary number of shoes & pocket handkerchiefs, without help from somebody. Now whoever helps me, will suffer through me– If I left her behind she would be turned into the street before sunset. Would it be right & just of me, to permit it? Consider! I must manage a sheltering ignorance for my poor sisters, at the last, .. & for all our sakes. And in order to that, again, I must have some one else in my confidence. Whom, again, I would unwillingly single out for an absolute victim.

Wilson is attached to me, I believe—and, in all the discussions about Italy, she has professed herself willing to ‘go anywhere in the world with me’. Indeed I rather fancy that she was disappointed bitterly last year, & that it would not be a pure devotion. She is an expensive servant—she has sixteen pounds a year, .. but she has her utilities besides,—& is very amiable & easily satisfied, & would not add to the expenses, or diminish from the economies, even in the matter of room—— I would manage that for her– Then she would lighten your responsibilities .. as the Archbishop of Canterbury & company do Mr Bevan’s– Well—you have only to consider your own wishes– I shall not care many straws,[4] if you decide this way or that way– Let it be as may seem to you wisest.

I like Mr Chorley’s note——I began to write so late, that I, too, must send you a bare note tonight– May God bless you, ever dearest. I am tired .. so tired .. yet I have not a long story to tell you of myself for the day’s chronicle. I was just out for the few minutes my walking occupies, & came home & had coffee at half past four,—& scarcely was the cup empty, when Mrs Jameson arrived. She stayed while you might count to a hundred—and your name was not once mentioned. And now, good night. I hope the ‘testimonials’ may be ‘satisfactory’, in this note which will not wait to be a letter! Dearest, say how your head is—do–

I am your Ba, always!–

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

Postmark: 10FN10 JY23 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 230.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 895–896.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Matthew 3:4.

3. Presumably Robert Surtees of Redworth, who called on the Brownings the following December in Pisa. He was distantly related to Surtees Cook.

4. Cf. “ego non flocci pendere” (Terence, Eunuchus, 411).

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