2502.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 187–188.


Wednesday [sic, for Thursday]. [23 July 1846] [1]

I have just returned from Town & Mr Kenyon’s, my own Ba– I called, according to compact, to point out the precise way he must go to reach us. He seemed to make sure I was going to Wimpole St—“Oh, no!”

So, losing Wimpole St, I made haste home, and gain my letter,—my dear letter: yesterday night, too, the first letter arrived duly—you perfect in kindness!

My dearest—dearest,—you might go to Pisa without shoes,—or feet to wear them, for aught I know, since you may have wings, only folded away from me—but without your Wilson, or some one in her capacity, you .. no, I will not undertake to speak of you,—then, I, should be simply, exactly, insane to move a step; I would rather propose, let us live on bread and water, and sail in the hold of a merchant-ship,—this cannot be dispensed with!– It is most fortunate, most providential, that Wilson is inclined to go– I am very happy: for a new servant, with even the best dispositions, would never be able to anticipate your wants & wishes during the voyage, at the very beginning– Yet you write of this to me so, my Ba! I think I will, in policy, begin the anger at a good place. Yes, all the anger I am capable of descends on the <…> [2] head—(not in kisses, whatever you may fancy)–

And so poor Flush suffered after all! Dogs that are dog-like would be at no such pains to tell you they would not see you with comfort approached by a stranger who might be—! A “muzzle”? oh, no—but suppose you have him removed next time, and perhaps the next, till the whole occurrence is out of his mind as the fly bite of last week—because, if he sees me and begins his barking and valiant snapping, and gets more and heavier vengeance down stairs, perhaps,—his transient suspicion of me, will confirm itself into absolute dislike,—hatred! Whereas, after an interval, we can renew acquaintance on a better footing. [3] Dogs have such memories! My sister told me last week she saw in a Provincial Newspaper an anecdote of one,—a miller’s dog, that was a good fellow in the main but chose to take an especial dislike to one of his master’s customers, whom he invariably flew at and annoyed—so much so that the man declared he must carry his custom elsewhere unless the dog was parted with: this the miller was unwilling to do,—so he hit on an expedient—by some contrivance, the dog was suffered to fall into a deep well, and bark himself hoarse there in vain—no help came—till the obnoxious individual arrived, let himself down and brought up the prisoner– From which time, nothing could exceed the devotion of the dog to his rescuer,—whom he always insisted henceforth on accompanying as far as his home, for one instance of it.

I wonder whether I have anywhere one of the sketches my Father made of my bulldog’s face. [4]

What “tired” you, dearest? You are not less well, I trust? Pray tell me,—and remember there are three days before our Saturday. I am very much better—the walking & riding of this morning did me good, too—and what profits it, if you are not better also? Love me in caring for your self, which is my truest self! And I will go on and try to love you more than I do—for what may not happen? Ever your own–

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 JY23 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 237.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 896–898.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark and by RB’s explanation in the second paragraph of letter 2505.

2. RB wrote and crossed out “darling.”

3. See letter 2497 for EBB’s account of the discipline administered to Flush after he had bitten RB during his visit on 21 July.

4. This dog, and its loyalty to RB’s mother, is described by William James Stillman, as relayed to him by Sarianna Browning, as “a pure-blooded bulldog of a rare breed, which tolerated no interference from any person except him [RB] or his mother, and which would allow no familiarity with her on the part of strangers … and when Robert was more familiar with her than the dog thought proper he showed his teeth to him” (The Autobiography of a Journalist, 1901, I, 278). A sketch by RB, Sr., of the bulldog’s head is reproduced on facing page.


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