2512.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 202–204.


Wednesday Morning. [Postmark: 29 July 1846]

This is just the way, the only way, my ever, ever dearest, you make cares for me—it is hard to dare to settle whether the pain of the lost quarters of the hour yesterday be not balanced by the gladness and gain of this letter,—as it is hard saying whether to kiss your hand (mind, only the hand!) [1] with shut eyes, be better than seeing you and only seeing: you cause me abundance of such troubles, dearest, best, divinest that you are! Oh, how can you, blessing me so, speak as you spoke yesterday,—for the first time! I thought you would only write such suppositions, such desires—(for it was a desire) .. and that along with you I was safe from them,—yet you are adorable amid it all—only I do feel such speaking, Ba, lightly as it fell—no, not now I feel it,—this letter is before my heart like the hand on my eyes. I feel this letter, only. How good, good, good of you to write it! Yes, I did meet Mr Kenyon on the stairs—with a half opened door that discovered sundry presences—and then had I to speak of a sudden—put it to my credit on one side that I did speak and laugh,—and on the other side, that I did neither too à-propos. He most kindly (seeing it all) began asking about Forster & Moxon—and I remember some kind of stammering remark of the latter which I retailed .. to the effect that “now would be a favorable time to print a volume of poems”—this I did, to seem to have something on my mind calling for a consultation with you! Then he made that proposal about Landor and Mr Eagles [2]  .. whether I “encouraged the idea,” or no, it encouraged me, and helped me a good deal this morning,—for Eliot Warburton sent two days ago a pressing letter to invite me to go to Ireland,—I should have yachting and other delights,—and I was glad to return for an answer, that I had an engagement, “conditional on my accepting any”. [3] As for my “excellent story on the stairs”—you alarm me! Upon my honor, I have not the least recollection of having told one, or said another word than the above mentioned: So people are congratulated on displaying this or the other bravery in battle or fire, when their own memory is left a blank of all save the confusion! Let me say here, that he amused me also with that characteristic anecdote of poor Mr Reade, on Saturday.

And—now! Now, Ba, to the subject-matter: whatever you decide on writing to Mrs Jameson will be rightly written—it seems to me nearly immaterial (putting out of the question the confiding the whole secret, which, from its responsibility, as you feel, must not be done) whether you decline her kindness for untold reasons which two months (Ba?) will make abundantly plain,—or whether you further inform her that there is a special secret—of which she must bear the burthen, even in that mitigated form, for the same two months,—as I say, it seems immaterial—but it is most material that you should see how the ground is crumbling from beneath our feet, with its chances & opportunities—do not talk about “four months”,—till December, that is—unless you mean what must follow as a consequence. The next thing will be Mr Kenyon’s application to me—he certainly knows everything—how else, after such a speech from your sister? But his wisdom as well as his habits incline him to use the force that is in kindness, patience, gentleness: your father might have entered the room suddenly yesterday and given vent to all the passionate indignation in the world. I dare say we should have been married to-day: but I shall have the quietest, most considerate of expositions made me, (with one arm on my shoulder) of how I am sure to be about to kill you, to ruin you, your social reputation, your public estimation, destroy the peace of this member of your family, the prospects of that other,—and the end will be?––

Because I can not only die for you but live without you for you—once sure it is for you: I know what you once bade me promise—but I do not know what assurances on assurance, all on the ground of a presumed knowledge of your good above your own possible knowledge,—might not effect! I do not know!

This is thro’ you! You ought to know now that “it would not be better for me to leave you”! That after this devotion of myself to you I cannot undo it all, and devote myself to objects so utterly insignificant that yourself do not venture to specify them—“it would be better .. people will say such things” .. I will never force you to know this, however—if your admirable senses do not instruct you, I shall never seem to, as it were, threaten you, by prophecies of what my life would probably be, disengaged from you—it should certainly not be passed where the “people” are, nor where their “sayings” influenced me any more—but I ask you to look into my heart, and into your own belief in what is worthy and durable and the better—and then decide!—for instance, to speak of waiting for four months will be a decision–

See, dearest—I began lightly,—I cannot end so. I know, after all, the words were divine, self-forgetting words,—after all, that you are mine, by the one tenure, of your own free gift,—that all the other words have not been mere breath, nor the love, a playful show, an acting, an error you will correct– I believe in you, or what shall I believe in? I wish I could take my life, my affections, my ambitions, all my very self, and fold over them your little hand, and leave them there—then you would see what belief is mine! But if you had not seen it, would you have uttered one word, written one line, given one kiss to me? May God bless you, Ba–


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole St. / Cavendish Square.

Postmark: 8NT8 JY29 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 241.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 911–913.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Cf. Sonnets from the Portuguese (1856), XXXVIII.

2. John Eagles was Kenyon’s friend, who lived at Clifton, and whose daughter Emma Jane had married EBB’s cousin John Altham Graham-Clarke (1813–97) in 1840. In letter 2510, EBB told RB that Kenyon wanted RB to “‘make an excursion’ with Landor & himself,” presumably to visit their mutual friend, Andrew Crosse, who lived in the Quantock Hills.

3. See letter 2514.


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