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2513.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 205–206.

[London]

Wednesday evening [29 July 1846] [1]

“Such desires—(for it was a desire!)”

Well put into a parenthesis, that is!—ashamed & hiding itself between the brackets—.

Because, my own dearest, it was not a ‘desire’ … it was the farthest possible from being a ‘desire’ .. the word I spoke to you on tuesday .. yesterday!

And if I spoke it for the first time instead of writing it, .. what did that prove, but that I was able to speak it, & that just it was so much less earnest & painfully felt? Why it was not a proposition even—. I said only “You had better give me up!” It was only the reflection, in the still water, of what had been a proposition. “Better” perhaps! “Better” for you, that you shd desire to give me up & do it—my ‘idée fixe’, you know. But said with such different feelings from those which have again & again made the tears run down my cheeks while I wrote to you the vexatious letters, .. that I smile at your seeing no difference——you, blind! Which is wrong of me again. I will not smile for having vexed you .. teazed you– Which is wrong of you, though .. the being vexed for so little! Because “you ought to know by this time” … (now I will use your reproachful words) you ought certainly to know that I am your own, & ready to go through with the matter we are upon, & willing to leave the times & the seasons in your hand– ‘Four months’ meant nothing at all– Take September, if you please. All I thought of answering to you, was, that there was no need yet of specifying the exact time– And yet .....

Ah—yes!– I feel as you feel, the risks & the difficulties which close around us– And you feel that about Mr Kenyon? Is it by an instinct that I tremble to think of him, more than to think of others? The hazel rod turns round in my hand when I stand here [2] And as you show him speaking & reasoning, .. his arm laid on your shoulder .. oh, what a vision, that is! .. before that, I cannot stand any longer!—it takes away my breath! the likelihood of it is so awful that it seems to promise to realize itself, one day!–

But you promised. I have your solemn promise, Robert! If ever you should be moved by a single one of those vain reasons, it will be an unfaithful cruelty in you– You will have trusted another, against me. You would not do it, my beloved–

For I have none in the world who will hold me to make me live in it, except only you– I have come back for you alone .. at your voice .. & because you have use for me! I have come back to live a little for you. I see you. My fault is .. not that I think too much of what people will say. I see you & hear you– ‘People’ did not make me live for them .. I am not theirs, but your’s– I deserve that you should believe in me, beloved, because my love for you is ‘Me’.

Now tell me again to ‘decide’ .. and I will tell you that the words are not ‘breath’, nor the affection ‘a show’!– Dearest beyond words!—did I deserve you telling me to ‘decide’?

Let it be September then, if you do not decide otherwise– I wd not lean to dang[e]rous delays which are unnecessary—I wish we were at Pisa, rather!–

So try to find out if & how (certainly) we can get from Nevers to Chalons .. I could not today, with my French travelling-book, find a way, either by the chemin de fer, [3] or coche d’eau– [4] All the rest is easy & direct .. & very cheap. We must not hesitate between the French route & the sea-voyage.

Now I will tell you your good story– You said that you had only heard six words from Mr Reade but that they were characteristic– Someone was talking before him & you of the illness of Anacreon Moore. [5] “He is very ill” said the someone. “But he is no poet” said Mr Reade.

Is’nt it a good story? Mr Kenyon called it “exquisite”—! It is what your man of science would have called “a beautiful specimen”—now is’nt it?

May God bless you, dearest, dearest!– I owe all to you, & love you wholly– I am your very own–

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

Postmark: 10FN10 JY30 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 235.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 914–915.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. An allusion to a forked hazel branch divining the presence of water below ground. Here EBB uses the image to mean Kenyon’s probable perception of the nature of their relationship.

3. “Railway.”

4. “Passenger boat.”

5. Moore was suffering from extreme grief caused by the death of his sister, as well as the death of his eldest son and last surviving child, all within the past few months. His journal for this period notes two reports from newspapers contradicting rumours that he was suffering from ill health (The Journal of Thomas Moore, ed. Wilfred S. Dowden, Newark, New Jersey, 1991, pp. 2429–30). Moore’s translation of Anacreon’s odes was published in 1800.

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