Correspondence

2517.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 211–212.

[London]

Friday. [Postmark: 31 July 1846]

Dearest Ba, the love was, as you admit, beneath all the foolish words– I will lay your pardon to my heart with the other blessings– All this missing of instant understanding—(for it does not amount to misunderstanding)—comes of letters, and our being divided. In my anxiety about a point, I go too much on the other side from mere earnestness,—as if the written words had need to make up in force what they want in sound and promptness—and assuredly if I had received such an impression directly from your suggestion (since not a “desire”,—you dear, dear Ba!), I should have begun at once to ask and argue .. whereas, it was only to the memory of what you said, an after impression, that I wrote in answer. Well,—I will certainly “love you till Saturday,—and even after”.

Did you indeed go to the Abbey? How right to go! Every such expedition is the removal of a world of apprehensions. And why not accept Mrs Jameson’s offer now, stipulating for privacy, and go and see the Museum,—the Marbles?[1] And the National Gallery, and whatever you would wish to see. At Pisa, Ba, the Cathedral will be ours, wholly—divinely beautiful it is—more impressive in itself than the Florence Duomo—and then the green grass round, over the pavement it hides.

And considerably more impressive than the party at Mrs Milner Gibson’s last night[2]—whereof I made one thro’ a sudden goodnatured invitation which only came yesterday—so I went “for reasons”– Chorley was there, looking very tired as he said he was. I left very early, having accomplished my purpose.

You know you are right, and that I know you to be right about Mr Kenyon—no confidence shall I make to him, be assured—but in the case of a direct application, with all those kind apologies in case his suspicion should be wrongly excited, what should I say?—to Mr Kenyon, with his kindness and its right, mind—not to any other inquirer– Think of the facilities during the week among the Quantock Hills!–[3] But no matter,—nothing but your own real, unmistakeable consent, divides us– I believe nothing till that comes– The Havre voyage was of course merely a fact noted—all courses, ways, routes are entirely the same to me–

Thank you, dearest. I am very much better, well, indeed—so said my doctor who came last evening to see my father whose eye is a little inflamed—so shall Ba see, but not take the trouble to say, when I rejoice in her presence to-morrow. Dearest, I love you with my whole heart and soul– May God bless you–

RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 JY31 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 243.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 919–921.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. It is unclear whether RB is referring to the famous Elgin marbles or to the Xanthian Marbles, about which Mrs. Jameson had written an essay for her Memoirs and Essays (1846), and for which EBB had provided two different translations of the same passage from The Odyssey (see letter 2304).

2. Susanna Arethusa (née Cullum, 1814–85) had married Thomas Milner-Gibson in 1832. He was supportive of Cobden’s efforts to repeal the Corn Laws, and with the formation of the Russell administration, he had become Vice-President of the Board of Trade, as well as a privy councillor. According to the DNB, “her political and literary salon was opened to many distinguished exiles, Napoleon, Mazzini, Victor Hugo … as well as to the leading English literary celebrities.” The nature of RB’s “purpose” is unclear.

3. RB did not want to be in a situation with Kenyon where he might be asked embarrassing questions about the nature of his friendship with EBB (see letter 2512, note 2).

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