Correspondence

2522.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 222–223.

[London]

Monday. [3 August 1846][1]

Two precious letters to make amends for yesterday! & in return only just two or three words to say .. ‘yes, come.’ And I meant to have proposed to you something like what you suggest when you talk of the book & the note. If the ground is not clear at three, & Papa (above all) still in the house, you shall have a note, instead of admittance,[2] .. & you will understand by the sign that it is wise for us not to meet. My hope & expectation are, however, that no obstacle will occur—that he will be in the city, & she at Fenton’s Hotel, engaged in some office of consolation beside her sister– I seriously exhorted her to remain there the rest of the day to wipe away the tears of the bride’s mother .. as an appendix to the breakfast:—oh, & seriously I thought she ought to stay,—as well as seriously wishing it. And thus, altogether, we shall probably have open ground where it is desirable. If not, the note!–

For the rest, dearest, do not exaggerate to yourself my report of what passed on saturday. It was an unpleasant impression, & that is all, .. & nothing, I believe, has been thought of it since. Once before, remember, your apparition made an unpleasant impression,[3] which was perfectly transitory then as now. Now as then, do not suffer such things to vex you beyond their due import. There will be no coming back, no directions to servants, nothing of the sort– Only it would not do to deepen saturday’s impression with tomorrow’s—we must be prudent a little.

And you see me, my prophet, sent to Sussex or Devonshire, in a flash of lightning? That is your presentiment, do you say? Well! Sussex is possible, Kent is not impossible– This house, .. vox populi clamat,[4]—wants cleaning, painting, papering—the inhabitants thereof, too, cry aloud for fresh air. Nevertheless, summer after summer, there have been the same reasons for going, & nobody goes. We shall see–

So, till tomorrow! Dear, dearest! you are always best—to justify the dearest, I suppose! I remember your having said before some of this .. which, never could I forget, having once heard. But think how Alfred the king divided his days[5]—& how Solomon the king would tell you of “a time” for sitting with me.[6] ‘Bid me .. not .. discourse’[7] however—we shall both know what is right presently—& I in the meanwhile perfectly do [k]now that I could not consent to your shutting yourself up for my sake—no, indeed!

Shall I fail to you? Could I? Could it be needful for me to say “I will not fail”. Your own, I am.

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

Postmark: 10FN10 AU4 1846.

Dockets, in RB’s hand: 238.; + Tuesday, Aug. 4. / 3–4¼.p.m. (83.) [sic, for 84].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 928–930.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Evidently, there was no note since RB visited the following day, but the visit was shorter than usual, indicating increased caution about the frequency and length of their visits being discovered. RB’s docket on the envelope of this letter records that the visit lasted only an hour and a quarter.

3. See letter 2234, note 3.

4. “The voice of the people cries out.”

5. The DNB speaks of Alfred’s “economy of time,” and legend says that he divided his days equally between study and meditation, care for his personal welfare, and managing the affairs of his kingdom.

6. Cf. Ecclesiastes 3:1–8.

7. Cf. Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis (1593), line 145.

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