Correspondence

2523.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 223–225.

[London]

Tuesday evening. [4 August 1846][1]

One word or two tonight & no more, let the paper spread itself as it may. Dearest, it was wise of you, perhaps, to go today– Wisdom was the first to wear sackcloth. My aunt, who had just had time to hear of your being in the house, found my door open, & you were noticed by a passing jest .. too passing to meet ears in authority—and I was made to put on my bonnet & go out in the carriage with our department of the bridal party, who had come home first, in order to change their costume into something wearable for comfort .. into gowns which had not a devil,—torturing the wearers with a morbid sense of flounces. So they came home for that, & we were vexed & frightened for that reason—& I was taken to Kensington Gardens to leave some walkers there, & then to Fenton’s Hotel, to leave my aunt as comforter for the evening. Altogether, oh, how provoked I was!– But it was wise perhaps. I will not say that it was not very wise indeed. Papa knows nothing of your having been here, & saturday is not far off. Still, to think of two hours being cut off,—& of the long journey from New Cross, just for the one hour!—shall I hear tomorrow fully, to make up for it, Robert? And tell me if you accept Mrs Jameson’s invitation. And your head?–

Flush thanks you! I asked him if he loved you even, & he wagged his tail. Generally when I ask him that question he wont answer at all,—but you have overcome him with generosity––as you do, me!

I forgot to tell you– There is a letter from Mr Horne which makes me vexed a little. He is coming to England, & says, that, if still I will not see him, he shall bring his guitar to play & sing for my sisters, leaving the door open that I may hear up stairs. What a vexation!– How shall I escape a check-mate now? He castles his king, & the next move undoes me. There’s a bishop though, to be played first, for he wants an introduction to Whately,[2] which I am to write for to Miss Mitford, if I dont know him myself.

My consolation for today, is, that tomorrow is not sunday. In the meanwhile, nothing is talked except of the glories of Fenton’s Hotel. The bride behaved with the most indisputable grace, & had words & smiles for everybody– The bridegroom appears to have been rather petrified, (he was saying orisons to St James,[3] I dare say) & was condemned by the severer critics, for being able to produce no better speech at the breakfast, when his health was drunk with ever so much elaboration of eloquence, than “I thank you .. I propose yours.” For my part I sympathize more with him in that point of specific stupidity, than on any other I have yet heard of. If he had said as little about ecclesiastical architecture, he would have been unobjectionable, wholly. They went away with four horses, in disdain of the railroads!

But poor Mrs Hedley was dreadfully affected– I knew she would be– This is the only grown up daughter, you see,—the others being all children, the youngest three years old .. & she loses a constant companion, besides the hourly sight of a very lovely girl, the delight of her eyes & heart.

Dearest, you understood why I told you today of Mr Kenyon’s professed opinions? It was to make you know him. The rest, we know alike. And for him even, when he looks back on a thing instead of looking forward to it (where the Bude Light[4] of the world is in his eyes & blinds them) he will see aright & as we do. Only you frightened me by your idea about his application to you– May God forbid!–

May God bless you, rather, in the best way! Why should I choose how? I “oughtnot, I think, to fancy that I know the best for you, enough to use such words.

But I am your own– That, we both know! May I be yours, not to do you harm, my beloved!– Goodnight, now!

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

Postmarks: G PAID 5AU5 1846; 8NT8 AU5 1846 O.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 239.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 930–931.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Richard Whately (1787–1863), Archbishop of Dublin, was a prolific theological writer and promoter of social reform. There is no evidence that EBB ever provided Horne with a letter of introduction, nor that Miss Mitford did; however, it seems probable that Horne met the Archbishop while he was in Ireland. In the “Preface” to Judas Iscariot: A Miracle Play (1848), Horne notes that it was “an Ordination Sermon delivered by his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin,” which first prompted him to try his hand at composing a drama on the subject of Judas.

3. The wedding took place in St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, and the wedding breakfast was held in Fenton’s Hotel, St. James’s Street.

4. The Bude Light was a modified oil lamp that produced the brightest artificial light then in existence. It was invented by Goldsworthy Gurney (1793–1875), and takes it name from the town in Cornwall where he resided.

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