2534.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 245–247.


Wednesday Mg [Postmark: 12 August 1846]

I have been putting all the letters into rings—twenty together—and they look now as they should—“infinite treasure in a little room” [1] —note, that they were so united and so ranged from the beginning, at least since I began to count by twenties—but the white tape I used (no red tape, thank you!) was vile in its operation,—the untying and retying, (so as to preserve a proper cross Illus. —hard for clumsy fingers like mine:— these rings are perfect. How strange it will be to have no more letters! Of the foolishnesses that ever were uttered that speech of mine,—about your letters strewing the house,—was the most thoroughly perfect! Yet you have nothing to forgive in me, you say!

Just now I took up a periodical and read a few lines of a paper on the charm that there is in a contrariety of tempers and tastes, for friends and lovers—and there followed platitudes in a string—the clever like the stupid, the grave choose the lively, and so forth. Now, unless the state of the liker and chooser is really considered by him as a misfortune,—what he would get rid of if he could in himself, so shall hardly desire to find in another—except in this not very probable case, is there not implied by every such choice, an absolute despair of any higher one? The grave man says (or would if he knew himself)—“except on my particular grounds such a serious humour would be impossible and absurd .. and where can I find another to appreciate them? Better accept the lower state of ignorance that they exist even, and consequent gaity,—than a preposterous melancholy arising from no adequate cause”—and what man of genius would not associate with people of no talent at all, rather than the possessors of mere talent, who keep sufficiently near him, as they walk together, to give him annoyance at every step? Better go with Flush on his four legs, avowedly doglike, than with a monkey who will shuffle along on two for I don’t know how many yards. Now, for instance, is the writer of that wise notice of Landor in last week’s Athenæum, [2] one whit nearer your sympathy in that precise matter, than somebody who never heard of Landor or supposed him to have usually written under the signature of L.EL? [3] With the exception of a word or two about the silly abuse of Plato, and on the occasional unfairness of statement, is there one word right and reasonable?

Here am I letting the words scratch themselves one after another while my thought as usual goes quite another way. Perhaps my wits are resting because of the great alacrity they are to display at Mr Kenyon’s this evening .. I shall take care not to be first comer, nor last goer– Dearest, you are wrong in your fancy about my little caring whether he knows or does not– I see altogether with your eyes .. indeed, now that you engage to remove any suspicion of unkindness or mistrust which might attach to me in his thoughts, (all I ever apprehended for myself) there is no need to consider him at all– He can do no good nor harm. Did you ever receive such a letter? The dull morning shall excuse it—anything but the dull heart—for you fill it, however the heat may keep within, sometimes.

Bless you, Ba, my dearest, perfect love. Now I will begin thinking of you again—let me kiss you, my own!


Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 AU12 1846.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 251.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 953–955.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Cf. Marlowe, The Jew of Malta (1633), line 72.

2. The Works of Walter Savage Landor (1846) was reviewed in The Athenæum for 8 August 1846, no. 980, pp. 805–807. The marked file of The Athenæum, now at City University (London), identifies George Darley (1795–1846) as the author of this review.

3. Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–38) was a prolific contributor to periodical magazines under the initials “L.E.L.”


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