2540.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 257–258.


Saturday evening. [15 August 1846] [1]

How I thank you for your letter, ever beloved—you were made, perfectly to be loved—& surely I have loved you, in the idea of you, my whole life long. Did I tell you that before, so often as I have thought it? It is that which makes me take it all as visionary good .. for when one’s Ideal comes down to one, & walks beside one suddenly, what is it possible to do but to cry out .. “a dream”?– You are the best .. best. And if you loved me only & altogether for pity, (& I think that, more than you think, the sentiment operated upon your generous chivalrous nature) & if you confessed it to me & proved it, & I knew it absolutely––what then? As long as it was love, should I accept it less gladly, do you imagine, because of the root? should I think it less a gift?—should I be less grateful, .. or more? Ah—I have my “theory of causation” about it all—but we need not dispute, & will not, on any such metaphysics. Your loving me is enough to satisfy me—and if you did it because I sate rather on a green chair than a yellow one, it would be enough still for me:—only it would not, for you—because your motives are as worthy always as your acts.—Dearest!

So now let us talk of the great conference in Mr Kenyon’s carriage, in which, joined, himself, Arabel, Flush & I. First he said .. “Did Browning stay much longer with you?” “Yes—some time.” This was as we were going on our way toward some bridge, whence to look at the Birmingham train– As we came back, he said, with an epical leap “in medias res” [2]  .. “What an extraordinary memory our friend Browning has.” “Very extraordinary”—said I—“& how it is raining”. I give you Arabel’s report of my reply, for I did not myself exactly remember the full happiness of it—& she assured me beside that he looked .. looked at me .. as a man may look .. And this was everything spoken of you throughout the excursion.

But he spoke of me & observed how well I was—on which Arabel said [‘]‘Yes—she considered me quite well,—& that nothing was the matter now but sham.” Then the railroads were discussed in relation to me .. & she asked him—“Should’nt she try them a little, before she undertakes this great journey to Italy?” “Oh” .. he replied—“she is going on no great journey–” “Yes, she will, perhaps—Ba is inclined to be a great deal too wild, now that she is getting well, I do assure you, Mr Kenyon”.

To sit upon thorns, would express rather a “velvet cushion” than where I was sitting, while she talked this foolishness. I have been upbraiding her since, very seriously,—& I can only hope that the words were taken for mere jest—‘du bout des levres’– [3]

Moreover Mr Kenyon is not going away on thursday—he has changed his plans: he has put off Cambridge to the ‘spring’—he meets Miss Bayley nowhere—he holds his police-station in London. “When are you going” I asked in my despair, trying to look satisfied. He did not know—“not directly, at any rate”—‘I need not hope to get rid of him,’ he said aside perhaps–

But we saw the great roaring, grinding Thing .. a great blind mole, it looked for blackness– We got out of the carriage, to see closer—& Flush was so frightened at the roar of it, that he leapt upon the coachbox. Also it rained,—& I had ever so many raindrops on my gown & in my face even, .. which pleased me nearly as much as the railroad-sight. It is something new for me to be rained upon, you know–

As for happiness—the words which you use so tenderly, are in my heart already, making me happy, .. I am happy by you. Also I may say solemnly, that the greatest proof of love I could give you, is to be happy because of you—& even you cannot judge & see how great a proof, that is. You have lifted my very soul up into the light of your soul, & I am not ever likely to mistake it for the common daylight. May God bless you, ever ever dearest!–

I am your own—

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

Postmark: 10FN10 AU17 1846 E.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 247.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 966–967.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. “Into the story’s midst” (Horace, Ars Poetica, line 148, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough).

3. “With a grain of salt,” or “half-heartedly.”


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