2547.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 269–270.


Wednesday. [Postmark: 19 August 1846]

See my one piece of available paper for the minute! Ought I to write on or wait? No, I will tell Ba at once how I love her for giving me this one more letter with its delights. “Finchley”—I know very well—not that I ever saw the streets, and palaces, and cathedral, with these eyes .. but in Quarles’ Emblems, my childhood’s pet book, I well remember that an aspiring Soul,—(a squat little woman-figure with a loose gown, hair in a coil, and bare feet)—is seated on the world, a “terrestrial ball,”—which, that you may clearly perceive it to be our world, is somewhat parsimoniously scattered over with cities and towns—and one, the evident capital of the universe and Babylon’s despair for size,—occupying as it does a tract quite equal to all Europe’s due share on the hemisphere, .. is marked “Finchley”– Illus. Do you recognize? [1] Yet, if you will have it only the pretty pretty village with the fields you describe so perfectly, I accept the sweetness and give up the glory, and your Finchley is mine for ever, you dearest—whom I see in the house, and in the carriage .. but how is it you escaped the rain, Ba? Oh, it did not rain till later, now I think a little. Those are indeed strange circumstances .. and the “independent ministry” at the end, seems hard to account for .. or, why hard? Well, this is not hard to feel and know, that it is perfect joy to hear you propose such travels and adventures– Greece with you, Egypt with you! Will you please and tell me .. (not now, but whenever your conscience prompts you on the recurrence of that notable objection, if Miss Campbell’s desireableness is to recur) .. what other woman in the whole world and Finchley, would propose to go to Egypt instead of Belgravia? Do our tastes coincide or no?– This is putting all on the lowest possible ground .. setting love aside even, to Miss Mitford’s heart’s fullest content; if I were to choose among women, without love to give or take, and only for other advantages, do you think any advantage would compete with this single one,—“She will feel happy in travelling with you to a distance”. Love alters the scale, overbalances everything—at the beginning I fancied you would not leave England, you know. But it singularly affects my imagination, such a life with you,—led for the world, I hope, all the more effectually for being not led in the world– If their ways are not to be ours, all is better at a distance, and so—I have put this down as, surely, one palpable, unmistakeable advantage even you must confess I shall gain in marrying you—(I may only love Ba’s eyes and mouth in a sort of fearful secresy so far as words go .. she stops all speech on that subject!)

Yes indeed, Ba, I always felt that “Cyprus wine” poem fill my heart with unutterable desires to you. There is so much of you in it. Observe, I do no foolish injustice in criticisms .. I quite understand a charm beside the charm the world can see– Some of your pansies are entirely beautiful in themselves .. I can set them before the visitors of a Flower-show and bid all pronounce on them—others, beside their beauty, come to me as this dear one, in a letter, with a story of the plucking, with a sense of the fingers that held it– Bless you, ever dearest, dear beyond words,—you have given me already in this year and a half the entirest faith, and purest kindness my heart can comprehend– Do lovers “abuse the beloved object”– “try to shake off their chains” &c. &c? Mine is not love then! No one minute nor moment of your life with me could have been other than it was without seeming less dear, less perfect in my memory—and for all, God reward you.

Tomorrow, Thursday! and tonight I will warily speak of not having seen you.

Your own—

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 AU19 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 256 [altered from “255”].

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 978–980.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. RB is referring to his rendition of an illustration in Emblemes (1710?) by Francis Quarles (p. 268); however, the town is marked “Finchfield.” RB’s copy of this work, presented to him by his mother, is now at Balliol (see Reconstruction, A1912).


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