2550.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 276–277.


Friday. [Postmark: 21 August 1846]

I think,—now that the week is over with its opportunities,—and now that no selfish complaining can take advantage of your goodness,—that I will ask you how I feel, do you suppose, without my proper quantity of “morphine”? May I call you my morphine?

And speaking of “proper quantities”—there were some remarks of yours which I altogether acquiesced in, yesterday, about a humiliating dependence in money-matters,—tho’ I should be the first to except myself from feeling quite with the world there– I have told you, indeed,—but my case is not everybody’s– I hate being master, and alone, and absolute disposer in points where real love will save me the trouble .. because there are infinitely more and greater points where the solitary action and will, with their responsibility cannot be avoided. I suppose that is Goethe’s meaning when he says every man has liberty enough [1] —political liberty & social: so that when they let him write “Faust” after his own fashion, he does not mind how they dispose of his money, or even limit his own footsteps– Ah,—but there are the good thousands all round who don’t want to write Fausts, and only have money to spend and walks to take, and how do they like such an arrangement?– Moreover, I should be perhaps more refractory than anybody, if what I cheerfully agree to, as happening to take my fancy, were forced on me, as the only reasonable course. All men ought to be independent, whatever Carlyle may say. And so, too, I like being alone, myself—but I should be sorry to see the ordinary friends I have, live alone. Do you understand all this, Ba? Will you make me say it, in your mind, intelligibly? and then will you say still more of your own till the true thing is completely said? And, after all, will you kiss me? …

.. As I asked you yesterday .. because of a most foolish, thoughtless allusion,—which I only trust you never noticed .. do not you allude to it, not even to forgive me, dearest dearest. I would rather be unforgiven than pain you afresh to do it .. but perhaps you did not notice my silly expression after all .. I wished your dear hands before my eyes, I know! Still, you would know it was only thoughtlessness–

All this sad morning the blackness has been quite enough to justify our fire .. we have had one these two or three days– But now the sun comes out—and I will hope you follow him,—after Mr Kenyon’s visit?– That is to be, I think!

I never write anything bearable, even for me, on these days when no letter from you leads me on phrase by phrase .. I am thrown too completely on the general feelings. “Do you love Ba?—then tell her that”! Yes, indeed! It is easier to leave all the love untold, having to speak for the moment of Finchley only! Finchley,—the cottage,—Ba entering it. Flush following her .. now I come to something I wanted to say! In the paper, this morning, is a paragraph about the bold villainy of dog-stealers .. there is an “organized society” of these fellows, and they seize and convey away everybody’s Flushes, “if such one ever were,” as Iago rhymes of his perfect wife. [2] So friend Flush must go his highways only, and keep out of alleys and dark corners: beside, in Pisa, he must guard the house. In earnest, I warn you, Ba!

Now tell me—will there be any impediment to Tuesday? I think I will go out into this sunshine while it lasts– I am very well considering there are three days to wait, but a walk will do no harm,—nor will it ..

All speech to you shall be ever simple, simplest– I can only love you and say so,—and I do love you, best beloved!

Your own, very own RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 AU21 1846.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 257.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 981–983.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. RB may be referring to Goethe’s remarks in a conversation recorded by Johann Peter Eckermann for 18 January 1827 in Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens: 1823–1832 (Leipzig, 1836–48), in which Goethe is quoted as having said that “freedom is an odd thing, and everyone easily has enough of it if he can only be satisfied. What help to us is an excess of freedom that we cannot use?” (p. 306).

2. Cf. Othello, II, 1, 158.


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