Correspondence

2551.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 278–279.

[London]

Friday evening– [21 August 1846][1]

Can I be as good for you as morphine is for me, I wonder .. even at the cost of being as bad also? Cant you leave me off, without risking your life,—nor go on with me, without running the hazards of all poison—? Ah—It will not do, so– The figure exceeds me, let it be ever so fatal– I may not be your morphine, even if I shall be your Ba!—you see!——

You are my prophet though, in a few things. For instance, Mr Kenyon came today, & sate here I really believe two hours, talking of poor Papa .. (oh! not of us, my prophet!)[2] & at length, of the Pyrenees & of Switzerland, & of the characteristics of mountain scenery .. full of interest it all was, & I thought (while he talked)[2] that when you & I had done with the crocodiles, we might look for a chamois or two– If I “drive”, I shall drive that way, I think still .. that is, ever since four oclock, I have thought. Mr Kenyon said .. “you had a visitor yesterday”! “Yes” said I—“Mr Browning came.” “You mean that he actually did come, through that pouring rain!– Well—he told me he was coming; but when I saw the rain, I imagined it to be out of the question–” Just observe his subtlety– Imagining that you did not come yesterday he concluded of course that you would come—today,—& straightway hurried here himself!!—— Moreover he seems to me to have resolved on never again leaving London!– Because Mr Eagles goes to the seaside instead of to the Quantock hills, Mr Kenyon has written to Landor a proposition toward a general renouncement of the adventure–[3] Quite cross I felt, to hear of it! And it does’nt unruffle me to be told, even that he goes to Richmond on tuesday & sleeps there & spends the wednesday– Nothing can unruffle me– So tiresome it is! Then I am provoked a little by the news he brought me of “Miss Martineau’s leaving the Lakes for a month or two”—seeing that if she leaves the Lakes, it is for London—there are nets on all sides of us. I am under a promise to see her, & I shrink both from herself & her consequences– Now, is it not tiresome? Those are coming—and these are not going away. The hunters are upon us .. & where we run, we run into the nets.

Dearest, I have been considering one thing, & do you consider whether, if we do achieve this peculiar madness of going to Italy, we should take any books, & what they should be. A few books of the small editions would be desirable perhaps—& then it were well for us to arrange it so that we should not take duplicates, & that the possession of the duodecimo should ‘have the preference’ .. do you understand? Also, this arrangement being made, & the time approaching, I had better perhaps send you my part of the books, so as to save the difficulty of taking more packets than absolutely were necessary, from this house– It will be very difficult to remove things without exciting observation—and my sisters must not observe. The consequences would be frightful if they were suspected of knowing,—&, poor things, I could not drive them into acting a part——

My own beloved, when my courage seems to bend & break, I turn to you & look at you .. as men see visions ..! It is enough, always. Did you ever give me pain by a purpose of yours? do you not rather keep me from all pain?—do we blame the wind that breathes gently, because a reed or a weed trembles in it? I could not feel much pain while sitting near you, I think—unless you suffered a little, .. or looked as if you did not love me. And that was not at least yesterday–

May God bless you dearest, ever dearest–

I am your own–

Say how your mother is—& how you are– Dont neglect this–

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

Postmark: 10FN10 AU22 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 252.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 983–985.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Parenthetical passage is interpolated above the line.

3. See letter 2512, note 2.

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