Correspondence

2552.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 279–281.

[London]

Saturday. [Postmark: 22 August 1846]

Your first note reached me at six oclock yesterday .. did the dear living spirit inside help it along in spite of all the post’s hindrance? And this second comes duly. When you know I am most at a loss how to thank you, invariably you begin thanking me! Is that because of my own practice of saying a foolish thing and then, to cover it, asking you to kiss me? I think I will tell you now what that foolish thing was,—lest you, missing it, should go hunting and find worse, and far worse: I will just remind you, that on your enumerating your brothers and sisters, I said without a moment’s thought, “so, “you are seven”![1] .. and you know how Wordsworth applied that phrase[2] .. and in the sudden fear of wounding dearest Ba, I took such refuge for myself, rather than her! Will you kiss me now, my own love?– And say nothing, but let it die away here, this stupidity of mine.

I hardly conceive what Mr Kenyon means .. except perhaps a sort of general exhortation to take care & I mean, if he came for the purpose of catching me only,—he ought either to know or not know, keep silence or speak, approve or condemn .. and to do neither being so easy, his own cautiousness would keep him away, I should have thought.

About your books, you speak altogether wisely: in this first visit to Italy we had better take only enough to live upon,—travelling books,—and return for the rest. And so with everything else—I shall put papers &c into a room and turn the key on them and my deaths’ heads[3]—because when we come back (think of you and me .. why, we shall walk arm in arm; would Flush object to carry an umbrella in his mouth? And so let Lough cut us in marble, all three!)—well, when we come back, all can be done leisurely and considerately[.] And then, Greece, Egypt, Syria,—the Chamois-country, as Ba pleases!

Ba, Lord Byron is altogether in my affection again .. I have read on to the end, and am quite sure of the great qualities which the last ten or fifteen years had partially obscured– Only a little longer life and all would have been gloriously right again. I read this book of Moore’s[4] too long ago: but I always retained my first feeling for Byron in many respects .. the interest in the places he had visited, in relics of him: I would at any time have gone to Finchley to see a curl of his hair or one of his gloves, I am sure—while Heaven knows that I could not get up enthusiasm enough to cross the room if at the other end of it all Wordsworth, Coleridge & Southey were condensed into the little china bottle yonder, after the Rosicrucian fashion .. they seem to “have their reward”[5] and want nobody’s love or faith. Just one of those trenchant opinions which I found fault with Byron for uttering,—as “proving nothing”–[6] But telling a weakness to Ba, is not telling it to “the world,” as poor authors phrase it!

By the way, Chorley has written another very kind paper, in that little Journal of today, on Colombe’s Birthday[7]—I have only glanced at it however. See his goodwill! I will bring it on Tuesday, if you please in your goodness. I was not quite so well .. (there is the bare truth ..) this morning early—but the little there was to go, has gone, and I am about to go out. My mother continues indisposed– The connection between our ailings is no fanciful one. A few weeks ago when my medical adviser was speaking about the pain and its cause .. my mother sitting by me .. he exclaimed “Why, has anybody to reach far for a cause of whatever nervous disorder you may suffer from, when there sits your mother .. whom you so absolutely resemble .. I can trace every feature &c &c”[.] To which I did not answer—“And will anybody wonder that the said disorder flies away, when there sits my Ba, whom I so thoroughly adore”.

Yes, there you sit, Ba!

And here I kiss you, best beloved,—my very own as

I am your own RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 AU 22 1846 B.

Docket, in EBB’s hand: 258.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 985–987.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Quotation marks occur as shown. See the third paragraph in letter 2550. RB was justifiably concerned that his comment would cause EBB to have a painful recollection of the death of her brothers Edward (Bro) and Samuel, especially the former. Their deaths occurred within five months of each other in 1840.

2. RB is referring to Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” (1798).

3. See letter 1843, note 17.

4. Letters and Journals of Lord Byron: with Notices of His Life by Thomas Moore was published in 1830.

5. Matthew 6:2.

6. Cf. I Thessalonians 5:21.

7. Chorley’s review of Colombe’s Birthday appeared in the People’s Journal for 22 August 1846; for the complete text of this review, see pp. 402–404.

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