2553.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 281–283.


Saturday– [Postmark: 22 August 1846]

I begin to write before one this morning, with the high resolve that you shall have a letter on sunday, tomorrow at least,—it shall be put into the post so precisely at the right hour. At two I am going out in the carriage to Mr Boyd’s & other places,—& dining duties are to be performed before then, .. & before now I have had a visitor– Guess whom– Mrs Jameson. So I am on a “narrow neck of land” .. such as Wesley wrote hymns about, [1]  .. & ‘stans in pede uno’ [2] on it—can make for you but a hurried letter.

She came in with a questioning face, & after wondering to find me visible so soon, plunged into the centre of the question & asked “what was settled .. what I was doing about Italy—”. “Just nothing”, I told her– “She found me as she left me, able to say no word–”

“But what are you going to do–”—throwing herself back in the chair with a sudden––“but oh, I must not enquire.”

I went on to say that “in the first place my going would not take place till quite the end of September if so soon,—that I had determined to make no premature fuss,—& that, for the actual present, nothing was either to be done or said–[”]

“Very sudden, then, it is to be– In fact, there is only an elopement for you”—she observed laughingly——

So I was obliged to laugh–

(But, dearest, nobody will use such a word surely to the event. We shall be in such an obvious exercise of Right by Daylight– Surely nobody will use such a word–)

I talked of Mr Kenyon,—how he had been with me yesterday & brought the mountains of the Earth into my room—“which was almost too much”, I said, “for a prisoner”. “Yes—but if you go to Italy” ....

“But Mr Kenyon thinks I shall not. In his opinion, my case is desperate.”

“But I tell you that it is not– Nobody’s case is desperate when the will is not at fault. And a woman’s will when she wills thoroughly, as I hope you do, is strong enough to overcome. When I hear people say that circumstances are against them, I always retort, .. you mean that your will is not with you! I believe in the will– I have faith in it–”

There, is an oracle for us, to remember for good! She goes to Paris, she says, with her niece, between the seventh & tenth of September,—& after a few days at Paris, she goes to Orleans for the cathedral’s sake—but what follows is doubtful .. Italy is doubtful– Only that my opinion is, as I told her, that if Italy is doubtful here in London, at Orleans when she gets there, it will be certain– She will not resist the attraction towards the South– She looked at me all the while she told me this .. looked into my eyes, like a Deviner.

On monday morning she comes to see me again. It is all painful, or rather unpleasant– One should not use strong words out of place,—& there will remain too much use for this. How I teaze you now!–

Believe me, through it all, that when I think of the very worst of the future, I love you the best, & feel most certain of never hesitating. As long as you choose to have me, my beloved, I have chosen– I am yours already.

& your own always–


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

Postmark: 6EV6 AU22 1846 E.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 253.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 987–988.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Cf. “An Hymn for Seriousness,” line 7, in The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, Reprinted from the Originals, Collected and Arranged by G. Osborn (1869), vol. iv, p. 316. This appears as “A Prayer for Seriousness,” Hymn No. 5 in A Collection of Hymns from Various Authors Intended as a Supplement to Dr. Watts’ Psalms and Hymns (13th ed., 1812) by George Burder, a copy of which sold as part of lot 931 in Browning Collections (see Reconstruction, A532).

2. “Standing on one foot” (cf. Horace, Satires, I, iv, 10, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough).


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