Correspondence

2562.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 300–302.

[London]

Wednesday. [26 August 1846][1]

If I care for any love”—! “whether I take it or no”.– Now ought I not to reproach you a little, for bearing to write such words of me, when you could not but think all the while, that I should feel a good deal in reading what you wrote beside? Will you tell me that you did not know I should be glad & grateful for tolerance even?—the least significance of the kinder feeling, affecting me beyond, perhaps, what you could know of me– I am bound to them utterly.

And if it is true, as it is true, that they have much to pardon & overlook in me, .. & among the rest, the painful position imposed on you by my miserable necessities, .. they yet never shall find me, I trust, unworthy of them & you by voluntary failures, &, least of all, by failures of dutiful affection towards themselves—“if they care for any love”.[2]

For the rest of what you tell me, it is all the purest kindness—and you were perfectly, perfectly right in taking so, & as a loan, which we ought, I think, to return when our hands are free, without waiting for the completion of other projects– By living quietly & simply, we shall surely have enough—& more than enough– Then among other resources, is Blackwood. I calculated once that without unpleasant labour, with scarcely an effort, I could make a hundred a year by magazine-contributions—& this, without dishonor either. It does ‘fugitive poems’, observe, no harm whatever, to let them fly through a periodical before they alight on their tree to sing– Then you will send perhaps the sweepings of your desk to Blackwood, to alternate with my sendings!– Shall we do that, when we sit together on the ragged edge of earthquake chasms, in the midst of the “sulphurous vapour.”[3] I, afraid? No indeed– I think I should never be afraid, if you were near enough– Only that you never must go away in boats[4] But there is time enough for such compacts–

As to the sea voyage, that was your scheme, & not mine, from the beginning: & your account of the expenses, if below my fear, .. (although I believe that “servants” do not mean “female servants” & that the latter are subject to additional charges) yet seems to me to leave the Rhone & Soane-route [sic] as preferable as ever. And do you mark, dear dearest, that supposing me to be unfit for the short railroad passage from Rouen to Paris & from Paris to Orleans, I must be just as unfit for the journey to Southampton, which is necessary to the sea-voyage– Then .. supposing me to be unfit for the river-passage, I must be still more unfit for the sea– So dont suppose either. I am stronger than you fancy. I shall shut my eyes & think of you when there is too much noise & confusion, .. the things which try me most—and it will be easy to find a quiet room & draw down the blinds & take rest, I suppose, .. which one might in vain long for in that crowded steamer at sea– Therefore, dearest, if I am to think & decide, I have decided .. let us go through France– And let us go quick, quick, & not stop anywhere within hearing of England .. not stop at Havre, nor at Rouen, nor at Paris——that is how I decide. May God help us, & smooth the way before & behind– May your father indeed be able to love me a little, for my father will never love me again.——

For you .. you will “serve me best”[5] & serve me only, by being happy not away from me. When I shall have none but you, if I can feel myself not too much for you,—not <…>[6] something you would rather leave, .. then you will have “served” me all you can– But this is more perhaps than you can—these things do not depend on the will of a man—that he should promise to do them– I speak simply for myself, & of what would give me a full contentment. Do not fancy that there is a doubt in the words of it– I cannot doubt now of your affection for me– Dearest, I cannot– Yet you make me uneasy often through this extravagance of over-estimation, .. forcing me to contract “obligations to pay” which I look at in speechless despair–— And here is a penny.

Of Mrs Jameson, let me write tomorrow– I am benighted & must close– On friday we shall meet at last, surely; & then it will be all the happier in proportion to the vexation– Dearest, love me–

I am your own–

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

Postmarks: 12NN12 AU27 1846; 1AN1 AU27 1846 D.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 258.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 1006–08.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Underscored three times.

3. A reference to RB’s comments in the second paragraph of letter 2558.

4. EBB’s brother Bro drowned while sailing in Babbacombe Bay.

5. Cf. Milton, Sonnet XIX, line 11 in Poems (1673).

6. EBB wrote and crossed out “your burden.”

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