2563.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 302–303.


Thursday morning. [Postmark: 27 August 1846]

Dearest, I am to write to you of Mrs Jameson. First, as to telling her, .. will it not be an embarrassment both to her & ourselves? If she cannot say “I knew nothing of this”, she bears the odium of confidante & adviser perhaps—who shall explain the distinction to others? And to Mr Kenyon, will it not seem as if we had trusted her more than him—& though there is a broad distinction too between their cases, who shall explain that to him so quickly & nicely that he shall not receive the shock of a painful impression? Consider a little—. She is so “in medias res” [1] —so in the way of all the conversation & the questionings. But it shall be as you like & think best– I am too nervous perhaps.

As for the travelling, she sets out between the seventh & tenth of September, a century before our æra, you know—but if she goes to Italy & is not too angry with me, we might certainly meet her in Paris or at Orleans .. take her up at Orleans, & go on together. That is, if you like it too– She would be pleased, I dare say, if it were proposed—& we might be kind in proposing it—and something I might say to her, if you liked it, on the condition of her not changing her mind—. Certainly I do agree with you that she must have some idea—she is not without imagination, & the suggestions are abundant—though nothing points to you, mind!——if she could possibly think me capable of loving anyone else in the world, with you in it!–

I had a letter today .. with a proposition to write Ballads & other lyrics in order to the civilization of the colonies .. especially Australia. [2] It appears that a Mr Angus Fife has a scheme on foot nearly, about sending missionary Ballad-singers among the natives, & that I am invited to write some of them .. or to be invited—for nothing is specified yet. Now what do you think of that? One should take one’s mythology from the Kangaroos, I suppose.

Then a book of ‘serious poems’ is to be brought out in Edinburgh, [3] & contributions are desired so very politely that nobody can quite refuse.

I write to you of anything but what is in my thoughts– Your letter of yesterday took hold of me & will not let me go—it all seems too earnest for the mere dream I have been dreaming all this while—is it not a dream .. or what? And something I said in my letter, which was wrong to say & I am sorry to think of– Forgive me that, ever beloved––but you have forgiven, I know– May God bless you, & not take from me my blessing in you.

I am your very own Ba.

We are going out in the carriage & shall post this note– You will come tomorrow unless you hear more? Is it a compact?

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

Postmark: 8NT8 AU27 1846 O.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 259.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 1008–09.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. “Into the story’s midst” (Horace, Ars Poetica, line 148, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough).

2. We have been unable to identify this correspondent, nor whether the volume referred to was ever published.

3. We take this to be a reference to The Poetic Prism, or, Original and Reflected Rays from Modern Verse, Sacred and Serious, ed. Robert Northmore Greville (Edinburgh, 1848). In the preface to this work, the editor acknowledges contributions by various authors, including “Mrs Robert Browning (late Miss E. Barrett).” Greville’s collection contained the following poems by EBB, all previously published: “The Sleep,” (pp. 16–17); “Victoria’s Tears” (pp. 123–124); “Cowper’s Grave” (pp. 232–236); and “Wisdom Unapplied” (p. 309).


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