2564. RB to EBB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 303–305.
Thursday. [Postmark: 27 August 1846]
The post’s old fault, is it not, this letter that does not come? I have waited till nearly the time of the next arrival, 3 o’clock, and perhaps I begin writing now because I have observed that sometimes the letter comes just as I am trying hardest to resign myself. So may it be now, or presently!
Dearest, I did not thank you yesterday for the accounts of your visit and drive .. I always love you for such accounts; you know, I might like, we will say, a Miss Campbell, while she was in the very act of speaking Greek to Mr Kenyon’s satisfaction, or making verses, or putting them into action—but there would be no following her about the streets, and thro’ bazaars, and into houses, and loving the walking, and standing and sitting and companionship with Flush! I shall be satisfied to the full if you only live in my sight,—cross the room in which I sit,—not to say, sit down by me there; always supposing that you also, for your part, seem happy and contented,—or at least could not become more so by leaving me. But I do believe you will be happy––
And here the letter comes! See, what I tell you does now fill my life with gladness; that, the counterpart of that, you promise me shall make you glad too! My very own, entirely beloved Ba, there is no exaggeration, no over-estimation—the case does not admit of any, indeed! If a man tells you he owns a peerless horse, the horse may go lame and the estimation sink upon that experience—but if I think, as I do, that the Elgin Horse is peerless (despite his ewe-neck) nothing further can touch it, nor change me. One of my comparisons! All I want to express is, that I love you, dearest, with a love that seems to separate you from your very qualities .. the essential from its accidents– But you must wait to know—wait a life, perhaps.
I used those words you object to—(in your true way,) because you shall love nothing connected with me, for conventional reasons: and if I under-stated the amount of kind feeling which you might be led to return for theirs, be assured that I also expressed in the simplest and coldest terms possible my father & mother’s affection for you. I told you, they believe me .. therefore, know in some measure what you are to me. They are both entirely affectionate and generous. My father is tender-hearted to a fault. I have never known much more of those circumstances in his youth than I told you, in consequence of his invincible repugnance to allude to the matter—and I have a fancy, to account for some peculiarities in him, which connects them with some abominable early experience. Thus,—if you question him about it, he shuts his eyes involuntarily and shows exactly the same marks of loathing that may be noticed while a piece of cruelty is mentioned .. and the word “blood”, even, makes him change colour. To all women and children he is “chivalrous” .. as you called his unworthy son! There is no service which the ugliest, oldest, crossest woman in the world might not exact of him. But I must leave off—tomorrow I do really see you at last, dearest! God bless you ever for your
very own RB
The France-Route seems in nearly every way the best! .. perhaps, in every way—let it be as you have decided. Nothing is said in this letter, nothing answered, mind .. time pressing so!
Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.
Postmark: 8NT8 AU27 1846 B.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 1010–11.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Doubtless one of the two horses in the east pediment of the Parthenon, which form part of the collection known as the Elgin Marbles presently in the British Museum. The collection was purchased in 1816 by the British government from Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin (1766–1841).