2585. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 342–344.
Sunday. [6 September 1846]
Not well—not well!– But I shall see you with my own eyes soon after you read what I write today,—so I shall not write much—. Only a few words to tell you that Flush is found, & lying on the sofa, with one paw & both ears hanging over the edge of it. Still my visit to Taylor was not the successful one. My hero was not at home–
I went, you know, .. did I tell you? .. with Wilson in the cab. We got into obscure streets,—& our cabman stopped at a public house to ask his way. Out came two or three men, .. “Oh, you want to find Mr Taylor, I dare say”! (mark that no name had been mentioned!) & instantly an unsolicited philanthropist ran before us to the house, & out again to tell me that the great man “was’nt at home! but would’nt I get out?” Wilson, in an aside of terror, entreated me not to think of such a thing—she believed devoutly in the robbing & murdering, & was not reassured by the gang of benevolent men & boys who “lived but to oblige us” all round the cab– “Then would’nt I see Mrs Taylor,” suggested the philanthropist:—and, notwithstanding my negatives, he had run back again and brought an immense feminine bandit, .. fat enough to have had an easy conscience all her life, .. who informed me that “her husband might be in, in a few minutes, or in so many hours——would’nt I like to get out & wait”– (Wilson pulling at my gown) (—The philanthropist echoing the invitation of the feminine Taylor.) —“No, I thanked them all—it was not necessary that I should get out, but it was, that Mr Taylor should keep his promise about the restoration of a dog which he had agreed to restore .. & I begged her to induce him to go to Wimpole Street in the course of the day, & not defer it any longer”– To which, replied the lady, with the most gracious of smiles .. “Oh yes certainly!—and indeed she did believe that Taylor had left home precisely on that business”——poising her head to the right & left with the most easy grace– “She was sure that Taylor wd give his very best attention”....…
So, in the midst of the politeness, we drove away, & Wilson seemed to be of opinion that we had escaped with our lives barely. Plain enough it was, that the gang was strong there. The society .. the “Fancy” .. had their roots in the ground. The faces of those men!–
I had not been at home long, when Mr Taylor did actually come—desiring to have six guineas confided to his honour!! .. & promising to bring back the dog. I sent down the money, & told them to trust the gentleman’s honour, as there seemed no other way for it—: & while the business was being concluded, in came Alfred, & straightway called our ‘honorable friend’ (meeting him in the passage) a swindler and a liar & a thief. Which no gentleman could bear, of course. Therefore with reiterated oaths he swore, “as he hoped to be saved, we should never see our dog again”—& rushed out of the house. Followed a great storm. I was very angry with Alfred, who had no business to risk Flush’s life for the sake of the satisfaction of trying on names which fitted. Angry I was with Alfred, & terrified for Flush,—seeing at a glance the probability of his head being cut off as the proper vengeance!—& down stairs I went with the resolution of going again myself to Mr Taylor’s in Manning Street, or Shoreditch wheron it was, & saving the victim at any price. It was the evening, getting dusk—& everybody was crying out against me for being ‘quite mad’ & obstinate, & wilful—— I was called as many names as Mr Taylor. At last, Set said that he would do it, promised to be as civil as I could wish, & got me to be “in a good humour & go up to my room again”. And he went instead of me, & took the money & fair words, & induced the ‘man of honour’ to forfeit his vengeance & go & fetch the dog– Flush arrived here at eight oclock, (at the very moment with your letter, dearest!–) & the first thing he did was to dash up to this door, & then to drink his purple cup full of water, filled three times over. He was not so enthusiastic about seeing me, as I expected—he seemed bewildered & frightened—and whenever anyone said to him “Poor Flush, did the naughty men take you away?”, he put up his head & moaned & yelled. He has been very unhappy certainly. Dirty he is, & much thinner, & continually he is drinking. Six guineas, was his ransom—& now I have paid twenty for him to the dogstealers.
Arabel says that I wanted you yesterday, she thought, to manage me a little. She thought I was suddenly siezed with madness, to prepare to walk out of the house in that state of excitement & that hour of the evening. But now—was I to let them cut off Flush’s head?——
There! I have told you the whole history of yesterday’s adventures—& tomorrow I shall see you, my own dear, dear!– Only remember for my sake, not to come if you are not fit to come– Dearest, remember not to run any hazards!– That dinner!—which I will blame, because it deserves it!,— .. Mind not to make me be as bad as that dinner, in being the means of working you harm!– So I expect you tomorrow conditionally .. if you are well enough!—& I thank you for the kind dear letter, welcome next to you, .. being ever & ever
your own Ba–
I have been to the vestry again today ..
Address: Robert Browning Esqr / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmark: 10FN10 SP7 1846 A.
Docket, in RB’s hand: 269.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 1049–51.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. Manning Street was in Limehouse Parish in the vicinity of Stepney Church.
3. Each of the first two times Flush was stolen EBB had to pay seven sovereigns for his return (see letters 1380 and 1741).