2599.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 358–360.


Sunday. [13 September 1846] [1]

My own beloved, if ever you should have reason to complain of me in things voluntary & possible, all other women would have a right to tread me underfoot, I should be so vile & utterly unworthy. There, is my answer to what you wrote yesterday of wishing to be better to me .. you! What could be better than lifting me from the ground & carrying me into life & the sunshine? I was yours rather by right than by gift,—(yet by gift—also, my beloved!) for what you have saved & renewed, is surely yours. All that I am, I owe you:—if I enjoy anything now & henceforth, it is through you. You know this well. Even as I, from the beginning, knew that I had no power against you, .. or that, if I had, it was for your sake.

Dearest, in the emotion & confusion of yesterday morning, there was yet room in me for one thought which was not a feeling—for I thought, that, of the many, many women who have stood where I stood, & to the same end, not one of them all perhaps, not one perhaps, since that building was a church, has had reasons strong as mine, for an absolute trust & devotion towards the man she married,—not one! And then I both thought & felt, that it was only just, for them, .. those women who were less happy, .. to have that affectionate sympathy & support & presence of their nearest relations, parent or sister, .. which failed to me, .. needing it less thro’ being happier!––

All my brothers have been here this morning, laughing & talking, & discussing this matter of the leaving town,—& in the room, at the same time, were two or three female friends of ours, from Herefordshire—and I did not dare to cry out against the noise, though my head seemed splitting in two, (one half for each shoulder) I had such a morbid fear of exciting a suspicion. Trippy too being one of them, I promised to go to see her tomorrow & dine in her drawingroom if she would give me, for dinner, some bread & butter. It was like having a sort of fever. And all in the midst, the bells began to ring– “What bells are those?” asked one of the provincials. ‘Marylebone Church bells’ said Henrietta, standing behind my chair.

And now .. while I write, & having escaped from the great din, [&] sat here quietly,—comes .. who do you think?—Mr Kenyon.

He came with his spectacles, looking as if his eyes reached to their rim all the way round,—& one of the first words was, “When did you see Browning?” And I think I shall make a pretension to presence of mind henceforward,—for, though certainly I changed colour & he saw it, I yet answered with a tolerably quick evasion, .. “He was here on friday”—& leapt straight into another subject, & left him gazing fixedly on my face– Dearest, he saw something, but not all. So we talked, talked. He told me that the ‘Fawn of Sertorius’, [2] (which I refused to cut open the other day,) was ascribed to Landor—& he told me that he meant to leave town again on wednesday, & would see me once before then. On rising to go away, he mentioned your name a second time .. “When do you see Browning again?” To which I answered that I did not know–

Is not that pleasant? The worst is that all these combinations of things, make me feel so bewildered that I cannot make the necessary arrangements, as far as the letters go– But I must break from the dream-stupour which falls on me when left to myself a little, & set about what remains to be done.

A house near Watford, is thought of now—but, as none is concluded on, the removal is not likely to take place in the middle of the week even, perhaps.

I sit in a dream, when left to myself. I cannot believe, or understand– Oh! but in all this difficult, embarrassing & painful situation, I look over the palms to Troy– I feel happy & exalting to belong to you, past every opposition, out of sight of every will of man—none can put us asunder, [3] now, at least. I have a right now openly to love you, & to hear other people call it a duty, when I do, .. knowing that if it were a sin, it would be done equally. Ah—I shall not be first to leave off that—see if I shall!– May God bless you, ever & ever dearest! Beseech for me the indulgence of your father & mother, & ask your sister to love me– I feel so as if I had slipped down over the wall into somebody’s garden—I feel ashamed. To be grateful & affectionate, to them all, while I live, is all that I can do, & it is too much a matter of course, to need to be promised– Promise it however

for your very own Ba. Whom

you made so happy with the dear letter

last night– But say in the next

how you are—& how your mother is– [4]

I did hate so, to have to take off the ring! You will have to take the trouble of putting it on again, some day.

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

Postmark: PD 10FN SP14 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 276.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 1064–66.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Although initially attributed to Walter Savage Landor, it was actually written by his youngest brother, Robert Eyres Landor (1781–1869). He wrote several tragedies, but his main devotion was to the church. According to the DNB, after he “was instituted to the rectory of Nafford with Birlingham, Worcestershire, in 1829,” he “was never absent from his parish for a Sunday until his death.”

3. Cf. Matthew 19:6.

4. Indentation occurs as shown.


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