2604. EBB to RB
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 366–368.
Monday evening. [14 September 1846]
First, God is to be thanked for this great joy of hearing that you are better, my ever dearest—it is a joy that floats over all the other emotions. Dearest I am so glad! I had feared that excitement’s telling on you quite in another way. When the whole is done, & we have left England & the talkers thereof, behind our backs, you will be well, stedfastly & satisfactorily, I do trust. In the meantime, there seems so much to do, that I am frightened to look towards the heaps of it– As to acoutrements, everything has been arranged as simply as possible that way—but, still, there are necessities—and the letters, the letters! I am paralyzed when I think of having to write such words as .. “Papa, I am married,—I hope you will not be too displeased”. Ah, poor Papa!– You are too sanguine if you expect any such calm from him as an assumption of indifference would imply. To the utmost, he will be angry, .. he will cast me off as far from him—— Well—there is no comfort in such thoughts. How I felt tonight when I saw him at seven oclock, for the first time since friday, & the event of saturday! He spoke kindly too, & asked me how I was.
Once I heard of his saying of me that I was “the purest woman he ever knew”,—which made me smile at the moment, or laugh, I believe, outright, because I understood perfectly what he meant by that—viz,—that I had not troubled him with the iniquity of love-affairs, or any impropriety of seeming to think about being married. But now, the whole sex will go down with me to the perdition of faith in any of us. See the effect of my wickedness!– ‘Those women!’
But we will submit, dearest .. I will put myself under his feet, to be forgiven a little, .. enough to be taken up again into his arms– I love him—he is my father—he has good & high qualities after all: he is my father above all– And you, because you are so generous & tender to me, will let me, you say, & help me, to try to win back the alienated affection——for which, I thank you & bless you,—I did not thank you enough this morning. Surely I may say to him, too, .. “With the exception of this act, I have submitted to the least of your wishes all my life long– Set the life against the act, & forgive me, for the sake of the daughter you once loved”. Surely I may say that,—& then remind him of the long suffering I have suffered,—and entreat him to pardon the happiness which has come at last—.
And he will wish in return, that I had died years ago!—— For the storm will come & endure– And at last, perhaps, he will forgive us—it is my hope.
I accede to all you say of Mr Kenyon. I will ask him for his address in the country, & we will send, when the moment comes, our letters together.
From Mrs Jameson I had the letter I enclose, this morning. (Full of kindness—is it not?) and another really as kind from Miss Bayley, who begs me, if I cannot go to Italy, to go to Hastings & visit her. To both, I must write at some length– Will you write to Mrs Jameson, besides what I shall write? And what are we to say as to travelling? As she is in Paris, perhaps we may let her have the solution of our problem sooner than the near people– May we? shall we? Yet we dare not, I suppose, talk too historically of what happened last saturday– It is like the dates in the newspaper-advertisements, which we must eschew, as you observe.
Other things, too, you observe, my beloved, which are altogether out of date– In your ways towards me, you have acted throughout too much “the woman’s part”, as that is considered– You loved me because I was lower than others, that you might be generous & raise me up:—very characteristic for a woman (in her ideal standard) but quite wrong for a man, as again & again I used to signify to you, Robert—but you went on & did it all the same. And now, you still go on—you persist—you will be the woman of the play, to the last,—let the prompter prompt ever so against you. You are to do everything I like, instead of my doing what you like, .. and to “honour & obey” me, in spite of what was in the vows last saturday,—is that the way of it & of you?—& are vows to be kept so, pray? after that fashion? Then, dont put “at home” at the corner of the cards, dearest!—— It is my command!
And forgive the inveterate jesting, which jests with eyes full of tears– I love you—I bless God for you– You are too good for me, as always I knew. I look up to you continually.
It is best, I continue to think, that you should not come here—best for you, because the position, if you were to try it, would be less tolerable than ever—& best for both of us, that in case the whole truth were ever discovered (I mean, of the previous marriage) we might be able to call it simply an act in order to security—— I dont know how to put my feeling into words, but I do seem to feel that it would be better, & less offensive to those whom we offend at any rate, to avoid all possible remark on this point. It seems better to a sort of instinct I have.
Then, if I see you—farewell, the letter-writing. Oh no—there will be time enough when we are on the railway! We shall talk then.
Ah—you say such things to me. Dearest, dearestest!– And you do not start at that word, “Irrevocable”, as I have had fancies that you might, when the time came!!– But you may recover, by putting out your hand, all you have given me, .. nearly all, I never, never being myself, could willingly vex you, torment you– If I approach to it, you will tell me! I will confide in you, to that end also– Dearest–
And your father’s goodness, and the affectionateness of them all– When they shall have learnt most that I am not worthy of you, they will have learnt besides that I can be grateful to them & you—. Certainly I am capable, I hope, of loving them all, well & with appreciation– And then .. imagine the comfort I take to the deepest of my heart from these hands held out to me!– For your sake! Yes, for your sake entirely!—&, so, the more dearly comforting to
Your very own Ba–
There is still difficulty about the house– They think of Tunbridge Wells–
Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.
Postmark: 10FN10 SP15 1846 A.
Docket, in RB’s hand: 278.
Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 1072–74.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Date provided by postmark.
2. See the third paragraph in letter 1825 and the first paragraph of letter 2355.