Correspondence

2605.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 368–370.

[London]

Tuesday Mg [Postmark: 15 September 1846]

My own Ba, could you think me capable of such a step? I forget what I exactly said in the first letter, but in the second, which you have received by this, I know there is mention made of your account which is to accompany mine:– You never quite understood, I think, my feeling about Mr Kenyon and desire to tell him earlier; in the first place, at the very beginning, he seemed to stand (as he did) in closer connection with you than any other person I could communicate with; therefore to represent, in some degree, your dear self in the worldly sense, and be able to impose on me any conditions &c which your generous nature might be silent on, and my ignorance & excitement overlook: then there was another reason, the natural one, of our own .. his friendship, rather, for me, and the circumstance of his having in a manner introduced me to your acquaintance,—at all events, facilitated my introduction,—and so being after a fashion responsible in some degree for my conduct: these two reasons, added to a general real respect for his circumspection & sagacity, and a desire to make both of them instruct me in the way of doing you good. But you effectually convinced me that in neither case would the benefit derivable, balance the certain injury, or at least, annoyance, to himself—while you showed me that I should not be so truly serving you, as I had intended, by the plans I used to turn over in my mind. In brief, it was written that your proof of love and trust to me was to be complete, the completest—and I could not but be proud and submit: and a few words will explain the mere sin against friendship. I quite, quite feel as you feel,—nor ever had the least intention of writing .. that is, of sending any letter,—till the very last. Be sure of it.

For the cards, I have just given orders, as you desire and as I entirely agree– The notion of a word about our not being in England, was only a fancy for your family’s sake .. just to save people’s applications to them, to know what had become of us—and I had heard Mr Kenyon commend the considerateness of those “Lydian measures” .. albeit there was .. or narrowly escaped being .. an awful oversight of the Traveller’s which would have made him the sad hero of a merry story for ever[1] .. as I will tell you some day. If you will send the addresses, at any time, that trouble will be over. In all these mighty matters, be sure I shall never take the least step without consulting you: will you draw up the advertisement, please? I will supply the clergyman’s name &c &c.

I shall not see one friend more before I leave with you. So that nobody needs divine that since the 12th we have not been at Margate—seeking “food for the mind.”[2]

11.¾. a.m.

Dearest, I agree to all. I will not see you, for those reasons: I think, as you may, that it will be a point in excuse of the precipitancy, that a removal was threatened for “next Monday perhaps” .. which, finding us unprepared, would have been ruinous. Say all you would have me say to your Father, .. no concession shall be felt by the side of your love. I will write a few words to Mrs J.—her kindness is admirable & deserves the attention. For the date,—you will have seen the precautions I take; I hope to see nobody now; but I don’t know that it will be necessary to suppress it in the advertisement, if we can leave England by the end of the week, as I hope .. do you not hope, too? For I see announcements, in today’s Times, of marriages on the 8th and 9th and our silence on that particular might be only the beginning of more mystery .. as if it had happened half a year ago, for instance. Beside, your relations will examine the register– All rests with you, however– .. and will rest, Ba! I shall ask you to do no more of my business than I can manage myself .. but where I can not manage .. why, then you shall think for me; that is my command! I suppose when a man buys a spinning-machine he loses dignity because he lets it weave stockings,—does not keep on with his clumsy fingers! No, I will retain my honour, be certain,—you shall say, “Ego et rex meus”[3] like Wolsey—or rather, like dear, dear Ba—like yourself I will ever worship! See the good of taking up arms against me out of that service! If you “honour & obey” me, “with my body I thee worship”[4]—my best, dearest, sweetest Ba—and that I have vowed thus, “irrevocably”—is the heart’s delight

of your own RB

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8 SP15 1846 B.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 1074–76.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. “Lydian” was doubtless a slip of the pen for “Lycian.” Fellows discovered the ruins of Xanthus, the ancient capital of Lycia in Asia Minor, and published his findings in An Account of Discoveries in Lycia (1841). We are unable to clarify RB’s reference to the “awful oversight.”

2. Cf. Paradise Lost, IX, 238.

3. Henry VIII, III, 2, 314.

4. RB is paraphrasing passages from the Solemnization of Matrimony in The Book of Common Prayer.

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