Correspondence

2607.  RB to EBB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 372–374.

[London]

Wednesday. [Postmark: 16 September 1846]

Ever dearest, you are right about the date .. so it shall be—and so the advertisement shall run, save & except the avowal of “Paracelsus” .. I avow you, and to add another title of honor would succeed no better than in Dalhousie’s case who was “God of War and Lieutenant-general to the Earl of Mar”–[1] I wanted the description &c of your Father. What a strange mistake I made—(but as for invalidation, oh no!)—I save your every word and then apply them thus! (In to-day’s Times is a notice without a date .. not looking at all singular. It is far better)

It is absolutely for yourself to decide on the day and the mode—if for no other reason, because I am quite ready, and shall have no kind of difficulty,—while you have every kind– Make the arrangements that promise most comfort to yourself– Observe the Packets and alter the route if necessary. There is one from Brighton to Dieppe every day, for instance .. but then the getting to Rouen! The Havre-boat leaves Southampton, Wednesdays & Saturdays—and Portsmouth, Mondays & Thursdays. The Boat from London, Thursdays & Sundays at 9. a.m. I do not know where “Bookham” is—you must decide .. I am sure you will be anxious to get away.

The business of the letters will grow less difficult once begun—see if it will not! and in these four or five days whole epics might be written, much more, letters– Have you arranged all with Wilson? Take, of course, the simplest possible wardrobe &c—so as to reduce our luggage to the very narrowest compass. The expense—(beside the common sense of a little luggage)—is considerable—every ounce being paid for. Let us treat our journey as a mere journey—we can return for what else we want, or get it sent, or procure it abroad– I shall take just a portmanteau and carpet bag. I think the fewer books we take the better,—they take up room—and the wise way always seemed to me to read in rooms at home, and open one’s eyes and see abroad– A critic somewhere mentioned that as my characteristic—were two other poets he named placed in novel circumstances .. in a great wood, for instance, Mr Trench would begin opening books to see how woods were treated of .. the other man would set to writing poetry forthwith, from his old stock of associations, on the new impulse—and RB. would sit still and learn how to write after![2] A pretty compliment, I thought that! .. But seriously, there must be a great library at Pisa .. (with that University!) and abroad they are delighted to facilitate such matters .. I have read in a chamber of the Doges’ palace at Venice, painted all over by Tintoretto, walls & ceiling—& at Rome there is a library with a learned priest always kept ready “to solve any doubt that may arise”! Murray’s Book[3] you have, I think? Any guide-books &c[.]

Be sure, dearest, I will do my utmost to conciliate your father: sometimes I could not but speak impatiently to you of him .. that was while you were in his direct power—now there is no need of a word in any case .. I shall be silent if the worst imaginable happens; and if any thing better,—most grateful. You do not need to remind me he is your father .. I shall be proud to say, mine too. Then, he said that of you—for which I love him—love the full prompt justice of that ascription of “perfect purity”—it is another voice responding to mine, confirming mine.

Goodbye, dearest dearest,—I continue quite well .. I thank God, as you do, and see his hand in it. My poor mother suffers greatly, but is no worse .. rather, better I hope. They (all here) will leave town for some quiet place at the beginning of October for some three weeks at least– Dear, kind souls they are.

Kiss me as I kiss you, dearest Ba,—I can bring you no flowers but I pluck this bud and send it with all affectionate devotion.

Your own RB–

Address: Miss Barrett, / 50. Wimpole Street.

Postmark: 8NT8SP161846O.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Pope, Peri Bathous: Or, Martinus Scriblerus, His Treatise on the Art of Sinking in Poetry (1728), chap. xi; see also Johnson’s Dictionary under the entry for “anticlimax.”

2. For the complete text of this review in The Church of England Quarterly Review (October 1843), see vol. 7, pp. 402–404.

3. There were several guides to Italy available at this time, including the 2nd edition of Murray’s Hand-Book for Travellers in Northern Italy (1847), which was published in early September 1846. Quotations from this edition contained in letters written by the Brownings from Italy in 1847 make it clear that they owned a copy of this volume.

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