Correspondence

2766.  EBB to Sarianna Browning

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 15, 200–202.

[Florence]

Jany. 8– [1849][1]

My dearest Sarianna,

Here I am again, and as a thanker as usual for another kindness!– How beautiful this tea-chest is![2] Robert & I have been admiring it, will you tell your dear mother, with all our eyes & heart, thinking it only too beautiful for any such mundane purpose as the tea-table. It is set up on a carved wood sort of cabinet-table, to be the observed of observers & admired of admirers,—for certainly we have nothing else so pretty in the room. And then, the best of it, is not the prettiness, after all. I hope Robert has thanked her for himself, & I hope you will thank her for me. Would, that you could have given us happier news of her health than has come in these last letters– Sad it is to have to think of her suffering so much,—and I cant help saying to Robert again & again .. “If she would but consent to take some sort of opium—the morphine I am leaving off for instance”! He is of opinion that she never would consent to it–. There is an heroical prejudice against opium among some of the purest in the world—but it is certainly one of the gifts of God & I do not understand why we should object to use it simply on the ground that it may possibly be abused. For my part, I am sure I should have died or gone mad (not from pain but nervous & febrile irritation) years ago, if it had not been for morphine—yet I was never tempted beyond the medical prescription, in taking it, nor have I suffered from the practise in any specific way .. not from headache, not from indigestion .. nor am I prevented from leaving it off, you see, (Robert must have told you) when it becomes desireable to leave it off, notwithstanding the long habit & the excessive use .. few persons having taken such large doses as I. Still, it is only just to say that, but for Robert, who has done it all with a kind of witchery, I never should have had steadiness & courage to succeed so well– I owe that to him, as everything else indeed. And now he bids me tell you myself how well I am, and how the physician whom it became prudent to see, “could suggest nothing, because the whole is going on so perfectly well.” This was very pleasant news for us both, & will be the same to your goodness. Tell your dear mother that the pieces of flannel she sent last year, are found to be the most useful things in the house, and are being metamorphosed into various diminutive caps & draperies,—no flannel in Florence being found equal to it in fineness. There will be just enough for our purpose– Wilson is very busy, & I have bought a thimble & say to my sisters “See what the best disposed persons may come to,”—for really I have had no thimble belonging to me since I was a little child myself. May God bring to good, such as we wish for, all these preparations! Often it strikes me that it would be a superfluity of happiness, & such as I, so happy already, have no right even to pray for, perhaps.

So you have sent away your dog[3]—and the famous portrait of him is all we are likely to see. Why choose a terrier for a dog? Those terriers have low, rat-hunting propensities, & are shrewd & keen-witted rather than of comprehensive intellects like the spaniel-race. My Flush is more than half human in all his habits– You should see him in his passion for grapes, & how he despises bread & scorns chesnuts in comparison– So anxious I am about Robert’s book. Surely Chapman & Hall will find some opportunity of letting us have it out here directly. If they can, there is a volume of mine which my sisters have, & which may come at the same time, as it is single & not large.[4] May God bless you all. My dear love goes to you all three, with tender & grateful wishes for the happiness of the year, & the years to come.

Your ever affectionate sister

Ba–

Address, on integral page: Miss Browning.

Publication: None traced.

Manuscript: Lilly Library.

1. Year provided by EBB’s reference to “Robert’s book,” Poems (1849).

2. See letter 2747, note 1.

3. The bulldog that RB mentioned in letter 2502 (see note 4); the “famous portrait,” by RB, Sr., is reproduced in vol. 13, facing p. 188.

4. i.e., a copy of The Seraphim which she had requested in letter 2739.

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