Correspondence

319.  EBB to Hugh Stuart Boyd

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 2, 165–167.

Hope End.

Thursday Morng. [Docket: 21 August 1828]

My dear Sir,

I send you what I amused my Father by calling “my experimental simplicity”. You should have had these Hymns[1] long ago, if you had happened to be more a child, & less a critic,—or if I had agreed in opinion, respecting them, with one of my little brothers, who was heard to pay me the following rather equivocal compliment—“Really I never thought Ba could write so well”.

I believe I never asked you whether you cared or not, about pastoral poetry,—& whether, setting aside Theocritus & Virgil, (I would omit the last name if I dared) you deeply sympathize with shepherds & shepherdesses .. asses, in the modern long run of making love & hay. I am perfectly intolerant of them all, except of Ben Jonson’s Sad Shepherd & Fletcher’s Faithful Shepherdess; and would grant nothing, even to Tasso & Guarini,[2] but the mere dull immortality, which, I suppose, no one can withold from them—“vivete .. et valete!”[3] Here is a good burlesque of the modern Shenstonian pastoral! The first stanza is by Gally Knight author of “Eastern Sketches[4] &c. &c: & the second, which appears to me the best of the two, is a supplement affixed by Sir Uvedale Price. Neither have been published.

 

Coughing in a shady grove,

Late my Juliana!

Lozenges I gave my love—

Ipecacuinha [sic for Ipecacuanha]!

 

Full half a score, th’ imprudent maid,

From out my box, did pick—

Then, sighing tenderly, she said—

My Damon! I am sick!–

 

My brother declares that, whenever he goes to Malvern, I am sure to make him wait for something,—if he is unfortunate or imprudent enough to apprise me of his intention. I must spare him this morning. Give our best remembrances to Mrs Boyd,—& our acknowledgements for her very kind proposal respecting Henrietta & the ball. I thought it would not be found possible to return the answer she would like to return—but at any rate she will be at the library in the morning.

Believe me

Your always sincere friend

E B Barrett.

Docket, in unidentified hand: August 21st 1828.

Publication: EBB-HSB, pp. 57–58.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Possibly “Hymns sung on the occasion of the annual sermon for the benefit of the Sabbath school.” These two hymns are unpublished. An undated manuscript copy (ca. 1824), unsigned, is at Syracuse University (see Reconstruction, D363). To this manuscript EBB has added a copy of a third hymn composed by “GBH” (George Barrett Hunter).

2. Giovanni Battista Guarini (1538–1612) of Ferrara was the author of the play Il Pastor Fido, presented in 1595. It was modelled on Tasso’s Aminta (1573), and in turn provided the basis of the plot of John Fletcher’s The Faithful Shepherdess (1609?). Jonson’s play, The Sad Shepherd, was unfinished at the time of his death in 1637 and was published posthumously.

3. “Live .. and be well!”

4. Henry Gally Knight (1786–1846), some of whose oriental verses earned Byron’s praise. EBB’s copy of his Eastern Sketches sold as lot 804 in Browning Collections (Reconstruction, A1372). It has the two verses quoted here by EBB copied on the flyleaf in her hand.

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