3035.  RB to Sarah Jane Streatfeild

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 18, 97–98.


[ca. 20 April 1852] [1]

Dear Mrs Streatfeild,

It happens, most provokingly, that my child is found to have the measles, this morning—of all mornings imaginable. We shut him in a room, of course—where he is singing & amusing himself just as usual—so that, as far as regards him, we are probably lucky in getting done at once with what has always been a bit of a bugbear in perspective—but .. & a very unpleasant “but,” it is .. I fear you will taboo me & mine inexorably—won’t you? I would not for the world frighten you, much less do you harm—& therefore I prefer writing, to saying, this—that is,—to calling on you without a distinct order—which I need not entreat you not to give unless you are altogether without apprehension on the subject. I shall wait outside for a message in reply to this, if you will please to send one—and you may trust me for not appearing in a single article of dress worn when I entered the child’s room for a minute this morning. Whatever you prescribe I shall comply with cheerfully: at the same time, how provoking just now!

With truest love from Ba to Mrs Cuthbert [2] & yourself—(and my sympathy always goes with that of Ba)—believe me, Dear Mrs Streatfeild,

Yours faithfully ever,

Robert Browning.

By the way,—if you judge me too pestiferous to be admitted,—will you mind sending me out that great Doctoring Book [3] I once noticed on your table among the flowers & newspapers? I will just run an eye over the article M. E. A. &c How provoking! After all, remember that Dr Macarthy may touch, handle & all but taste fifty such patients this morning, yet go & see you as if nothing were the matter—as probably nothing is the matter. Yet—& this is the end as the beginning of my entreaty—pray act wholly for yourself.

Publication: None traced.

Manuscript: Armstrong Browning Library.

1. Dated by RB’s reference to Pen’s measles, which proved to be only a rash. EBB describes this episode in letter 3038.

2. Mary Cuthbert (née Cookson, 1821–93), Mrs. Streatfeild’s twin sister, was the tenth child of Isaac Cookson (1776–1851), of Meldon Park, Northumberland, and his wife Jane (née Cooke, 1784–1869). She married William Cuthbert (1813–78), of Beaufront Castle, on 16 June 1840.

3. Based on EBB’s comment in letter 3038, probably either Thomas J. Graham’s Modern Domestic Medicine: A Popular Treatise (10th ed., 1848) or William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine (1772), numerous editions of which were published into the 1860’s.


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