3171.  EBB to Joseph Milsand

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 18, 340–341.


[24 February 1853][1]

My dear M. Milsand, Robert has written so much that you will not be sorry perhaps (not a modest “perhaps,” indeed) if I write very little– Only I must write something, to tell you how much pleasure & profit I have had out of your paper in the Review.[2] It seems to me both clear & deep & full–. I cannot understand its appearing obscure to anyone a little accustomed to the ordinary forms of reasoning & deduction,—but you are close & cogent .. you dont admit of your readers falling asleep & waking up to find you in the same place—a liberty much given by writers to readers in this day– I admire extremely your remarks on complications in commerce,[3] & indeed all the latter pages of your essay– Why is man in the aggregate expected to be perfect, when man in the individual is not perfect? Rousseau has written ‘Confessions,’[4] as well as M. Proudhon– I do wish you would give us a book .. something more stedfast than a periodical paper,—something to do good to the world by standing!

Meantime, wont you write us another letter? We care so much for your letters & for you. Write, & tell us as much good & hope as you can of the state of things in France. I long to hear something from an understanding observer at last– We are going to Rome but not immediately. We are full of dreams about Naples & Constantinople .. but whenever we look steadily .. there is Paris! Oh we certainly shall go back to you. Meanwhile there is pleasure in thinking that you like our sister & father, & in hoping that you will remember us– Our child is quite well & full of happy fancies. I often think how kind you were in coming to ask about him when he was ill & I afraid!– For which goodness, besides all the rest, we both hold you in affectionate remembrance–

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Publication: None traced.

Manuscript: Armstrong Browning Library, Joseph Milsand Archive.

1. This letter accompanied letter 3170.

2. See letter 3170, note 1.

3. In “L’anti-christianisme de M. Proudhon” Milsand writes: “The more complex trading gets, the more people there are who are involved in it, and who are motivated to seek justice in trading matters, without being able to judge, to be fair, or to comprehend what the fairest rules are in such dealings. When the patriarch or the savage is at once his own tailor, groom and army, he can also be his own lawmaker and judge; but where there are many interests at stake, leading to many entanglements, one needs laws which are made only by a few, and judges who are only judges, just as an animal needs a head separate from its feet, so that it can rise, through its faculties, above the polyp which breathes with its stomach and thinks with its belly” (Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 December 1852, p. 1166).

4. Les Confessions de Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1782).


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