Correspondence

334.  EBB to Hugh Stuart Boyd

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 2, 185–186.

Hope End.

Thursday. [ca. March 1829][1]

Dear Mr Boyd,

I received your letter on Saturday night,—but, tho’ Papa gave it to me, the moment he came into the house, it was so late that I had not time to prepare an answer before Sunday,—or I would have done so. Our servants go to Malvern very early on Sunday morning.

I need not say that I shall be glad & proud to take the charge of any of your books,—your materia classica,—which you may like to confide to my keeping. But you really amuse me by your dislike of having “all your favorite books in one place”. What are you afraid of? of a second ‘Battle of the books’,[2]—or of a “general conflagration”? If of the latter, it is but fair to remind you that my room is situated at the very top of the house,—Atticè,[3] you know,—while yours is on the ground floor,—whence, in the case of fire, all your valuable possessions may be easily taken out Doricè![4] I don’t wish, however, to persuade you not to trust me with your books. The trust will give me pleasure.

I believe, I am not apt to complain,—& yet I do feel inclined to complain of your expression,—“if you should ever come to see me again.” You never told me that you desired me not to go & see you again,—&, until you do so, you must allow me to consider your “if” as altogether unreasonable, & out of place. If I had had such an intention as the one you indirectly attributed to me, I should have been capricious; and if I could have had that intention without intimating it to you, I should have been disingenuous: I hope I am neither. It will give me the most real pleasure to see you again,—& when we have once broken the ice, of staying at home, I will take advantage of the very first opportunity in order to go to Malvern. With regard to conveyances & opportunities, you know I am not otherwise than dependent—& you should not be hard upon me, & make me responsible for circumstances. It must not be very long before I see you.

Give my kind regards to Mrs & Miss Boyd—& ever believe me

Your sincere friend

E B Barrett.

Address, on integral page: Hugh Stuart Boyd Esqr / Great Malvern.

Publication: EBB-HSB, pp. 67–68.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by the fact that EBB had not yet resumed her visits to Boyd after her mother’s death.

2. A reference to An Account of the Battle between the Ancient and Modern Books in St. James’s Library (1704) by Jonathan Swift (1667–1745).

3. “In the Attic (Athenian) manner.” A pun on Attic/attic.

4. “In the Doric manner.” The first three letters are underscored three times, punning door.

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