Correspondence

378.  EBB to Hugh Stuart Boyd

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 2, 250–252.

Hope End.

Thursday Morng. [ca. August 1830][1]

My dear Mr Boyd,

One of the first things that Papa said to me when we met at dinner yesterday, was—“Where did you go to, immediately after the meeting? I looked for you on every side,—as I wished to walk with you to visit Mr Boyd. I should certainly have gone to see him, if I could have found you.” Upon hearing this, I believe I looked nearly half as much pleased as I felt. Often & earnestly & naturally as I have wished Papa to call upon you, I never once asked him to do so,—because, from my knowledge of his habits & usual inclinations, there appeared to me no kind of probability of hearing any other than a negative answer. And I should have been pained by hearing that, for many reasons,—or rather, for every reason. Now, you see, you may expect a visit from him, unless indeed you walk out at the back door when he is entering at the front,—as I often do, to get away from disagreable visitors. His feelings of esteem & obligation with respect to you, I have heard him express more than once or twice or thrice, & strongly; & I hope & believe that you will like the character of his mind & conversation.

We did not arrive at home yesterday until seven,—& anticipated, all the way, arriving in time for a scolding, & not in time for dinner. Fortunately however, Papa adjourned from the meeting to the Farm, & stayed there until half past seven,—so that we were at home even before him. It will interest you to be told that we were at dinner when the clock struck nine. “Hear it not Duncan!”[2]

Perhaps you know by this time, that the collection at the door of the Bible meeting, was £31, & that it was expected to be only £20. Dr Card consulted a clergyman so lately as yesterday morning about the propriety of himself attending the meeting. How he must have been hanging like Mahomet’s coffin between earth & Heaven[3]—or rather between High Church-ism & the Duchess of Kent—for Heaven could have had little to do with his uncertainties! Mr Southall’s conduct has been much & justly commended. Of the five guineas which were offered to him for the use of his room, he returned one guinea.[4]

As I wish this note to go by today’s post, I will not keep it to make it as long as I should like to do. Give my love to Mrs Boyd & Annie; & believe me ever,

dear Mr Boyd,

Yours affectionately

E B Barrett.

I hope Miss Gibbons was not tired by, & did not suffer from, the running walk she was kind enough to take with me.

Address, on integral page: H. S. Boyd Esqr / Great Malvern.

Publication: EBB-HSB, pp. 85–86.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Dated by reference to the Duchess of Kent’s presence in Malvern. The Times of 10 July 1830 announced that Holly Mount had been rented for the Duchess and Princess Victoria for six weeks, commencing 1 August.

2. Macbeth, II, 1, 63.

3. Cf. Butler’s Hudibras, II, iii, 441–442.

4. Mr. Southall was the proprietor of Southall’s Boarding-House, near the Abbey Church, Gt. Malvern. A large room in the house was made available for meetings and social events. He played the organ in a local church, and may well have been the brother or husband of Mary Southall, author of A Description of Malvern (1822).

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