360. EBB to Hugh Stuart Boyd
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 2, 224–225.
Friday Night– [Docket: December 1829]
My dear friend,
I cannot say how disappointed I am in having to say that I cannot go to see you tomorrow, after all. There seems to be every sort of difficulty about it; so I have given up the plan for the present with as good a grace as could be expected humanly, & with the hope of being able to execute it, some day very soon. When I do go, you may depend upon my “going as early & staying as late as I can”—i.e. you may depend on people doing what they like when they can. As to the weather, I shall not care about that. It would be the height of presumption in me to expect fine weather now, when, even in the summer, the skies always made it a point to rain, if I thought of going to Malvern. You are like Alexander, always in my sunshine—— but I won’t say what Diogenes did.
The coincidence of the rum & brandy is not unlucky to the latter,—for your bottle of Virgilian coniac is more valuable than Papa’s bottles, as far as antiquity & curiosity go. He was much pleased & obliged,—& values your present so immoderately that he would not listen to my exhortation about opening it (I wanted to report his admiration to you) but sent it down to the cellar, perhaps that it might be kept there forty years more, or longer—for the benefit of his posterity. I have a proper respect for brandy, because it used to keep me alive when I was in the lowest state of debility,—but setting aside this obligation, I dislike it most inveterately & energetically, & cannot understand how any person of taste can do otherwise.
I have read the seven orations on Paul, & the eighth on the same subject. I think that the finest passage, with regard to thought, is the passage about Noah which I mentioned once; & that the finest passages, with regard to eloquence of diction, are to be found in those two pages of the fourth oration which you mentioned to me in your letter before last. There is something in each of the orations to admire, & a great deal to be tired by. I am reading the commentary on the Romans, but it is so very diffuse—(& diffuseness is unpardonable in a commentary) that I cannot help skipping,—being you know of a jumping nature!
This is in the act of being finished on Saturday morning, & must be finished & sent, that you should not expect me. What a fine morning it is, out of spite!——
I have sometimes thought that you did not know the meaning or at least the force of the meaning of one word. Your mis-application of it, your really absurd mis-application of it, in your last note, proves to me that I was right—that you never knew, or have forgotten the correct way of applying it. You have taught me a great many things. Let me teach you one—in assuring you that I am
Your very grateful & sincere friend
E B Barrett.
You surprised me again by liking the stanzas in the New Monthly Mag. I certainly like the last stanza best—but I maintain that no one would attribute them to a person a day older than I was, when I wrote them—that they are much too interjectional, & too little comprehensible.
Address, on integral page: Hugh Stuart Boyd Esqr
Docket, in unidentified hand: Decr 1829.
Publication: EBB-HSB, pp. 87–88.
Manuscript: Wellesley College.
1. Plutarch, in his “Life of Alexander” (cap. 14), relates how Alexander, on meeting Diogenes, who was reclining in the sun, asked whether there was any way in which he could serve Diogenes. The latter replied, “Only stand a little out of my sunshine.”
2. Underscored three times.
3. Probably the passage in St. Chrysostom’s Homily on I Corinthians, 8:8 (cap. 7).
4. See note 4 to previous letter.