Correspondence

575.  RB to Euphrasia Fanny Haworth[1]

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 3, 255–258.

[London]

Saturday Morning. 6½ [1 July 1837][2]

Dear Miss Haworth,

If I had an hour at this present down-sitting instead of a poor .. I won’t think how many minutes to write in, I would take out letter by letter your past “favours”—and curiously perk pry and pick out whatever had the air of a question, and answer it absolutely—and write the said answer in the plainest of hands .. fists, rather, as I write hugely when doing my best,—and not a break should there be in the whole three-pages-full—so should I have compassed a perfect letter (for you find fault with nothing else than my forgettings and scrawlings and stoppings short)—and—

Note, I stop short always for a reason .. that I can’t go on: the paragraph at top is meant to flow gracefully into an acknowledgement; and of the gratefullest, of your own communication: All this was to be done, to show my sense of .. to set in a better light how ..? It will be a fine exercise in the higher sort of English-composition if you or your nephew Stuart will contrive a happy anknupfen.[3]

For questions: I firmly believe you wrote those Sonnets—don’t ask me why.[4] At all events I wish you to have written them; and am sure you did: at Serjt Talfourd’s: you were present you say: but then, he proposed my health and I stammered something by way of thanks .. and that would have ruined the silver pair: clear up this matter: the comfort is I have hardly wronged you by the supposition—for they are surely charming and musical. In any case, do oblige me by transcribing them, if you can, and by giving me a copy—I am sure you will? I have not the Magazine. I shall likewise expect with impatience The Portrait, next M’s portrait,[5] (“cut” either if you dare!) next the design for the Arabic melody, of which you say nothing, and next the “sketch you told you of and you despise”—as I happen to wonder what the d— you can mean .. and send all of them to Mr Glasspool’s, or Mrs Keate’s or Queen Victoria’s or Miss Lewis’s[6] (do put in a sketch of her .. stop, I’ll tell you,)—for, wot ye what? I have received a couple of weeks since a present—an Album, large and gaping, and as Cibber’s Richard says of the “fair Elizabeth”—“my heart is empty .. she shall fill it”[7]—so say I (impudently?) of my grand trouble-table: which holds a sketch or two by my fine fellow Monclar,[8] one lithograph—his own face of faces,—“all the rest was amethyst”[9]—F.H everywhere! Not a soul beside in “the chrystal silence there”[10]—and it locks, this Album; now, don’t shower drawings on M. who has so many advantages over me as it is: or at least don’t bid me of all others say what he is to have.

The “Master” is somebody you don’t know, W. J. Fox, a magnificent and poetical nature, who used “to write in Reviews” when I was an boy and to whom my verses, a book full, written at the ripe age of 12 & 13 were shown; which verses he praised not a little; which praise comforted me not a little. Then I lost sight of him for years and years; then I published anonymously a little poem—which he, to my inexpressible delight, praised and expounded in a gallant article in a magazine of which he was the Editor:[11] then I found him out again; he got a publisher for “Paracelsus” (I read it to him in MS) and is in short “my literary father.” Pretty nearly the same thing did he for Miss Martineau, as she has said somewhere.[12] God knows I forget what the “talk”, table-talk, was about– I think she must have told you the results of the whole day we spent tête-a-tête at Ascot, and that day’s, the dinner-day’s, morning at Elstree and St Albans. She is to give me advice about my worldly concerns, and not before I need it!

I cannot say or sing the pleasure your way of writing gives me– Do go on, and tell me all sort of things, “the story” for a beginning: but your moralizings on “your age” and the rest, are .. now, what are they? Not to be reasoned on, disputed, laughed at, grieved about … they are “Fanny’s crotchets”—“I thank thee, Jew-(lia) for teaching me that word.”[13] I would not have you like Miss Lewis.

I don’t know that I shall leave Town for a month: my friend Monclar grows piteous when I talk of such an event– I can’t bear to leave him; he is to take my portrait to-day[14] (a famous one he has taken!)—and very like he engages it shall be. I am going to Town for the purpose. Then comes a thrice-intreated interview I vouchsafe to the Editor of a big Review—then comes .. something or other, I know–

M[acready]. is playing very beautifully.

Your translation (beautiful puts me in mind) is “a goodly matter, truly: comes there any more of it?”[15] I will send it (since you bid me ..) next time.

I shall call at the booksellers for “Strafford” as I go, and send it with this[16]—pray Providence the look of the book be not as I fear! I have taken measures about “Prometheus”.[17]

The part of “Paracelsus” you ask concerning, was done here, in a horrible smoky room: I remember the how and the when well enough. It is pretty fair–

Now then, do something for me, and see if I’ll ask Miss M.[18] to help you! I am going to begin the finishing Sordello, and to begin thinking about a Tragedy (an Historical one, so I shall want heaps of criticisms on “Strafford”)—and I want to have another Tragedy in prospect, I write best so provided; I had chosen a splendid subject for it, when I learned that a magazine for next, this month, will have a scene founded on my story: vulgarizing or doing no good to it: and I accordingly throw it up.[19] I want a subject of the most wild and passionate love, to contrast with the one I mean to have ready in a short time: I have many half-conceptions, floating fancies: give me your notion of a thorough self-devotement, self-forgetting; should it be a woman who loves thus, or a man? What circumstances will best draw out, set forth this feeling?[20] Think for me; and let me breakfast, dear E F. H. who

am, yours ever

R Browning

I enclose a sketch of a Puritan, to illustrate Strafford: See Act 3, Sc 3. a follower of S. says—“‘King Pym’ has fallen!”. Puritan. “Pym?”. The Follower. “Pym!”– The Puritan. “Only Pym?”– Notice, the mouth, the eye, the triumph hardly to be kept down.

Address, on integral page: Miss Haworth, / Barham Lodge, / Elstree.

Publication: BBIS-5, pp. 62–63.

Manuscript: Armstrong Browning Library.

1. Miss Haworth lived at Elstree, near to the Macreadys, and it was they who introduced RB to her. For further details of the friendship, see pp. 314-315.

2. Dated by RB’s sending with this letter a copy of Strafford, inscribed “Miss Haworth, from the Author. July 1. 1837.”

3. RB uses the verb, rather than the noun Anknüpfung, meaning connection.

4. Two “Sonnets to the Author of ‘Paracelsus’” were printed, without initials, in The New Monthly Magazine, September 1836 (XLVIII, p. 48). At some time, her authorship must have been admitted, because copies of the sonnets, in Macready’s hand, were annotated by Sarianna Browning ascribing them to Miss Haworth (see Reconstruction, L121 and L122).

5. Presumably the pencil sketch by Amédée de Ripert-Monclar listed in Reconstruction (G2).

6. Glasspool, Mrs. Keate and Miss Lewis have not been identified.

7. King Richard III, III, 2, 11 (slightly misquoted), by Colley Cibber (1671–1757).

8. The album, a present from Monclar, contains drawings, engravings and printed items. Most were loosely inserted, one item as late as 1895. Three pages are reproduced in the present work: drawing of a castle by Monclar; lithograph of Monclar by Joseph Chaix; and drawings by Fanny Haworth depicting scenes from Paracelsus. A pencil sketch of Victor Hugo as a young man, drawn from memory by Monclar, originally in the album, has been removed. See also Reconstruction, H156.

9. Cf. Coleridge’s Zapolya (1817), II, ii, 1, 73.

10. Shelley, “The Witch of Atlas,” line 108.

11. See letter 476, note 1.

12. In her Autobiography (1877, I, 140), Miss Martineau wrote “His [Fox’s] reply to my first letter was so cordial that I was animated to offer him extensive assistance … His editorial correspondence with me was unquestionably the occasion, and in great measure the cause, of the greatest intellectual progress I ever made before the age of thirty.”

13. The Merchant of Venice, IV, 1, 341.

14. According to Monclar’s journal (SD823), the portrait (reproduced on facing page) was not started when RB called on the 1st. It was begun on the 4th and finished on the 7th.

15. The Taming of the Shrew, I, 1, 250–251, slightly misquoted. We have not been able to identify Miss Haworth’s translation.

16. See Reconstruction, C583.

17. This is probably a reference to his intention, never fulfilled, of writing “Prometheus Fire-Bearer” (see his letter to EBB of 11 March 1845).

18. It is not clear if RB is referring to Miss Macready or Miss Martineau.

19. A reference to R.H. Horne’s The Death of Marlowe, which appeared in The Monthly Repository, August 1837.

20. This passage describes the theme of The Return of the Druses. Although it was not published until 1843, DeVane speculates (p. 132) that RB commenced work on it in the autumn of 1837.

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