Correspondence

804.  EBB to Julia Martin

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 5, 32–34.

[Torquay]

March. 29th 1841

My dearest Mrs Martin,

Have you thought “The dream has come true”? I mean the dream of the flowers which you pulled for me & I wdnt look at, even? I fear you must have thought that the dream about my ingratitude has come true.

And yet it has not. Dearest Mrs Martin, it has not. I have not forgotten you or remembered you less affectionately through all the silence, or longed less for the letters I did not ask for. But the truth is, my faculties seem to hang heavily now, like flappers when the spring is broken. My spring is broken—and a separate exertion is necessary for the lifting up of each, .. & then it falls down again. I never felt so before: There is no wonder that I shd feel so now. Nevertheless I dont give up much to the pernicious languor .. the tendency to lie down to sleep among the snows of a weary journey .. I dont give up much to it. Only I find it sometimes at the root of certain negligences, .. for instance of this towards you.

Dearest Mrs Martin, receive my sympathy, our sympathy, in the anxiety you have lately felt so painfully & in the rejoicing for its happy issue. Do say when you write (I take for granted you see that you will write) how Mrs Vigor[1] is now—besides the intelligence more nearly touching me, of your own & Mr Martin’s health & spirits. May God bless you both!–

Ah!—but you did not come! I was disappointed!–

And Mrs Hanford!– Do you know, I tremble in my reveries sometimes, lest you shd think it, guess it, to be half unkind in me not to have made an exertion to see Mrs Hanford.[2] It was not from want of interest in her––least of all from want of love to you– But I have not stirred from my bed yet– But to be honest, that was not the reason– I did not feel as if I could, without a painful effort, which on the other hand, cd not, I was conscious, result in the slightest shade of satisfaction to her, receive & talk to her. Perhaps it is hard for you to fancy even, how I shrink away from the very thought of seeing a human face—except those immediately belonging to me in love or relationship—(yours does, you know) .. & a stranger’s might be easier to look at than one long known.

No– I did not understand from Dr Scully that he apprehended anything serious in Mrs Hanford’s indisposition. She had frequent colds, I think—& reason to complain of the humidity of the climate—but there was no cause for uneasiness. So at least I understood. His opinion too, as expressed to me, was favorable about her son. He said, nothing but care was wanted. And as to Fanny,[3] she appears to have prospered here, to have looked better & better, & become capable of a good deal of exercise. Dr Scully was delighted with them all—to admiration I assure you!–

For my own part, my dearest Mrs Martin, my heart has been lightened lately by kind honest Dr Scully (who wd never give an opinion just to please me) saying that I am ‘quite right’ to mean to go to London, & shall probably be fit for the journey early in June. He says that I may pass the winter there moreover, & with impunity—that wherever I am it will probably be necessary for me to remain shut up during the cold weather, & that under such circumstances it is quite possible to warm a London room to as safe a condition as a room here. So my heart is lightened of the fear of opposition: & the only means of regaining whatever portion of earthly happiness is not irremediably lost to me by the Divine decree, I am free to use. In the meantime, it really does seem to me that I make some progress in health—if the word in my lips be not a mockery. Oh—I fancy I shall be strengthened to get home.

Your remarks on Chaucer pleased me very much. I am glad you liked what I did—or tried to do—and as to the criticisms, you were right—& they shant be unattended to if the opportunity of correction be given to me.

Ever your affectionate

Ba

Love to <dear> Mr Martin. Henrietta’s love & Arabels too–

Stormie & Octavius are still here—all of them quite well thank God–

Address: Mrs James Martin / Camden House / Chiselhurst / London.

Publication: LEBB, I, 86–88 (in part).

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Unidentified.

2. Mrs. Martin’s friend, Mrs. Hanford, had been in Torquay for her health.

3. Fanny Hanford and her brother later visited RB and EBB in Florence, where, in May 1847, they witnessed the signing of the Brownings’ marriage settlement, afterwards conveying it back to Kenyon in England (see EBB’s letter to Henrietta Moulton-Barrett, 16–21 May 1847).

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