Correspondence

806.  EBB to Mary Russell Mitford

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 5, 36–37.

[Torquay]

April 16– 1841

Ever dearest Miss Mitford,

Did you write “sweetness” in the last line? Because I think it shd be ‘fragrance’––for all that slip of the pen.

Thanks many & true for your ‘Memorabilia’ of Flush the ancient! You cannot think how they amused me & how willingly & copiously I pay my tribute of wonder before him!– The dramatic taste leaning to the high tragic, & the courtesies from the carriage to the Bench,[1] are all admirable in their way—and although I & my Flush bend of course to so much superiority of acquirement, I do, in certain features, & in spite of all philosophers who deny hereditary genius, trace in him downwards, some faculties of his father. But you must make allowances you know, for youth & seclusion. Your Flush is a dog of the world.

But mine is not quite happy though you think so. My Flush has a grievance—which is, that he is forced most nights to be shut up in the kitchen & consigned to a straw bed in a basket, covered indeed with green baize, & placed near the fire before it quite goes out, but still very far from being as agreeable to Flush as my bed is. He wants to lie on my bed—& most particularly objects to being shut up at night all by himself in the dark. It is quite a grievance both to him & me. For he begs so hard not to be taken away & cries sometimes so piteously, that I cant in every case resist—& more than once or twice, although Dr Scully said to me “Mind, Flush must not sleep on your bed” I have yielded the point & let him lie at my feet till morning in the manner of Ruth.[2] At other times he is shut up—& whenever a door down stairs has happened to be left unclosed, up he comes to this door in the middle of the night, shaking the handle with his two paws until Arabel, who sleeps on a sofa by my side, gets up to let him in. Poor Flush! That is his “evil of humanity”.

You will never guess what I am doing—my beloved friend—or rather suffering!—oh—you will never guess.

I am sitting .. rather lying for my picture!![3]

That sounds like vanity between two worlds, indeed!—only the explanation excuses me, .. the picture being for Papa who wishes for it I know, & thinks he wishes for it [in] vain! But I mean it as a surprise to him—always meant to surprise him so if a lady- <***>

Publication: EBB-MRM, I, 219–220.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Miss Mitford’s Flush liked to travel into Reading with Dr. Mitford when he attended to his duties as magistrate.

2. Cf. Ruth, 3:7–14.

3. See note 3 to the previous letter.

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