Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25

I knew Browning was making a mistake trying to explain 'if he should' sometimes not care to write to Miss Barrett. She was not going to let it go:

Ah; if I 'do' ... if I 'should' ... if I shall ... if I will ... if I must ... what can all the 'ifs' prove, but a most hypothetical state of the conscience? And in brief, I beg you to stand convinced of one thing, that whenever the 'certain time' comes for to 'hate writing to me' confessedly, 'avowedly,' (oh what words!) I shall not like it at all—not for all the explanations ... and the sights in gondola chairs, which the person seen is none the better for! The ειδωλον [image] sits by the fire—the real Ba is cold at heart through wanting her letter. And that's the doctrine to be preached now, ... is it? I 'shrink,' shrink from it. That's your word!—and mine! Dearest, I began by half a jest and end by half-gravity, which is the fault of your doctrine and not of me I think. Yet it is ungrateful to be grave, when practically you are good and just about the letters, and generous too sometimes, and I could not bear the idea of obliging you to write to me, even once ... when.... Now do not fancy that I do not understand. I understand perfectly, on the contrary. Only do you try not to dislike writing when you write, or not to write when you dislike it ... that, I ask of you, dear dearest—and forgive me for all this over-writing and teazing and vexing which is foolish and womanish in the bad sense. It is a way of meeting, ... the meeting in letters, ... and next to receiving a letter from you, I like to write one to you ... and, so, revolt from thinking it lawful for you to dislike.... Well! the Goddess of Dulness herself couldn't have written this better, anyway, nor more characteristically.

But even she sees that she can take it only so far so she ends by praising his poetry:

Your head aches, dearest. Mr. Moxon will have done his worst, however, presently, and then you will be a little better I do hope and trust—and the proofs, in the meanwhile, will do somewhat less harm than the manuscript. You will take heart again about 'Luria' ... which I agree with you, is more diffuse ... that is, less close, than any of your works, not diffuse in any bad sense, but round, copious, and another proof of that wonderful variety of faculty which is so striking in you, and which signalizes itself both in the thought and in the medium of the thought. You will appreciate 'Luria' in time—or others will do it for you. It is a noble work under every aspect. Dear 'Luria'! Do you remember how you told me of 'Luria' last year, in one of your early letters? Little I thought that ever, ever, I should feel so, while 'Luria' went to be printed! A long trail of thoughts, like the rack in the sky, follows his going. Can it be the same 'Luria,' I think, that 'golden-hearted Luria,' whom you talked of to me, when you complained of keeping 'wild company,' in the old dear letter? And I have learnt since, that 'golden-hearted' is not a word for him only, or for him most. May God bless you, best and dearest! I am your own to live and to die—


Say how you are. I shall be down-stairs to-morrow if it keeps warm.

Miss Thomson wants me to translate the Hector and Andromache scene from the 'Iliad' for her book; and I am going to try it.

And that is for all of the idiot biographers who say she didn't work during the courtship.

1 comment:

  1. He Tried to explain. I hope he learns with time to say things carefully