Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 6

Miss Barrett is in haste to write on March 6, 1846:

"Now listen! I seem to understand myself: it seems to me that every word I ever said to you on one subject, is plainly referable to a class of feelings of which you could not complain ... could not. But this is my impression; and yours is different:—you do not understand, you do not see by my light, and perhaps it is natural that you should not, as we stand on different steps of the argument. Still I, who said what I did, for you, and from an absorbing consideration of what was best for you, cannot consent, even out of anxiety for your futurity, to torment you now, to vex you by a form of speech which you persist in translating into a want of trust in you ... (I, want trust in you!!) into a need of more evidence about you from others ... (could you say so?) and even into an indisposition on my part to fulfil my engagement—no, dearest dearest, it is not right of you. And therefore, as you have these thoughts reasonably or unreasonably, I shall punish you for them at once, and 'chain' you ... (as you wish to be chained), chain you, rivet you—do you feel how the little fine chain twists round and round you? do you hear the stroke of the riveting? and you may feel that too. Now, it is done—now, you are chained—Bia has finished the work—I, Ba! (observe the anagram!) and not a word do you say, of Prometheus, though you have the conscience of it all, I dare say. Well! you must be pleased, ... as it was 'the weight of too much liberty' which offended you: and now you believe, perhaps, that I trust you, love you, and look to you over the heads of the whole living world, without any one head needing to stoop; you must, if you please, because you belong to me now and shall believe as I choose. There's a ukase for you! Cry out ... repent ... and I will loose the links, and let you go againshall it be 'My dear Miss Barrett?'

Seriously, you shall not think of me such things as you half said, if not whole said, to-day. If all men were to speak evil of you, my heart would speak of you the more good—that would be the one result with me. Do I not know you, soul to soul? should I believe that any of them could know you as I know you? Then for the rest, I am not afraid of 'toads' now, not being a child any longer. I am not inclined to mind, if you do not mind, what may be said about us by the benevolent world, nor will other reasons of a graver kind affect me otherwise than by the necessary pain. Therefore the whole rests with you—unless illness should intervene—and you will be kind and good (will you not?) and not think hard thoughts of me ever again—no. It wasn't the sense of being less than you had a right to pretend to, which made me speak what you disliked—for it is I who am 'unworthy,' and not another—not certainly that other!

I meant to write more to-night of subjects farther off us, but my sisters have come up-stairs and I must close my letter quickly."

What a playfully indignant letter. And the interesting reference to Prometheus. The letter we discussed yesterday from March 5, 1845, a year previous, is redolent of Prometheus who knows that he has sinned of his own free will and is accepting his punishment of being chained, "...he had not, however, foreseen the extent and detail of the torment, the skiey rocks, and the friendless desolation." She has chained her Prometheus of his own free will and perhaps he will repent of it.

But Browning has not received Miss Barrett's March 6 letter when he sends his March 6, 1846 letter and he is making peace as well:

"It is always I who 'torment' you—instead of taking the present and blessing you, and leaving the future to its own cares. I certainly am not apt to look curiously into what next week is to bring, much less next month or six months, but you, the having you, my own, dearest beloved, that is as different in kind as in degree from any other happiness or semblance of it that even seemed possible of realization. Then, now, the health is all to stay, or retard us—oh, be well, my Ba.....
On Monday—is it not? Who was it looked into the room just at our leave-taking?"

Who looked in on them? A touch of paranoia? What were those two poets up to? Writing poetry? I suspect that if it was Papa at the door Browning would not be writing the inquiry. He would have known at once....

1 comment:

  1. She is worried about him being burdened with her but wants him to understand where her thought pattern is. He has her love. She will always think well of him.

    Her health and the burden of it weighs on her a lot.