Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10

On April 10, 1846 Browning completely capitulates on the dueling argument:

"Dearest, sweetest best--how can you, seeing so much, yet see that 'possibility'--I leave off loving you! and be 'angry' and 'vexed' and the rest!...I protest in the most solemn way I am capable of conceiving, that I am altogether unable to imagine how or whence or why any possible form of anger or vexation or anything akin can or could or should or shall ever rise in me to you--it is a sense hitherto undreamed of, a new faculty--altogether and inexplicable, impossible feeling..To say, 'if you did thus or thus.'..--what I know you could no more do than go and kill cows with your own hand, and dig up kale grounds? but I can fancy your being angry with me, very angry--and speaking the truth of the anger--that is to be fancied: and God knows I should in that case kiss my letters, here, till you pleased to judge me not unworthy to kiss the hem of your garment again...What are you given me for but to make me better--and , in that, happier?..did I not pray you at the beginning to tell me the instant you detected anything to be altered by human effort? to become more like you and worthier of you? and here where you find me gravely in the wrong, and I am growing conscious of being in the wrong,--...YOU ARE RIGHT and I am wrong and will lay it to heart, and now kiss, not your feet this time, because I am the prouder, not from the more humble, by this admission and retraction--

Your note arrives here--Ba;--it would have been 'better for me' THAT? [In her previous letter she thought it better for him to have never seen her face.] Oh, dearest, let us marry soon, very soon, and end all this!..Can you, now, by this time tell me or yourself that you could believe me happy with any other woman that ever breathed? I tell you, without affectation, that I lay the whole blame on myself,..that I feel that if I had spoken my love out SUFFICIENTLY, all this doubt could never have been possible. You quite believe that I am in earnest, know my own mind and speak as I feel, on these points we disputed about--yet I am far from being sure of it, or so it seems now--but, as for loving you,--there I mistake, or may be wrong, or may, or might or or--...when I am away, all the mistaking begins--let it end soon, soon, dearest life of my life, light of my soul, heart's joy of my heart!--

May God bless you, dearest--and show you the truth in me, the one truth which I dare hope compensates for so much that is to be forgiven: when I told you at the beginning I was not worthy, was infinitely lower &c you seemed incredulous! well now, you see! I, that you WOULD persist in hoping better things of, held such opinions as those--and so you begin setting me right, and so I am set far on towards right--is not all well, love? And now go on, when I give next occasion, and tell me more, and let me alter more, and thank you,--if I can, more--but not love you more, you, Ba, whom I love wholly, with all my faculties, all my being....

Oh, boy, does he lay it on thick. He has totally abased himself to her. But will she buy it? Her skepticism seems to have no bounds. I enjoyed the bit where he scolds her for believing that his letter reflected his true feelings on dueling but she wouldn't accept his words of love as his true feelings. Very well played Mr. Browning. However, I can see her arguing that the fact that he is retreating demonstrates that his love could retreat as well. Perversity, thy name is Miss Barrett. Well, their plans are to meet the next day so we shall see if they make up the duelling thread then or if it continues on with one last word...

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