Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12

Browning made his visit to Wimpole Street April 11, 1846 and April 12 brought  yet another letter from Miss Barrett touching on the dueling argument:

"I will not speak much of the letter, as you desire that I should not. And because everything you write must be answered in some way & sense,..must have some result,..there is less need of words in the present case. Let me say only then, ever dearest, dearest that I never felt towards you as I felt when I had read that letter..never loved you so entirely!..that it went to my heart, & stayed there, & seemed to mix with the blood of it..believe this of me, dear dearest beloved!...ah, you are so fond of dressing me up in pontifical garments! ('for fun,' as the children say!)--because they are too large for me, they drop off always of themselves,..they do not require my pulling them off: these extravagances get righted of their own accord. After all, too, you,..with that preternatural submissiveness of yours, know your power upon the whole, & understand, in the midst of obeisances, that you can do very much what you please, with your High Priest.

And now, do you see. It was natural that when we differed for the first time I should fall into low spirits. In the night, at dream-time, when instead of dreams 'deep thought falleth upon man,' suddenly I have been sad even to tears, do you know, to think of that: & whenever I am not glad, the old fears & misgivings come back--no, you do not CANNOT, perhaps!....never think of yourself that you have expressed 'insufficiently' your feelings for me....I know that you love me....& it is through my want of familiarity with any happiness..through the want of use in carrying these weights of flowers, that I drop them again and again out of weak hands. Besides the truth is, that I am not worthy of you--& if you were to see it just as I see it, why there would be an end..there,..I sometimes think reasonably. Well now I shall be good for at least a fortnight. Do I not teaze you & give you trouble? I feel ashamed of myself sometimes."

So, why didn't she say this during their meeting the previous day? How will they get along if they marry? Will she send him notes to explain her policy positions? Browning often expresses the opinion that when they are together these types of communication problems will be eliminated, but her disinclination to discuss these things with him directly will have to be overcome, as I suspect they will be. She is used to her father always winning the battles due to his position of authority. She does not know how to react when she wins the argument. It is almost like she needs to keep slugging away when her opponent is already on the mat and then apologize that she knocked him out through over punching. But you can see her slight smile at the end when she 'teazes' that she feels ashamed of herself. She won the argument, but perhaps it was almost too easy. Is she toying with her boy?

But she cannot help herself and tells him of a conversation she had with Mr. Kenyon who has confided that Mrs. Proctor wondered what Browning's "objects in life were."

"Because Mrs. Proctor had been saying that it was a pity that he had not seven or eight hours a day of occupation....And I did say that you 'did not require an occupation as a means of living..having simple habits & desires--nor as an end of living, since you found one in the exercise of your genius! & that if Mr. Proctor had looked as simply to his art as an end, he would have done better things.' Which made Mr. Kenyon cry out..'Ah now! you are spiteful!--and you need not be, for there was nothing unkind in what she said.' 'But absurd'!--I insisted--'seeing that to put race horses into dray carts, was not usually done nor advised.'...Mr. Kenyon spoke of your family & of yourself with the best & most reverent words."

Certainly a spirited defense of her poet. It is a wonder Mr. Kenyon didn't catch a bit of a clue there, if a clue he wanted to catch. However, I suspect that this little tidbit of conversation will be upsetting to the sensitive Browning. He, after all, has no income. He is 34 years old and his father pays to have his poetry published. He wants to marry an invalid and live on air in Italy. It does seem a bit far fetched. But Browning's letter sees nothing of this coming...he has made it out of one hornets nest and is headed into another...but in the mean time he is just in love and his poems are published:

" think, my own Ba, in the direction I indicated yesterday--any obstacle now, would be more than I could bear--I feel I must live with you,--if but for a year, a month--to express the love which words cannot express, not these letters, nor aught else."

Ah, the poor lovesick puppy.

"Here, comes Luria & the other--and I lay it at my dear Lady's feet, wishing it were worthier of them, and only comforted, thro' all the conviction of the offering's unworthiness, by knowing that she will know,--the dear, peerless, all precious Ba I adore, will know--that I would give her my life gladlier at a word. See what I have written on the outside-'to Miss Barrett'!--because I thought even leaving out the name might look suspiciously!--But where no eye can see; save your dear eye..there is written a dedication."

What will Miss Barrett say to that? You never know, she's a quirky one, that one is.

No comments:

Post a Comment