Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23

April 23, 1846 brings an interesting confession from Miss Barrett:

"...You are the best, I know, of all in the world. Did I tell you once that my love was 'something'? Yet it is nothing: because there is no woman, let her heart be ever so made of stone & steel, who could HELP loving you,..I answer for all women!--so this is no merit of mine, though it is the best thing I ever did in my life.

Dearest beloved, when I used to tell you to give me up, & imagined to myself how I should feel if you did it,..& thought it would not be much worse that it was before I knew you..( a little better indeed, inasmuch as I had the memory for ever..) the chief pang was the idea of another woman..!From THAT, I have turned back again & again, recoiling like a horse set against too high a wall. Therefore, if I talk of what all women would do, I do not mean that they SHOULD."

The idea of Miss Barrett being jealous is fascinating. Another thing that is interesting to me is in the first paragraph quoted here. Browning had said that he had to listen to her praise him 49 days out of 50 and she denied that vigorously. And yet here we see abject flattery. Browning was no doubt very charming and intelligent but there are many, many women that would have rejected him simply based on his looks. Browning for all of his charm was not especially handsome of face. It is also interesting given how sensitive she was herself that she was no beauty. A further majority of women would have rejected this man for his lack of funding. So on the whole I would say: Flattery. But loving flattery.

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