Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4

Browning writes, as he has obligated himself to do, on April 4, 1846 and responds to Miss Barrett's description of her conversation with Mrs. Jameson regarding the foolishness of artists and geniuses:

"...all my hopes is in the future endeavour--it is, my Ba,--this is earnest truth. And one thing that strikes me on hearing such prognostications of Mrs. Jameson's opinion on our subject--is that--as far as I am concerned..or yourself indeed--we must make up our mind to endure the stress of it, and of such opinions generally, with all resignation..and by the time we can answer,--why, alas, they are gone & forgotten, so that there's no paying them for their impertinence.--I mean,--that I do not expect,--as a foolish fanciful boy might, that on the sudden application of "Hymen's torch" (to give the old simile one chance more),--our happiness will blaze out apparent to the whole world lying in darkness, like a wondrous "Catherine's-wheel," now all blue, now red, and so die at the best amid an universal clapping of hands--I trust a long life of real work "begun, carried on and ended," as it never otherwise could have been (certainly by me..and I hope, by you, dearest, it is because you teach me to aspire to the height)--that the attainment of all that happiness of daily, hourly life in entire affection, which seeing that men of genius--ah, these words!...but what I wanted to say--we will live the real answer, will we not, dearest, all the stupidity against "genius" "poets," and the like, is got past the stage of being treated with patient consideration and gentle pity--it is too vexatious, if it will not lie still, out of the way, by this time. What is the crime, to his fellow man or woman...what is crime which would have been prevented but for the "genius" involved in it. A man of genius ill-treats his wife--well take away the "genius"--does he so naturally improve?"

This reply to Mrs. Jameson seems a tad bit touchy. Did she hit a nerve? I rather got the impression that Miss Barrett was amused by Mrs. Jameson's observations, which must have seemed from her advantage pretty ridiculous. But perhaps Mrs. Jameson does not consider Browning a "genius" at all and so would not have considered him as part of her hypothesis. Browning must consider himself a genius or perhaps he was offended for Miss Barrett whom he considers a genius. Either way, a very interesting reaction.

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