Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17

June 17, 1846 Browning sends Miss Barrett one of his trademark long rambling letters, but I will spare you the tedious bits and jump to the chase:

"....My dearest Ba, you say “let us both think”—think of this, you! Do not for God’s sake introduce an element of uncertainty and restlessness and dissatisfaction into the feeling whereon my life lies .. to speak for myself, this matter is concluded, done with,—I am yours, you are mine, and not to give rise to refinements upon refinements as to what is the being most of all each other’s, which might end in your loving me best while I was turned a Turk in the East, or my .. you know the Inquisition does all for the pure love of the victim’s soul: let us have common sense—and think, in its most ordinary exercise, what would my life be worth now without you—as I,—putting on your own crown, accepting your own dearest assurance,—dare believe your life would be incomplete now without mine: so you have allowed me to believe. Then our course is plain. If you dare make the effort, we will do as we propose,—if not, not: I have nothing to do but take your hand .. there is not one difficulty in my path,—nor in yours on my account,—that is, for me....Dear, dear, dear Ba, I kiss you, kiss my heart out unto you,—best love, one love! See above what I will not think over again, look over again .. but what then? Can I be quiet when I hear the least, least motion about my treasure, and my heart that is there, with it? Then no more, I beseech you, love, never one word more of all that! Whenever I can hear such words calmly, I shall be fit for agreeing to them,—let all be, now!....And do I understand you, my Ba, when I venture this time .. because of the words and the pain I shall not hide that they did give me, .. to feel that, even beyond my kissing you, you kiss this one time your own RB"

Browning is a great guy, but he does have this tendency to want to open his brain and spill it onto the paper in a tangled mess. Miss Barrett is about the only one to have the patience to decipher his meanings.

In reply, Miss Barrett is treading lightly and speaking humbly:

"Dearest & ever dearest, try to forgive me when I fall so manifestly short of you in all things! It is the very sense of this which throws me on despairs sometimes of being other than a bane to your life—and then .. by way of a remedy .. I begin to be a torment to it directly. Forgive me. Whatever I may say I am as wholly yours as if you held me in your hand, & I would do for you any extravagance, as if it were a common thing, at a word—& what is before us is only a common thing, since I have looked to it from the beginning. Oh—I may talk when I am out of spirits—but you know, & I know best of all, that I could not withdraw myself from you, unless you said ‘Go’—could not—I have no power. Fine talking, it is of me, to talk of withdrawing myself from you! You know I could not at all do it, let ever so many special pleaders come to prove to me that you would be more prosperous & happy without me. “Then” I would say .. “let him put me away. I cant put myself away, because I am not mine but his.” Assuredly I would say just that, & no more. So do you forget that I have teazed you & pained you … pained you! .. I will try not to pain you, my own, own dearest, any more. I have grown to love you instead of the whole world; & only one thing (.. you understand what that is ..) is dreadful & intolerable to me to imagine .. But now it is done with,—& you shall teach me hereafter to make you happy instead of the contrary. So .. yes—you are kissed this time! .. upon both eyes, .. that they may not see my faults. And afterwards I will tell you a paradox .. that if I loved you a hundred times less, I should run into such offences less in exact proportion. And finally I will give you a promise .. not to teaze you for a week—which were a wonderful feat for me!—the teazer par excellence.

So Browning gets his kiss and his pain assuaged. And there is more good news about Mrs. Jameson:

Mrs Jameson came for me to drive at about six, & she & I were in Regent’s Park until nearly eight. Then she went somewhere to dinner, & I who had had tea, came home to supper!—— I like her very much—more & more, certainly—and we need not be mysterious up to the usual mark of mystery, because I told her .. told her .. what might be told—& she was gracious to the uttermost—not angry at all,—& said that “Truth was truth, & one could breathe in the atmosphere of it, & she was glad I had told her.” Of you, she said, that she admired you more than ever—yes, more than ever .. for the “manner in which as a man of honour you had kept the secret”—so you were praised, & I, not blamed .. & we shall not complain, if our end is as good as our beginning. Also we talked of your poetry & of you personally, & I was pleased, .. which proves a little what was said—and I heard how you were invited as a “celebrity” for the Countess Hahn Hahn to see you, & how you effaced yourself with ever so much gracefulness; yet not too much, to omit charming the whole room. Mrs Jameson praises you always, as nobody does better. And tomorrow .. will you be surprised to hear that tomorrow at half past four, I am to go again with her, .. to see Rogers’s pictures? Is it wrong? shall I get into a scrape? She promised laughingly that I should be incognita to the only companion she thought of taking..a Mrs Bracebridge, I think—& Mr Rogers himself is not to be visible—& she herself will mention it to nobody. It was hard to say ‘no’—yet perhaps ‘no’ would have been better. Do you think so? Mrs Bracebridge is an artist & lives or lived on Mount Hymettus!and she is not to hear my name even.
Now—goodnight, very dear!—most dear of all! I will not teaze you for a fortnight, I think. Ah—if ever I can do that again, you shall not be pained, .. you shall think that my heart & life are in you, & that, if they seem to flutter, it is that they go deeper. All I am is yours—which is different from .. all I have. ‘All I have,’ is when I may lean my head down on the shoulder–"

Miss Barrett was being very bold today, she went driving with Mrs. Jameson and she confessed to her that she was seeing Browning and she agreed to go and see some paintings. What a brazen woman! I am glad that they got all their anxieties cleared up. Too much drama is very taxing on my nerves.

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