Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10

Browning writes July 10, 1846 on a number of things, plans for Italy, Flush the attack spaniel, the weather, Miss Barrett's health and of course, Haydon:

"And I am disappointed, dearest, in this news of La Cava—after which it would be madness to think of going there: the one reason we have to go at all is simply for your health—I mean, that if the seclusion were the main object, we might easily compass that here. All places are utterly indifferent to me if I can inhabit them with you—why should Palermo please me less than Italy proper? The distance is considerable, however, and the journey expensive. I wonder whether the steamer will sail for Leghorn as last year. As for the travelling English, they are horrible and, at Florence, unbearable .. their voices in your ear at every turn .. and such voices!....The most dreadful event that could happen to me would be your getting worse instead of better .. God knows what I should do! So whatever precaution we can take, let us take.
Oh, poor Flush,—do you think I do not love and respect him for his jealous supervision,—his slowness to know another, having once known you? All my apprehension is that, in the imaginations downstairs, he may very unconsciously play the part of the dog that is heard to “bark violently” while something dreadful takes place: yet I do not sorrow over his slapped ears, as if they ever pained him very much—you dear Ba!

Browning is such a gentleman, he doesn't want anyone downstairs to think that something untoward is going on in Miss Barrett's boudoir! What a hoot.

"And to-morrow I shall see you– Are you, can you be, really “better” after I have seen you? If it is not truth .. which I will not say .. such an assurance is the most consummate flattery I can imagine .. it may be recorded on my tombstone “RB—to whom this flattery was addressed; that, after the sight of him, Ba was better, she said”– If it is truth .. may you say that, neither more nor less, day by day, year by year thro’ our lives—and I shall have lived indeed!"

I want, now, to refer as little as possible to the sad subject .. but I am glad you have written,—glad too that you are not severe on me for some hasty speeches—which did, indeed, mean as you say .. vexation at your having been vexed. And, I will just add, you remark excellently on the wound to self love making itself that remedy, rather than the wound to the affections .. yet there are instances .. Romilly loses his wife .. so does poor Laman Blanchard."

This last reference is to two recent cases of men who had committed suicide after the death of their wives in response to her assertion that most suicides are not the result of grief. This probably isn't the last of the Haydon story. These little dramas seem to linger. But the plans for Italy, which seem rather speculative, like flipping through a tour book catalog, are prelude to a flight that is not too far away...

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