Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11

We haven't been paying much attention to the letters of June and July 1845 mostly because Miss Barrett had warned Browning that he was not permitted to love her, he was only permitted to be her friend, when he had declared himself at the end of May. They have mostly been talking about poetry (she is reviewing his poems) and the weather and literary gossip. But this did not mean that Browning wasn't trying to get his message heard. Let's look at some of Browning's attempts at self restraint and hint dropping:

June 9
Just after my note left, yours came—I will try so to answer it as to please you; and I begin by promising cheerfully to do all you bid me about naming days &c. I do believe we are friends now and for ever.

June 14
I will get the Tragedy transcribed to bring—
'To bring!' Next Wednesday—if you know how happy you make me! may I not say that, my dear friend, when I feel it from my soul? You let 'flowers be sent you in a letter,' every one knows, and this hot day draws out our very first yellow rose.

June 19
And now here is a week to wait before I shall have any occasion to relapse into Greek literature when I am thinking all the while, 'now I will just ask simply, what flattery there was,' &c. &c., which, as I had not courage to say then, I keep to myself for shame now. This I will say, then—wait and know me better, as you will one long day at the end.

June 23
And if I am 'suspicious of your suspiciousness,' who gives cause, pray? The matter was long ago settled, I thought, when you first took exception to what I said about higher and lower, and I consented to this much—that you should help seeing, if you could, our true intellectual and moral relation each to the other, so long as you would allow me to see what is there, fronting me. 'Is my eye evil because yours is not good?' My own friend, if I wished to 'make you vain,' if having 'found the Bower' I did really address myself to the wise business of spoiling its rose-roof,—I think that at least where there was such a will, there would be also something not unlike a way,—that I should find a proper hooked stick to tear down flowers with, and write you other letters than these—quite, quite others, I feel—though I am far from going to imagine, even for a moment, what might be the precise prodigy—like the notable Son of Zeus, that was to have been, and done the wonders, only he did not, because &c. &c....And all the while I am yours

June 24
As for going abroad, that is just the thing I most want to avoid (for a reason not so hard to guess, perhaps, as why my letter was slow in arriving).
So, till to-morrow,—my light through the dark week.

June 25
Pomegranates you may cut deep down the middle and see into, but not hearts,—so why should I try and speak?

July 7
for you and me—and as it was in the beginning so it is still. You are the—But you know and why should I tease myself with words?

July 14
I daresay you think you have some, perhaps many, to whom your well-being is of deeper interest than to me. Well, if that be so, do for their sakes make every effort with the remotest chance of proving serviceable to you; nor set yourself against any little irksomeness these carriage-drives may bring with them just at the beginning; and you may say, if you like, 'how I shall delight those friends, if I can make this newest one grateful'—and, as from the known quantity one reasons out the unknown, this newest friend will be one glow of gratitude, he knows that, if you can warm your finger-tips and so do yourself that much real good, by setting light to a dozen 'Duchesses': why ought I not to say this when it is so true?

He would burn his poems to warm her fingertips. Are these not words of love?

July--undated note sent with a packet of books by Hood:
I shall just say, at the beginning of a note as at the end, I am yours ever, and not till summer ends and my nails fall out, and my breath breaks bubbles,—ought you to write thus having restricted me as you once did, and do still? You tie me like a Shrove-Tuesday fowl to a stake and then pick the thickest cudgel out of your lot, and at my head it goes—I wonder whether you remembered having predicted exactly the same horror once before. 'I was to see you—and you were to understand'—Do you? do you understand—my own friend—with that superiority in years, too!....
God bless you—do not be otherwise than kind to this letter which it costs me pains, great pains to avoid writing better, as truthfuller—this you get is not the first begun. Come, you shall not have the heart to blame me; for, see, I will send all my sins of commission with Hood,—blame them, tell me about them, and meantime let me be, dear friend, yours, RB

July 22
I cannot write this morning—I should say too much and have to be sorry and afraid—let me be safely yours ever, my own dear friend— R.B.
I am but too proud of your praise—when will the blame come—at Malta?

July 25
Will you write to me? caring, though, so much for my best interests as not to write if you can work for yourself, or save yourself fatigue. I think before writing—or just after writing—such a sentence—but reflection only justifies my first feeling; I would rather go without your letters, without seeing you at all, if that advantaged you—my dear, first and last friend; my friend! And now—surely I might dare say you may if you please get well through God's goodness—with persevering patience, surely—and this next winter abroad—which you must get ready for now, every sunny day, will you not? If I venture to weary you again with all this, is there not the cause of causes, and did not the prophet write that 'there was a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the E.B.B.' led on to the fortune of  Your R.B.

July 28
How must I feel, and what can, or could I say even if you let me say all? I am most grateful, most happy—most happy, come what will!

July 31
In all I say to you, write to you, I know very well that I trust to your understanding me almost beyond the warrant of any human capacity—but as I began, so I shall end. I shall believe you remember what I am forced to remember—you who do me the superabundant justice on every possible occasion,—you will never do me injustice when I sit by you and talk about Italy and the rest.
—To-day I cannot write—though I am very well otherwise—but I shall soon get into my old self-command and write with as much 'ineffectual fire' as before: but meantime, you will write to me, I hope—telling me how you are? I have but one greater delight in the world than in hearing from you.
God bless you, my best, dearest friend—think what I would speak—

August 4
Dearest friend, I intend to write more, and very likely be praised more, now I care less than ever for it, but still more do I look to have you ever before me, in your place, and with more poetry and more praise still, and my own heartfelt praise ever on the top, like a flower on the water. I have said nothing of yesterday's storm ... thunder ... may you not have been out in it! The evening draws in, and I will walk out. May God bless you, and let you hold me by the hand till the end—Yes, dearest friend!

August 8
Never, pray, pray, never lose one sunny day or propitious hour to 'go out or walk about.' But do not surprise me, one of these mornings, by 'walking' up to me when I am introduced' ... or I shall infallibly, in spite of all the after repentance and begging pardon—I shall [words effaced]. So here you learn the first 'painful truth' I have it in my power to tell you!
I sent you the last of our poor roses this morning—considering that I fairly owed that kindness to them.

August 15
Do you know, dear friend, it is no good policy to stop up all the vents of my feeling, nor leave one for safety's sake, as you will do, let me caution you never so repeatedly. I know, quite well enough, that your 'kindness' is not so apparent, even, in this instance of correcting my verses, as in many other points—but on such points, you lift a finger to me and I am dumb.... Am I not to be allowed a word here neither?

As the summer goes on he gets bolder and bolder. She grows less formal, she is getting more comfortable with the wooing. We have seen what a careful reader she is of every word written, she would be have to be blind not to see where he is going with all this. Yet he never fails to refer to her as his friend. Dear friend. Dearest friend. August 4th he says he heard thunder. Can lightning be far behind?

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