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