Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15

July 15, 1846 brings, we hope, the last morsel of the Haydon affair, in the form of a letter from Miss Barrett to her brother George:

"Your letter I have, & thank you for-but you will know by this time, by the letter of Talfourds I enclose to you, that the whole trouble was built upon the clouds, & his negligence-very pardonable, for the rest, under the peculiar circumstances, as he properly says, of 'hurry & horror'; though before he allowed Forster to aprize me through Mr. Kenyon he should have been more accurate-For the rest, my dearest George, any jealousy was out of the question, be sure-just as it would have been for me to retire from a duty of that sort on the plea of ill health, my health being good enough now to be no source excuses that way-It was only the impossibility, as I saw it, which hindered me--not to say that in my secret soul I was unwilling to assume such a responsibility-Oh-if you thought it covetable by Talfourd or another, you were three times wrong-But enough of this.

Mr. Browning only told me enough to make me full & direct in my explanation to Talfourd, to make me explain that what I took in was of no pecuniary value. You see how Talfourd answers on that point-So it is all right. Mr. Browning said not a word that he was obliged, through his feeling for me, to say-& it was just that reserve, perhaps, which made me exaggerate to myself what might have been said. For certainly he was very angry with Miss Mitford, & poor Haydon even himself-but now and end to all this-George, do not say a word to Talfourd on the subject-and if he mentions it to you, which he will perhaps, be brief, & let it pass. There is nothing to be vexed about now-And I am quite well."

And so ends the mini-melodrama. Yes, with a whimper.

Let's jump ahead to a letter from Mrs. Browning to Mrs. Jameson on July 15, 1848. Our poets are now settled in Florence, but even Florence has it's problems:

"....Florence just now, and thanks to the panic, is tolerably clean of the English—you scarcely see an English face anywhere—and perhaps this was a circumstance that helped to give Robert courage to take our apartment here and 'settle down.' You were surprised at so decided a step I dare say, and, I believe, though too considerate to say it in your letter, you have wondered in your thoughts at our fixing at Florence instead of Rome, and without seeing more of Italy before the finality of making a choice. But observe, Florence is wonderfully cheap, one lives here for just nothing; and the convenience in respect to England, letters, and the facility of letting our house in our absence, is incomparable altogether. At Rome a house would be habitable only half the year, and the distance and the expense are objections at the first sight of the subject.... Altogether, if I could but get a supply of French books, turning the cock easily, it would be perfect; but as to anything new in the book way, Vieusseux seems to have made a vow against it, and poor Robert comes and goes in a state of desperation between me and the bookseller ('But what can I do, Ba?'), and only brings news of some pitiful revolution or other which promises a full flush of republican virtues and falls off into the fleur de lis as usual. Think of our not having read 'Lucretia' yet—George Sand's. And Balzac is six or seven works deep from us; but these are evils to be borne. We live on just in the same way, having very few visitors, and receiving them in the quietest of hospitalities. Mr. Ware, the American, who wrote the 'Letters from Palmyra,' and is a delightful, earnest, simple person, comes to have coffee with us once or twice a week, and very much we like him. Mr. Hillard, another cultivated American friend of ours, you have in London, and we should gladly have kept longer. Mr. Powers does not spend himself much upon visiting, which is quite right, but we do hope to see a good deal of Mademoiselle de Fauveau. Robert exceedingly admires her. As to Italian society, one may as well take to longing for the evening star, for it seems quite as inaccessible; and indeed, of society of any sort, we have not much, nor wish for it, nor miss it. Dearest friend, if I could open my heart to you in all seriousness, you would see nothing there but a sort of enduring wonder of happiness—yes, and some gratitude, I do hope, besides. Could everything be well in England, I should only have to melt out of the body at once in the joy and the glow of it. Happier and happier I have been, month after month; and when I hear him talk of being happy too, my very soul seems to swim round with feelings which cannot be spoken. But I tell you a little, because I owe the telling to you, and also that you may set down in your philosophy the possibility of book-making creatures living happily together. I admit, though, to begin (or end), that my husband is an exceptional human being, and that it wouldn't be just to measure another by him. We are planning a great deal of enjoyment in this 'going to the fair' at Sinigaglia, meaning to go by Arezzo and San Sepolchro, and Urbino, to Fano, where we shall pitch our tent for the benefit, as Robert says, of the sea air and the oysters. Fano is very habitable, and we may get to Pesaro and the footsteps of Castiglione's 'courtier,' to say nothing of Bernardo Tasso; and Ancona beckons from the other side of Sinigaglia, and Loreto beside, only we shall have to restrain our flights a little. The passage of the Apennine is said to be magnificent, and, altogether, surely it must be delightful; and we take only two carpet bags—not to be weighed down by 'impedimenta,' and have our own home, left in charge of the porter, to return to at last, I am very well and shall be better for the change, though Robert is dreadfully afraid, as usual, that I shall fall to pieces at the first motion...."

Oh dear, no French novels available in Florence for our naughty novel reader! But otherwise all seems to be well nearly two years into married life. There must be a certain amount of fun in telling Mrs. Jameson, so sceptical of love among the poets, that they are still happy.

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