Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4

Browning has made it to Mrs. Jameson's and finds that Miss Barrett has been unable to come. So, her sits down and writes her a note:

"Dearest Ba,

I am at Mrs Jameson’s .. to hear you cannot come,—most properly .. She wants me to go and see an Exhibition, and I cannot refuse .. so this is my poor long letter (with kisses in the words,) that was to have been! But on Monday, dearest, dearest, I shall see you? All thanks for your letter .. I dare write no more, as there must be some difference in my way of writing to you from other ways.

Bless you, ever as I am ever yours–RB"

That is very bold. I wonder what he told Mrs. Jameson he was writing.

Miss Barrett is holed up in her room at Wimpole Street:

"....After all it was not possible for me to get to Mrs Jameson’s this morning .. not that I was unwell to signify, mind .. but unfit for the exertion .. & it would not have been agreeable to anybody if I had gone there & fainted. So here I am, the picture of helpless indolence, stretched out at full length between the chair & the high stool, thinking how you will not today sit on the low one, nor in your old own place by me——oh how I think, think, think of you, to make imperfect amends!– Are you disappointed .. you? I hope you are, & I fear you are. My generosity does not carry me through the hope of it to the end. I love your love too much. And that is the worst fault, my beloved, I ever can find in my love of you."

Miss Barrett then provides an interesting discourse on her fears of marriage:

"Let me pass the time a little, then, by confessing to you that what you said, some letters ago, about the character of our intercourse, in our present relation, being a sort of security for the future, .. that that did strike me as a true & reasonable observation as far as it goes. I think, at least, that if I were inclined to fear for my own happiness apart from yours, (which, as God knows, is a fear that never comes into my head) I should have sense to reason myself clear of it all by seeing in you none of the common rampant man-vices which tread down a woman’s peace .. & which begin the work often long before marriage. Oh, I understand perfectly, how as soon as ever a common man is sure of a woman’s affections, he takes up the tone of right & might .. & he will have it so .. & he wont have it so!.– I have heard of the bitterest tears being shed by the victim as soon as ever, by one word of hers, she had placed herself in his power. Of such, are ‘Lovers quarrels’ for the most part. The growth of power on one side .. & the struggle against it, by means legal & illegal, on the other. There are other causes, of course—but, for none of them, could it be possible for me to quarrel with you now or ever– Neither now nor ever do I look forward to the ordinary dangers—. What I have feared has been so different! May God bless you my own .. own! For my part, you have my leave to make me unhappy if you please. It only would be just that the happiness you have given, you should take away—it is yours, as I am yours."

This is truly fascinating. She does not want to go from one tyrant to another. There is more to her hesitation than mere fear that she will be nothing but a hindrance to him due to her illness. She does not want to get stuck in a 'normal' 19th century marriage. But she is a bit optimistic if she thinks they will never quarrel and a bit rampantly romantic to think that she will be happy to be made unhappy by him. We have already seen Browning's temper. Not directed towards her of course, but living together too closely can fray nerves, even for the most well suited people.

No comments:

Post a Comment