Friday, August 24, 2012

August 24

August 24, 1846 was a Monday and we begin with Browning worried about Miss Barrett's brothers:

"My own dearest, let me say the most urgent thing first. You hear these suspicions of your Brothers. Will you consider if, during this next month, we do not risk too much in seeing each other as usual? We risk everything .. and what do we gain, in the face of that? I can learn no more about you, be taught no new belief in your absolute peerlessness—I have taken my place at your feet forever: all my use of the visits is, therefore, the perfect delight of them .. and to hazard a whole life of such delight for the want of self denial during a little month,—that would be horrible. I altogether sympathize with your brothers’ impatience, or curiosity, or anxiety, or “graveness”—and am prepared for their increasing and growing to heights difficult or impossible to be borne. But do you not think we may avoid compelling any premature crisis of this kind? I am guided by your feelings, as I seem to perceive them, in this matter; the harm to be apprehended is through the harm to them,—to your brothers. If they determine on avowedly knowing what we intend, I do not see which to fear most,—the tacit acquiescence in our scheme which may draw down a vengeance on them without doing us the least good,—or the open opposition which would bring about just so much additional misfortune. I know, now, your perfect adequacy to any pain and danger you will incur for our love’s sake– I believe in you as you would have me believe: but give yourself to me, dearest dearest Ba, the entire creature you are, and not a lacerated thing only reaching my arms to sink there. Perhaps this is all a sudden fancy, not justified by circumstances, arising from my ignorance of the characters of those I talk about; that is for you to decide,—your least word reassures me, as always. But I fear much for you, to make up, perhaps, for there being nothing else in the world fit to fear: I exclude direct visitations of God, which cannot be feared, after all—dreadful dooms to which we should bow– But the “fear” proper, means with me an apprehension that, with all my best effort, it may be unable to avert some misfortune .. the effort going on all the time: and this is a real effort, dearest Ba, this letter: consider it thus. I will (if possible) send it to town, so as to reach you earlier and allow you to write one line in reply .. you have heard all I can say .. say you, shall I come to-morrow? If you think it advisable, I will come and be most happy."

There is some nice writing here. He is very clear (for Browning) and rather amusing with his assertion that he does not even fear a direct visitation of God.

"Another thing: you see your excitement about the church and the crowd .. my own love, are you able,—with all that great, wonderful heart of yours,—to bear the railway fatigues, and the entering and departure from Paris and Orleans and the other cities and towns? Would not the long sea-voyage be infinitely better, if a little dearer? Or what can be dear if it prevents all that risk, or rather certainty of excitement and fatigue? You see, the packet sails on the 30th Sept. and the 15th Oct As three of us go, they would probably make some reduction in price… Ah, even here, I must smile .. will you affirm that ever an approximation to a doubt crossed your mind about Flush?"

Again he seems to prefer the sea route rather than the land route. Having never travelled in a wooden ship in a heavy sea I cannot offer a learned opinion. However, as I have suggested before, the fact that you can stop a carriage and get out and get off a train at the next stop if necessary seems more practicable than being stuck on a ship and not able to get off. Perhaps Browning thinks she can go to her cabin and not emerge and never see anyone until she reaches Italy. Just bring four buckets. (Yes, one for Flush too.) 

"I think your plans with respect to “Blackwood” most excellent—I see many advantages.
Here is the carriage for my sister, who is going to stay in town at the Arnoulds’ for a week,—with Mrs A. in it to fetch her– I shall give this letter to be put in the post– I have all to say, but the very essential is said. Understand me, my best, only love, and forgive any undue alarm, for the sake of the love that prompts it. Write the one line .. do not let me do myself wrong by my anxiety—if I may come, let me! Bless you, Ba

Miss Barrett responds immediately:

"Dearest, how you frightened me with the sight of your early letter! But it is only your wisdom,—which by this time, should scarcely startle me.—there’s a compliment, to begin with, you see, in change for all the praises; .. my “peerlessness” (!!!) being settled like the Corn Law repeal!—oh, you want no more evidence of it, not you! (poor blind you!) & the other witnesses are bidden to “stand down”.– “I may smile even now” … as you say quoad Flush, .. smile at your certainty as you smile at my doubt– Will you let me smile, & not call it a peerless insolence, or ingratitude, .. dearest you?–
For dearest you are, & best in the world, .. it all comes to that, .. & considerate for me always: and at once I agree with you that for this interval it will be wise for us to set the visits, .. “our days” .. far apart, .. nearly a week apart, perhaps, so as to escape the dismal evils we apprehend– I agree in all you say—in all. At the same time, the cloud has passed for the present—nothing has been said more, & not a word to me,—& nobody appears out of humour with me. They will be displeased of course, in the first movement .. we must expect that .. they will be vexed at the occasion given to conversation & so on. But it will be a passing feeling, & their hearts & their knowledge of circumstances may be trusted to justify me thoroughly. I do not fear offending them—there is no room for fear– At this point of the business too, you place the alternative rightly—their approbation or their disapprobation is equally to be escaped from. Also, we may be certain that they would press the applying for permission & I might perhaps, in the storm excited, among so many opinions & feelings, fail to myself & you, through weakness of the body– Not of the will! And for my affections & my conscience, they turn to you—& untremblingly turn–
Will you come on wednesday rather than tuesday then? It is only one day later than we meant at first, but it nearly completes a week of separation,—& we can then go to next week for the next day– Also, on wednesday we secure Mr Kenyon’s absence– He will be still at Richmond.
Your letter which startled me by coming early, yet came too late for you to receive the answer to it tonight– But I will send it to the post tonight,—& I write hurriedly to be in time for that end–
My own beloved, you shall not be uneasy on my account—I send you foolishnesses & you are daunted by them—but see!– What affects me in those churches & chapels is something different, quite different, from railroad noises & the like. You do not understand, & I never explained, .. you could not understand—but the music, the sight of the people, the old tunes of hymns .. all these things seem to suffocate my very soul with the sense of the past, past days, when there was one beside me who is not here now—I am upset, overwhelmed with it all– I think I should have been quite foolishly, hysterically ill yesterday if I had persisted in staying– Next sunday I shall go to the vestry, & see nobody, & get over it by degrees–"

She is referring here to her brother 'Bro'. More on him in the August 25th blog entry.

"Well—but for the sea-voyage, it seems to me that the great thing for us to ascertain is the precise expenseI should not at all mind going by sea, only that I fear the expense, & also that it is necessary to take our passages some time before, .. & then, if anything happened .. I mean any little thing .. an obstacle for a day or two!– Consider our circumstances–"

Her objection to the sea voyage are different in the specific from my own but are of the same order: sea travel is less flexible than going over land.

"I shall write again perhaps– Do not rely, though, on my writing Perhaps I shall write. I shall think of your goodness certainly! May God bless you, dearest beloved– I love, love you!– I cannot be more
Your own.
Dont forget to bring the paper on ‘Colombe’s Birthday’—& say particularly how you are,—& how your mother is. In such haste I write!–"

Now, you know she is going to write tomorrow. She cannot help herself.

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