Saturday, August 4, 2012

August 4

August 4, 1846 Browning had visited Wimpole Street and had to make a hasty retreat again! How vexing. Miss Barrett made up for the loss of time with a letter:

"One word or two tonight & no more, let the paper spread itself as it may. Dearest, it was wise of you, perhaps, to go today– Wisdom was the first to wear sackcloth. My aunt, who had just had time to hear of your being in the house, found my door open, & you were noticed by a passing jest .. too passing to meet ears in authority—and I was made to put on my bonnet & go out in the carriage with our department of the bridal party, who had come home first, in order to change their costume into something wearable for comfort .. into gowns which had not a devil,—torturing the wearers with a morbid sense of flounces. So they came home for that, & we were vexed & frightened for that reason—& I was taken to Kensington Gardens to leave some walkers there, & then to Fenton’s Hotel, to leave my aunt as comforter for the evening. Altogether, oh, how provoked I was!– But it was wise perhaps. I will not say that it was not very wise indeed. Papa knows nothing of your having been here, & saturday is not far off. Still, to think of two hours being cut off,—& of the long journey from New Cross, just for the one hour!—shall I hear tomorrow fully, to make up for it, Robert? And tell me if you accept Mrs Jameson’s invitation. And your head?–

Flush thanks you! I asked him if he loved you even, & he wagged his tail. Generally when I ask him that question he wont answer at all,—but you have overcome him with generosity––as you do, me!

I forgot to tell you– There is a letter from Mr Horne which makes me vexed a little. He is coming to England, & says, that, if still I will not see him, he shall bring his guitar to play & sing for my sisters, leaving the door open that I may hear up stairs. What a vexation!– How shall I escape a check-mate now? He castles his king, & the next move undoes me. There’s a bishop though, to be played first, for he wants an introduction to Whately, which I am to write for to Miss Mitford, if I dont know him myself."

What a clever girl with her chess imagery. The bishop he wanted an introduction to was the Archbishop of Dublin. How he thought she knew his holiness is not clear. Horne was Miss Barrett's writing partner on several projects and they had proposed to work on still more that never came to fruition. Horne was supposedly upset that Miss Barrett refused to see him, but when she finally did permit the visit he never showed up. I guess he showed her. I am sure she was thrilled!

"My consolation for today, is, that tomorrow is not sunday. In the meanwhile, nothing is talked except of the glories of Fenton’s Hotel. The bride behaved with the most indisputable grace, & had words & smiles for everybody– The bridegroom appears to have been rather petrified, (he was saying orisons to St James, I dare say) & was condemned by the severer critics, for being able to produce no better speech at the breakfast, when his health was drunk with ever so much elaboration of eloquence, than “I thank you .. I propose yours.” For my part I sympathize more with him in that point of specific stupidity, than on any other I have yet heard of. If he had said as little about ecclesiastical architecture, he would have been unobjectionable, wholly. They went away with four horses, in disdain of the railroads!"

This is the bridegroom who Miss Barrett unfavorably compared to Browning when he talked at great length to her about Ecclesiastical Architecture and bored her to tears at their first meeting. Thus the jab about him 'saying orisons to St. James.'

"But poor Mrs Hedley was dreadfully affected– I knew she would be– This is the only grown up daughter, you see,—the others being all children, the youngest three years old .. & she loses a constant companion, besides the hourly sight of a very lovely girl, the delight of her eyes & heart.

Dearest, you understood why I told you today of Mr Kenyon’s professed opinions? It was to make you know him. The rest, we know alike. And for him even, when he looks back on a thing instead of looking forward to it (where the Bude Light of the world is in his eyes & blinds them) he will see aright & as we do. Only you frightened me by your idea about his application to you– May God forbid!–

May God bless you, rather, in the best way! Why should I choose how? I 'ought'not, I think, to fancy that I know the best for you, enough to use such words.

But I am your own– That, we both know! May I be yours, not to do you harm, my beloved!– Goodnight, now!"

A nice chatty letter to comfort the retreating Browning. If you are interested in what a Bude Light is, please follow the link to Wiki.

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