Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14, 1846

We will begin with Mrs. Browning's first letter of the day on September 14, 1846:

"Monday morning.

Ever dearest, this one word goes to you to say about Mr Kenyon’s letter——oh, do not send any letter dearest, till we are out of hearing of the answer. It terrifies me to think of your sending a letter, perhaps, without delay—— Do let no letter nor intimation be given till the very last– Remember that I shall be killed——it will be so infinitely worse than you can have an idea."
Well, it appears that she is against telling Kenyon before they leave. Yes, definitely against it. Then again, no, yes, no, definitely DO NOT send the letter. Do you think Browning got the message? Don't send the letter.

"Afterwards—yes!—you will, for my sake, forget some natural pride, as I, for yours, have forgotten some as natural apprehensiveness. That kindness, I expected from you, .. & now accept—thanking you, dearest. In the meanwhile, there seems to remain the dreadful danger of the newspapers– We must trust, as you say.

Your mother’s goodness touches me very deeply– I am grateful to her & to all your family, beyond any power of mine to express my feelings. Let me be silent therefore, instead of trying.

As to the important business of the cards, you know I have heard the whole theory of etiquette lately on that subject, & you must not think of putting any ‘At home’ anywhere, or any other thing in the place of it– A Fellowes is an authority in Asia Minor, but for the minora of the cards, not at all. Put simply the names, as you say, on one card, only without abbreviation or initial, & no intimation of address, which is not necessary, & would be under our circumstances quite wrong. Then I had better perhaps send you a list of names & addresses—— But for this, enough time–

They hasten me—I must go–Not from the thought however of you, .. being your very own Ba

I shall write of course in the evening again.
She has certainly gotten pretty adamant since becoming Mrs. Browning. Don't send the letter to Kenyon and don't put 'at home' on the calling card. But it turns out Browning was in agreement with her all along and didn't need admonition at all for he writes the same morning:
"Monday Mg.
You go on to comfort me, love—bless you for it. I collect from the letter that you are recovering from the pain & excitement: that is happy! I waited to hear from you, my own Ba, and will only write a word—then go out—I think.
Do you feel so, thro’ the anxieties and trouble of this situation? You take my words from me– I 'exult' in the irrevocability of this precious bestowal of yourself on me: come what will, my life has borne flower, and fruit—it is a glorious, successful, felicitous life, I thank God and you!
All has been for the best, you will see, even in these apparently untoward circumstances: this particular act was precipitated by them, certainly—but it is done, and well done. Does it not simplify our arrangements that this is done? And surely there was every justification for the precipitancy in that proposed journey, and uncertain return,—(in winter, to a freshly-painted house!) But every moment of my life brings fresh proof to me of the intervention of Providence. How the natural course would have embarrassed us! .. any consultation with you respecting your own feelings on a removal at present .. any desire to gratify them ..
Will not Mr Kenyon understand, at least? Would it not be well to ascertain his precise address in the country,—so as to send your letter there, before the newspaper reaches him,—or any other person’s version? I will send you my letter to accompany yours—just a few words to explain why he was not consulted—(by me) .. what is strictly, my own part to be excused. What do you intend to do about Mrs Jameson? I only want to know in the case of our mutual friends, of course, so as to avoid the necessity of going over the same ground in our letters.
I confided my approaching marriage to that kind old Pritchard, lest he should be too much wounded .. if his surprise was considerable, his delight kept due proportion– You may depend on his secrecy: I need not say, I mentioned the fact simply .. without a word about any circumstances. If your father could be brought to allow the matter to pass as indifferent to him .. what he did not choose to interfere with, However little he approved it,—we should be fortunate! Perhaps pride, if no kinder feeling, may induce him to that.
My family all love you, dearest– You cannot conceive my father & mother’s childlike faith in goodness—and my sister is very high spirited, and quick of apprehension—so as to seize the true points of the case at once– I am in great hopes you will love them all, and understand them. Last night, I asked my father, who was absorbed over some old book, 'if he should not be glad to see his new daughter'—to which he, starting, replied 'Indeed I shall!' with such a fervor as to make my mother laugh—not abated by his adding, 'And how I should be glad of her seeing Sis!'—his other daughter, Sarianna, to wit—who was at church."
Would that Papa Barrett would take it so well. But it is too bad that circumstances would not permit the new Mrs. Browning from meeting the older Mrs. Browning. I must say that the one time I was ashamed of Miss Barrett during this entire courtship was when she refused to meet Browning's sister. I understand her horrible, painful shyness, but she was too prideful to admit that she was simply too shy and made the poorest excuses imaginable. She could have used some Xanax to go with her laudanum.
Trifles, trifles, only commended to your dear, affectionate heart—do you confide in me, Ba? Well, you shall!—in my love, in my pride, in my heart’s purposes; but not in anything else. —Give me your counsel at all times, beloved: I am wholly open to your desires, and teaching, and direction– Try what you can make of me,—if you can in any way justify your choice to the world. So I would gladly counsel you on any point! See how I read lectures about Flush! Only, give a kiss before beginning, and promise me another upon my profitting,—and I shall be twice blessed beside the profit. So, my counsel being done, here begin the kisses, you dear dear Ba of mine– Bless you ever, Ba! I continue quite well—is it not strange .. or is it? And my mother is better decidedly—when she comes back from Town (where she & my sister are caring for me) I will tell her what you bade me promise to give her—in return for what she has long given you. Good bye, my own—very own Ba, from your RB"
He asked for her counsel and he will certainly get it when he receives her morning letter, he need not have urged her to counsel. She writes again in the evening as she promised and with more counsel:
"Monday evening.
First, God is to be thanked for this great joy of hearing that you are better, my ever dearest—it is a joy that floats over all the other emotions. Dearest I am so glad! I had feared that excitement’s telling on you quite in another way. When the whole is done, & we have left England & the talkers thereof, behind our backs, you will be well, stedfastly & satisfactorily, I do trust. In the meantime, there seems so much to do, that I am frightened to look towards the heaps of it– As to acoutrements, everything has been arranged as simply as possible that way—but, still, there are necessities—and the letters, the letters! I am paralyzed when I think of having to write such words as .. 'Papa, I am married,—I hope you will not be too displeased'. Ah, poor Papa!– You are too sanguine if you expect any such calm from him as an assumption of indifference would imply. To the utmost, he will be angry, .. he will cast me off as far from him—— Well—there is no comfort in such thoughts. How I felt tonight when I saw him at seven oclock, for the first time since friday, & the event of saturday! He spoke kindly too, & asked me how I was.
Once I heard of his saying of me that I was 'the purest woman he ever knew',—which made me smile at the moment, or laugh, I believe, outright, because I understood perfectly what he meant by that—viz,—that I had not troubled him with the iniquity of love-affairs, or any impropriety of seeming to think about being married. But now, the whole sex will go down with me to the perdition of faith in any of us. See the effect of my wickedness!– ‘Those women!’
But we will submit, dearest .. I will put myself under his feet, to be forgiven a little, .. enough to be taken up again into his arms– I love him—he is my father—he has good & high qualities after all: he is my father above all– And you, because you are so generous & tender to me, will let me, you say, & help me, to try to win back the alienated affection——for which, I thank you & bless you,—I did not thank you enough this morning. Surely I may say to him, too, .. 'With the exception of this act, I have submitted to the least of your wishes all my life long– Set the life against the act, & forgive me, for the sake of the daughter you once loved'. Surely I may say that,—& then remind him of the long suffering I have suffered,—and entreat him to pardon the happiness which has come at last—.
And he will wish in return, that I had died years ago!—— For the storm will come & endure– And at last, perhaps, he will forgive us—it is my hope."
Such sadness that he never will forgive her in his life. How sad for him. How sad for her. The biographers report that while Papa Barrett did tell persons who approached him on her behalf that he did forgive her, he never communicated this to her and so the forgiveness was simply words. Strange sad man. He threw love away as though it was very easy to obtain.
"I accede to all you say of Mr Kenyon. I will ask him for his address in the country, & we will send, when the moment comes, our letters together.
From Mrs Jameson I had the letter I enclose, this morning. (Full of kindness—is it not?) and another really as kind from Miss Bayley, who begs me, if I cannot go to Italy, to go to Hastings & visit her. To both, I must write at some length– Will you write to Mrs Jameson, besides what I shall write? And what are we to say as to travelling? As she is in Paris, perhaps we may let her have the solution of our problem sooner than the near people– May we? shall we? Yet we dare not, I suppose, talk too historically of what happened last saturday– It is like the dates in the newspaper-advertisements, which we must eschew, as you observe."
"....what happened last saturday," the event that dare not speak it's name. You never know who might be reading your mail!
"Other things, too, you observe, my beloved, which are altogether out of date– In your ways towards me, you have acted throughout too much 'the woman’s part', as that is considered– You loved me because I was lower than others, that you might be generous & raise me up:—very characteristic for a woman (in her ideal standard) but quite wrong for a man, as again & again I used to signify to you, Robert—but you went on & did it all the same. And now, you still go on—you persist—you will be the woman of the play, to the last,—let the prompter prompt ever so against you. You are to do everything I like, instead of my doing what you like, .. and to 'honour & obey' me, in spite of what was in the vows last saturday,—is that the way of it & of you?—& are vows to be kept so, pray? after that fashion? Then, dont put 'at home' at the corner of the cards, dearest!—— It is my command!"
How she loves to teaze this man. That is the first good teaze she has gotten into a letter in quite a long time and it bodes well for their married life. She it truly laugh out loud funny in her hectoring of his womanly ways.
"And forgive the inveterate jesting, which jests with eyes full of tears– I love you—I bless God for you– You are too good for me, as always I knew. I look up to you continually.
It is best, I continue to think, that you should not come here—best for you, because the position, if you were to try it, would be less tolerable than ever—& best for both of us, that in case the whole truth were ever discovered (I mean, of the previous marriage) we might be able to call it simply an act in order to security—— I dont know how to put my feeling into words, but I do seem to feel that it would be better, & less offensive to those whom we offend at any rate, to avoid all possible remark on this point. It seems better to a sort of instinct I have.
Then, if I see you—farewell, the letter-writing. Oh no—there will be time enough when we are on the railway! We shall talk then.
Ah—you say such things to me. Dearest, dearestest!–And you do not start at that word, 'Irrevocable', as I have had fancies that you might, when the time came!!– But you may recover, by putting out your hand, all you have given me, .. nearly all, I never, never being myself, could willingly vex you, torment you– If I approach to it, you will tell me! I will confide in you, to that end also– Dearest–
And your father’s goodness, and the affectionateness of them all– When they shall have learnt most that I am not worthy of you, they will have learnt besides that I can be grateful to them & you—. Certainly I am capable, I hope, of loving them all, well & with appreciation– And then .. imagine the comfort I take to the deepest of my heart from these hands held out to me!– For your sake! Yes, for your sake entirely!—&, so, the more dearly comforting to
Your very own Ba–
There is still difficulty about the house– They think of Tunbridge Wells–
Humor and humility from Mrs. Browning.

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