Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17, 1846

There were four short letters exchanged between Mr. and Mrs. Browning on September 17, 1846. Browning is trying to coordinate their leaving:

"My only sweetest, I will write just a word to catch the earlier post,—time pressing. Bless you for all you suffer .. I know it though it would be very needless to call your attention to the difficulties. I know much, if not all, and can only love and admire you,—not help, alas!

Surely these difficulties will multiply if you go to Bookham—the way will be to leave at once. The letters may easily be written during the journey .. at OrlĂ©ans, for example. But now,—you propose Saturday .. nothing leaves Southampton according to to-day’s advertisement, till Tuesday .. the days seem changed to Tuesdays & Fridays– Tomorrow at 8¼ p.m & Friday the 22. 10¼. Provoking! I will go to town directly to the Railway Office and enquire particularly—getting the time-table also. Under these circumstances, we have only the choice of Dieppe (as needing the shortest diligence-journey)—or the Sunday morning Havre-packet, at 9. am—which you do not consider practicable: though it would, I think, take us the quickliest out of all the trouble. I will let you know all particulars in a note to-night .. it shall reach you to-night.

If we went from London only, the luggage could be sent here or in any case, perhaps .. as one fly will carry them with me & mine, and save possibility of delay.

I am very well, dearest dearest—my mother no worse, better, perhaps—she is out now .. our staying and getting into trouble would increase her malady.

As you leave it to me,—the name, & 'Wimpole St' will do– Jamaica,—sounds in the wrong direction, does it not? and the other place is distinctive enough.
He is talking about the newspaper announcement. Yes, Jamaica does sound odd indeed.

Take no desk .. I will take a large one: take nothing you can leave—but secure letters &c– I will take out a passport. Did you not tell me roughly at how much you estimated our expenses for the journey? Because I will take about that much, and get Rothschild’s letter of credit for Leghorn—one should avoid carrying money about with one.
"Take nothing you can leave"? Is Browning getting a bit frazzled?

All this in such haste! Bless you, my dearest dearest Ba

Your RB–

All was right in the License, & Certificate, & Register—the whole name is there, E.B.M.B.—the clergyman made the mistake in not having the two names, but all runs right to read .. the essential thing.
Mrs. Browning teazed him a bit that their marriage was not legitimate because her name was not correct on the licence. Browning felt that he better double check, just in case.
Browning writes again:
"5. ock.
My own Ba, I believe, or am sure the mistake has been mine—in the flurry I noted down the departures from Havre—instead of Southampton. You must either—be at the Vauxhall Station by (four ock)—so as to arrive in 3 hours and a half at Southn and leave by 8¼ pm—or must go by the Sunday Boat,—or wait till Tuesday– Dieppe is impossible,—being too early– You must decide—and let me know directly—tomorrow is too early—yet one .. That is, I—could manage–
Ever your own in all haste RB–"
Seems pretty clear. Catch the train at Vauxhall Station at 4pm and catch the boat at Southhampton at 8¼ pm. Right. Got it.
But then he writes again:
"7–½. Thursday.
My own Ba—forgive my mistaking! I had not enough confidence in my own correctness– The advertisement of the Tuesday & Friday Boats is of the South of England Steam Company. —The Wednesday & Saturday is that of the South Western– There must be then two companies, because on the Southampton Railway Bill it is expressly stated that there are departures for Havre on all four days– Perhaps you have seen my blunder. In that case, you can leave by 1–/2½ as you may appoint. Your RB"
Okay, well, I am not so sure now. So what does Mrs. Browning say?
"Dearest take this word, as if it were many. I am so tired—& then it shall be the right word.
Sunday & friday are impossible. On Saturday I will go to you, if you like—with half done, .. nothing done … scarcely. Will you come for me to Hodgson’s? or shall I meet you at the station? At what oclock should I set out, to be there at the hour you mention?
Also, for the boxes––we cannot carry them out of the house, you know, Wilson & I. They must be sent on friday evening to the Vauxhall station, ‘to be taken care of’. Will the people keep them carefully? Ought anyone to be spoken to beforehand? If we sent them to New Cross, they wd not reach you in time.
Hold me my beloved, with your love– It is very hard– But saturday seems the only day for us– Tell me if you think so indeed.
Your very own Ba–
The boxes must have your name on them of course. Let there be no great haste about sending out the cards– Saturday might be mentioned in the advertisement, without the date——might it not?"
Well, it looks like the only thing that is settled is that they are leaving on Saturday. More calculations tomorrow.

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