Ever, ever dearest, how was it that without presentiment of evil I got up this morning in the good spirits of ‘our days’, hoping to see you, believing to see you, & feeling that it would be greater happiness than usual?– The sight of your letter, even, did not provoke the cloud—that was only the lesser joy, I thought, preceding the greater! And smiling to myself I was, both last night & this morning, at your phrase about the 'business' to be talked by the 'grave man & woman',—understanding your precaution against all unlawful jesting!—jesters forbidden in the protocol!– And then, at last, to be made so suddenly grave & sad even——! How am I to be comforted, my own dearest?– No way, except by your being really better, really well—in order to which I shall not let you come as soon as wednesday: it will not be wise for you to leave your bed for a journey into London!– Rather you should be very quiet, & keep in the garden at farthest. Take care of yourself, dearest dearest, & if you think of me & love me, show it in that best way. And I praise you, praise you,—nay, I thank you & am grateful to you for every such proof of love, more than for other kinds of proof,—I will love you for it, my beloved! Now judge—shall I be able to help thinking of you every moment of the day? Could I help it, if I tried? In return, therefore, you will attend to the orders, submit to the discipline——ah but, will not the leaving off all food but milk, weaken you out of measure? I am uneasy about that milk-diet for you, who always seem to me to want support, & something to stimulate– You will promise to tell me everything—will you, dearest?—whether better or worse, stronger or weaker, you will tell me? And if you should be too unwell to write, as may God forbid, your sister will write—she will have that great goodness?– Let it be so, I beseech you–"
I seriously doubt that Browning needs anything to stimulate him. He seems pretty stimulated as it is. He should stick with the milk, it will clean out his over-stimulated system.
"But you will be better——oh, I mean to hope stedfastly toward your being better, & toward the possibility of our meeting before the week ends. And as for this day lost, it is not of importance except in our present thoughts—soon you will have more than enough of me, you know– For I am in earnest & not a jester au fond [in fact], & am ready to do just as you bid me & think best– Which I tell you now, that you may not be vexed at a shadow, after my own fashion—. May God bless you—'and me in you'. Have I not leave to say that, too, since I feel it more than you could, .. (more intensely .. I do not say more sincerely ..) when you used it first?– My happiness & life are in you,—I am your very own Ba–
Your mother—how is she?– Mind, you get an amusing book .. something to amuse only, & not use you– Do you know the ‘Mathilde’ of Sue? I shall write again tonight."
So Browning, lying on his death bed (ahem), writes to his lady, between sips of milk:
"I had the greatest mind, when your letter came—(the most welcome of all letters—so much more than I could expect!)—to get up at once and be well in your dearest eyes or thro’ them—but I checked myself and thought that I ought to be contented with one such a letter thro’ whole long weeks of annoyance, instead of one day more.
I am delighted to know Flush is with you, if I am not. Did you remember my petition about him? But, dearest, it was very imprudent to go to those disgusting wretches yourself—they have had a pretty honor without knowing it!
Here I lie with a dizzy head—unable to read more than a page or two .. there is something in the unwonted position that tires me—but whenever the book is left off, I turn to the dark side of the room and see you, my very own Ba,—and so I am soon better and able to try again.
How hot, and thunder-like, this oppressive air! And you who are affected by such weather? Tell me, my dearest dearest, all you can tell me—since the real lips and eyes are away–
Bless you, my beloved– Remember, I count upon seeing you on Wednesday at farthest–
Your own RB"
Yeah, he is faking. Well, I don't know for sure, just a feeling I have. Or he is drying out after a toot on the town.
As promised, Miss Barrett writes again:
"How unwell you are, dearest beloved!– Ah no! It is not 'the position that tires you', it is the illness that incapacitates you. And you to think of getting up & coming here .. you!– Now, for my sake, for both our sakes, you must & shall be patient & quiet, & remember how my thoughts are with you conjuring you continually to quiet– As to the reading, .. you see it makes you dizzy,—and to provoke that sensation cannot plainly be right: and you will be right always, will you not, for my sake, dearest of all? And for the coming here on wednesday, .. no, no, I say again,——you ought not to do it, & you shall not: we will see how you are, later in the week,—but for wednesday, certainly no– That violent transition from the bed to the omnibus, would be manifestly wrong. Also I can be quite satisfied without seeing you, if I may but hear of your being well again. I wonder today how yesterday I was impatient about not having seen you so long. Oh, be well, be well, dearest! There is no need of your being ill to prove to me how I love you entirely, how I love you only!–
For Flush, I did your commission, kissing the top of his head: then I took the kiss back again because it seemed too good for him just now– And you shall not say that you 'are glad he is with me if you are not': it is more to Flush’s disadvantage, that phrase is, than all your theories which pretended to leave him with the dogstealers. How can I be glad of any one’s being with me, if you are not? And how should you be glad for anything, if I am not? Flush & I know our logic better than to accept that congratulation of yours, with the spike pricking us out of it.
So hot, indeed, today!– If you thought of me, I thought of you through it all. This close air cannot be good for you while you are shut up—. But I have not been shut up. I went out in the carriage & bought a pair of boots for Italy, besides the shoes—because, you see, we shall have such long walks in the forest after the camels, & it wont do to go in one’s slippers. Does not that sound like “a grave woman”? You need not make laws against the jesters, after all!– You need only be well.!– And, gravely, quite gravely, is it not likely that going to Italy, that travelling, & putting an end to all the annoyances which lately have grown up out of our affairs, will do you good, substantial good, in this chief matter of your health? It seems so to me sometimes– You are always well, you say, in Italy, & when you get there once again—— But in the meanwhile, try to be a little better, my own dearest!– I cannot write to you except about you tonight– The subject is too near me– I am under the shadow of the wall, & cannot see over it. Tomorrow, I shall hear more, & trust to you to tell me the whole, unmutilated truth– May God bless you, as I would, I in my weakness!– For the best blessing on your part, Love your own Ba–
And do not tire yourself with writing. The least line—three words .. I beseech you not to let me do you harm."
Well, I doubt she is going to get the 'unmutilated truth' from him: 'My darling, I was so angry about constantly being interrupted by Mr. Kenyon and the way you put everyone else ahead of me that I went out and got drunk for several days and had to take a rest cure to get dried out.' However, her words about going to Italy for his health will probably cause a miraculous healing. We await further developments.