Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 11, 1845

Miss Barrett is in a state of nervous agitation over confronting her father about whether she will be going to Italy:

"Dear Mr Kenyon has been here again & talking so (in his kindness too) about the probabilities as to Pisa being against me .. about all depending ‘on one throw’ & the ‘dice being loaded’ &c .. that I looked at him aghast as if he looked at the future through the folded curtain & was licensed to speak oracles:—& ever since I have been out of spirits .. oh, out of spirits!—& must write myself back again, or try. After all he may be wrong like another—& I should tell you that he reasons altogether from the delay .. & that 'the cabins will therefore be taken' & the 'circular bills' out of reach! He said that one of his purposes in staying in town, was to ‘knout’ me every day—did’nt he?"
A 'knout' was a whip, so I guess Kenyon was there to whip her into shape.

"Well—George will probably speak before he leaves town, which will be on monday!—and now that the hour approaches, I do feel as if the house stood upon gunpowder, & as if I held Guy Fawkes’s lantern in my right hand– And no! I shall not go. The obstacles will not be those of Mr Kenyon’s finding .. and what their precise character will be I do not see distinctly. Only that they will be sufficient, & thrown by one hand just where the wheel shd turn, .. that, I see—& you will, in a few days–"
She is very down. She hates confrontation, especially with her father. She really seems to fear him.

"Did you go to Moxon’s & settle the printing matter? Tell me. And what was the use of telling Mr Kenyon that you were ‘quite well’ when you know you are not? Will you say to me how you are, saying the truth? & also how your mother is.?"
She is not in the mood to truck any nonsense from Browning. He better confess the true state of his health or else!

"To show the significance of the omission of those evening or rather night visits of Papa’s .. for they came sometimes at eleven & sometimes at twelve, .. I will tell you that he used to sit & talk in them, & then always kneel & pray with me & for me—which I used of course to feel as a proof of very kind & affectionate sympathy on his part, & which has proportionably pained me in the withdrawing. They were no ordinary visits, you observe, .. & he could not well throw me further from him than by ceasing to pay them—the thing is quite expressively significant. Not that I pretend to complain, nor to have reason to complain. One should not be grateful for kindness, only while it lasts: that would be a short-breathed gratitude. I just tell you the fact, .. proving that it cannot be accidental."
Here we get a peek at the emotional manipulation used by Mr. Barrett in the house at Wimpole Street. Papa Barrett withdraws his nightly prayers with his daughter to demonstrate his displeasure with her audacity of asking permission to go to Italy. "One should not be grateful for kindness, only while it lasts..." Perhaps not. If only she can see it for the immoral manipulation it is. All she knows or can read from this inaction on his part is that he is not happy with her and without Mr. Barrett's consent she knows she cannot go abroad.

"Did you ever, ever tire me? Indeed, no .. you never did. And do understand that I am not to be tired 'in that way,' though as Mr Boyd said once of his daughter, one may be so 'far too effeminate.' No– If I were put into a crowd I should be tired soonor, apart from the crowd, if you made me discourse orations De CoronĂ¢ .. concerning your bay even .. I should be tired soon … though peradventure not very much sooner than you who heard—. But on the smooth ground of quiet conversation (particularly when three people dont talk at once as my brothers do .. to say the least!) I last for a long while:—not to say that I have the pretention of being as good & inexhaustible a listener to your own speaking as you could find in the world– So please not to accuse me of being tired again. I cant be tired & wont be tired you see–"
No, I don't suppose there is much Browning could do to make her tired. He, rather, perks her up a bit.

"And now, since I began to write this, there is a new evil & anxiety—a worse anxiety than any .. for one of my brothers is ill,—had been unwell for some days & we thought nothing of it, till today saturday,—& the doctors call it a fever of the typhoid character .. not typhus yet .. but we are very uneasy. You must not come on wednesday if an infectious fever be in the house—that must be out of the question. May God bless you. I am quite heavy hearted today, but never less your EBB."
One disaster after another. Where will it all end?

No comments:

Post a Comment