Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 14, 1845

Browning writes a short note to comfort Miss Barrett in her disappointment that she will not be going to Italy that winter:

"Tuesday Mg

Be sure, my own, dearest love, that this is for the best,—will be seen for the best in the end– It is hard to bear now—but you have to bear it; any other person could not,—and you will,—I know, knowing youwill be well this one winter if you can, and then—since I am not selfish in this love to you, my own conscience tells me,—I desire, more earnestly than I ever knew what desiring was, to be yours and with you and, as far as may be in this life & world, youand no hindrance to that, but one, gives me a moment’s care or fear,—but that one is just your little hand, as I could fancy it raised in any least interest of yours—and before that, I am, and would ever be, still silent– But now—what is to make you raise that hand? I will not speak now,—not seem to take advantage of your present feelings,—we will be rational, and all-considering, and weighing consequences, and foreseeing them—but first I will prove .. if that has to be done, why-but I begin speaking—and I should not, I know– Bless you, love!


Tomorrow I see you, without fail. I am rejoiced as you can imagine, at your brother’s improved state."
He sees now that the only way she will ever get out of the house in Wimpole Street is if he takes her. He is 'not selfish' in that he wants to get her out for her sake, not simply his. When he tells her that "we will be rational, and all-considering, and weighing consequences, and foreseeing them..." he is referring to himself and what he must do to free her. But in the mean time she must remain calm and healthy.
Miss Barrett writes today as well:
Will this note reach you at the ‘fatal hour’ .. or sooner? At any rate it is forced to ask you to take thursday for wednesday, inasmuch as Mr Kenyon in his exceeding kindness has put off his journey just for me, he says, because he saw me depressed about the decision, & wished to come & see me again tomorrow & talk the spirits up, I suppose. It is all so kind & good, that I cannot find a voice to grumble about the obligation it brings of writing thus!– And then, if you suffer from cold & influenza, it will be better for you not to come for another day, .. I think that, for comfort. Shall I hear how you are tonight, I wonder?– Dear Occy 'turned the corner' the physician said, yesterday evening, &, although a little fluctuating today, remains on the whole considerably better. They were just in time to keep the fever from turning to typhus."
I think perhaps she might have preferred Browning in her sadness to cheer her up, but she does not seem to be able to shake Mr. Kenyon.
"How fast you print your book, for it to be out on the first of november! Why it comes out suddenly like the sun. Mr Kenyon asked me if I had seen anything you were going to print,—& when I mentioned the second part of the ‘Duchess’ & described how your perfect rhymes, perfectly new, & all clashing together as by natural attraction, had put me at once to shame & admiration, he began to praise the first part of the same poem (which I had heard him do before, by the way) & extolled it as one of your most striking productions."
Reading another iteration of Miss Barrett's admiration for Browning's poetry moves me to make an aside: I just finished reading a new biography of Browning in which the author proffers the opinion that Mrs. Browning would not have liked Browning's great epic poem, "The Ring and the Book" and that he could never or would never have written it during her lifetime. Well, it may well be that he would not have written it during her lifetime because his time was taken up with her. And it might well be that she was not interested in the subject of a rather sordid murder trial. However, I believe that she would have loved the poem as a poem. She loved his work, admired his mind and understood what he was trying to do. She wanted to move toward a new poetry built on the old. I believe that she was really a far less conventional poetical thinker than he was. She wrote the epic novel poem 'Aurora Leigh' which was a huge success and Browning built on it with his multi-voiced re-telling of a Renaissance murder. Who exactly was the trailblazer in the family? Biographers get paid but they don't always get it correct.
"And so until thursday! May God bless you–
& as the heart goes, ever yours–
I am glad for Tennyson, & glad for Keats. It is well to be able to be glad about something—is it not?—about something out of ourselves. And (in myself) I shall be most glad, if I have a letter tonight– Shall I?
She was 'glad' that Tennyson got a pension but she would have been ecstatic if they had given it to Browning who needed it as much as Tennyson. And yes, she shall be 'most glad' because Browning's letter is wending it's way through the penny post.

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