Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 2, 1845

Browning had visited Miss Barrett in Wimpole Street on December 1 but apparently SAID NOTHING about receiving Miss Barrett's hair as she had decreed. But he seems pretty 'happy' about it so he writes, which is apparently more acceptable than speaking about it:


I was happy, so happy before! But I am happier and richer now—My love—no words could serve here, but there is life before us, and to the end of it the vibration now struck will extend– I will live and die with your beautiful ring, your beloved hair—comforting me, blessing me.

Let me write to-morrow—when I think on all you have been and are to me, on the wonder of it and the deliciousness, it makes the paper words that come seem vainer than ever– To-morrow I will write.

May God bless you, my own, my precious,—

I am all your own RB

I have thought again, and believe it will be best to select the finger you intended .. as the alteration will be simpler, I find,—and one is less liable to observation and comment.

Was not that Mr Kenyon last evening? And did he ask, or hear, or say anything?"
Despite Miss Barrett's best efforts to keep Browning and Kenyon apart in her presence there was an apparent close encounter.
"Tuesday evening.
No Mr Kenyon after all—not yesterday, not today,—& the knock at the door belonged perhaps to the post, which brought me a kind letter from Mrs Jameson to ask how I was & if she might come—but she wont come on saturday .. I shall ‘provide’:—she may as well (& better) come on a free day. On the other side, are you sure that Mr Procter may not stretch out his hand & sieze on saturday, (he was to dine with you, you said) or that some new engagement may not start up suddenly in the midst of it.? I trust to you, in such a case, to alter our arrangement, without a second thought. Monday stands close by, remember, & there’s a saturday to follow monday .. and I should understand at a word, or apart from a word."
She is so accommodating to him, not wanting him to be bothered to come and see her if he has the slightest bother, oblivious to the fact that he would throw all other arrangements aside to be with her. Perhaps this is part of her general disbelief in her own worth.
"Just as you understand how to ‘take me with guile,’ when you tell me that anything in me can have any part in making you happy .. you, who can say such words & call them ‘vain’ words!– Ah, well! If I only knew certainly, .. more certainly than the thing may be known by either me or you, .. that nothing in me could have any part in making you unhappy, .. ah, would it not be enough .. that knowledge .. to content me, to overjoy me? but that lies too high & out of reach, you see, & one cant hope to get at it except by the ladder Jacob saw, & which an archangel helped to hide away behind the gate of Heaven afterwards."
Such a morbid girl.
"Wednesday/ In the meantime I had a letter from you yesterday & am promised another today– How … I was going to say 'kind' & pull down the thunders .. how unkind .. will that do? .. how good you are to me!—how dear you must be! Dear—dearest—if I feel that you love me, can I help it if, without any other sort of certain knowledge, the world grows lighter round me? being but a mortal woman, can I help it? no—certainly–
I comfort myself by thinking sometimes that I can at least understand you, .. comprehend you in what you are & in what you possess & combine,—& that, if doing this better than others who are better otherwise than I, I am, so far, worthier of the... … I mean that to understand you is something, & that I account it something in my own favour––mine.
Yet when you tell me that I ought to know some things, tho’ untold, you are wrong, & speak what is impossible. My imagination sits by the roadside απεδιλος[unsandaled]like the startled sea nymph in Æschylus, but never dares to put one unsandalled foot, unbidden, on a certain tract of ground—never takes a step there unled! or never (I write the simple truth) even as the alternative of the probability of your ceasing to care for me, have I touched (untold) on the possibility of your caring more for me .. never! That you should continue to care, was the utmost of what I saw in that direction. So, when you spoke of a 'strengthened feeling,' judge how I listened with my heart—judge!
She is in awe of his love for her. She is trying to justify herself to this love. There is no justification for love. She has not come to grasp this yet. Perhaps she never will. So she turns back to the one thing she is sure of: poetry.
"Luria is very great. You will avenge him with the sympathies of the world,—that, I forsee. And for the rest, it is a magnanimity which grows & grows, & which will, of a worldly necessity, fall by its own weight at last, nothing less being possible. The scene with Tiburzio & the end of the act with its great effects, are more pathetic than professed pathos– When I come to criticize, it will be chiefly on what I take to be a little occasional flatness in the versification, which you may remove if you please, by knotting up a few lines here & there. But I shall write more of Luria,—& will remember in the meanwhile, that you wanted smoothness, you said.
May God bless you. I shall have the letter tonight, I think gladly—yes,—I thought of the greater safety from ‘comment’—it is best in every way.
I lean on you & trust to you, & am always, as to one who is all to me,
Your own–"
A sweet letter today from our perplexed Miss Barrett; she just can't quite grasp what is happening to her.

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