Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3, 1845

Browning sends Miss Barrett some exciting news today:

"See, dearest, what the post brings me this minute! Now, is it not a good omen, a pleasant inconscious prophecy of what is to be? Be it well done, or badly—there are you, leading me up and onward, in his review as everywhere, at every future time! And our names will go together—be read together. In itself this is nothing to you, dear poet—but the unexpectedness, unintended significance of it has pleased me very much—does it not please you?– I thought I was to figure in that cold 'Quarterly' all by myself, (for he writes for it)—but here you are close by me,—it cannot but be for good. He has no knowledge whatever that I am even a friend of yours. Say you are pleased!"
He has included a note from Eliot Warburton in which he announces that he will be reviewing Browning's new poems in an article which will include a review of Miss Barrett as well. And how excited is he? He is 'pleased' and he is practically begging her to be 'pleased' too. I wonder why he thinks she wouldn't be pleased. Well, you never know with Miss Barrett, she may see an ill omen.

"There was no writing yesterday for me—nor will there be much today: in some moods, you know, I turn and take a thousand new views of what you say .. and find fault with you to your surprise—at others, I rest on you, and feel all well, all best .. now, for one instance, even that phrase of the 'possibility' and what is to follow,—even that I cannot except against. I am happy, contented,—too well, too prodigally blessed to be even able to murmur just sufficiently loud to get, in addition to it all, a sweetest stopping of the mouth! I will say quietly and becomingly 'yes—I do promise you'—yet it is some solace to—no—I will not even couple the promise with an adjuration that you, at the same time, see that they care for me properly at Hanwell Asylum .. the best by all accounts:—yet I feel so sure of you, so safe and confident in you! If any of it had been my work, my own—distrust and foreboding had pursued me from the beginning,—but all is yoursyou crust me round with gold and jewelry like the wood of a sceptre,—and why should you transfer your own work? Wood enough to choose from in the first instance, but the choice once made! … So I rest on you, for life, for death, beloved—beside you do stand, in my solemn belief, the direct miraculous gift of God to me—that is my solemn belief; may I be thankful!
The 'possibility' he refers to is in her last letter:
"My imagination sits by the roadside [unsandelled] 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." But the next step for Browning is not caring more, only a simple kiss. He tries to get her to see that he is but a man made of simple wood and not an angelic being that she is not worthy of. He tries, but with such lovely words that he rather disproves his own argument.
"I am anxious to hear from you .. when am I not?—but not before the American letter is written and sent. Is that done? And who was the visitor on Monday—and if &c what did he remark?– And what is right or wrong with Saturday—is it to be mine?

Bless you, dearest—now and forever.

Words cannot say how much I am your own."
I admire that he describes her love as a gift to him from God. He says the right words to build her up and help her realize that she is a gift to him. Can she accept that Browning is being rewarded for something good which he has done? I doubt it. In the mean time Browning is so giddy that he thinks he is headed for the loony bin. It is not often in life that we get to feel so mind blowingly happy. It gives me joy to see it played out on paper by two articulate people.

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