Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30, 1845

Miss Barrett sends forth a letter from Wimpole Street following Browning's visit of the 29th:


When you are gone I find your flowers; & you never spoke of nor showed them to me—so instead of yesterday I thank you today—thank you. Count among the miracles, that your flowers live with me—I accept that for an omen, dear—dearest! Flowers in general, all the flowers, die of despair when they come into the same atmosphere .. used to do it so constantly & observably that it made me melancholy & I left off for the most part having them here. Now, you see, how they put up with the close room, & condescend to me & the dust!—it is true & no fancy! To be sure they know that I care for them & that I stand up by the table myself to change their water & cut their stalks freshly at intervals .. that may make a difference perhaps. Only the great reason must be that they are yours, & that you teach them to bear with me patiently."

The last of the Sonnet Sequence refers to the flowers:

Belovëd, thou hast brought me many flowers
Plucked in the garden, all the summer through,
And winter, and it seemed as if they grew
In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers.
So, in the like name of that love of ours,
Take back these thoughts which here unfolded too,
And which on warm and cold days I withdrew
From my heart’s ground. Indeed, those beds and bowers
Be overgrown with bitter weeds and rue,
And wait thy weeding; yet here’s eglantine,
Here’s ivy!—take them,
as I used to do
Thy flowers,
and keep them where they shall not pine.
Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true,
And tell thy soul, their roots are left in mine.

"Do not pretend even, to misunderstand what I meant to say yesterday of dear Mr Kenyon. His blame would fall as my blame of myself has fallen: he would say .. will say .. 'it is ungenerous of her to let such a risk be run! I thought she would have been more generous.' There, is Mr Kenyon’s opinion as I forsee it! Not that it would be spoken, you know! he is too kind. And then, he said to me last summer, somewhere à propos to the flies or butterflies, that he had 'long ceased to wonder at any extreme of foolishness produced by—love'He will of course think you very very foolish, but not ungenerously foolish like other people——

Never mind. I do not mind indeed. I mean, that, having said to myself worse than the worst perhaps of what can be said against me by any who regard me at all, & feeling it put to silence by the fact that you do feel so & so for me,—feeling that fact to be an answer to all, .. I cannot mind much, in comparison, the railing at second remove.– There will be a nine days railing of it & no more!—and if on the ninth day, you should not exactly wish never to have known me, the better reason will be demonstrated to stand with us. On this one point the wise man cannot judge for the fool his neighbour. If you do love me, the inference is that you would be happier with than without me—& whether you do, you know better than another: so I think of you & not of them .. always of you! When I talked of being afraid of dear Mr Kenyon, I just meant that he makes me nervous with his all-scrutinizing spectacles, put on for ‘great occasions,’ & his questions which seem to belong to the spectacles, they go together so!—and then I have no presence of mind, as you may see without the spectacles. My only way of hiding (when people set themselves to look for me) would be the old child’s way of getting behind the window curtains or under the sofa:—& even that might not be effectual if I had recourse to it now– Do you think it would? Two or three times I have fancied that Mr Kenyon suspected something—but if he ever did, his only reproof was a reduplicated praise of you—he praises you always & in relation to every sort of subject."

This is the first time that she seems to not question their relationship. Always she is pushing him away but here she seems to be comforting Browning. This does not negate her reservations that he would be better off without her holding her back, but rather an observation that she does not care what anyone will think except Browning.

"What a misomonsism you fell into yesterday, you who have so much great work to do which no one else can do except just yourself!—& you, too, who have courage & knowledge, & must know that every work, with the principle of life in it, will live, let it be trampled ever so under the heel of a faithless & unbelieving generation—yes, that it will live like one of your toads, for a thousand years in the heart of a rock. All men can teach at second or third hand, as you said .. by prompting the foremost rows .. by tradition & translation:—all, except poets, who must preach their own doctrine & sing their own song, to be the means of any wisdom or any music, & therefore have stricter duties thrust upon them, & may not lounge in the στοα [portico] like the conversation-teachers. So much I have to say to you, till we are in the Siren’s island, … & I, jealous of the Siren!–

'The Siren waits thee singing song for song,'

says Mr Landor. A prophecy which refuses to class you with the ‘mute fishes,’ precisely as I do.

And are you not my ‘good’—all my good now—my only good ever? The Italians would say it better without saying more."

Yes, I do believe that Miss Barrett is working at cheering up Browning today. He must have been down in the dumps when he came to visit yesterday. She is setting him on his charger and sending him out to teach the world with his poetry. 

"I had a letter from Miss Martineau this morning who accounts for her long silence by the supposition, .. put lately to an end by scarcely credible information from Mr Moxon, she says .. that I was out of England,—gone to the South from the 20th of September. She calls herself the strongest of women, & talks of 'walking fifteen miles one day & writing fifteen pp. another day without fatigue'—also of mesmerizing & of being infinitely happy except in the continued alienation of two of her family who cannot forgive her for getting well by such unlawful means. And she is to write again to tell me of Wordsworth, & promises to send me her new work in the meanwhile—all very kind.

So here is my letter to you which you asked for so 'against the principles of universal justice.' Yes, very unjust—very unfair it was—only, you make me do just as you like in everything. Now confess to your own conscience that even if I had not a lawful claim of a debt against you, I might come to ask charity with another sort of claim, oh 'son of humanity.' Think how much more need of a letter I have than you can have, .. & that if you have a giant’s power, ‘tis tyrannous to use it like a giant’Who would take tribute from the desert? How I grumble. Do let me have a letter directly! remember that no other light comes to my windows, & that I wait 'as those who watch for the morning'—'lux mea [my light]!'

May God bless you—and mind to say how you are exactly, and dont neglect the walking, pray do not!

Your own–

She doesn't grumble much at all in this letter, building up her man and ending with a mild teaze. She's a sweet girl.

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