Kindest & dearest you are!—that is 'my secret'! and for the others, I leave them to you!—only it is no secret that I should & must be glad to have the words you sent with the book,—which I should have seen at all events, be sure, whether you had sent it or not– Should I not, do you think? And considering what the present generation of critics really is, the remarks on you may stand, although it is the dreariest impotency to complain of the want of flesh & blood & of human sympathy in general. Yet suffer them to say on—it is the stamp on the critical knife. There must be something eminently stupid, or farewell criticdom! And if anything more utterly untrue could be said than another, it is precisely that saying, which Mr Mackay stands up to catch the reversion of! Do you indeed suppose that Heraud could have done this? I scarcely can believe it, though some things are said rightly as about the ‘intellectuality’, & how you stand first by the brain,—which is as true as truth can be. Then, I shall have ‘Pauline’ in a day or two—yes, I shall & must .. & will."
Browning does not want Miss Barrett to read 'Pauline' and yet he need not worry. Despite his protestations of youth she is probably the one person in the world who will take it for what it is. I suspect he is embarrassed by the autobiographical touches but she will be more interested in the poetry. She always is. And he is always embarrassed, that is his normal condition.
"The ‘Ballad poems & fancies’, the article calling itself by that name, seems indeed to be Mr Chorley’s, & is one of his very best papers, I think. There is to me a want of colour & thinness about his writings in general, with a grace & savoir faire nevertheless, & always a rightness & purity of intention– Observe what he says of ‘many sidedness’ seeming to trench on opinion & principle. That, he means for himself I know, for he has said to me that through having such largeness of sympathy he has been charged with want of principle—yet ‘many sidedness’ is certainly no word for him. The effect of general sympathies may be evolved both from an elastic fancy & from breadth of mind—& it seems to me that he rather bends to a phase of humanity & literature than contains it .. than comprehends it. Every part of a truth implies the whole,—& to accept truth all round, does not mean the recognition of contradictory things: universal sympathies cannot make a man inconsistent, but, on the contrary, sublimely consistent– A church tower may stand between the mountains & the sea, looking to either, & stand fast: but the willow tree at the gable-end, blown now toward the north & now toward the south while its natural leaning is due east or west, is different altogether .. as different as a willow tree from a church tower–"
I suspect Miss Barrett sees herself as a church tower, looking both to the mountain and the sea and standing fast.
"Ah, what nonsense! There is only one truth for me all this time, while I talk about truth & truth. And do you know, when you have told me to think of you, I have been feeling ashamed of thinking of you so much, of thinking of only you—which is too much, perhaps. Shall I tell you?—it seems to me, to myself, that no man was ever before to any woman what you are to me—the fulness must be in proportion, you know, to the vacancy .. & only I know what was behind .. the long wilderness without the ‘footstep’, .. without the blossoming rose .. & the capacity for happiness, like a black gaping hole, before this silver flooding. Is it wonderful that I should stand as in a dream, & disbelieve .. not you .. but my own fate? Was ever any one taken suddenly from a lampless dungeon & placed upon the pinnacle of a mountain, without the head turning round & the heart turning faint, as mine do? And you love me more, you say?– Shall I thank you or God? Both, .. indeed—& there is no possible return from me to either of you! I thank you as the unworthy may .. & as we all thank God. How shall I ever prove what my heart is to you! how will you ever see it as I feel it? I ask myself in vain–
Have so much faith in me, my only beloved, as to use me simply for your own advantage & happiness, & to your own ends without a thought of any others—that is all I could ask you with any disquiet as to the granting of it– May God bless you!–
But you have the review now—surely?
The Morning Chronicle attributes the authorship of ‘Modern Poets’ (our article) to Lord John Manners—so I hear this morning– I have not yet looked at the paper myself. The Athenæum, still abominably dumb!–"
Browning writes but a short note today:
This is no letter—love,—I make haste to tell you—to-morrow I will write: for here has a friend been calling and consuming my very destined time, and every minute seemed the last that was to be,—and an old, old friend he is, beside—so—you must understand my defection, when only this scrap reaches you to-night!– Ah, love,—you are my unutterable blessing,—I discover you, more of you, day by day,—hour by hour, I do think;—I am entirely yours,—one gratitude, all my soul becomes when I see you over me as now. —God bless my dear, dearest
My 'Act Fourth' is done—but too roughly this time! I will tell you–
One kiss more, dearest!
Thanks for the Review–"
Nope, nothing to say. Discuss amongst yourselves.