Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February 20, 1852

There is one note extant that Mrs. Browning wrote to Browning after they were married. Their child was ill and she had to send for Browning at a society dinner on February 20, 1852:

You had better I think bring Dr. Macarthy or somebody with you to see Baby. He had had another attack, decidedly worse in character, & though he is now asleep, yet it may return, & we ought to know what to do at once--Don't be frightened. You know I lose my head--but really it is best that you shd. bring some one--Your Ba-"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14

I could not resist a love letter on Valentine's Day, although this letter from Browning is postmarked May 10, 1846. As usual he tries to muddle it up, but his meaning actually comes through pretty clear:

"I am always telling you, because always feeling, that I can express nothing of what goes from my heart to you, my Ba: but there is a certain choice I have all along exercised, of subjects on which I would try and express somewhat—while others might be let alone with less disadvantage. When we first met, it was in your thought that I loved you only for your poetry .. I think you thought that: and because one might be imagined to love that and not you,—because everybody must love it, indeed, that is worthy, and yet needs not of necessity love you,—yet might mistake, or determine to love you thro’ loving it .. for all these reasons, there was not the immediate demand on me for a full expression of my admiration for your intellectuality,—do you see?—rather, it was proper to insist as little as possible on it, and speak to the woman, Ba, simply—and so I have tried to speak,—partly, in truth, because I love her best, and love her mind by the light and warmth of her heart—reading her verses, saying 'and these are Ba’s',—not kissing her lips because they spoke the verses. But it does not follow that I have lost the sense of any delight that has its source in you, my dearest, dearest,—however I may choose to live habitually with certain others in preference. I would shut myself up with you, and die to the world, and live out fifty long,—long lives in bliss through your sole presence—but it is no less true that it will also be an ineffable pride,—something too sweet for the name of pride,—to avow myself, before anyone whose good opinion I am solicitous to retain, as so distinguished by you—it is too sweet, indeed,—so I guard against it,—for frequent allusion to it, might, .. (as I stammer, and make plain things unintelligible) .. might cause you to misconceive me, .. which would be dreadful .. for after all, Ba’s head has given the crown its worth,—though a wondrous crown it is, too!– All this means .. the avowal we were speaking of, will be a heart’s pride—above every other pride whenever you decide on making such an avowal. You will understand as you do ever your own RB"
Not that there is anything wrong with kissing a genius--but it is incidental to the genius that the kissing takes place. Just to be clear.

—On getting home I found letters and letters—the best being a summons to meet Tennyson at Moxon’s on Tuesday,—and the frightfullest .. nay, I will send it. Now, Ba, hold my hand from the distant room, tighter than ever, at about 8. o’clock on Wednesday, .. for I must go, I fear. 'Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking ..' &c &c 'ἐα, ἐα, ἀπεχε, φευ [ah, ah, refrain alas].' Then Mr Kenyon writes that his friend Commodore Jones is returned to England in bad health and that he must away to Portsmouth and see him. So I do not go on Monday. While I was away Chorley’s brother (John Chorley) called,—having been put to the trouble of a journey hither for nothing.

I have been out this morning—to church with my sister—and the sun shone almost oppressively,—but now all is black, and threatening. How I send my heart after your possible movements, my own all-beloved! Care for yourself, and for me. But a few months more,—if God shall please! May He bless you.

Ever your own RB

Hail and rain—at a quarter to four o’clock!"
Happy Valentine's Day to all the Blogoleers out there in BarrettBrowningBlogland!