Letter from Elizabeth Barret Browning to Isa Blagden, Feb 13, 1853

Dublin Core

Title

Letter from Elizabeth Barret Browning to Isa Blagden, Feb 13, 1853

Description

Elizabeth Browning recounts her first encounter with Charlotte Cushman, who was with Matilda Hays, at that time. Browning liked both of them very much: "I particularly liked Miss Cushman—& I liked, too, Miss Hayes who was with her, though somebody swore to me afterwards that she was 'dressed like a man'—! If she was, I am sure I did’nt see it, nor hear it in anything she said. She had a good truthful direct countenance which pleased me."

Credit

The Brownings Correspondence

Creator

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861

Source

Fitzwilliam Museum

Publisher

The Brownings Correspondence, an online edition

Date

1853-02-13

Type

Reference

Letter Item Type Metadata

Text

My dear friend, I received your first letter but waited for a second to tell me your address in Rome, having understood that it was unsafe to send Roman letters to the poste restante– You dont give me an address, however, even this time, so I must run all risks– Delighted I was to get both your letters. Let me have another as soon as possible– Is there not a mystery in the affair of Charlotte Agassiz? Do you not suppose (as we are not in heaven yet) that there’s some marrying & giving in marriage?  —some silken entanglement of the kind? I cant otherwise conceive of her throwing you over so, and throwing me over, & throwing Italy over. You know she has vowed to be married in Marylebone church, so it might be more convenient to stay in the neighbourhood– As to your Louisa, give her my love; I congratulate her & you on her making such progress– God will bless you & prosper you in your disinterestedness & generosity, dearest Isa, & you will stand perhaps as a warning against selfishness to all womankind. For my part I have you on a pedestal already– You encourage us about Rome, & it seems to me that an apartment large enough for you would be large enough for us– We require only two bedrooms, with something like a dressing room for Robert. Wiedeman sleeps with Wilson always. Then one or two sitting rooms: & yes, we must have place somewhere for the manservant we shall have to engage in Rome, because we dont like the out of door dinner system, which, at cheapest & best, turns out always to be dearer & worse than a domestic arrangement– The via Gregoriana & the nearness to you, would suit us exactly– I want as few fleas & as many comforts as I can attain .. comforts, in the way of chairs & sofas– Well—there’s time to talk of it– We shant leave Florence till it’s quite March– How the months pass! Oh, poor Gerardine Macpherson! I had heard from Mrs Jameson of her dreadful loss, but I did not hear either from Mrs Jameson or yourself how it happened. Do tell me what you know. The child was two years old, was he not? It makes the blood run cold in my veins to think of such a misfortune—Robert calls it a “hideous one”—& certainly one cant bear to look at it steadily. I think our darling would take our souls with him to Heaven if he went there before us– I would willingly share Mrs Sartoris with you, dear Isa, but I have no part or lot in her myself; I never saw her in my life, nor has Robert seen her except by some glimpse through a door– If Fanny Kemble comes to Italy which she is about to do I hear, we shall certainly know her, for she had the goodness to call on me in London & I just missed her. Robert has met her in London society, sate next her at dinner I think, .. something of that kind. As to Miss Cushman I met her in a balcony on the boulevards of Paris (an odd place of meeting you will say) and I liked her much, .. and I have been so vexed with myself ever since—let me tell you why. She said kindly she would call on me—“Oh,” said I, quickly, “we shall be sure to meet at Rome”– She never called, & perhaps fancied I did’nt want her to call—that came into my head afterwards– All I intended was to prevent her making any inconvenient effort to find me out at the hotel, when, as I thought then, we were all going to Rome together directly. But I should have made it clearer. The fact is, I have “des vertiges” in society, & never the least bit of presence of mind there or anywhere else. I particularly liked Miss Cushman—& I liked, too, Miss Hayes who was with her, though somebody swore to me afterwards that she was “dressed like a man”—! If she was, I am sure I did’nt see it, nor hear it in anything she said. She had a good truthful direct countenance which pleased me– You are a tantalizing provoking person about the spirits, to tell me so much & no more. I hear wonderful things on that subject every day almost, & though they say that Dickens has caught one in London & shown him up .. in ‘Household words’ .. not as the “crackling of thorns among the pots” .. but as the cracking of toes after fire-heat, .. I shake my head & am considerably more sceptical about the explanation than about the phenomena– Fifty thousand persons in America are said to be ‘mediums’– I am yearning to get nearer to these things– (Not that we are going to New York)– Such explanations as Dickens’s are absolutely absurd to anybody who is not ignorant of the question altogether. Fifty thousand persons of all ranks in society, & degrees of education!! As to your beautiful American witch, I hoped for a whole week that she would come to see us, as so many of the Americans do, & I would have entreated her on one knee to lift a table for me—but no!—we had the minister from Constantinople instead– Well—you & I, when we are all in Rome together, must enter into a conspiracy & try to draw the spirits– Mr Powers & I, meanwhile, talk of them with most sympathetic interest, & I am nurturing my faith by studying Swedenborg– Dearest Isa, may God bless you– Write to me. Robert’s love with mine, which is true & affectionate always– EBB: or Ba Robert has had a letter from Miss Faucit (now Mrs Martin) to ask to bring out “Colombe’s Birthday” at the Haymarket, in April, I think. There was nothing for it but to accede, of course. I dare say she will play Colombe beautifully. Mr Lytton speaks of you with interest & regard. The Tassinaris were anxiously looking for Miss Agassiz. Alice is enormous—gigantic .. appearing seven years old. At first I thought her prettier,—but I dont know now.

From

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861

To

Blagden, Isabella "Isa", 1816?-1873

Location

Casa Guidi– Florence, Italy

Geocode (Latitude)

43.7698712

Geocode (Longitude)

11.2555757

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Geolocation

Collection

Citation

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861, “Letter from Elizabeth Barret Browning to Isa Blagden, Feb 13, 1853,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed August 17, 2022, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/614.

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