Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Isa Blagden, [Oct 20, 1856]
Elizabeth Browning informs Blagden that Robert and she are going to travel to Florence. She also mentions Cushman and Matilda Hays who are traveling to Algiers.
CreditThe Brownings Correspondence
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My dearest Isa[,]
In bodily fear of you, I write just a few words, .. distracted as I am in these last hours by horrible calls of different kinds, upon all the notes of the gamut– But if I arrive & have’nt [sic] written .. you wont [sic] speak a word to me—or (of which I am probably still more afraid) you may be writing me vain words to my address here, which I shall lose .. & I dont like losing words of yours. Dearest Isa, we are coming. We have been on the very verge of going to Algiers, but we are coming,—you will have us after all. We go to Florence & probably for the winter—& you cant [sic] think how I rejoice in advance in the pleasure of being close to you, & at rest—for I shall lie on the sofa & read French novels for the next seven years at least, in order to rest from the labour of this last year. The amount of fatigue has really been beyond my physical powers,—& add to that, this load of climate, under which I have been coughing my days & nights away, & I really admire myself for not [having] been worn to a shadow,––a mere veneer of myself! After all, I have barely done the book,—& if I catch sight of the last revise sheet tonight before I go tomorrow, I shall think myself fortunate. So you will have to wait for your copy till I get it from England after publication.
I have been uneasy about my father—sad altogether—but he is better again—so I shall have rather less weight to carry away on my heart.
Mrs Norton’s letter I have not yet received. I entreat you never again to trust to private hands. You will be quite as happy by trusting a pickpocket’s—which is a very private hand.
We have been six weeks away nearly from London, proofs following us like bloodhounds– A fortnight we stayed at Ventnor—because Arabel & my brothers were there; a fortnight at Cowes with Mr Kenyon, whom we left better: and a week & a day at Taunton with my sister Henrietta. Then we came to London for three weeks, & now tomorrow, or at furthest next day, we go to Paris (for one day .. going to an hotel near the Marseilles station) then to Lyons for a night, then to Marseilles: & from Marseilles taking the Cornice in the case of the weather being tenable, to Italy. I want warm air—I am beginning to fail in the chest again,—& have had a frightful cough lately .. better however these two last days– I pity the unfortunate people obliged to live on in England–
Miss Cushman & Miss Hayes are either gone or going, they say, to Algiers,—Barbara Smith gone there with her invalid sister– Bessie Parkes is writing very vigorous articles on the woman question, in opposition to Mr Patmore, poet & husband, who expounds infamous doctrines on the same subject—see ‘National Review’,—& sends them [‘]‘with the author’s regards” to Mrs Browning– Oh if you heard Bessie Parkes! she & the rest of us militant, foam with rage– But he’ll have the best of it as far as I am concerned: inasmuch as I hear he is to review in the North British my poor 'Aurora Leigh,' who has the unfeminine impropriety to express her opinion on various “abstract subjects,” —which Mr Patmore cant abide, he says.
So glad I am that you like my name .. ‘Aurora Leigh’. I thought you would’nt object much on that ground– My brother George, who has seen the proof sheets, says, that it is by far the best & strongest of my works,—but, for the rest, “more indecent than Don Juan,”—to a degree which must exclude it “from the boudoir-table of any lady” .. (his own words) & prevent all girls from touching it with the end of their finger– How you will laugh! how I did laugh!– Perhaps after all you may rank the criticism with Mrs Parkes’s on Gabriel– But no, I really do pass Gabriel on this head, I must say–
Heaps of letters to write & things to do! If Robert came in & found me writing ‘bosh’ to you whom I am going to see, .. how mad he would be! how characteristic he would call it–
You have heard of Lytton’s accident,—how he fell from his horse & dislocated his arm. Robert saw a letter from him badly written—like this, perhaps– We have written to him. Dearest Isa, I am delighted you have your villa & the vision round it—but you pay, you pay. It is’nt a bargain for Florence. God bless you, dear. We are coming. I hope we shall find Mr Tennyson.
Your ever loving