Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Isa Blagden, March 3, [1853]

Dublin Core

Title

Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Isa Blagden, March 3, [1853]

Subject

Gossip--Published
Gender Norms
Italy--Rome
Italy--Florence
Illness
Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861
England--London
Intimacy--As Source
Criticism
Citation of Anonymous Source
Blagden, Isabella "Isa", 1816?-1873

Description

Browning characterizes Grace Greenwood as a "strong-minded" and a woman who cannot be trusted with confidential information since she would capitalize on it: "What makes me talk so illnaturedly is the information I have since received, that she has put everybody unfortunate enough to be caught, into a book, & published them at full length, in American fashion. Now I do confess to the greatest horror of being caught, stuck through with a pin, & beautifully ‘preserved’ with other butterflies, & beetles, even in the album of a Corinna in yellow silk–I detest that particular sort of victimization."

Credit

The Brownings Correspondence

Creator

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861

Source

British Library

Date

1853-03-03

Type

Reference

Letter Item Type Metadata

Text

My dearest Isa,
Directly on receiving your letter I wrote to Madame Tassinari– I would not have added to the period of your anxiety a moment’s breadth if it had rested with me. But she was at her villa .. she has a villa now, & is a good deal out of Florence—& I have, only half an hour ago, received her answer. Here are the words of it .. “I received a letter from Charlotte Agassiz somewhere about the 12th of last month, when written I do not at this moment remember, for I have left the letter in Florence,—but she said she was quite well again, therefore you can, I think, safely set Isabella’s mind at rest, & that Charlotte’s silence has some other more potent reason than even ill health.” So, my dear friend, this must pass as consolation, must it not? Pray, pray, do not vex yourself with cruel fancies any more,––if we are to have illusions, dont let us fashion them out of black crape: the pain is too real!– Madame Tassinari seems to guess at “reasons for silence”—and we can easily imagine such from the data you suggest .. cant we? At any rate she was well on the twelfth of February– Do tell me when you hear, for I too shall like to be sure that nothing very wrong is the matter. Perhaps you may have heard by this time. How happy it would be if she were married happily–

You have seen in the papers that Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer has had an accident .. in the arm .. which keeps him away from the House of Commons, & even from the Haymarket, where they are acting his play (“Not so bad as we seem”) with some success– Well—here is a curious thing about it—Mr Lytton told us some time ago, that, by several clairvoyantes, without knowledge or connection with one another, an impending accident had been announced to him,––“not fatal, but serious”– Mr Lytton said, “I have been very uneasy about it, & nervous as every letter arrived, .. but nearly three months having passed, I begin to think they must have made a mistake—only it is curious that they all should make a mistake of the same kind precisely.”– When after this, we saw the accident in the paper, it was Effective, as you may suppose!–

Profane or not, I am resolved on getting as near to a solution of the spirit-question as I can—and I dont believe in the least risk of profanity, seeing that whatever is, must be permitted,—and that the contemplation of whatever is, must be permitted also, where the intentions are pure & reverent. I can discern no more danger in psychology than in mineralogy—only intensely a greater interest– As to the spirits, I care less about what they are capable of communicating, than of the fact of there being communications. I certainly would’nt set about building a system of theology out of their oracles—God forbid. They seem abundantly foolish, one must admit– There is probably however a mixture of good spirits & bad, foolish & wise—of the lower order perhaps, in both kinds.

Dearest Isa, you are very kind in what you say about the apartment, & we wont say ‘no’. But just now the weather does not admit of my travelling, or indeed of anybody else travelling with any pleasure. There would be no use, neither, in being shut up in Rome, even if the journey were over. We must wait till Italy justifies herself with a little brightness– Still the dreadful accounts of English cold are sufficient in the meanwhile to reconcile us to our destinies here—and there has not been as much continual wet in Florence as in Rome.

Isa!—you & I must try to make head against the strong-minded women .. though really you half frighten me, prospectively– How did the Macphersons lose their baby? You do not tell me, & I should like to know. I pity them from the bottom of my heart– Was it from the teeth, or from fever?

Grace Greenwood, one of the strong-minded, we just escaped with life, from, in London & again in Paris– In Rome, she has us!– What makes me talk so illnaturedly is the information I have since received, that she has put everybody unfortunate enough to be caught, into a book, & published them at full length, in American fashion. Now I do confess to the greatest horror of being caught, stuck through with a pin, & beautifully ‘preserved’ with other butterflies, & beetles, even in the album of a Corinna in yellow silk–I detest that particular sort of victimization.

Give my love to Louisa, & Wiedeman’s love—& his love to you, dear Isa! and Robert’s love to you, he says. Your desk is at once Penini’s treasure & treasure-house. Wilson is very anxious to see Marianne—looking forward to it as to comfort in the strange land. Does Louisa maintain her progress? Robert met Mr Lytton yesterday—& he is to pass the evening here tonight or tomorrow night. He had not heard from his father since the accident, though he had written repeatedly, & was almost as anxious as you are about Charlotte,—or were. He has gone to live in a villa, in the Bello Sguardo direction.

We are invited to go to Constantinople this summer, to visit the American minister there– There’s a temptation for you!

God bless you, dearest Isa. I shall be delighted to see you again, & so will Robert! I always feel (I say to him sometimes) that you love me a little, & that I may rest on you.

Your ever affectionate friend

Elizabeth B Browning

Do send me your address again. I have been so stupid as to mislay your letter & must trust this to the Poste Restante after all.

From

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861

To

Blagden, Isabella "Isa", 1816?-1873

Location

Florence, Italy

Geocode (Latitude)

43.7698712

Geocode (Longitude)

11.2555757

Location (Recipient)

Rome, Italy

Geocode Recipient (Latitude)

41.8933203

Geocode Recipient (Longitude)

12.4829321

Length (range)

500-1500

Social Bookmarking

Geolocation

Citation

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861, “Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Isa Blagden, March 3, [1853],” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed June 25, 2024, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/802.

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