Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Isa Blagden, June 1, [1853]

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Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Isa Blagden, June 1, [1853]


Intimacy--As Source
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861
Intimacy--With Subjects
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Blagden, Isabella "Isa", 1816?-1873


Elizabeth Browning emphasizes again that Grace Greenwood is a person of "general intelligence & sensibility," countering the rumors spread about the writer.
Blagden lives with Charlotte Cushman in Via Gregoriana, Rome, for the time being. Greenwood talked with Browning about Cushman.


The Brownings Correspondence


Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861


British Library





Letter Item Type Metadata


My dearest Isa,
you have a full right to perform over me the commination service or any other form of excommunication which may be inspired into you by your apostolically benign neighbourhood. I am sure I have behaved as ill as any body could .. or any spirit without a body, either– Forgive me—that’s all I can say! I feel your sword at my breast & have no breath for more.

We have been out of breath for you, both of us, on other accounts, from the story we heard of your adventure in the street .. almost under the feet of the horses. Mr Turner told us all about it, .. and as it was the means, he says, of his knowing you better (and you have charmed him, Isa!) I am not sure that he wont ultimately translate it into Japanese, in order to enrich that already opulent literature. But seriously, you suffered only a great deal of fright from the accident, did you? You dont mention it in your letter, & I hope that was because it was’nt at all worth mentioning– Mr Turner seemed to say that you were none the worse really.

Now, for Rome– One reason that I did not write, was, because I was ashamed of not being able to say one thing or another– It has not been quite our fault .. no, it has’nt been ‘a bit’ (as Penini says) our fault .. we really could’nt say ay or no– Arabel is in despair in London, & Robert’s sister in despondency in Paris .. but we cant go north till we have seen Rome, & we cant see Rome at this time of year, & we could’nt, before– The consequence is that we must wait in Italy till next spring. So next winter .. next winter .. Ah, but next winter, some new Fate, looking like a witch, as Michel Angelo has painted her, will be sure to interpose– It is surely in the fates that I never see Rome. Always something happens. Only we mean it—we mean it.

Do write, meanwhile, & tell me what is becoming of you & your charge– How is she? how are you? & where are you going to niche yourselves for the summer months? At the end of June we must get out of the heat, which if any part of the old traditions about weather may be retained this exceptional season, will be strong then—& we look wistfully to Sorrento, but I dont think we shall get there after all,—I dont think it’s in the probabilities. What a pity it is that we cant find a small California, a little “digging” in a flower-pot! —it would increase our potentialities so delightfully!– Apart from that, we shall probably have to go up into the mountains somewhere, & call on the rocks & chesnut forests to cover us till the fire of the summer shall cease to burn, .. &, so, economize for a winter at Rome– Now, it requires a combination of imagination & memory to think of the “fire of the summer.” For two days we have had a chilling rain, & I have shut the windows carefully, .. and other people have the quinsey .. Mr Lytton for instance—but he is better again, and I hope we shall have fine weather & settled, at last– We have had some delicious weather, understand, .. fresh & sunny, at once .. only it has been changeable. I am well, notwithstanding–

Madme Tassinari has disappeared from the scene. Glimpses have been caught of her and Alice coming & going, in a sort of rural vehicle, laden from the market, a little sunburnt—but never by me & Robert. They seem to have taken up their final abode in the wilderness somewhere.

What of Charlotte Agassiz? Is it true that you have taken an apartment in Rome for three years? Tell me if Gerardine Macpherson has a baby, & whether boy or girl?– Is Miss Cushman coming here? Miss Clarke (Grace Greenwood) told me she was—and oh, dont let me forget to tell you that this same Grace is really a Grace, & not a Corinna, not assuming, not presumptuous. Very pleasing & interesting she made herself to me, indeed– I liked her much– And then, she satisfied me to the utmost in the matter of spiritualism. Did you ever hear her talk on that subject? Perhaps not. I made her talk, & she talked to a purpose, I assure you. Also, she struck me as a person of much general intelligence & sensibility–

—Ah! Mr Turner sent you my profile, did he not? Was it like, do you think? But what right has a person without features, like me, to have a profile taken? He did Robert admirably—& my Penini– You shall see. Write to me dear friend, & go on to love me, & dont stop in the middle! We like Mr Lytton more & more. Robert’s love to you always.

Your most affectionate


Sir Edward Lytton has had an abscess on the hand & was forced to suffer an operation. Everybody is moving tables here! There’s a print of a “circolo” round a table, & the inscription is, “E pur si muove”. Very good for Tuscany—is’nt it?

Do write soon.


Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861


Blagden, Isabella "Isa", 1816?-1873


Florence, Italy

Geocode (Latitude)


Geocode (Longitude)


Location (Recipient)

Via Gregoriana, Rome, Italy

Geocode Recipient (Latitude)


Geocode Recipient (Longitude)


Length (range)


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Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861, “Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Isa Blagden, June 1, [1853],” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed January 30, 2023, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/804.

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