Correspondence

314.  EBB to Lady Mary Shepherd

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 2, 157–158.

Hope End

Wednesday Night. [ca. July 1828][1]

My dear Lady Mary,

I was sorry to find that I missed seeing you by going out yesterday, & that my mother had not been more fortunate than myself. She was not quite dressed when you first called; and, in consequence of mistaking your message .. of understanding it to be an unconditional promise respecting a visit this morning—not a conditional promise respecting a second visit yesterday,—she went out as usual. It was a real subject of regret with her, to hear, on her return, that you had been kind enough to call again,—& that your intention of going to Worcester, would deprive us of all chance of profiting by a drive to Vaughan Cottage today.

I am reduced to the necessity of offering my written but warm thanks, for the valuable present,[2] left for me by your Ladyship– I have read several parts of the Essays with a curious pleasure—several with an entire mental satisfaction: and I have everywhere admired the originality, brilliancy, & power, which,—whether your Ladyship’s positions be questionable or the contrary,—undeniably distinguish your mode of supporting them. It is better to appear arrogant than to be dishonest: & it would be dishonest & disingenuous if I were to conceal the opinion I cannot help entertaining, respecting the extension of finite minds. I cannot honestly say that your Ladyship’s arguments have changed or modified that opinion. If finite minds have not a distinct locality, they must inter-exist & be commingled: if they have a distinct locality, they must have bounds: and bounds pre-suppose extension.

I have tried in vain at the Ledbury library, to procure a new copy of my Essay:[3] & the one I venture to send, is the least thumbed, I can find in the house. I hope you will pardon its slovenly appearance, on these accounts. I am sorry to think that I am not soon likely to have the pleasure of seeing you—and I must hope that circumstances,—which have so much gratified by indulging us with your society,—will not, for the future withhold it from us entirely. With Mama’s kind regards & thanks for your many agreable visits—& our united remembrances to your Ladyship & the Miss Shepherds, believe me

Very truly yours

E B Barrett.

Publication: None traced.

Manuscript: Armstrong Browning Library.

1. Dated by reference to the previous letter, which mentions Lady Mary’s staying in Malvern Wells “for a short time.” Prior to visiting the Malvern area, Lady Mary and her daughters had been in Herefordshire. From Malvern they went to Worcester and afterwards to Cheltenham. Sam wrote to Henrietta at Cheltenham, where she had gone with her mother, “I am sorry to hear for your sakes that Lady Mary Shepherd has found you out, I hope you like it, I cannot say that I envy you” (5 October 1828, SD673).

2. A copy of Lady Mary’s Essays on the Perception of an External Universe (1827); (see Reconstruction, A2124). EBB also received a copy from Lady Mary of an earlier work, An Essay Upon the Relation of Cause and Effect Controverting the Doctrine of Mr. Hume (1824), (see Reconstruction, A2123.1).

3. Ledbury had two libraries—i.e., booksellers—both on High Street. They were owned by Mrs. Thackway and Mr. Ward, who advertised a reading society and a circulating library respectively. Both had stocked in the past copies of EBB’s An Essay on Mind (1826).

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