After having finished an essay on gender variation, I started reading through the Browning Letters again (taking it a couple of letters at a time). Their letters are filled with humorous phrases: “to dramatic impersonations, gruff with nature, “gr-r- you swine”” (Barrett 17 Feb 1845:5) and many uses of the .. which is both a hesitation punctuation and which functions like a comma at times (a natural pauze): “What I was going to say .. after a little natural hesitation .. is” (Barrett 11 Jan 1845:2); “I think I can do it, that is- .. Here an odd memory comes .. of a friend who” (Browning 27 Jan 1845:2).
In the 16th letter of the correspondence, I came across something I have never seen before. But then again, it is not as if I have read many, many letters. I have the feeling that in this letter he is trying to cheer Miss Barrett up since she has yet to answer his last letter and her being somewhat under the weather due to her illness. Or maybe this is one of the letters that is missing, as two weeks have passed since he wrote a letter to her. At the end of the letter, Mr Browning writes “Three scratches with a pen, even with this pen,-and you have the green little Syrenusæ where I have sate and heard the quails sing.” (15 April 1845:4). And so he drew, somewhat more than three scratches, mind you:
Has anyone else come across a drawing in a letter? The first time I saw it without reading the letter, I thought it was an animal resting on a very small hill. I am not sure what the drawing is supposed to be but, after reading the letter, I imagine it to be mountains in Syracuse, Sicily, since that is what he referred to in the letter? Would you agree?
Barrett, Elizabeth (11 Jan 1845; 17 Feb 1845). http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/ab-letters. Accessed on: 28 October 2012.
Browning, Robert (27 Jan 1845; 15 April 1845). http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/ab-letters. Accessed on: 28 October 2012.
Little drawings can also be found in the letters of William Home Clift, William Clift’s son. And there is one tiny drawing in a letter by Jane Austen: I’ll add the page reference as soon as I find it again.