It would be amusing to watch any one who felt an idle curiosity as to the language and secrets of lovers opening the Browning Letters. He would probably come upon some such simple and lucid passage as the following: ‘I ought to wait, say a week at least, having killed all your mules for you, before I shot down your dogs…. But not being Phoibos Apollon, you are to know further that when I did think I might go modestly on … let me get out of this slough of a simile, never mind with what dislocated ankles.’ What our imaginary sentimentalist would make of this tender passage it is difficult indeed to imagine. The only plain conclusion which appears to emerge from the words is the somewhat curious one — that Browning was in the habit of taking a gun down to Wimpole Street and of demolishing the live stock on those somewhat unpromising premises….
Their letters may be published a hundred times over, they still remain private. They write to each other in a language of their own, an almost exasperatingly impressionist language, a language chiefly consisting of dots and dashes and asterisks and italics, and brackets and notes of interrogation. Wordsworth when he heard afterwards of their eventual elopement said with that slight touch of bitterness he always used in speaking of Browning, ‘So Robert Browning and Miss Barrett have gone off together. I hope they understand each other—nobody else would.’ It would be difficult to pay a higher compliment to a marriage.
G. K. Chesterton, Robert Browning. Via Ayjay.