Quotation from My Life Autobiography of Havelock Ellis:

The love-letters of the Brownings have been used to exploit the indignation of the superior people who make this protest. I have looked into those letters; they were all written before marriage by two people who had never had any opportunity of being intimate; they might all, as my wife once exclaimed in a different connection of a letter she had herself written, have been stuck upon the stable door.

Which event does "the stable door" refer to in The letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett? (vol 1 \ vol 2)

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    What makes you think it's an event? It looks like a stable door, which is an object and a place. – John Lawler Aug 4 '13 at 15:57

No actual event is being referred to; this is a metaphor. “They might all” should be read here as “They may as well have been” and “the stable door” is meant to be understood as “a very public place where many people would see the letters.” A contemporary phrasing for the same sentiment might be “You may as well post that to Facebook”.

The implication is that the letters were so innocent—i.e. devoid of steamy erotica or anything else that might be considered improper—that they could be made public without repercussion.

  • Could this be a reference to the saying "closing the stable door after the horse has bolted"? ie applying an action too late after some damage has been done. Hard to say without knowing anything about the "superior people" or their protest. Are they applying hindsight to some situation? – Mynamite Aug 4 '13 at 19:48

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