October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO LADY HARRIET BARING ; 28 July 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460728-TC-LHB-01; CL 20: 261-262


Seaforth House, Liverpool 28 july, 1846—

Ever since Thursday Evening last, according to program, I have lain entirely dormant here; idle as the sands of the Mersey, or only chafing to and fro in aimless motion as the sea-waves do, which might as well sleep if they could. It is one of the most perfect Castles of Indolence1 this; a spacious square mansion, with verandahs, with quiet lawns, and trees or at least bushes all round; rocked by the softest western breezes under grey warm skies; and the perpetual humming lullaby of seas and woods, all day and night, inviting you to lie quite still, and meditate a little on the various madnesses of Human Life, and of one's own among the number! Add to which that we are free-and-easy almost to the degree of Gypsies; soap in moderation; talk in moderation (none at all if you like); and yet a kind of real politeness welling up copiously everywhere as from natural fountains: it is the very place for lying dormant. I smoke a great deal of tobacco; bathe once daily in the Atlantic brine, which is almost of tepid quality at present; read some withered American Biographies, or the like dry buckskin Books totally harmless to the mind;2—and think or dream of all imaginable and unimaginable things. A thousand salutations go from me daily towards Stanhope Street; not one of which you get to hear of! On the whole, what poorer are you? Last Wednesday this day week, late, past midnight, while you were at Lansdown House, all radiant to me and beautiful there, I, very ugly at Chelsea, amid my packages and lonesome wrecks, wrote you a Note: but that also you never heard of; I put it straightway in the fire, and went to sleep in silence.— O Daughter of Adam most beautiful: O Son of Adam, in several respects, most unbeautiful!—

But the essential thing is to tell you that my Wife is considerably better, and still in the way of improving; that she means to continue here for certain weeks yet, and then proceed to East Lothian (Haddington) before she return. We have talked of you: do not suppose that she does other, or ever did other, than respect and even love you,—tho' with some degree of terror. Baseless, I do believe.

As for me I go to Ireland; uncertain yet on what day or for how many days: certain only that I mean to be in Annandale fairly in wait to intercept you in that region. About the 10th or 12th of August you cross the Border: at Carlisle I am only 20 miles from you, at Langholm only 14;—twice as far would I walk on foot at any time for “one blink of your bonny face,”3 as the Scotch songs very justly call it. You will duly warn me, will you not? You are full of charity to me;—for which the Supreme Destinies will certainly reward you. I, if I could ever reward you, Oh, would I not! But it is a vain hope that. Adieu dear Lady mine,—mine yes, and yet forever no!


Tomorrow comes your Lady Mother,4—the Lady Harriet's mother, whom I could have liked to see.— I remember your scheme of movements: you have my Address?