August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO LADY HARRIET BARING; 16 December 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18461216-TC-LHB-01; CL 21:109-110.


Chelsea, 16 Decr, 1846—

I do not write to you in these weeks; I cannot write. Some Fate seems to prohibit me, to say I ought not. In truth, the element I have lived in is very dark, this long while; and I would not complain of it; the sordid smoke of my confusions, why should it blear your bright eyes? You know well, I suppose, that it is not my blame,—alas, no, not my blame! And for what you understand of me, and for what you do not understand, I trust always to your goodness, and nobleness of mind; to your divine benevolence for me, which indeed has, and had always, something of divine in it, I think? If it have, it will live thro' all trials; and the earnest part of it will be a possession to us both forever. This I believe. If it have not, it will die, and indeed ought not to live.— Silence, patience! Kant said, “There are two things strike me dumb: the infinite starry Firmament, and the Sense of right and wrong in man”:1—but as for me, I find more than two, more than even three!

Here, however, on the merely historical and statistical side, is a sad series of mischances which I ought to indicate to you, for all manner of reasons. My Wife has had a cold; been close confined to her room, mostly to her bed, for three weeks past; and has still no definite prospect of freedom,—for tho' the cough is nearly or altogether gone, the weakness still continues, and the frost continues. Yesterday and the day before I spent wholly in nailing down listing, in pasting up crevices; in making a summer temperature for the poor Patient, where she must altogether or oftenest look for refuge while the cold lasts. What adds to the chaos, or what indeed is properly the cause of it all, we are in a change of servants: our poor little Helen the “white-bearded Ape” whom you have seen, who has served us zealously these ten years, went away—called to Dublin, and infinite promotion, housekeepership or the like, by a brother she has there;—and ever since we have had nothing but the similitude of servants; to whom be—nothing said! And a young Cousin is here, a thin well-meaning Liverpool fine-Lady:—in short, one has nothing for it but to sit obstinately quiet, contracted into the narrowest compass; and, with so much of patience as one has, expect that times will mend!2

What is to become of the Alverstoke visit, in these circumstances, were hard to say! My Wife clearly cannot come; at least I do not expect it: but as for myself— Well I will hope! My wishes, I suppose, ought to go for nothing: but I will try to find out what is wisest, and to do that,—as the Fates and you, when the time comes, may give indication.— I am doing nothing; I am hardly reading anything, saying or hearing anything. For God's sake wrap yourself up against this weather! Adieu, adieu.