April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 24 November 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18481124-TC-LA-01; CL 23: 159-160


Chelsea, 24 Novr, 1848—

Seneca is not in the least a scarce book: on the contrary there have been sixteen editions; and I found two copies of it in the Old-Book-shop where I was, one at half-a-crown, the other at 3 shillings! I resolved to lay out the additional sixpence,—considering you worthy of that venture. A respectable grey old book, in legible print, with dim old yellow Calf-binding; has prints too, wood-cuts of certain of the Virtues &c, to assist the infant comprehension. Surely we shall get some seeds of morality sown in you at last; and that strong soil will not run always to waste! Two shillings more (for it is beyond a pound weight) will bring you the invaluable Treatise by post, if you want it, and will risk the binding. At all events it here humbly awaits your Ladyship's commands;—much obliged by the Commission, and hope your Ladyship will honour us again, and ever again— Ah me!

Jane is quite well again; I suppose she will answer your letter soon. Yesterday she went a second time to Lady Sandwich's;1 to whom she seems to take, which I am very glad of: her report was pretty good of the poor Patient, to whom company and cheerful conversation are, as you say, the chief remedies that avail. Jane found her quite lively, and very entertaining, especially after they had got under way a little, and brought the fuel into flame.— The Miss Farrars also were here one day;2 but found only me, in Cheyne Walk; and, after looking at the door to know it again, went on their way.

Aubrey de Vere is silent at Mortlake; wooing Contemplation heavenly maid.3 Alfred Tennyson is to Italy; actually carried off, by some friendly Brother of his, to execute what he has long been meditating, and might have forever meditated.4 C. Buller I have not seen; but purpose to try again very soon. I myself am a little on the sick-list; caught cold yesterday: “Individuality of the Individual,”5 poor creature, has got some teaching (by Jane's good luck) to keep him alive:6—and this is all my news; these transcendent occurrences, which your mind now contemplates with friendly wonder, dear Lady mine!

Nay I found in Sadi a couplet which I must send you furthermore, for your sins. I translate faithfully from Herder's German, and in the original I have no doubt it is much stronger.7 Read; and let some remorse seize your hard heart,—now that the leaf is turned:

“Tell me, O wise man, how hast thou come to know so astonishingly much?”
By never being ashamed to ask of those that knew!

There: what do you think of that? If there is no tear in your eye, at reading of this and recollecting much sin that is past, I do not see the use of sending you Seneca!— —

Duffy and his crimes you shall describe to me when we meet; I have myself noticed symptoms of a certain stratum of Irish ambiguity in some sections of his character; different from what I ever observed in Mitchel: but worse than the others, not far better than the others, I cannot imagine him; and at any rate the thing resolved upon respecting him seems right, and that is sufficient.8

You are on Mull,9 enjoying the bright shore, I hope, at this moment. Adieu, dear Friend. Today I cannot see you, but some other day (if it please God) I shall;—and good will betide us, after all, and not evil, if we be ourselves good! Farewell, dear Lady.