The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 12 November 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501112-TC-LA-01; CL 25: 276-278


Chelsea, 12 Novr, 1850—

On Saturday, by way of mute memento, rather than with the hope of doing any service to your studies, I despatched a Sophocles by Post,—duly settling for the “three blue stamps” with the official person here, and nothing doubting but you would get the poor Book next day. From Mr Maberley,1 however, there arrives this morning an announcement that it lies, for some reason quite mysterious to me, imprisoned in the Dead Letter Office, and will be forwarded on payment of “4/7 more”! What the knot of this foolish coil is I cannot conjecture; but today, by one means or another, I will see to it; and tomorrow, most probably, the poor prisoner of a Book will fly out towards you again, and arrive this time. If it do not arrive within three days (before you go to Norman Court2), please let me know;—if it do, you can also let me know, but are not bound to any day for it. And this is all the “business” I can pretend to have at present; this smallest of the small! For which I am even thankful as better than none at all.

Alas, I am very low at present; never was so buried under mountains of encumbrance, and crushed down almost to the overloading of my considerable powers of endurance, as even now. Better to be silent altogether. To nearly all mortals I am silent from choice; to the infinitesimal remainder, to whom my poor heart might long to speak, I seem to be compelled to silence. Never, or not often I think, in human history, were the “speaking powers” of an individual more inadequate than mine at present! Let us follow the rule then, so far as we can gradually read it or grope it; one must endure whatever it be, when there is nothing that one can wisely do.

To come to Brighton for a day is what I of course wish, nor do I omit or purpose to omit any glimmering of chance there may be of well doing it: but, in fact, I suppose there is or will be none; and probably it will be best for me to lay my account with that. I shall thus avoid disappointment at least. In fact I think I am low enough down at present to be pretty safe from “disappointment”:—God help me! But neither will I make any complaint. I have heard, “it is a long lane that has no turning.” We shall see. I often enough think I know of such “lanes” too. But we shall see.

Of writing there is yet no definite outlook or project. But I must write; it is my one way of expressing all the imprisoned existence of me, this horrid “wrestle” I have had (I for one, and I think I know others in this devil-ridden Planet) ever since my poor biography began: a miserable outlet and “way,” as I often passionately reflect; but it is and has been my sole one; let me not spill that too, and go mad altogether. O Lady, O my Lady,—had not you better score me out of your books, and bid me begone as a grumbling ion of mere Misfortune, Pain, and as it were Perdition (temporal if not eternal)? I believe you will not, after all, just yet; and yet perhaps you had better?—— Well; here is the Note from Cobden, in reply to mine about his School Agitation: will neither you nor Lord A. join in that “reform movement,”3 the one reform conceivable to me now that Peel is gone? A certain “Mr Lombe of Norfolk” has given £500.4 Adieu my noblest friend. God bless you always.