The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 26 April 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510426-TC-LA-01; CL 26: 69-70


Chelsea, 26 April, 1851—

Today there came a servant with a Card of yours, indicating two At Homes, for the coming May month. Who knows if it is not a silent message to me withal, to say silently, under these strange circumstances, Good speed to you, my friend! I will take it as such at any rate; and thank the gods. No news can be had of you: let us have faith and hope, and take this as news. You did well not to write; you do all things well, and are a very clever creature indeed.

On Tuesday I called on the Miss Barings:1 nothing there of tidings from you; “gone to Devonshire,” they vaguely said. A pleasant quarter of an hour in the bright room; and then a long pleasant walk, all to one's self, in the still brighter Kensington Gardens, walking like Adam under the trees2 and the young budding Spring and azure old Eternities,—Oh Heaven,—avoiding carefully that monstrous Beehive of the Wind-dust-ry of All Nations,3 and the gaping blockheads that simmer round it!— I am going today to consult Bunsen about the possibilities of a run to Denmark for Norse Literature and brisk clear air (while all Nations are here, and well out of the way): really I mean to hold that in reserve; and feel as if I ought to execute some feat of that kind. Matters may perhaps grow too hot! Yesterday I admitted an American—remembering the “18 million”4 with some remorse, and thinking a minute or two wd do: he proved a Scotch-American, shocking in both characters; noisy, hairy, to a degree; nay at last I discovered stark mad, upon “electricity,” biology, and I know not what! Poor soul, really mad, his eyes all blazing &c: I got him dextrously bowed out;—and in a minute there came in another, rather ugly too, and of the female sex!5 These things ought not to be.

Meantime I have got an excellent solid old Book, Pinkerton's Scotland;6 proving to me, by much real learning and logic, that we have the pleasure, we Lowland Scotch, of being all “Piks” (Picts) that is Norse Viks (from Vichia in Norway) genuine Norsemen the whole of us, and probably as fine a set of men (for natural endowment) as you cd hope to find anywhere,—if we were not such blockheads by education &c &c! Really I have got some good of this rugged Pedant of a Pinkerton for several nights back; I read his Book thirty years ago, but made nothing of it then, except almost a nightmare; tho' I now see it to be fundamentally true, and well worth knowing.— Understand, therefore, Madam, that if you came here in the year 1066 and settled yourself on the sharp mountain, I was here, from the same native place, rather more than 1300 years before; and so we are cousins after all, and happy to meet after such an absence!— The truth of these things (for they are fundamentally a fact) seems to me to transcend all “miracle,” as the Jewish and other poor brains have figured it. We are fearfully and wonderfully made;7 and our destinies and works in this universe are fearful and wonderful. Enough of them, just now.

Do not write; be silent, silent. You can ask me to tea (if you are to be quiet) the evg you come back? Announce it if so, and let me try whether I can come. Eheu, eheu!—

John Mill, did you see in the Times, is wedded to his widow Taylor; a fact in Biography: poor good Mill! He has not announced it to anybody; somebody shewed it to Jane in the Times. We hear likewise that Rd Milnes is going to be—À la bonne heure [well and good]:8 I believe it may be really good. Finally Mrs Alfred Tennyson has not prospered, poor soul: they say she is herself doing well.9 Heigho!—

The Duke of Argyll is proprietor of Iona, the Isle of St. Colm, who converted us all to Xtianity and Puseyism,10 bless him!—a miserable bare bog-farm of £300 a-year; certainly one of the notablest spots in all this Earth. A place I really mean to visit, one day. If I saw him (the Duke not St Colm) at one of your soirées or otherwise, I wd speak ten minutes to him on the subject. But don't mind at all, don't mind!—— Adieu, my Beautiful and Noble Lady=get well again, and that will be one improvt.

Ever yours, /