The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 5 March 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520305-TC-LA-01; CL 27: 62-64


Chelsea, 5 March, 1852—

Yesterday Jane, with Miss Farrar, saw Miss Baring, and had news enough (for H. Mildmay too was there) about the Longleat1 gala and other grand things: as she brought me no bad news of your procedures at The Grange, I strive to infer that you are not ill; that perhaps you are rather well, and taking the spring sun, from Muff's2 back in the glades of your beautiful woods in these days. Success to Muff, if so! And if you ride that stripe-backed yellow quadruped named “Patience alias Pluck,”—take care of it at mounting!— With these negative intelligences I have to content myself at present; of positive I have got no whisper anywhere, unlucky that I am, since the night Jane saw you last,—or since the night before when I left you swimming in the tides of M. Thiers's discourse, rather wishing for land I thought. Oh Lady, Lady, these things are not what they would be in an ideal world,—are they now?—but only what they can be in a poor actual world! The soul of man rebels, and sets up its bristles terribly now and then: but the actual maintains its rights all the same; and many things there are which who of gods or men can change for us!—

The weather here is venomously cold, night and morning; but I hope and believe you have less of that frozen fog in which the sun so often drowns himself here: in the crown of the day we too get bright skies, and the whole world promises to become young for us one other time. Singular old world: how it steadily swings round the Sun these many millions of years; and what nonsense it often carries on the back of it,—making no complaint; steadily keeping its time, whoever be behind!3— I hope Lord A. may have come up again today for the renewal of the Westminster Palaver, now that we are all “elected” and fixed in the stirrups:4 I may have a chance again to hear something about a Person valuable to him and me.5 Are you not coming up soon yourself? Alas, why do I ask! My share of benefit in that, thanks to my evil genius, is not an opulent one at present. “The ideal and the actual,” once more, alas, alas! But let us not make it less and worse, by murmuring about it. Had I never seen you in such circumstances, even in such, I should never have known how beautiful and constantly royal you are, how like a queen you vanquish contradictions under your feet, and are a Daughter of the Harmonies, you, meet you amid what Dissonances one will. Blessings on you, I have seen one Royal Woman; this too is something in one's life, as life now goes; and of this there can nothing deprive me.— — No more of all this.

I still keep perdu [hidden] as much as possible; reading, “burning my own smoke,”—riding sometimes in the bright afternoon for a couple of hours. On Wednesday I say6 Addiscombe from the distance; nothing of your Ladyship there: but Croydon lay bright with a veil only of spring gauze over it, the very Heath seemed to smile rather, and there was a something noticeable of you after all, and the thing was welcome as it hurried past in the whirl of meaner things. Nothing has thrown me off since the treacherous “Pluck,” or “Patience,” did: my horse is a very roe for swiftness and for gentleness; but the temperature is still bad; and my lonely rides are never much of a pleasure to me. I am in general the loneliest of all men at present:—but not a misanthrope either (O you unjust person!)—no, I am even a kind of philanthrope, but find it so dreadfully difficult to manage any real philanthropism. That is the secret of it, if you will believe me.

Hue came duly (thanks for the same); but I have not yet got a word of it read: so busy elsewhere. I keep Hue for a holiday. Frederic still moves,—but only on its axis, I fear; of advance in any direction there is no symptom hitherto! And awful masses of reading and inquiring lie between me and any such result. And then, what good is in it? Holding my peace, I shall have a much quieter life, and might get tobacco and necessaries all the same!— Sometimes I think of going over the7 Germany for a year; which truly if my enterprise continued, or even fairly begun, might be very needful: but this is a great secret; speak not of this, except to myself, and to yourself.

I had a thousand things to say; but, as usual, not one of them has been got said. All is so waste, so hurried and confused, within me and around me, about this time! You will excuse us, as you always do.— Tonight we go to some Theatre, escorted by Hairy Lewes (of the Leader &c) to see an unspeakably successful Farce or Comedy of his called “Speculation”8—with my malison on it! I will write again soon; and will love you always well.