TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 17 September 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520917-TC-LA-01; CL 27: 290-293
TC TO LADY ASHBURTON
Cassel, 17 Septr (Friday Evg), 1852—
Will you again accept a hurried word from me, such as the whirl of railways and noisy inns permits to the unfortunate: we have just arrived here an hour ago, and, after tea, and wandering over a cigar thro' the dim streets, I report progress before going to bed;—to bed (if such we are to call it), but as to sleep—ach Gott, patience is one's only remedy on that head too for the present!—
I got your Letter at Frankfurt on Tuesday morning; there it lay waiting for me, and doubtless the Heavens will reward your punctuality some day. Another Letter, from my Wife, forwarded from Bonn by another channel, reached me in the course of the same morning; and the news from home, if nothing else, were of a consolatory nature.— Our journey had begun, as advertised, on this day week; but at Coblentz the same afternoon we turned aside to Bad-Ems; a beautiful drive up the Lahn,1 and a strange if not a beautiful place,—like a bit of the rue de Rivoli or Palais Royal2 put into the throat of the Trosachs,—amusing to look at for three days. I tasted the water,—like boiled Selzer;—listened to the music; looked at the Nondescripts of mankind there wrestling agt ennui, dancing, gambling in Kursaals [casinos], and feeding sadly at Tables-d'hôte: I had some Books from Bonn Library to read withal, and finished most of them; on Sunday afternoon we drove to Nassau, and visited, not without interest, the Stammburg [ancestral castle] of the Orange Heroes, the birthplace of William the Silent;—Mme. Guizot3 and Falloux had been there before us, and had severally expressed their reverence; as such man might well do in such a scene? On the whole I was very glad to see it, and the House of Prussian Stein, and even his Daughter, an old black Gräfin [countess], with a big nose like his.4 But I must hasten. Surveying Maintz by the light of fish-oil (very dim indeed in the few lamps) we got to Frankfurt by rail on Monday Night; summing up the visions of the Lurlei, Bingerloch, and other Rhine miracles,5 by a prose jumble in the belly of the steam-demon, transacted in total darkness,—which at last threw us out near the foot of Goethe's statue, in a City I had often wished to see,6 and now did at last see when I could as well have dispensed with it. Alas, looking out next morning, a known face startled me among the trees of the Square: Goethe's face, I saw well, but it was in stone,—in such manner had my old wishes been fulfilled for me! As is not quite unusual in this world. That same evening, after infinite running about, we got out to Homburg, the noise of Frankft (in Fair time too) being utterly unbearable; and at Homburg I did stay 3 nights and 2 days; left it this morning, and surely shall not soon forget it among the places I have seen in the world. Is there the like of it, I wonder, that the Sun now looks upon from the Zodiac anywhere? A similar set of mortals, or of human occupations, I had hardly imagined to myself before. Ach Gott in Himmel! It was not possible for me even to find out the House, on the “Parade,” where you had lived; my only real pleasure (tho' the sight of the place and its ways surpassed all Foote's Farces)7 was the hour last night with the Augustenburgs, whom I could not catch till then, but who took me then to their House, and were extremely kind and human to me,—for your sake again, as I reflected, whh did not make the favour less agreeable to me. With the Duchess, in spite of defect of language, I could do very well; and there were the two young men, fine ingenuous young fellows, and the young women,8 beautiful young creatures, who spoke English with me, and pressed me to tea, while the Alte Herr sat curling his moustachios in a very leonine and genial tho' taciturn manner. Many, many friendly questions were asked about you and Lord A., whh I answered as well as might be in the mixed Babylonian dialects we were reduced to. In short I am very glad I went; and in an hour I had done myself a real kindness, I perceived. Poor old Wellington, I had heard that evg he was dead! Lord Clanrickarde, visible for a moment amid some explosion of music, had hastily imparted the news to me, whh History will not forget for some time. In all the world there is not left now, that we know of, such a man. Eheu, eheu! And yet what cd one wish but that he shd die, having done all his work? Farewell to him, the farewell due to Heroes.— In the old Homburg Schloss (thanks to you for mentioning it) I had found, the day before, a great many things to interest me: excellt Portraits, Marlbro', Gustavus, “Great Elector” (Fk's great grandfather), Queen Christina, Czar Peter &c. &c;9 and the poor Guelph Princess herself, with her garnered bits of England and of dull Windsor royalty, was affecting and respectable to me.10 A Heroine who bore infinite Ennui (I fancied) in a calm and valiant kind of manner: honour to her too in her degree. The woods, as predicted, offered excellent driving,—to walk I was too weak; but a lean horse, drosky, and young man with a leather soup-plate on his head, supplied the defect; and even told us about the war in Holstein, where he had served witht distinction.— — Alas, alas, dear Lady, how I run on here, and seem to be all gone to talk, when it is in reality not so! Neuberg is to bed, and I too must go, tho' for me the prospects are baddish! I have in fact renounced the hope of sleeping till I get home again: ½ or ⅓ of the natural demand must suffice till then;—wherefore let us loiter the less! In brief, what is the essential purport of this poor scribble, let me tell you I am now to be in Berlin (viâ Weimar, Dresden &c) in six days hence,—Poste Restante there; and that with my whole heart I commend myself to your pity there and elsewhere! Adieu, adieu.