1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 21 September 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540921-TC-LA-01; CL 29: 152-154


Chelsea, 21 Septr, 1854—

Dear Lady,—Many thanks for your application to the Foreign Secretary1 on my behalf. I have yet heard nothing from his Lordship; suppose he may be out of Town, or may fancy I am out of Town. Today I send him a Note, requesting an extension of my range, so that it may embrace the Austrian Despatches of the Period as well. Till lately, I fancied Sir Thomas Robinson's Papers (now in the hands of Lord de Grey, and accessible to me) would serve for that Austrian department: but these de Grey Papers I find, on examining them, to contain chiefly Letters to Sir T. Robinson; the Letters from, about some of which I am curious, must be in the State-Paper Office. So I have written to Lord Cln. I had a certain difficulty in writing to him: for it occurs to my mind he, good amiable man, has acted rather a weak part towards me,— believed mere lies,2 and on the basis of mere lies and zeros, withdrawn his human regards from me, which I could have repaid with human do, and am now forbidden:—but perhaps I am well served, after all, now when I think of the whole matter. So let it rest. His Lordship will grant me the Admission required; and that alone is the essential at present. Human creatures do make innumerable mistakes about one another: that is a thing I discovered some time ago!

Today there came a charming letter from Lord An; full of deer-stalkings, otter-fisheries (presided over by a certain Queen of the Lakes), and breezy with the fresh air of the Highland Hills: to which I will certainly answer;—and in the meanwhile you can tell his Lordship that the question of the Beard is under serious deliberation; that I do greatly envy him his freeflowing noble beard; and that, in fact, the Beard-movement, if it is seriously going on, may count always on my poor furtherance so far as that will carry it.

Lady Sandwich called here last Sunday; but unluckily we were out: Jane has since seen her, reports well of her spirits and appearance; I have tried twice, but was not successful either time. A speculation is afloat of her coming to us on Saturday night perhaps, to meet the two little Goderichs (who are so far on their way to Pau, and the Pyrenees region, for the winter): nobody else but they; so Lady S. must be seen, if she is to come; “too insignificant to write about,”—that is the law of the case! I continue to like this little Goderich; there is a certain authenticity, composure, and ingenuous veracity about him, which promises well, in a solid, if perhaps limited way: his Socialisms &c are settling fast into the right pitch, and will do him good, not ill.3 He is brown as a berry with Yorkshire sunburning; and has flung away the ghastly H. of Commons air. Let us hope well of the good young man!

I myself sit aloft here, in nearly utter solitude; “sparrow-like, companionless, on the housetop, alone,” as the Hebrew Psalmist has it:4 to appearance, I might do a great deal of work; but except it be the old trade of burning smoke, there comes, with all my effort, little or nothing into view hitherto. Woe's me! But smoke, to almost immeasurable extent, has to be burnt: that also is a bit of one's work; and indeed I often feel as if that were like to be nearly all now left me. Let us see, at any rate, that that be done, then! Fredk. and continents of waste Brandenburg sand, wherein no green thing will ever grow: alas, what is to become of me? The Fates perhaps will yet open me a way.

You are not coming then till the middle of October! Shall I pray for heavy rains to drive you home sooner? I feel as if it would be a great thing to see that face again; which in fact it will. We have had, as you say, a dreadful time. Unusually bad nerves; disease5 all round us (nothing to be done but determine not to speak of it) and then that saddest of all the tragedies I have ever been so near.6 A healthy, cheerful, innocently limited soul; wanted so very little; that little so sternly denied; quenched in cataracts of swift destruction,—ah me!— I will write to Lord A. soon. God bless you ever, dear Lady. / T.C.