July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 23 September 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550923-TC-LA-01; CL 30: 71-72


Addiscombe Farm, 23 Septr / 1855—

Dear Lady,—The Sun has got across the Line, under happy enough auspices; and now the time has come when I too take my road into other latitudes of a dimmer description. The last act I do in your mansion here is to take farewell of you: it seems as if I were parting far away and for a long time,—tho' the historical fact I believe is, I am coming 10 miles nearer you, and we may hope, within another three weeks, to see the Lady of this little Surrey Monbijou [My jewel] in person, and even to be there beside her royal self perhaps, which will rather help the impression of the place, I should expect! So it is in fact; but a certain cloud of sadness hangs over this bright region, in spite of the lively sunshine, as I take leave of it; and the end, like the end of all things, makes the heart wae:— Do you know that Scotch word? There is none in English that so expresses the thing. Ay de mi, Ay de mi!

I have had 24 of the strangest beneficent Days, here in your domain, shut out from all the world; eight-and-forty times (only think of that) I must have made tea for myself in your little fairy teapot (the red tile-china saucy little teapot),—and I often thought to myself there was perhaps nobody in Surrey who got as good; being done by an artist in tea, and all under his own hand! With the window-screens half down, warm sun and fresh air streaming in, and the Day all ahead of one and belonging to oneself, those were singular mornings, and a curious manna all that, falling out of the sky upon a poor pilgrim in this modern world.— I have had such rides too, most memorable and beneficial; yesterday, my last, was one of my longest and finest; over the heights behind Addington; far round to North-eastward, by I know not what solitary footpaths, hills, lanes and dells; ending on Hayes Common,1 as has often been the case.— My thoughts have often been very sombre,—as what solitary creature's are not, with so many years behind him, especially if he have liver too, and a History of Fritz which no man can write, even if Vulture Panizzi were to offer pens from his own ugly person? Alas, alas— But I do believe in the absolute necessity of encountering such moods, were they even much painfuller than they are: and, on the whole, it is evident to me I am in fact rather better, both in body and mind, for my Quasi-Moslem ramadhan2 out here; and shall hope to do a little better amid my insoluble imbroglios than has lately been the doom of me, when I get back. Take thanks therefore, O royal Lady; and reckon, if you like, that this is one of the good things you have done with your bounties in the year now running downwards:—truly it is but a poor item, you will say; yes, but I answer it is really one. That is to say, Provided I am not entirely a Son of Chaos and Satanas; for in that sad case, it will be a maleficence, and reckoned against you as such, you unfortunate mistaken woman! “But we hope better things, though we thus speak,”—as the Scotch preachers say;3—and in fine however that may be, it is very certain you are good to me; and I do not now for the first time reflect on it as one of the strangest and greatest facts in my poor history: fact little short of miraculous (if we consider everything) and fact never to be forgotten.— But I must end all this.

Jane came out to me on Thursday evg; staid two days this time, settling my affairs for me: Friday we went to the Crystal Palace4 in compliment to her, walking to and from;—saw no Wagner there,5 tho' curious-looking beings, bearded Germans &c, were in great plenty. This is the second time I have been there, besides the visit with Poodle and Lord An:6 my experience still is, that except the copies of sculptures there is nothing in the place that can in reality interest anything but children. It is the Apotheosis of Mercantile Cockneyism, however, and worth seeing as the Ne-plus-ultra of what that can amount to. “A glass Box of never-imagined size,” whereby at length the Millenium is realized (to mankind of the Cockney species),—shares steadily going down.

Assiduous mortals have been clipping, mowing, trimming all round here,—yesterday a man shaved the beard (as it were) of all the trellises, pillars &c about these windows, which has had a good effect. Everything is still green as emeralds, the sun burningly bright by day, but frosts at night, and heavy mist till 9 a.m.;—such of the trees as have any fruit to shew for themselves are now shewing it; sprinklings of yellow leaves are traceable in unfavourable localities; changed fractions of tint here and there indicate that in that province also old age is coming. All says: “Oh my Lady, come and see us, then, before we die!” When are you coming? Surely soon now. I will expect warning: and if you will consent to wish company while here, we shall see this place again for a little while.— God be ever with you, Lady dear.