July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 11 October 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551011-TC-LA-01; CL 30: 80-82


Chelsea, 11 octr, 1855—

No use calling at Bath House; you are not there on Tuesday, not there on Wednesday; not coming till next week;—nay I learn from Lady Sandwich that you are not coming next week either, till Saturday perhaps, or one knows not when. Well, I find it good you should take shelter in the woods till your cold, till your railway confusions go their ways, and you be yourself again: I know one that will rejoice with some reason to get an actual glimpse of you once more, whenever that shall actually be. Lord An, it seems, is gone to Paris this day, and you are not going; that is one good thing. I beg you to take care of yourself, and shake away that cold, so soon as may be. The weather is very changeful, and sometimes has a real taste of winter in it already.— I sent you a tiny Book, size of a hand at whist, to keep you company in the railway from Loch Luichart;1 but you were gone, as I compute, before it came; and the poor Booklet went wandering over the Highland wildernesses, and never found you nor will: the loss, except to me perhaps, was inconceivably small.

I did see you, one night lately, in a Dream: strange Nightmare figures, gathered out of various countries and various centuries (Fredk the Great, Denzill Holles2 of Charles I's time, God knows why, with many others); most vivid all of them, yet with something of grotesque, of the Nightmare, in all of them, male and female,—except your own self, who were brightly beautiful, good and spirit-like, as you have always seemed to me. This Dream was worth something to me;—really it is almost the best thing I have done since you last heard: so worthless have all my exertions been, most strenuous activities to no purpose, since I returned to this Penal Weaving-shop, close under the stars here. If I live, I will subdue this raging Chaos a little, and bind the Brandenburg Cerberus3 in rope of some kind. I must, for I cannot “live” otherwise!—

I find myself to have got a real benefit out of my three weeks at Addiscombe: a kind of awakening at least; the painful consciousness that I am as good as dead, this at least comes back upon me. Alas, that one is obliged to eat, and live scurvily in a House of Clay! I think if there were lodging possible otherwise, that would be Heaven enough.— I rode about for another week after my return; then gave Neuberg his Horse back; and was a free man,—free to glide gradually into the depths again, I doubt, or may well doubt. My unutterable Fredk is more hopeless, distressing and unmanageable to me than it ever was. Better than Sebastopol and the Russian “War of Principle,” I often think withal! Truly one had better sit here, and be and do nothing, futiley4 struggling, in an account-current between God Almighty and oneself,—than have an account with Delaine of The Times, and his and the whole world's loud-voiced Chimerical Blockheadisms,5 and be sure of going to Davy Jones with it all at the last! None of us has a right to complain:—be silent, then. Well, yes.

But are you not coming to Addiscombe then, before the year quite go? I have always some image of another week there whh might be very pretty. But one knows not. I know only there need not be total want of company there, if her Ladyship pleased to desire it, and found it suitable. I will look patiently into her eyes, and do what her will is so far as I can.

Yesterday I saw Brookfield in the street: he was here some ten days ago; gave glowing accounts of Loch Luichart and its ways to my Wife on the ground floor; that also was his topick yesterday during the few minutes we spoke.6 Thackeray, I suppose, is gone to America?7 A fortnight ago I saw him once for a moment; poor Thackeray:8 what a life poor mortals have in this world at present,—with all loadstars gone out, locker emptyish, and the sea running high!—

The Lady Mama9 was complaining yesterday, and also the former time, yet looked (especially yesterday) as well as usual, and grew very lively before we had done our dialogue.— — Well, you must go to Bowood,10 or whither you are bound; and above all get well, and come back to those that love you, soon.

Adieu, dear Lady; good be ever with you.