July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 15 December 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551215-TC-LA-01; CL 30: 139-140


Chelsea, 15 decr, 1855—

Well, we are coming on monday, by the one o'clock Train;—a precious cargo, I should say: surely it requires a good deal of “natural magic” in that kind Imagination of yours to find such a cargo beautiful or desirable!— However, I promise to be, all that is in me, a good Boy; it is only by weakness of the flesh, not want of a willing spirit,1 that I shall fail of being exemplary,—hapless soul that I am.

I mean to try for a little work;—yet I own, with small hope, judging by past experience of my fidgetty imbecillities. I shall get some of the chaff blown out of my head in your woods and airy downs;—“Pluck,”2 I daresay, is still there, to fling me off if he can, the little villain: he is good, he and the silent skies, compared with any company I have here. We will “wait on Providence,”—in small things as in great. It is certain, if a man will shake the nonsense out of his own mind (which is difficult at times) he might live in a recommendable manner even with Panizzi for a fellow citizen. God help us all!

Sadler is down below, packing these Christmas gaieties;3 there has been adventure enough (as probably you have heard) in getting them together: but I hope it is all right now— Our dim smoky frost is gone; nothing but mud under foot today, some occasional vestiges of sunshine overhead, and a temperature warm enough for October,—almost oppressive in one's winter clothes. Had I “Pluck” here, some sally thro' the mud elements, towards happier localities, were inevitable for “Pluck.”

Yesterday Anthony Sterling called on me; just home from the Crimea as lieutenant to Sir Colin; and,—somewhat to his provocation,—just about returning again with the said Sir C. His account of the Crimean affairs is surly and miserable: Russian Officers alone know anything about War; British Infantry (such the Berserker fury lodged in the heart of them) could probably beat still in open fight; but Russians able to scheme and manoeuvre, British or French not, it will hardly be allowed to come to that. Ay has a beard as big as a moderate corn-sheaf;4 a grim military stoic, impressive after his sort:—no such Fighting Apparatus as the British, I believe with him, ever took the field in this world before!—

Here adjoined is the Paper of “Lowe Subscriptions”;5 not likely to amuse you much on the Sunday morning!6— But you will be good to poor sinners on Monday, will you not? I will pray for you (more or less) all my days; that is certain.