January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 13 February 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560213-TC-LA-01; CL 31: 29-31


Chelsea, 13 feby, 1856—

Thanks, dear Lady, many thanks.— I fear “it is but talk,” however, that other point; and that you are not coming this week? One pair of eyes would be very blithe to see you. The sight of your handwriting, even that does me good, beyond what you imagine: I sink into such misgivings, scepticisms of the plainest truths, total (temporary) unbeliefs, in this dark element of mine. And I dare not write to you, dare not speak to you, scarcely think of you;—you must be a very dreadful creature? I myself am one! And if you do entirely forget me in this world, and I find that I have lost you, and the light of your countenance is turned away,1—will it be good times with me, think you? I will try all extremities first; submit to the hardest laws Rhadamanthus and the ancient or modern wigs can have made on that matter.2 Or have you perhaps no thought of forgetting me,—not you! That is also perhaps the truth;—tho' it remains always an incredible one to the impartial human mind. The human mind has much ado sometimes not to go mad, and give up the embroiled account altogether to insolvency in that way!—

I see nobody; I sit here, in grim task work, slaving what I can, day after day; run out in the afternoon late for a breath of air,—of wet fog as it oftener chances.3 We are mud to the axles; this is the third day of muggy rain or slumberous Scotch-mist: gutta percha is valuable on the feet. At night I sit reading Jomini (his Napoleon affairs, this time),4 who is a nearly intolerable puppy,—next to nothing in that head, with such a lot of plumages and cockade-work upon it.— — Will you tell Lord Ashburton to bid Mason5 bring me up the Barbier (of Louis XV),6 after all, when he comes and you. The Book will help me to a date now and then; and be worth something, even these volumes of it, if you are doing nothing with them.

I find Lady Sandwich out the last two times; well, and I suppose busy with her new House.7 Jane was there along with her one day: a spacious pleasant house, Jane reports.— On Sunday, pausing in a long solitary walk, I found the Twisleton Petite8 in her place, Twn gone out, and Vaughan9 waiting for him. Witty talk on one side, grim do on the other: well enough,—only one thinks it might be as well to be dead (and one's work done), in certain moods of mind, in a world of this nature! Yet these are truly among the best people I know. “Perfect Blockhead” (who I find is truly a distinguished scientific character of his sort) was lecturing the other night, “Fallacy of Perpetual Motion,” or some melancholy matter of that sort; Jane (as the Opposition party) meant to go, but did not; I still less.10 What is “perpetual motion” to me; who have uneasy shoes, in all senses of the word, and no prayer so deep as that for rest?

Oh my Lady, I hope you will come, after all; and that you will have consideration for my heavy case,—swimming thro' Chaos (Prussian and other) in these hapless circumstances;—and in fact be good to me, with that noble heart of yours, and not bad according to my merits. I have, on the whole, not many things now left that are lovely to me in this world.

The good old Bear11 came down on Sunday, but we were both out. I keep to windward strictly of all Parliamentary or “Circumlocution Office”12 jargons, having nonsense enough of my own to manage. I kiss your hands, noblest Being; and am ever

Yours /