October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 7 April 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570407-TC-LA-01; CL 32: 118-121


Chelsea, 7 April, 1857—

Dear Lady,—We hear cheering accounts of you; vague, but all favourable, and more or less agreeing with Lord An's last note; which are a great comfort, you may believe! Today Miss Farrar reported to my Wife, that you are out of the severe treatments altogether, living on milk diet; perhaps on the road to Paris by this time:—Would to Heaven we could believe all that! We can hope at any rate; we have always refused not to hope.

The April weather is miraculously warm here; much rain, but a temperature equal to the end of May; and westerly winds, when dry as they are from time to time, altogether wholesome and pleasant. Might they but bring you home to us soon. Once at Paris, you will seem to us next door to home; within a day,—fully nearer for a Letter than my Scotch Border is;—almost looking over into your old haunts here. Bath House1 is vacant, but safe and ready; how ready wd it and other objects be for you!—

As for myself I am not prosperous; have been less so for a fortnight past than usual; and oftenest very dark indeed. The truth is, I am fallen extremely weak (I did not know how weak), and have more laid on me than I can well travel with at times. A sad business that I ever undertook that Friedh: what had I to do with it? I am not fit for such an unutterable mass of confusions, difficulties, disgusts and ineptitudes; should have been 20 years younger; should have put myself under Tom Crib2 first, to get into condition. My case is very bad;—and I find there is only one remedy, To get the thing done, were it only at the rate of an inch a-day!—

My Wife continues rather improving; but is still weak as possible;—very cautious, this time, of not getting new cold; has only been twice out, in spite of the tempting glimpses of weather. Today indeed she narrowly escaped rain, whh now continues.— I find I have ridden too diligently; so the oracles plainly sing, much to my sorrow: one cannot force back lost health by vigour in riding. I must have done about 1,500 miles already: but am now ordered to take it more moderately; and keep an eye on other Laws too. One does not know one's limits; and one should, and must!—

A Daydream of mine is, To see you quiet, well and solitary at The Grange once more,—all Highland wildernesses and wild things and journeyings given up; a “practical school” for girls, do for boys (difficult exceedingly, important exceedingly) occupy the Lady and the Lord, supply them with a generous interest;3 this and other things for genuine human employt, and interest ever-new: no travelling, not even for health;—in the whole world, where4 will you find a “better climate” (really better) than you have in your own England, in your own House and fields? All is to be quiet, regular, wholesome, wise, beautiful. And I (this is always one item) am to have somewhere in a still glade of the Woods, a brick Cottage, two rooms and kitchen “with a deaf (or at least dumb) old woman,” &c. &c., and to see you once every day, after my work is over! Couldn't I tumble all my books into a cart; send it forth in God's name—and follow!— This is a beautiful dream! I am getting more and more passionate for the Country; Country diet (of milk, &c.), Country air; innocent Country talk,—or else silence, and an end at least to so much of insane inanity;—and in fact I must make a terrible trial for it, were this Book once done, if it ever be.

Alas, yesterday at Charing Cross I passed while the Hanbury versus Chelsea Election was just ending.5 “Lord Chelsea nowhere,” they told me, Brewer Hanbury preferred to him; and at the top of the poll Ld. R. Grosvenor,— probably the greatest fool in England.6 Nobody seemed to be minding it, of the public. Hustings were about deserted, on the pavements in Cockspur Street7 stood parboiled groups of ugly people (Committee-men, presumably), looking out gloomily with bloodshot eyes:—I was near bursting into laughter8 in their faces,—poor devils, after all!— Adieu, dear Lady: I pray only these good accounts be confirmed. Good be with you evermore. T. C.