August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 31 December 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18571231-TC-LOA-01; CL 33: 143-144


Chelsea, 31 decr, 1857—

Dear Lord Ashburton

I suppose you were in Bath House transiently yesterday: I had called the day before about that Engraver and his Picture;1 and heard you were coming. Some vague notion I had of a meeting with you somehow:—but I took no definite steps; and one cannot expect good things to fall into one's mouth!—The Engraver had been writing to me about plans for doing without the Picture after all, “since I was so a[n]xious2 and apprehensive”; about getting new Photographs &c &c: I had answered that the clear method now was, to send for the Picture at once, since you had yielded the Permission,—and, in fact, that I could not negociate or write any more on the subject. At the time I called, the Picture was still in Bath House: I hope our man did not call for it precisely in the time while you were there, and make a disturbance!— — I am terribly chaced about with Engravers, Map-makers, Printer's Devils, in addition to the constant botheration from Prussian stupidity and the unweldable material I have got to hammer, this long while!

I ought to have said, with thanks, that we wd hold ourselves in readiness, and were good for a week at The Grange,—any week you may judge suitablest. I try to believe I have got so far ahead of the Printer Disturbances, they cannot catch me for that time: at all events I will have that week of immunity from them,—to spend it in the clear air, in the silence, amid many thoughts and recollections, of a sad yet perhaps salutary nature!3—My wife is very weak, but still afoot; the visit, if she take care of cold, may probably do her good. One condition she made: “To be while Lady Sandh is there.” This, I believed I cd say, would happen of its own accord,—Lady Sh being there all your time.—

Last night, night or late twilight, riding out at Hammersmith,4 the ground got suddenly slippery (on the hard and frequented parts), and I perceived that there was virtual frost! Prophecy of actual frost is evident in the bright air today. There needed but this to disgust me utterly with my desolate twilight rides.— If you will be pleased to speak to the Coachman or Comes Stabuli,5 any day; and bid him communicate with me as to times, methods &c (so soon as he has completed any preliminary arrangements needful or useful, if any there be),—I will despatch that Horse of mine to his address, to be under his protection till at least the glassy roads are not to be apprehended farther.— — This is the last Day of the Year: the respice, circumspice, prospice [look back, look about, look forward];—well, let us be quiet at least! Yours ever truly T. Carlyle