January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


TC TO LADY HARRIET BARING ; 13 September 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450913-TC-LHB-01; CL 19: 191-192


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan, N.B. 13 Septr, 1845—

My dear Lady,

Accept my salutations from the Shore of the Departed, whither I am now at last come! Full of distractions, regrets, distresses and astonishments, as my way is when I get hither; but looking still (you see) across the great gulph; begging still to be remembered there. Indeed I think you seem beautifuller to me here from Hades then1 you ever did before;—beyond measure astonishing withal! The most that I have left looks miserable enough to me; a coil of beggarly confusions, contradictions and bewilderments, which one could very gladly bid adieu to, any day; wholly a dim sordid mass, right pleasant to be divided from, if forevermore, all the better; but struggling in it too are streaks of Heaven's own brightness,—such I understand them to be; things inexpressibly different from the general; Figures as of “realized Ideals,” or I know not what; Figures beautiful exceedingly,—of which I had better say no more at present, till I recollect myself better!— —

I arrived here yesterday morning; out of such an element as I hope never to be in again. Vomited forth, namely, from a Liverpool Steamer, full of noise, vulgarity, foul air, Scotch graziers, Irish blackguards, and sin and misery;—and feel literally (I dare say) like Jonah vomited from the Whale's Belly; very much topsyturvied indeed! It was a beautiful morning when I got to land: a bright sun, the first I had seen for some weeks, slowly raising off the universal veil of haze; pouring down in bright streams thro' this or the other crevice upon the Hills here and there. It was the road you should have come,—a piece of it was. Burnswark2 looked really beautiful; seemed to regret that you had not seen him.— I found my good old Mother here; her old heart still young to see me:—I should not be so sad if I were wise! I have a Silence too as of the gods; a thing I am always clamouring for. Boundless tracts of green uplands, with Towns and Seas, and Steamships and great Mountains, visible in the distance; and not a sound to disturb even the Enraged Musician; in fact a Silence that surprises me,—for I think the very insects are getting old, and falling silent. One is left to one's own reflexions here: here or nowhere one ought to recover some composure, and learn to distinguish right hand from left again.

My Wife is on her way home today. The Bivouac-Château3 did very well for her: indeed it is a curious place, with many features of real loveability;— a very musical creature the lady, and the man as merry as a French cricket; and Zoe with her scraggy yet not ungraceful ways, with a certain lean sincerity of laughter in her, lean sincerity in general:—my best portion of it was a solitary sea-beach of many miles of which I had the run; nothing but a few rabbits in the neighbourhood; Liverpool with “the smoke of its torment”4 hanging all in the safe distance.— —In fine I am here; with a dull headache, and in such a confused mood as my Lady now sees. I got Miss Baring's Letter; all seemed well with you then.5 But now—?— Surely if you would write to me it would be very kind! I have no right to bid you answer such a thing as this: but I wish I had a little mirror that wd shew me the shadow of your life a little!

Blessings on you. /