1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 20 March 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540320-TC-LA-01; CL 29: 50-51


Chelsea, 20 March, 1854—

I send you today a Facsimile of one Frederick's Letters, which, if you have not seen it before, will well entertain you for a moment. It differs considerably in spirit and style from the Palmerston-Napier eloquence that was heard in the Reform Club lately!— By the bye, I hear that much complained of everywhere; and indeed it seems to my own private thought a rather sorry aspect of our affairs. Somebody told me Napier was seen, at the finish of the night, down in the Reform-Club Kitchen, eagerly swallowing a pot of small-beer; and heard saying, as he drank, to the scullions and others, “In the course of a month, I shall either be in Heaven or in Hell or in St Petersburg!”1— A sublime tail-piece to the Picture, done in burnt-stick;—but I hope it isn't true: it were really too bad!

I am totally solitary here; delving and shovelling in a painful, silent, not in a patient manner, thro' the most bewildering heaps of German stupidity, in hopes of finding here and there a grain of metal in the process which hope is oftenest futile:—I do not think there ever were such Books before or since as those written about Fk and German History generally. Ach Gott, and I myself am good for nothing; the fire and heart and hope quite departed out of me: I say often, “Very well; what then?” and believe in general I shall never get a Book done on Fritz; never a Book more;—and that, in brief, I myself am done! Which thought too one ought to front; for it will be true, if it is not.

Are you coming next week, then, Lady dear; or when and how? On the 28th you are to be visible, by some method; let us rest satisfied with that. And then Easter at good old Addiscombe!2 Truly my Lady I am greatly unfit for the scenes which bright beings like you inhabit; a most dark and heavy-laden creature;—should be safest in fact covered under a tub till times mended: however, however—!—

Our rain is done; and has brought—the grimmest sunless cold, instead of promise of buds and real Spring!— I wonder if you or Lord An wd like the Hugh Miller's Life (Cromarty Autobiography I once mentioned[)]?3 It is here, and cd at once be sent.— Keep out of the frost, and in some mind of poor frozen souls! Yours ever,

T. C.