1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 7 September 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18540907-TC-LA-01; CL 29: 146-147


Chelsea, 7 Septr, 1854—

Dear Lady,

You are very good to remember me unworthy;—you are as good as ever, I perceive; and surely my heart thanks you for that same. For if there be nothing in you for me, there cannot readily be much in the rest of the Human Species for me, in the days that now are!

I have not written; because it was better not; because there was nothing pleasant that I could write. Things go much against me, without and within. Things great and small, an accumulation of painful things, have come upon me in late times,—have crushed me quite low indeed; and admonished me to go into the corner and say nothing, till I had seen a little better. There I still sit; unwilling to make complaints, unable to do much else; and pretty faithful only to one duty, that of keeping well apart from all mortals, and consuming my own smoke—so much as possible.

We did not get to Addiscombe; alas, no: Heaven opens its gates in vain; if the Other Place have already been too busy with us! I thought once I might at least have got out occasionally on a Saturday, have dined next day on brown bread and milk (whh wd have needed no “cookery”), and come home refreshed from the green solitudes on Monday morning: but even this I have not done; such were the weaknesses, such the impediments, too heavy for the worn-out soul. Perhaps it is almost just as well? I have one thing fixed deep into my mind, where so much else is dark and doubtful: that unless I can get a little more work out of myself, there is not any hope for me; no good possible, in this world or the next. “Up thou weakling sluggard!” I have often said to myself: “one effort more, some work while thou art still alive—there is deep enough sleep, and long rest coming, not far off now!” That is excellent doctrine; and I do struggle to fulfil it, here in my garret, with the bad tools I have; unhappily with no great success as yet, indeed with the worst success; tenacity in trying being hitherto my only merit.— On the whole you may pray for me, my Lady; you may, if your heart is in a merciful mood. Perhaps I shall have grown better before you return, at the end of the month? We will hope so. The poisonous heat of the weather, at least, whh is one great evil, is visibly going down.

I had to write to you (or thought of it) about Lord Clarendon, and some admission to the State-Paper Office where I want to look at some small things. But I will not today,—nay why not today? I can write the particulars on another slip of paper, and have them with you. And so adieu for this day. Be prosperous in your fishing;1—be beautiful in this world, and a joy to those that know what is beautiful—as heretofore!—

Ever yours /