1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 9 November 1854; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18541109-TC-LA-01; CL 29: 194-196


Chelsea, 9 Novr, 1854—

Dear Lady,— I have got cold, since last week; worse at present; and am a very worthless man today: nevertheless I must write you a word, to report progress, if nothing more.

Yesterday I went to Windsor, as arranged; was met on hands by the due facilities; had in fact good success,—and much reason to thank the beneficent individualities who had made all roads so smooth for me there. The collection of Engraved Portraits, Miniatures &c &c far exceeds, in quantity and quality any I had ever had access to; some of them are of great excellence, great value as Historical possessions; and a larger proportion were of interest to me, in my present affair, than I could at all have expected. In short I was never in any Picture Gallery or similar establishment where I got half as much benefit,— and that generally with the expence of twenty times as much misery and trouble as any I had to endure there. Glover is an intelligent handy cheerful man, of London-Official nature; not wanting in what learning is needful to him; and very expert, swift and orderly: he has driven high-roads (of arrangement) very successfully through the big wilderness of things, and has it already well under command: for the rest he was civility itself to me (thanks to certain persons), and we grew very familiar in the course of the day. I had four very good hours there, and saw much that I shall remember: the only thing was, I talked a great deal too much (having acquired no art of keeping silence, even where I want to do so, fool that I am!),—and flurried all my nerves, even had there been no other mischief in it!

Towards 4 o'clock there came a light footstep to the door; I still busy among a 100 Fredk Portraits did not look up; till Glover said, “Prince Albert”!—and there in fact was his Royal Highness, come for a sight of the monster before he went;—bowing very graciously, and not advancing till I bowed. Truly a handsome flourishing man and Prince; extremely polite (in the English way too);—and with a far better pair of eyes than I had given him credit for in the distance. We had a very pretty little dialogue: about Fk's Portraits first (and your despised Picture now turned to the wall at Bath House,1 the original of whh is well known to H.R.H. came in among other things); after which, by a step or two, we got into the Saxon genealogies, Elector Fk the Wise,2 Martin Luther, Wartburg, Coburg, and had the whole world free before us! Very fair indeed: but a noiseless, almost voiceless waiter glided in just at this time, out of whom I caught the words, “gone out to the Terrace”;—wherefore, after a minute or so, his R.H., our Dialogue winding itself up in some tolerable way, gracefully vanished (back foremost, as I noticed, the courteous man!) and I saw him no more. That was about the finale of my day; and I need not deny, was a pleasant, not a painful one,—and left me with a multiplicity of thoughts, inarticulate and other, about the young Brother Mortal I had just been speaking to; thoughts surely not of an ungrateful unrecognising nature, whatever else they might be in these confused and confusing epochs of the world!— That is the history of my day; which I thought good to lay at your Ladyship's feet, that you may see how “the pleasure of the Lord prospers in your hand,”3 when you do kindnesses to your friends.

For the rest, I am in hopes to get actually into this horrid Enterprise of mine, “at the long and the last” (as our Scotch phrase is): I actually must or go out of my wits before long. The prayers of good Christians (of a certain indifferent Christian in particular), and the utmost stretch of pity and toleration, are earnestly desired.— Jane wrote, I understand; and is in some way to come: I too right willingly,—but I think always in some quieter time; and then how cheering, pleasant and useful it might be! That is my hope;—and really it wd perhaps surprise you if you saw how little “hope” of any kind I can be said to have at this epoch of my affairs: all “hopes” pretty much gone into one, of which I shall not be disappointed. On the other hand no fear either, no &c &c; so that it comes all wonderfully nearly to the same. We are a singular race of beings, we of the Posterity of Adam.

But when are you coming to Town again: never more?— Please bring up that Ms. rubbish I gave you last time; lest by chance it be wanted some way.

The Answer to Neuberg's “Petition” has never come: Lord Clarendon's Note said it was all granted;4 but there needs a half-page of formal writing signed by him and addressed to Neuberg before the poor man can get admittance. I begin to fear there has been some internal difficulty occurred; the good “Mr Lemon” perhaps (for he had seemed averse or uncertain, and only Lechmere the Chief returned me, after consulting with Lemon, an ardent emphatic Yea):—or perhaps there may be nothing all that in it? Do not you trouble the harrassed Secy of State, or your own noble self, any farther in it. I will write to Lemon shortly, if this embargo continue; will explain to him a little; and fairly give up the pretension if he continue irreconcilable, for he's a worthy man and servant in that place, and I would not have pressure exercised upon him; so let the screw rest, I request you; let all rest—till we see.— Dark shades of winter and twilight are falling thro' my very sky-window, & I must run. Lord An, I fear is not yet well. I did not see Lady Sh5 again; perhaps Jane is there now.6 May all the gods be good to you, Lady of the world.