1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON; 3 January 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550103-TC-LA-01; CL 29: 229-230


Chelsea, 3 jany, 1855—

Dear Lady,

I might have sent you the Enclosed1 a week ago, which, tho' it was not of any use to you, would have afforded me occasion of writing: but, alas, what was there to write? I am in a very low way; little but sorrowful humours, outlooks and retrospects present to me;—and on the whole, no remedy or help possible except in sticking to my work, and if I cannot get on, at least holding my peace. It is thus I live; seldom out of doors till the sun is down; striding along, like a gaunt spectre in the dusk (“escaped maniac,” Jane defines the beard to make me);2 not once in the week speaking a word to anybody. The “Merry Christmas” is very welcome to go its ways again, for any mirth it brought into these localities!— I often hope things will mend: surely there will be “lucid intervals,” at any rate; surely the sun has not set forevermore with us! We must live and hope.

Vaughan, as perhaps you heard, was here one night; after that I had a vile fit of ill health, worse than usual: indeed I am in general perceptibly below my average in that respect this year; whh is a main cause of my extreme want of success with Fredk;—I intrinsically cannot care sufficiently about him; alas, the whole universe is occasionally little other than a valley of Jehosophat3 to me, and I have to say even to it “Well, then?”— All this is very bad, O bright Lady; and I had better not say another word to you about it. Why may not I speak to you at all times, and about all things? Yes, why!—

I shall like better to think of you when the Party is all gone.4 Somehow it obscures the image of you, as a cloud of flies (or call them birds of paradise, if you like better) round a bright object; I feel as if they ought to get away!— When they are fairly gone (especially the fond mothers, little children, and witty talkers of them), and the scene clear or nearly so,—should there then remain any corner for an “escaped maniac”— Well, we shall see. Jane's refusal5 took me by surprise; she had been long hesitating, and I thought, swayed visibly the other way: however, I believe it was really a wise step, wise for all parties. She is still weak enough, often prisoner; tho' a little better than when you were here.

The Turk war is still as sad a subject to me as ever. Really Great Britain ought either to cease fighting altogether; or train its people a little to administer war in the field and at home! Very impudent, you may say;—but it does indeed distress me to the heart when I think of it all. There is now a rumour of Usedom's getting Peace made;6 surely it wd be a good deed on the part of Usedom: there never was such a war undertaken by England before, nor one carried on in such style, so far as I can understand it!— Enough, more than enough. Good be with you, Queen of women, this year and all years.


The “Statistic Book”7 (tell Ld An) whh Everett mentions is a very good one; and waits, greatly at his service here