July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 13 November 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551113-TC-LA-01; CL 30: 112-113


Chelsea, 13 Novr, 1855—

Dear Lady,

Your Letter to Jane lay on the table when I came down this morning, late for breakfast: thank you heartily for that same. I know not whether she has answered it, or what she has said; she is now out to “hear a Lecture,”—Lecture from Lord John who is to perform this day at Exeter Hall, to certain “Young men,” and try if he can “improve” them a little.1 All the world assisting, and great press for Tickets,—Wedgwoods (of whose party Jane is) hardly hoping they will all get in to hear the little dear. Poor little dear, I am told they hissed him at the Mansion House,2 the other day; hissed extensively, twice over, both at beginning and ending,—tho' why now they should hiss more than at any time for the last 30 years, is not evident to me. In short Jane is gone towards that sad enterprise (will fail to get in, one may hope!),—and I, in great haste, and with a terrible headache and much else against me, will write one word myself.

You do not doubt but we are willing, and some of us thrice willing, to come to The Grange? No that is beyond “doubt,” now and at all times. But the question, How? There is a really intricate problem; almost insoluble, I often think, except to the best head in the world,—which now, thank Heaven, seems to be occupied with it. What can I say? I hate loud large meetings, especially of the kind called Literary: Oh Heaven, Tom Taylor & Co (a most extensive firm3 at this epoch) furnished richly with the talent of utterance, and with nothing in them but the absence of knowledge & of wisdom to utter,—careering with outspread wings (in Punch and elsewhere) on the top of popular delirium, discharging that sad function of giving dumb stupidity a voice:—these are not lovely to me in the humour I am in! Well, some other sort than these might be lovelier; none at all wd be loveliest (I remember one evening with Milnes and You Two, Ld A. and you, as among the pleasantest for 20 years);—but perhaps nothing of that kind is possible; the case being indeed very intricate! In all cases there is One always at The Grange, the sight of whom is of the nature of happiness to me; pleasant in all moods and situations hitherto: for the sake of that one, I will encounter anything, even Tom Taylor & Co., backed by fond mothers and loud children, or still more formidable objects; and in fact will be as clay in the hands of the potter4 (or the nearest I can to that) for the sake of seeing you a week or two again, in the way you find possible, if you find any way possible and expedient. Oh dear, Oh dear! And this is all I can say;—and inexorable Time (I perceive) cuts me short for the present; the “Miss Lowe Subscription” (blessings on it!) calling me to the Athenaeum as fast as I can now run!

Adieu, best of women, best of friends. I hope to write again before Wednesday; and at worst shall see you then. Adieu