July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


NERO (JWC) TO ELLEN TWISLETON ; 30 November 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551130-N-ETW-01; CL 30: 127-129


5 Cheyne Row Chelsea30th November / 1855

Stranger Lady!

Please to not think it presuming, that one who is only a Dog, and a very little one, should write to you, out of his own head. I am not wanting in modesty, I do assure you; from earliest puppyhood, it has been inculcated on me that presumption is as insufferable in dogs as in men. Even my Master, tho' calling me “miserable chimera”—“Poor hairy Phantom”—and other uncouth names, admits that I have “a quadruped sense of propriety” and am “very easily repressed.” And if he says that of me; you may think—!

The fact is, Madam, I am in “a state of mind”—in one of those moments which French Dogs call SUPRÈME, and in which one does and may do—anything! Oh Madam; unless I open my heart to someone; I shall go mad—and bite! Yes! I feel myself trembling on the brink of HYDROPHOBIA!

“But what have you to do with me”? you ask—“you hardly know me, to speak to.” Oh Madam! Madam! you have more to do with me than you think! It is you who have changed me from a trustful loving little Dog, into a Dog

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Photograph of Nero (ca. 1855) Reproduced by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University


chased by Furies! Had you left thatDuck—that horrible Duck in her native pond—above all if you had not introduced her here; I had not been now the rabid thing you see!

For seven years my Mistress and I had been one anothers “first object.” Not even the little female Dog at No 10, tho' I own to having shown her some unmeaning gallantries, ever came seriously between us. And now comes this—Duck—this creature without heart or bowels! And off goes my mistress into raptures with her—has no eyes but for her! It is she who gets shown off to visitors—She who is the new favourite—while I unnoticed unpraised look gloomily on—foaming at the mouth with rage!

Madam: it is easier to destroy the peace of Families than to patch it up. Still I implore you—on my hind legs implore you—to try to repair this evil you have unconsciously done, to me a poor little Quadruped, who never harmed you! Inferior animal tho I am, I can perceive you have “talents to drive the Genii to despair”;1 turn them to recovering my still dear Mistress from her infatuation—and making her see the infamy of setting up new favourites at the age she is—and the cruelty of—of— Oh I can write no more—my heart! my heart!—Wo-o-o-h Wo-o-o-o-h. Who o o oho o o h!

The unfortunate