January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 23 March 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560323-TC-LA-01; CL 31: 53-54


Chelsea, 23 March 1856

Dear Lady,—The sun has got across the Line; this is the first day of Spring, by temperature and light the first,—Sun giving us his company for several hours, tho' now hidden again;—and I, witht shadow of excuse, must make you my compliment on the event.

Half an hour ago, moreover, I got thro' the Second Silesian war,—not too honourably, but thro' it (that is, for the first rough time) after a sort; which is beyond half-way in this unutterable task of mine; a gladness, more or less;—and I, black monster, black with worse than gunpowder, look in your bright face (in idea), and see it glad at the news, in some measure! Why not? If the actual face were to look hostile on me (which it never did, nor will do), do I not know the cruel force of actualities; and that the real internal and intrinsic face is beautiful to me, and a benediction always, while I live?— God be thanked for that fact. And so you may either laugh or cry, Madam; or do both together, which perhaps were most appropriate in the strange case. The fact I for my part believe to be as above.—

Had you been at Addiscombe1 now, how pretty to run out for a week, and enjoy the bright green world there, by way of rest and interbellum [between wars]. But there is nothing of that; the waves have carried that away; and we must not regret that, standing here upon the beach of things, with so much still to be thankful for and glad of. You will appear in person, will you not, after these Easter solemnities;—“Ladyday”2 now is not far off? Beginning of April, I think: some short glimpses of you I shall have; and you will be felt as nearer me all summer. Again and again let me thank Heaven, and complain of nothing.

Lady Sandwich tells me you have the “Bear and Poodle in your menagerie,—standing articles,—little else at present.” And the d'Aumales3 have come and gone again I hope? All well; let Ladyday come right.— Mamma's House is very good; I found her there last sunday, hidden from the east wind, but otherwise well; an excellent cheerful-looking House, temperature perfect that day, and an outlook that will be really pleasant when the sun is out & the Park4 green.— Ruskin is coming to me tonight (voluntario [voluntarily]) and other not extremely joyful things to me the obligato [obliged]. The best of all possible worlds; and yet “Ach mein lieber Sulzer [ah my dear Sulzer]—!”5— I kiss your hands