October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 14 January 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570114-TC-LA-01; CL 32: 74-75


Chelsea 14 jany, 1857—

Dear Lady,

Among my own muddy tribulations I always flattered myself you were well and in a sunny element; but this also, it appears, is not so. “Discouraged,” “languor,” “gone out to ride the first time”—what am I to think of all that? Among the many fine things I have loved in you, the bright frank courage of your mind, the healthy promptitude with which you shook away annoyances, and walked on as if incompatible with “mud” (in which I may be said to dwell) was always one. Be not “discouraged”; no! There are better times coming round again; the brave true heart can (full surely) make for itself better times. If we have gone astray, on miry thorny paths,—we must return again. There is still a sky overhead, and green Earth underfoot; and this is “the Place of Hope,”1 while we continue here!— —“New-Year's wishes”; my poor wishes, hopes and homages, these cannot fail, while years run for me new or old.—2

For the rest you may judge if I have been “happy,” by the one fact that this is the first time you hear from me. Ever since you went away, it is as if the windows of Heaven (or of some other place) had been opened, and nothing but deluges of shot-rubbish had been poured upon me in the dark winter weather! I will not recapitulate what his Lordship will have already told you. The truth is I am wrestling fiercely to do a piece of work set to me for which, on the given terms, I am not equal. I rather despise it too, as I go along,—“could do infinitely better work than that”:—but this I cannot do, it wd seem; and yet must do it, under nameless penalties, and will. That is the short story; capable of spreading wide enough when run into practical details!—

One of the best things in my lot is the excellent little Horse I have; on which I go daily splashing thro’ the mud,—forgetting, more or less for a couple of hours, the spiritual welter I otherwise live in.3 From the Norwood heights I see Addiscombe;4 think how easy it were to gallop out thither, were there anything now there for me. Patience; perhaps there will again!— — My German Famulus proves but a weak animal; willing but ineffectual; the good to be got of him questionable altogether.5

Of my other fellow-creatures, except as indefinite shadows in the London fog-element, I know next to nothing: pleasant they are not; and being painful, one can edge away. Lowe6 I have never seen, tho’ he was here once, and wanted us to Christmas, good man. I avoid sight of the Times, sound of the vile babble of the loquacious stupidities—Ach Gott.7 Kingsley came in one night; and did nothing but spoil poor Froude, who is good for something to me: a blustery questionable bag of things that Kingsley, blow[n]8 too big, for the present. The Twisletons, Petite and all, are coming tomorrow evg. Pray for me, I beg of you; and still more, get well; and come home again! God bless you, Friend of Friends.

T. Carlyle