October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO EMILY TENNYSON ; 21 January 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570121-JWC-ET-01; CL 32: 77-78


5 CHEYNE ROAD, CHELSEA, 21st January, 1857.


You are a darling woman to have gone and written to me on the “voluntary principle” such a kind little note! You to have been at the trouble to know that I was ill! You to express regret at my illness. I feel both surprised and gratified, as if I were an obsolete word that some great Poet (Alfred Tennyson for example) had taken a notion to look up in the Dictionary.

In London, when one is sick, especially when one continues sick for three months, one falls so out of thought! it is much if even your female friend in the next street, do not weary of you and then forget you! I say female advisedly for, to give the Devil his due, I find that men hold out longer than women against the loss of one's “powers of pleasing.”1

Now however I begin to be about: and have no longer the pretext of illness for straining what Mr Carlyle calls “the inestimable privilege of being as ugly and stupid and disagreeable as ever one likes!”2 and my friends drop in more frequently and sit much longer!

The heartiest thanks for your invitation to Freshwater.3

Wouldn't I like to go and visit you if that man would leave his eternal Frederick and come along! nay wouldn't I like to go on my own small basis,4 if only I had the nerve for it, which I have not yet! He goes nowhere, sees nobody, only for two hours a day he rides, like the wild German Hunter,5 on a horse he has bought, and which seems to like the sort of thing! Such a horse! he (not the horse) never wearies, in the intervals of Frederick, of celebrating the creature's “good sense, courage and sensibility!” “Not once,” he says, “has the creature shown the slightest disagreement from him in any question of Intellect” (more than can be said of most living Bipeds)! I wrote to a relation in Scotland, “If this horse of Mr C.'s dies, he will certainly write its biography,” and that very day he said to me, “My dear, I wish I could find out about the genealogy of that horse of mine! and some particulars of its life! I am beginning to feel sure it is a Cockney.”

Poor Lady Ashburton has made nothing by leaving the Grange6 deserted this winter, she has been quite ill ever since she went to Nice.

May I offer my affectionate regards to your husband? And may I give yourself a kiss?

Yours very truly,