October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 23 February 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570223-TC-LA-01; CL 32: 93-95


Chelsea, 23 feby, 1857—

Dear Lady,—My heart is dark about you and very sad. I cannot with the least certainty know how you are,—who can? I keep asserting to myself that there is not the least evidence conclusive to me of real danger: but it is too clear that you are in great suffering; oppressed probably with languors and sad dark thoughts and disquietudes: the beautiful bit of sunshine whither I always looked, this too is now sorrowfully gone into eclipse for the time. Alas, if prayers could avail, there are who would be diligent that way. But prayers cannot: what can we do? Silently continually go on with them, all the same.

My own private notion is, you probably got a great deal of mischief by your immense railway journeying. My own share of it, I know, hung palpably about me for weeks after; and it was but a poor tithe of yours. A great comfort to me always, too, is Rous.1 Rous does not want for head; and he must know the phenomenon, however he interpret it, at least 1000 times as well as Locock issuing from his express-train for one moment! I perceive, also, all Rous's interests are very peremptory in their admonition to him, Not to err on that side, of all sides. Rous's persistence is a strong fact to me. On the whole I do not allow myself the least wavering of Hope. I think all would be much better, moreover, if you were here, under the fit power of sun; if we saw you with our eyes again!— Lord A., for whose two Notes, the last of them this morning, I am very thankful,—never gives the least hint on this point. From whh I infer that there is nothing yet in the least speakably decided about it.

We have got Spring back here; a better february at last than is usual. The sight of the young skies, of the dry fields, ‘country people digging their gardens,’ with the poor birds singing round (I have heard thrushes in the Regent's Park2 even),—gives me a strange sombre joy. The eternal Opulence there is in this Universe, the silent prophecy written on Earth and Sky again, That this is “the Place of Hope,” touches my hard and stony heart, not to tears (these I think I shall never shed again) but to moods that are much better than my usual grim ones. The Spring is beautiful again; but the eyes that once saw it with me, where are they? One's own eyes get old, even they are not the same!— Yesterday (it was a bright sunday afternoon, and I had been working to the edge of disgust in my Historical Quagmires) I rode out all round by Finchley, Hampstead &c,3 thro’ half a million of sundry fellow-creatures:—and was really thankful to my poor Horse, and the old Antediluvian Gentn that had conquered him for me out of the wild woods. If I had a Cow to feed me, as I have a Horse to carry, I should at least say, “Here are two friends!” The Cow, so far as my experience goes, is definable emphatically as the Friend of Man; and the French Cook as his Enemy. About the Horse and its qualities there can be no dissentience.

An old Scotchman whom I found here writing, “up from Edinburgh,”—the Head School-Inspector there,4 told me “It had been expected that Lord Ashburton was to be the new President of Council: and now Who was Lord Cowper?”5— Alas, alas!

We are in a very weak way here. My poor Wife is still prisoner,—getting slowly better, I persuade myself:—she has been a model of patience all winter; that is one alleviation of the case.

Four or five days ago, Lady Sandwich when I called had bid them admit me. There sat the good “Mamma” (Lady Sh the Younger6 along with her, who soon went): I staid a while talking; there is nothing the matter but what you understand: good weather, and the sight of you especially, wd put all to rights. You do well to write often,— constantly.7 Her anxieties on that head are incessant, are those of a Mother.— — My life otherwise is solitary to a pitch: Latrappe8 hardly more so. Work gets slowly, slowly forward; wd stop altogether if one did not incessantly tug at it. One evening flitting about like a bat in the Hyde Park courses I came upon Delaine, a do just entering Rotten Row. His talk, his inquiries for you, &c &c were not so bad:—and yet, alas, is not Snobissimus the name of him?9 Heaven keep you, bring you back to us soon. Oh dear, Oh dear!—