October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 26 March 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570326-TC-LA-01; CL 32: 111-113


Chelsea, 26 March, 1857

Dear Lady,

I have had two little Bulletins, the second more reassuring, tho’ both are of rather uncertain complexion:1 many thanks to Lord An. for his friendly pains. Alas, I have nothing for it but to listen to the dim oracles; and refuse to be disheartened the best I may. You are clearly in much pain and depression; that, alas, I can by no means deny to myself. That I think enough for admitting; that is all I will admit, or have admitted. If they are giving you mercury (as I may conjecture), experience sufficiently teaches me the tearing wasting effects of that potent drug; and above all, its terrible effect on the spirits Never mind it,—if you only could never, or ever! One cannot help its harassing influence,—no strength of soul can;—but its effects are powerful for good too, I suppose beyond all other medicine in that respect.2 “An electrified Cat”—I remember that was once a similitude of yours, for the state of nerves it (or some other cause) can produce on one's nervous-system. Be not discouraged; be ready at mid-April: we shall think you almost here when once you are in Paris. I hear your House there is one of the finest possible for what you want with it.

We have had a week or more of the most supremely virulent March weather,—the last fit, we may hope:—today the Sun has come out, and the East-wind gone down: a large fall of rain is now due, and we shall be into April with its green things and its flowers.

Poor Jane is still prisoner; she caught new cold, venturing out too rashly;—staid punctually within heated rooms, during this last bout; and will not venture out even today. I think she is clearly getting better; and approve of the caution she uses, whh cannot be too punctilious after such an experience. Five months now since I have seen her out to breakfast.— In fact these are heavy times to me, and to some others of us, in all manner of ways. The Scotch have a Proverb whh I often remember, “Jook (duck) and let the jaw go by (jaw is ‘sudden-torrent,’ ‘wave’ such as one finds in sea-bathing in rough weather): “jook and let the jaw go by.”— Yes, do; you also, dear Lady Sufferer; the waves and “jaws” do all go by; and better times come, one can hope!—

Everybody is about “electing” here; enthusiasm for Palmerston (Chatham of the Cabmen)3 is very great. It is frightful to think what torrents of balderdash will be emitted, and what a pack of scurvy hounds will be at last returned, as “Collective Folly of the Nation,”—for really that is now coming to be definition of it more and more. One comfort is, we had no hand in it, no, nor will have!

I have been a second time to the “Portrait Gallery Commissioners”;4 and am not sure I shall soon be a third time. It does not appear to me they will ever collect a “Gallery” by their present mode of operating; nor is any other easily recommended all at once,—nor indeed do they seem the least conscious that any other is wanted.5 We will leave them to their fate a little while:—one attendance costs me an hour always of working time; and I have something to do with the little time that is now left me here. Lord Lansdowne seems always to attend; very cheery polite old gentn,—seems to think we are in quest of play-writers, verse-writers, anybody we can catch who has been heard of in the newspapers of the last fifty: except Händel and Raleigh6 I know not any real demigod they have yet got or are in sight of;—and even Händel I shd have had my doubts about.— Enough, enough.

The first holiday I have (whh will be by and by, at the closing of a certain “mud-vortex”), I mean to ride to Addiscombe and see the physiognomy at least of that again.— Adieu, dear Lady; God bless you always friend of friends. (Here is the Horse come,—my one useful servant in this world) T.C.