July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO TC ; 1 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580701-JWC-TC-01; CL 34: 1-5


5 Cheyne Row— Thursday [1 July 1858]

I might have written on Tuesday to save my Life! or let me say rather, my soul— for Life that day didn't feel worth much effort to save— but nothing less could have given me the “courage” to write “whether I could or not ”—so completely dished I was by my expedition to Rottindean!1

Yesterday, having got your communication about the picture2 in the interim, I stood still, as it were, purposely, to let you pass at which side you pleased; that we mightn't go on knocking against each other, like two foolish people meeting on the pavement.

Now to finish off with the picture, since you, as I do, absolve Tait from having taken any mean advantage of what Lord A had said to me; I cant understand your fretting about the sale and wishing to stop it any more. Neither you nor I are responsible for Lord Ashburton's imbecility. On finding the Picture praised by a man he esteems, and who had written a book on “Art”3 (god pardon him!) he suddenly claims the picture! The price he knew would be printed in the Catalogue; he never looks at it! he goes to see the picture and is disappointed perhaps—perhaps not—for all he said to you would take the impression of your notions about its dearness and worthlessness. Let someone else tell him that Posterity will look with more interest at this Picture than any other in his possession (and I, for one, think so) and his impressionable Lordship would be enchanted with his purchase! Unless you had a hand in the original making of Lord A I can't see that you need vex yourself about this five hundred pounds, which he has not spent to please you but himself— As the affair figured to me, before I heard Tait's explanation and read Combe's letter; it was quite different —and I would have paid the money myself, if I had had it, to wash myself clear of it!

View larger version:
[in this window]
[in a new window]

George Combe

Illustrated London News (supplement), 28 August 1858


Well—I have accomplished the Rottindean investigation of which we made such a futile beginning. And only think! we might have gone that day from the new bridge Station,4 and been in plenty of time! A branch of the Excursion-train now starts from there, and joins the London Station5 at Croydon.6 When Tait came—after his breakfast (as had been settled) I told him I would be glad that he got my ticket and saw me off; but preferred doing the rest alone—as talking all day would tire me more than the journey. However he vowed he had a book in his pocket, that he would leave me, and make a visit in Brighton &c &c— In short it was too late to rid myself of him. Nor was the bore of him much greater than the convenience. We took an open Fly7 to Rottindean—“Cha-arge”8 3/6d accurately divided between us—and went to seek my cottage!9 Not easy to find! it was so hemmed in with new buildings and itself divided into two cottages, with a poor family in each! The village is considerably enlarged since I was there; but still very quiet. We looked at a small self contained house shabbily furnished which was to Let—Parlour and kitchen two bedrooms—servants attic. Rent 30/ a week—cheap decidedly as seabathing lodgings go—but rather—“what shall I say”?10stuffy! And unless taken on the spot not likely to be procurable—Lodgings there being so scarce

I could not sufficiently wonder at myself—how I ever walked that distance and back again!11 I could only make out half the way back on my legs, by resting three times—half an hour each rest—and for the remainder of the way I providentially picked up a Bath Chair. We dined at a “Refreshment Room” of extreme elegance. Tait on “cold meat and hot vegetables” I on soup. and by that time it was near the hour for starting. We were brought back to the Newbridge (Pimlico) Station and I got into a Chelsea omnibus. So far I had only been humanly tired and excessively thirsty. But after I got into bed my heart went at such a rate, that sleep was out of the question—and all next day I lay on the sofa like a creature just taken off the Wheel!12 “Oh my Dear! what tasking ye gie yersell” Betty13 seemed to say to me!— Yesterday I was much as usual again, and had many visitors.

Miss Wilson14 came—not grown old at all—but bedizzened like a youthful Doll! and playful as a kitten! In all my life I never saw her so finely and girlishly dressed! As she was going came “Lord George15 who walked right into my heart! What a dear, kind, honest little man! He staid a good while and we got on beautifully. He regretted much not seeing you—is here about the Committee on his Irish affairs16—is to leave London on Saturday. Aubrey de Vere17 found him going—and staid an hour or so, making me lie on the sofa, and talking to me about Death. Then after tea, when I thought it all over, came Mr Vaughan18—who looked not sure that I would receive him—and was very embarrassed and comfortless during his short stay.19 The man is quite spoilt!

A Russian20 also called with a letter of Introduction to you from Tourguéneff of very old date—21 and another letter from the same to me, of May last—and a new book in two volumes22

I was sorry the Gentleman did not come in, being your Russian translator!23 I send his card in case you will write him a note.

Yours ever

Jane W C