East Hill, Wandsworth N. London. May 21, 1860.
My dear Friend,
It is a long time since I wrote to you, but I can assure you with great truth that you have been frequently in my thoughts, as well as those of my family, to whom you have left a memory of a most genial and joyous intercourse, only too brief. But clouds of domestic trouble have pressed so heavily upon me as to break up much of that hopeful feeling I had for so many years, and which helped me on my arduous way. One of my sons is laid prostrate by mental alienation - a calamity worse than death, and others of my family are sad invalids. Still, I must not own that these troubles, one after the other, have broken me down. I am still elastic, and rise up into renewed strength for the battle of life. Blessed be heaven!
And so you are about to travel in Spain. This is your first visit to the lovely land, is it not? I shall like to hear what your impressions of it are.
Since you last visited England what changes have taken place! Dickens has greatly lowered himself in public estimation by acts of folly quite unworthy of him. Still this idol of the public has a large audience, and his "All the year round" must produce him a large income. His son has gone to India upon a very valuable appointment. Thackeray has made a hit with the Cornhill Magazine - a palpable hit. Miss Evans has attained the summit of fame for her very original novels "Adam Bede" and "The Mill on the Floss". Sir E. Bulwer Lytton's son (under the pseudonym of Owen Meredith) has taken rank as a poet; "Lucile" just published is considered good. Sir Edw. himself has published a masterly poem called St. Stephens, really an admirable work. Tennyson also has made a great sensation by his new poem, The idylls of the King, full of beautiful thoughts.
The political horizon with us is overclouded, and men's minds are ill at ease, dreading some calamity like war. And if war - what a war it will be! France with her 600,000 or 700,000 ready to pour down upon any neighbour! With us there is no fear - it is the wickedness of such a purpose which makes us astonished. To fulfil some wise purpose of the great Eternal doubtless this monster has been raised, to be the instrument of inflicting punishment on the natives for their wickedness, and chiefly upon infatuated and guilty France herself. Come what may, our trust is in a righteous cause and an Almighty Protector. The great occurrence whenever it shall occur (as occur it probably will in no long time) will raise up another Wellington and another Nelson for us.
I was in Germany in last autumn, and should have gladly gone to you in Denmark, had time permitted, to grasp you by the hand.
Soon, I hope, you will pay (if the Fiend of War does not interrupt friendly intercourse from abroad) another visit to Old England. I am now gently settled down at Wandsworth, 6 miles only from London, that is within 15 minutes' Railway, so that I can enjoy fresh air and still soon be in the stir of the Great Babylon. Come and see us, and gladden us by your presence.
My ladies always in a postscript say the important things they wish to communicate, so I reserve to the last to tell you that I hope to have the pleasure of publishing your new Stories here, The Story from the Sandhills af Jutland, in a few days. Where shall I send your copies? I will take care that the work is dedicated to Baron Hambro as you wish.
Write me when you have an opportunity, not that I deserve it, but for the sake of auld lang syne.
With kindest remembrances from all the members of my family I beg you always to believe me with greatest sincerity,
Your very faithful friend,