July 23rd .
I do not know what you will say when you receive so long a letter from me, though when you bade us goodbye rather more than a year ago, I promised you that you should hear from me occasionally. You will now perhaps think that my writing is the effect of caprice, and not give me credit for having often and often wished to do so, this however is really the case and circumstances and many many things have alone been the cause of my silence, as I assure you some of my happiest recollections are associated with your visits to us. Papa tells me you are soon intending to set out out for Spain; will this journey give us another book as glorious as the "Improvisatore"? I expect all sort of results from your sojourn there. I am at this very moment reading the "Improvisatore" in German for the first time though of course I have read it already several times in English, beautifully as it is translated by Mrs Howitt. I fancy I shall gain something by reading it in German, though I am unfortunately often obliged to use the dictionary. I have just seen a photograph of you and a group of three children from a painting of Madame Jerichau's, the painting as a group is very effective, but I like the separate photograph which you sent Papa better of yourself, it is more the face I remember. When are you coming to England again? We very soon quitted St. John's Wood after you left us and came to live here in an old-fashioned house 4 miles from London, but close to one or two rail-racks, so that if you came you could easily visit the Theatres and other places of amusement and yet at the same time breathe the fresh air; we always talk of you, but mostly as a holiday friend but for all times. I am the only one nearly always at home, my second Brother has been married three years and has a little Baby, the eldest was married when you were with us, the third who was comparatively well when you were with us, is now too much an invalid to remain at home, and the youngest is at present a tutor in a nobleman's family, being too delicate to enter the Church, all last year and the year before he was in Italy and the South of France besides travelling in Switzerland and elsewhere, my sister is hardly ever at home and far better that she should be away from care; so you see, I have given you a full, true and particular account of us all. I wish I could tell you that my dear Father was well and strong but he often makes me anxious about bim, as his health suffers from the many cares he has had, and just now he has lost a very dear sister, which distresses him more than usually. I was intending to take a little summer trip, but I don't like to leave him when there is no one but me at hand to cheer him, so my trip must be for next year. I don't think you have missed anything from not being at the Exhibition, the pictures only excepted, and those I like to see elsewhere, and only pictures at one time, there is a want of refinement in the way things are huddled together and then the building is so heavy in comparison to that at Sydenham which is all glass and beautiful flowers. You are to burn the little musical composition I gave you when you were with us, as I now know better how to write out my thoughts grammatically and hope to turn what powers I have to account, since the world has not gone so prosperously with us, so I shall send you all my little scraps lest you have any friends who will take the trouble of playing them and singing one or two songs, the words of which I have written under my own name, but the music under the name of 'Ernst Hilmer'. Only that I know you are kind enough to concern yourself about us, I should not venture to trouble you with them. In return for my letter all about ourselves you must say all that you are doing, if you are well cheerful and busy, in short everything about yourself. Is that friend well whom you wanted to get to Hastings for the winter?
And now, dear Sir, I really fear I must have tired you, if so you must not encourage me ever to write again, and I will at least now only say goodbye.
All unite with me in cordial remembrances and
Believe me, Yours sincerely,