LETTERS AND MEMORIALS
JANE WELSH CARLYLE
PREPARED FOR PUBLICATION BY
JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE
IN THREE VOLUMES
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
All rights reserved
LETTERS AND MEMORIALS
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Thursday, Sept. 16, 1847.
Here are three notes for you, dear; and I cannot send them without a few lines from myself, though up to the ears in my curtains.
If I had waited patiently a few hours longer yesterday, I might have spared you a shrewing. Your nice long letter came in the evening; and before that, I had also seen John, and been favoured with a reading of your letter to him. I could have found in my heart to box his ears, when I found it had been in his pocket since Monday night, and I only told of it then, at three o'clock on Wednesday, after my remonstrance was gone to the post-office. He did not seem to consider my impatience in the meanwhile 'of the slightest consequence.' In fact, he is, for the
[Page 2] moment, 'a miserable wretch, lost in proof-sheets.' He reminds me of the grey chicken at Craigenputtock. that went about for six weeks cackling over its first egg. If everybody held such a racket over his book as he, over this Dante of his, the world would be perfectly uninhabitable. But he comes seldom, and has always to 'take the road again' in a few minutes, so I manage to endure the cackling with a certain stoicism.
Nothing has happened to me since yesterday, except that in the evening I was startled, almost terrified, by a knock at the door. It was Fuz! I had written to him about G.'s manuscript, and he answered my note in person, by return of post. I had expected 'a gentle and free passage of pennies,' extending through, perhaps, a fortnight, before a meeting actually came off.
He seemed very strong-hearted for the reading, which could not, however, be commenced last night, for he had to attend the sale of Shakspeare's house; but on Sunday evening, 'by all that was sacred,' we would fall to in earnest, 'trusting in God that on that night he should find me in good voice.' Meanwhile, 'were there any books - anything on earth - I wished?' He would send Henry to-day. He stayed only half-an-hour - very fat!
[Page 3] This morning a still greater terror struck into me when a carriage stopped at the door while I was sitting at breakfast in my dressing-gown. It was Anthony Sterling on his way from Headley. He did not offer at coming in; merely sent the servant to ask if I would be at home in the afternoon. I am glad he is coming, for I will get him to send me his painter, the one who was to bring me an estimate having never returned. I walked up to the Library yesterday to get myself, if possible, something to read. White Owl expected to-day: library 'too bad for anything;' officials mortal drunk, or worse - overtaken with incurable idiocy! Not a book one could touch without getting oneself made filthy. I expressed my horror of the scene, and was answered: 'Are you aware, ma'am, of the death of Mrs. Cochrane?' I brought away the last four numbers of 'Vanity Fair,' and read one of them in bed, during the night. Very good, indeed, beats Dickens out of the world.
Chalmers is now raising brick fabrics - perfectly incomprehensible in their meaning hitherto - in front of his house. I told old John and the other workmen, yesterday, that there was no longer a doubt that they had all gone perfectly deranged. John
[Page 4] shook his head quite sorrowfully, and said 'it was only too true.'
The 'National,' Fuz told me, had started a very feasible idea about the Duke de Praslin's intention, in taking the loaded pistol with him. He had ordered the porter to come half-an-hour sooner than usual, and straight to his bedroom. He meant to shoot the porter, and make him pass for the murderer.
Fuz was awfully excited on the subject of Luzzi.
J. W. C.
To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 1847.
You are to know, then, that ever since I wrote the last letter to you, I have had no history 'to speak of,' having been confined pretty constantly to bed. When I wrote the last letter, I was already ill; in fact, I had never felt well from the first day of my return. But at that writing, I perceived I was in for some sort of regular illness. I thought, at first, it was going to be a violent cold, but it has not turned to a cold. I suppose a doctor would call it some sort of bilious or nervous fever. Whatever it has been, I have suffered horribly from irritation, nausea, and languor; but now I am in the way of getting well again. I am out of bed to-day, and able to
[Page 5] write to you, as you see. John has been very kind to me, since he knew of my illness, which was not till Sunday afternoon. He has come to see me twice a day; and one time stayed four hours in my bedroom, reading to me, &c. I prohibited him from telling you of it, as I did not want you to be kept anxious. But now I am so much better that there is not the slightest occasion for anxiety; and as to your being there, and not here, I assure you it has been the greatest possible comfort to me that it so happened. I can be twice as patient and composed, I find, when there is nobody put about by my being laid up. Had you been here, I should have struggled on longer without taking to bed, and been in the desperatest haste to get out of it. All the nursing possible has been given me, by Anne and Mrs. Piper; and the perfect quiet of the house could not have been had on other terms, nor could Anne have had time to attend to me as I required, if we had not had the house all to ourselves.
So do not be vaixed, and do not be uneasy; I have no ailment now, but weakness, and so soon as I can get into the air, that will wear off.
And now I must stop for this time.
J. W. C.
You must have another little letter to-day, dear, in case you take a notion to fret. I continue to mend rapidly. One of the people who has been kindest to me during my illness is 'old John.' He has actually reduced all the pianos to utter silence. Hearing Anne say that the noise of his ladies was enough to drive her mistress mad, he said, 'I will put a stop to that,' and went immediately himself into the drawing-room, and told the ladies then at the piano, 'he wondered they were not ashamed of themselves, making such a noise, and Mrs. Carlyle at death's door on the other side of the wall.' And there has not been a note struck since - five days ago.
To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Friday, Sept. 24, 1847.
You can't be said, dear, to have wasted many letters on me in this absence; but if you 'feel a stop' (Quakerly speaking), best to let it have way; no good comes of forcing nature, in the matter of writing or any other matter.
Meanwhile, I go on mending. I had more sleep last night, and feel strong enough to-day to meditate a short turn in the open air. When John comes, I
[Page 7] shall propose it to him. I am not to go to Addiscombe to-morrow. Last night, at ten o'clock, I was just going to bed very tired, John and Mazzini having sat talking 'Dante' beside me, till I had to be struck with a sudden thought that M. would miss the Hoxton omnibus, unless John saw him off instantly, when Anne came to announce the important fact of Mr. Fleming. ''Well,' I said, 'send him away; I cannot receive him at this time of night.' But he would not be sent away. 'He had come charged with a message from Lady Harriet (!), and if I would just see him for five minutes.' The other time he called was with Mr. Baring; changed times for little Mrs. Harris.
The message was, that Lady H. was coming up on Saturday, to dine at Holland House on Sunday; so that she could not send for me on Saturday, according to programme, but would take me down with her on Monday. This she had told him (Fleming) when he was 'seeing her off;' and he would tell her my answer 'when he dined with her at Holland House.' 'How very odd,' I said, 'that you should be acting as Lady H.'s Ariel!' 'Oh, not at all now; we are excellent friends now, since we stayed together at Sir W. Molesworth's; and there is nothing I would not do for her! she is the dearest, playfullest, wittiest creature. I love her beyond everything.' 'Very absurd.'
[Page 8] If I can get off from going now, without discourtesy, I will; for to stay over Tuesday is not worth the fag of going and coming; besides, my painting will terminate, I expect, on Saturday night. And there is yet another thing that takes away my ardour for going. Fleming gravely accused me of having brought on this illness, as I did so many others, by my 'unheard-of imprudence.' 'Lady Harriet assures me that nothing was ever like your indiscretion in diet, and that all these attacks proceed from that cause.' Now, I require to have every furtherance given to any faculty that may lie in me for eating and drinking at present, instead of living and eating in the fear of being thought and published a glutton. The quantity of wine that John prescribes for me might also obtain me the reputation of a drunkard. And I believe it quite necessary, when for days together one's pulse 'could not be counted.' Fleming's 'five minutes' prolonged themselves to half-an-hour, and then I was obliged to tell him that I could sit up no longer. And he went away in his little thunder-and-lightning embroidered shirt, and his little new curled wig, lisping out: 'I shall tell Lady Harriet that I found you in a temperature sufficient to produce a bilious fever.' It was all I could do to keep from summoning all my remaining
[Page 9] strength together and 'doubling him up,' prating in that fashion to me, who had just come through such a week of suffering. Never mind, Chalmers's old John comes to ask after me the first thing every morning; and he keeps all the pianos down. And my maid nurses me with an alacrity and kindness that could not be bought with money; and the more I eat, the better you are always pleased.
Kind regards to them all. I hope your mother don't say every half-hour, 'I wonder how Jane is?'
J. W. C.
To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Addiscombe: Friday, Oct. 1, 1847.
Just two lines, dear, before starting, in case I arrive, as is likely, with a head too bad for writing from Chelsea, by to-day's post.
My visit here has gone off rather successfully in one sense. I never saw Lady Harriet in such spirits, so talkative and disposed to be talked to. I should have enjoyed being beside her more than usual if I had not felt a need of exerting myself much beyond my strength, as she made a point of ignoring the fact that anything ailed me. I fancy it must be one of
[Page 10] her notions about me, that I am hypochondriacal; and to be made well by being treated as though there was not a doubt of it.
Happily, I have got through it without giving any trouble; but shall be glad to get home to-day, where I may have a fire in my room when I am shivering, and a glass of wine when I am exhausted, and may go to bed when my head gets the better of me, without feeling it to be 'a secret to displease her.' Every day here I have had to slip into bed about two, and lie with a dreadful headache till five, when it went suddenly away. And when the housemaid (not Eliza, she is in town) found that I lighted my bedroom fire myself, she carried away the coals; and no bell could bring her; and the room is so cold and damp now there is no sun. And then no dinner till six, and no wine but hock, which makes me ill; and John had bid me take two glasses (no less) of Madeira; and, in short, 'there is no place like home' for being sick in; and I should understand this, once for all. I am a little stronger, however, than I came, though I have not had one good night, and I expect to feel the benefit of the change when I return. When I look at my white, white face in the glass, I wonder how anybody can believe I am fancying.
To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Saturday, Oct. 2, 1847.
'Thanks God,' dear, I write from home again! I arrived yesterday, much in the state I expected, with a racking headache and faceache, but also with a little 'monarch of all I survey' feeling, which was compensation 'for much'! In my life I think I never did so enjoy giving orders and being waited upon as last night, and being asked what I would like to take, and getting it! And thanks to the considerable mess of porridge, which John inculcated, I had some sleep, and to-day I am quite free of headache, and the faceache is greatly diminished; and I had very nice coffee in bed, and a fire to dress at, and, in short, I feel in a state of luxury perfectly indescribable! Your letter last night, too, was a most agreeable surprise; two letters in one day! That I was not exacting enough to have ever looked for! Lady Harriet spoke of writing to you one of these days. On Monday she comes to town, to go to the Grange on Tuesday, perhaps; for, if Charles Buller comes from Cornwall on Monday, he might like one day at the Cottage before they go, in which case they would put off going to the Grange till Wednesday. Or, perhaps, 'if Mr. Baring wants two days in London,' Lady H. would come up with him on
[Page 12] Monday and go somewhere (Lord Grey's, I think) over Tuesday. At all events, the Grange, after Wednesday, seemed her probable address. Some time in November she expected to be in town for a week; and after Christmas she wished us to go to Alverstoke. She has got a grey Spanish horse, looked up for her by Mr. Fleming, and a new riding habit and beaver, and is 'going to ride quick now.' The coachman has made a new epigram about you. He was backing out Mr. Baring in trying to persuade her ladyship to ride the 'Kangaroo.' 'Good gracious!' said Lady H., 'do none of you remember how it behaved with Mrs. Carlyle? She could not ride it!' 'Pooh! pooh!' said the old humbug, 'Mrs. Carlyle could have ridden the horse perfectly well; it was not the horse Mrs. Carlyle was afraid of. What she was afraid of was Mr. Carlyle!'
Well, if the coachman don't appreciate you, here is 'a young heart' that does, 'immortal one!'
The note I send is accompanied by a blood-red volume entitled 'Criticisms.' I have looked at the gratitude in the preface - a very grand paragraph indeed about the magnificent Trench! and the colossal Carlyle; one of whom 'reminds us of some gigantic river, now winding,' &c., &c.; 'the other of some tremendous being, struggling with mighty power,' &c., &c. A very tremendous blockhead does this writer remind us of!
[Page 13] I can tell you next to nothing of Mazzini. After I had been at home a week I sent him simply my visiting card, which, however, he immediately replied to in person; but when he arrived I had already fallen ill, was just going to bed in a fainting state, and could merely shake hands with him and bid him go away. He sent to ask for me two or three days after, and a week after he came one evening when John was here, who kept him all the time talking about Dante, and in an hour I was wearied and sent them away together. That is all I have seen of him; and all he had got to tell me of 'our things' was that he had been for weeks expecting private information that would take him away at an hour's notice, but that now there seemed no prospect of anything immediate taking effect, and that on the 10th October he would go to Paris for a month, and 'into the valley of Madame Sand.' I asked if he had meant to put himself at the disposal of the Pope. 'Oh, no!' he said; what he aimed at was 'to organise and lead an expedition into Lombardy, which would be better than being an individual under the Pope,' in which words seemed to me to lie the whole secret of Mazzini's 'failed life.'
Kind regards to the others.
Ever faithfully yours,
J. W. C.
This is Thomas Spedding's residence. I had halted there for a day or two on my return. Very sad to leave my dear old mother, I can still recollect, and much out of sorts, being still in the dumb state. What did come next of writing after 'Cromwell'? Painter Lawrence was there and James Spedding; both in high spirits.
To T. Carlyle, Mirehouse, Keswick.
Chelsea: Saturday, Oct. 9, 1847.
Oh, my dear! my dear! I am so busy! which is better than being 'so sick'! When Mrs. Piper came this morning and found me on the steps she looked quite aghast, and said, 'You will lay yourself up again!' 'Not a bit,' I told her; 'I feel quite strong to-day.' 'I am afraid, ma'm,' suggested the little woman, 'it is not strength, but the false excitement of Mr. Carlyle coming home!' Anne remarked, 'Whatever it was, it was no use stopping Missus if she had anything on her mind. She was an example!' She 'wondered where there was another lady that could stuff chair-cushions, and do anything that was needed, and be a lady too!' So now I think I am strong enough in Anne's respect to even smoke in her presence. The worst of it is that my work in these days has been Cromwellian work - makes no show for the pains, consists chiefly in annihilating rubbish; annihilating worms for one thing. Only think of
[Page 15] Henry Taylor's famous chair being partly stuffed with dirty old carpet shorn small, which had generated naturally these hundred thousand millions of 'small beings' (as Mazzini would say). Mrs. Piper saw some of them outside when she washed the covers, and I understood that 'indication' at all events. So I had hair, rubbish, and worms, all boiled together in the cauldron, and then the clean hair picked out, and then I remade the cushions 'with my own hands.'
Besides this, I have been in a pretty mess with Emerson's bed, having some apprehensions he would arrive before it was up again. The quantity of sewing that lies in a lined chintz bed is something awfully grand! And I have been able to get next to no help, all the sewing women I knew of being unable to come, though 'sorry to disoblige,' &c. One had 'work on her hands for three months'; another was 'under a course of physic'; another 'found it more profitable to sew at home.' Postie realised me a little woman, who, having a baby a month old, could only come for three hours in the day; and one day she came, and had sense more or less, and was to come every day for three hours till we had finished. But on going home she found 'her baby had never cried so much since it was born;' and she came in the evening to say she could leave it no more; so
[Page 16] there was nothing for it but to fall on the thing like a tiger myself, and it is now well forward, though I fear it will not be up, as I wished, to delight your eyes when you come.
For the rest, my life is as still as could be wished. Mr. Ireland called last night and told me much of your sayings at the Brights. Lady Harriet called on Tuesday afternoon. She had actually ridden from Addiscombe to London the day before on the Spanish horse. 'The coachman put Mr. Baring on one of the carriage horses,' neither the 'Kangaroo' nor the chestnut being judged safe company. 'He rode half the way on that, and then the helper came up on Muff (the pony), and he got on Muff for the rest of the way.' Good Mr. Baring! I showed Lady H. the book of the 'Young Heart,' and she wrote marginal notes all over it for you, which, she said, along with the list of books she had sent, might stand very well for a letter. I could not but think from her manner that day that she had bethought her I had been rather roughly handled on my last visit. She even offered me a 'tonic,' which had been given to her by Sir J. Clarke. 'Certainly I ought to have something to strengthen me; something to make me eat! She
[Page 17] never saw a human creature eat so little!' And a great many more unsayings of things she said at Addiscombe. She was going to dine at the Grey's, and next morning to the Grange, where were Croker and his women - and Miss Mitford!!!
Charles Buller came on Monday, and is going into Normandy. Miss Mitford reminds me of Miss Strickland. Craik, whom I saw yesterday, told me that the book which is the most decided success at present is 'The Queens of England'! Colburn has made some twenty thousand pounds by it! And the authoress too is enriched. She goes to the Duke of Cleveland's, &c., &c. (Lady Clara told John), and is treated there like a high-priestess! everybody deferring to her opinions.
But what is the use of all this writing, and with such a horrid pen, when you are coming so soon? On Monday I hardly expect you. But I shall hear. Thanks for your long letters in such a worry. The Hunts give splendid soirées!
Ever yours faithfully,
J. W. C.
John Forster, Esq., 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Chelsea: Saturday, Nov. 20, 1847.
Dear Mr. Forster, - Sure enough, we are in the gloomy month of November, when the people of
[Page 18] England 'commit suicide' under 'attenuating circumstances.' The expediency, nay necessity, of suiciding myself is no longer a question with me. I am only uncertain as to the manner!
On Thursday I was appointed to go to Notting Hill to see my husband's bust; and had to break my appointment, unfeeling as it looked to let myself be withheld by any weather from going to see my husband's bust. I thought it would be more really unfeeling to risk an inflammation in my husband's wife's chest, which makes my husband's wife such a nuisance as you, an unmarried man, can hardly figure. Since then I have mostly lain on the sofa, under the horse-cloth, reading, 'with one eye shut and the other not open' (as poor Darley used to say), some of those divine volumes you lent me. Surely it was in the spirit of divination that I selected 'The Human Body in Health and Disease'; and the 'Means of Abridging Human Life'; and 'Hints on the Formation of Character.' One has such leisure for forming one's character during a shut-up winter!
You perceive whither all this is tending; and wish that I would hasten to the catastrophe. Well, the catastrophe is - I write it with tears in my eyes - that I cannot venture to the play on Monday night. Even if I did not, as is almost certain I should, bring on my cough, I should pass for capricious, insane; and the worst of it is, C., having no longer a duty to
[Page 19] fulfil in promoting my happiness, declares that he won't go either, and that I had best write to you that you may take no seats for us. I do so, unwillingly; for if the weather were to 'go soft,' as Geraldine would say, I might be about again on Monday; and in any case he ought to go to his friend's first night. But there is no rebelling against Providence.
I am also bothered about these proofs; C. has got some furious objection to my meddling with them - even declares that I 'do not know bad grammar when I see it, any better than she does;' that 'if I had any faculty I might find better employment for it,' &c., &c. So, after having written to her that I would do what she wished, I must write again that I am not permitted.
I do think there is much truth in the Young German idea that marriage is a shockingly immoral institution, as well as what we have long known it for - an extremely disagreeable one.
Please countermand the proofs, for every one that comes occasions a row.
Ever affectionately yours,
To John Welsh, Esq., Liverpool.
Chelsea : Dec. 13, 1847.
My dearest Uncle, - I write to you de profundis, that is to say, from the depths of my tub-chair, into which I have migrated within the last two hours, out of the still lower depths of my gigantic red bed, which has held me all this week, a victim to the 'inclemency of the season'! Oh, uncle of my affections, such a season! Did you ever feel the like of it? Already solid ice in one's water jug! 'poor Gardiners all froz out,' and Captain Sterling going at large in a dress of skins, the same that he wore in Canada! I tried to make head against it by force of volition - kept off the fire as if I had been still at 'Miss Hall's,' where it was a fine of sixpence to touch the hearthrug, and walked, walked, on Carlyle's pernicious counsel (always for me, at least) to 'take the bull by the horns,' instead of following Darwin's more sensible maxim, 'in matters of health always consult your sensations.' And so, 'by working late and early, I'm come to what ye see'! in a tub-chair - a little live bundle of flannel shawls and dressing-gowns, with little or no strength to speak of, having coughed myself all to fiddle-strings in the course of the week, and 'in a dibble of a temper,' if I had only anybody to vent it on!
[Page 21] Nevertheless, I am sure 'I have now got the turn,' for I feel what Carlyle would call 'a wholesome desire to smoke'! which cannot be gratified, as C. is dining with Darwin; but the tendency indicates a return to my normal state of health.
The next best thing I can think of is to write to thee; beside one's bedroom fire, in a tub-chair, the family affections bloom up so strong in one! Moreover, I have just been reading for the first time Harriet Martineau's outpourings in the 'Athenæum, and 'that minds me,' as my Helen says, that you wished to know if I too had gone into this devilish thing. Catch me! What I think about it were not easy to say, but one thing I am very sure of, that the less one has to do with it the better; and that it is all of one family with witchcraft, demoniacal possession - is, in fact, the selfsame principle presenting itself under new scientific forms, and under a polite name. To deny that there is such a thing as animal magnetism, and that it actually does produce many of the phenomena here recorded, is idle; nor do I find much of this, which seems wonderful because we think of it for the first time, a whit more wonderful than those common instances of it, which never struck us with surprise merely because we have been used to see them all our lives. Everybody, for instance, has seen children thrown almost into convulsions by someone going through the motions of tickling them!
[Page 22] Nay, one has known a sensitive uncle shrink his head between his shoulders at the first pointing of a finger towards his neck!
Does not a man physically tremble under the mere look of a wild beast or fellow-man that is stronger than himself? Does not a woman redden all over when she feels her lover's eyes on her? How then should one doubt the mysterious power of one individual over another? Or what is there more surprising in being made rigid than in being made red? in falling into sleep, than in falling into convulsions? in following somebody across a room, than in trembling before him from head to foot? I perfectly believe, then, in the power of magnetism to throw people into all sorts of unnatural states of body; could have believed so far without the evidence of my senses, and have the evidence of my senses for it also.
I saw Miss Bölte magnetised one evening at Mrs. Buller's by a distinguished magnetiser, who could not sound his h's, and who maintained, nevertheless, that mesmerism 'consisted in moral and intellectual superiority.' In a quarter of an hour, by gazing with his dark animal eyes into hers, and simply holding one of her hands, while his other rested on her head, he had made her into the image of death; no marble was ever colder, paler, or more motionless, and her face had that peculiarly beautiful expression which Miss Martineau speaks of, never seen but in
[Page 23] a dead face, or a mesmerised one. Then he played cantrups with her arm and leg, and left them stretched out for an hour in an attitude which no awake person could have preserved for three minutes. I touched them, and they felt horrid - stiff as iron, I could not bend them down with all my force. They pricked her hand with the point of a penknife, she felt nothing. And now comes the strangest part of my story. The man, who regarded Carlyle and me as Philistines, said, 'Now are you convinced?' 'Yes, said Carlyle, there is no possibility of doubting but that you have stiffened all poor little Miss Bölte there into something very awful.' Yes, said I pertly, but then she wished to be magnetised; what I doubt is, whether anyone could be reduced to that state without the consent of their own volition. I should like for instance to see anyone magnetise me!' 'You think I could not?' said the man with a look of ineffable disdain. 'Yes,' said I,' I defy you?' 'Will you give me your hand, Miss?' 'Oh, by all means;' and I gave him my hand with the most perfect confidence in my force of volition, and a smile of contempt. He held it in one of his, and with the other made what Harriet Martineau calls some 'passes' over it, as if he were darting something from his finger ends. I looked him defiantly in the face, as much as to say, 'You must learn to sound your h's, sir, before you can produce any effect on a woman like me!' And whilst
[Page 24] this or some similar thought was passing through my head - flash there went over me, from head to foot, something precisely like what I once experienced from taking hold of a galvanic ball, only not nearly so violent. I had presence of mind to keep looking him in the face, as if I had felt nothing; and presently he flung away my hand with a provoked look, saying, 'I believe you would be a very difficult subject, but nevertheless, if I had time given me, I am sure I could mesmerise you; at least, I never failed with anyone as yet.'
Now, if this destroyed for me my theory of the need of a consenting will, it as signally destroyed his of moral and intellectual superiority; for that man was superior to me in nothing but animal strength, as I am a living woman! I could even hinder him from perceiving that he had mesmerised me, by my moral and intellectual superiority! Of the clairvoyance I have witnessed nothing; but one knows that people with a diseased or violently excited state of nerves can see more than their neighbours. When my insane friend was in this house he said many things on the strength of his insanity which in a mesmerised person would have been quoted as miracles of clairvoyance.
Of course a vast deal of what one hears is humbug. This girl of Harriet's seems half diseased, half make-believing. I think it a horrible blasphemy they
[Page 25] are there perpetrating, in exploiting that poor girl for their idle purposes of curiosity! In fact, I quite agree with the girl, that, had this Mrs. Winyard lived in an earlier age of the world, she would have been burned for a witch, and deserved it better than many that were; since her poking into these mysteries of nature is not the result of superstitious ignorance, but of educated self-conceit.
In fact, with all this amount of belief in the results of animal magnetism, I regard it as a damnable sort of tempting of Providence, which I, as one solitary individual, will henceforth stand entirely aloof from.
And now, having given you my views at great length, I will return to my bed and compose my mind. Love to all; thanks to Helen. With tremendous kisses,
Your devoted niece,
That wretched little Babbie does not write because I owe her a letter. A letter from her would have been some comfort in these dreary days of sickness; but since she has not bestowed it, I owe her the less thanks.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., at Alverstoke.
Chelsea: Monday, Jan. 17, 1848.
Well, dearest, I have written what I have written, and what I have written I will keep to. If I am spared on foot till Thursday, I will go on Thursday, and accept the consequences - if any. This time I am under engagement to go, and it is pitiful to break one's engagement for anything short of necessity. But I will never, with the health I have, or rather have not, engage to leave home for a long fixed period, another winter. One of the main uses of a home is to stay in it, when one is too weak and spiritless for conforming, without effort, to the ways of other houses. Besides, is not home - at least, was it not 'in more earnest times' - 'the woman's proper sphere'? Decidedly, if she 'have nothing to keep her at home,' as the phrase is, she should 'find something - or die!' That is my idea in the days of solitary musing. Amusement after a certain age is no go; even when there are no other nullifying conditions, it gets to be merely distraction, in the Gambardella sense; between which and distraction in the general sense there is but a thin partition, so thin that one can hear through it, whenever one likes to listen, the clanking of chains, and the shrieking of 'mads,' as plainly as I am hearing
[Page 27] at this moment the Chalmers's pianoforte. Ah, yes, I had found out that, 'by my own smartness,' before I took to reading on insanity. To be sure, it is hard on flesh and blood, when one 'has nothing to keep one at home,' to sit down in honest life-weariness, and look out into unmitigated zero; but perhaps it 'would be a great advantage' just to 'go ahead' in that; the bare-faced indigence of such a state might drive one, like the piper's cow, to 'consider,' and who knows but, in considering long enough, one might discover what one 'has wanted,' and what one 'wants' - an essential preliminary to getting it. Meanwhile here is Hare's Sterling book come for you - late, for Miss Wynne had read it four days ago - and 'with the publisher's compliments.' No copy had been sent to Anthony when I saw him; he had bought it, and said if you did not feel yourself bound to place his brother in a true light, he must attempt it himself. By the way, what a fine fellow that Mr. O. Holmes is! a sort of man that one would like to see. And Dr. MacEnnery, did not you find his letter had a sort of Cromwellian sincerity and helplessness 'not without worth'? My head aches a great deal, which is natural, for, except the first night after you went, I have slept little - some three hours a night, and that in small pieces; but I am able to lie quite peaceably, without reading.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., at Alverstoke.
Chelsea: Jan. 18, 1848.
Ah, my dear! We are both busy reflecting, it would seem; driven to it, by quite opposite pressures - you by stress of society, and I by stress of solitude. A la bonne heure! reflection is golden; provided one 'go into practice with it;' otherwise, if, as in my case, for most part it serves only to make the inward darkness more visible, why, then, as John said of the senna, one had 'better take it, but perhaps one had better not.'
Poor human creatures 'after all'! I am heartily sorry for them, severally, and in the lump; think sometimes it would be 'a great advantage' if we were all 'fed off!' but one thinks many things, in moments of unenthusiasm, which one does not authentically mean. To-day, however, is the brightest of sunshiny days; and last night I slept like a Christian, and so I ought to feel better, and shall, perhaps, before evening. No letters but your own, for which I was thankful. There was one last night from Espinasse - too much of Emerson, whom he 'likes much better than he did.' In reply to my charge that Emerson had no ideas (except mad ones) that he had not got out of you, Espinasse answers prettily, 'but pray, Mrs. Carlyle, who has?'
[Page 29] He (E.) had been discussing you with a 'Bey,' whom he met at Geraldine's, sent by the Egyptian; and the Bey 'had the impudence to say': 'M. Carlyle n'a pas assez de fond pour l'esprit française.'
I must not write any more today, for that weary head 'likes' writing as ill as Mrs. Howatson's 'disguster' liked ewe cheese.
JANE W. C.
To T. Carlyle, at Alverstoke.
Chelsea: Jan. 21, 1848.
Well, dear, I have written to Lady Harriet that I am not going at all - the only rational course under the circumstances. So now you are to do what you think best for yourself, without reference to me. You are not to hurry home on my account. I am not so ill as to make that a duty for you; nor so well as to make it a pleasure. But if you continue ill yourself, you will certainly be better in your own nest, with me to tell it to, and all your own way, as far as material things are concerned. Do not be uneasy about me. I should know the ways of this sort of cold by now; and I am sure that with reasonable care it need turn to nothing dangerous, though it might easily be fixed in my lungs by any rashness. John said he would write a note himself. I sent for him to take counsel before I began writing. Some
[Page 30] Watts have come to town, with whom he dines, &c. and it is amazing how, in a few days, he has gone all to smithers (morally). Last night he came, for an hour, before going to these Watts, and found me lying on the sofa, very much done up, and coffing worse than usual. 'How d'ye do?' he said, like Mr. Toots.
Mercy, I am going to be belated.
To John Forster, Esq., 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields.
5 Cheyne Row: Saturday, Feb. 1848.
Dear Mr. Forster, - It is too bad to plague you with 'a delicate embarrassment' of mine, when you are overhead in 'earnest work;' but what can I do? If you do not cut me out, my husband will, at the least, send me to Gehenna; and I would much rather not.
Geraldine writes to me this morning (our correspondence had been at a still-stand ever since that feast of 'meats,' and love, and tobacco, at the Fornisari's) that I may expect a copy of her book next week. I had no notion it would be ready so soon. Well! for the delicate embarrassment - she does not say anything about the dedication to Mrs. Paulet and myself - which her heart was much set on some months ago, and which, that is my share in
[Page 31] it, I neither positively accorded to, nor positively declined at the time, meaning to revise the question when the book was ready for being dedicated, and to be guided by my husband's authentic feelings in the matter. Knowing his dislike to be connected in people's minds, by even the slightest spider-thread, with what he calls 'George Sandism and all that accursed sort of thing,' I was not sure that the half-toleration he gave when asked about it would not be changed into prohibition, if he found it likely to be acted upon. At the time I sounded his feelings, the book, I was able to assure him, contained nothing questionable. Can I say so now? If anything of the last chapters I read be left in it, not only would he detest a dedication to his wife, but his wife herself would detest it. What I want you to do is, if there be a dedication, to erase my name; and leave it all to Mrs. Paulet, and tell me that you have so done; and I will write to Geraldine an explanation of the fact. If there be no dedication, tell me all the same, and then I shall not need to hurt the poor little soul's sensibilities by a premature refusal. You see how I am situated, wishing not to give pain to Geraldine - still less to give offence to my husband; and least of all, to promenade myself as an 'emancipated' woman. I am still confined to the house - weary work.
Ever affectionately yours,
Have you the other novels of the Currer Bell people? I should like them any time.
To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Croydon: Thursday, April 13, 1848.
If better for you in all other respects that I should remain in 'some other part of the country,' my return will have, at least, one comfort in it, that I do serve to 'stave off' the people from you, especially at meal-times! But perhaps it is more the cold than the people that makes you more unwell than usual in these days. I have no people here to worry me, have nothing to complain of as to diet, or hours, or noise; and I have not had one well moment day or night, except that day you came. However, I have always been able to keep on foot, and to put a good face on myself; so I have not had the un-'pleasant additimental' consciousness of being a bore. Mr. Baring has not returned yet. On Tuesday evening, after dinner, Lady Harriet went up to the opera - very rashly, I thought, having risen from her sofa to go; but she returned quite well next day about one o'clock. Mr. Baring is not to come, I believe, till she goes up for the Molesworth dinner on Sunday. The evening I spent here, so unexpectedly, alone, was
[Page 33] like a morphia dream. The stillness was something superhuman, for the servants, it seemed to me, so soon as they got their Lady out of the way, went, all but Williams, off into space. While I was upstairs for a moment, light had been brought in; and, an hour after, tea was placed for me in the same invisible manner. I looked, to myself, sitting there, all alone, in the midst of comforts and luxuries not my own, like one of those wayfarers in the fairy tales who, having left home with 'a bannock' to 'poose their fortune,' and followed the road their 'stick fell towards,' find themselves in a beautiful enchanted palace, where all their wants are supplied to them by supernatural agency; - hospitality of the most exquisite description, only without a host! I had been reading Swift all day; but I found that now too prosaical for my romantic circumstances; and, seeking through the books, I came upon 'The Romance of the Forest,' which I seized on with avidity, remembering the 'tremendous' emotions with which I read it in my night-shift, by the red light of our dying schoolroom fire, nearly half a century ago, when I was supposed to be sleeping the sleep of good children. And over that I actually spent the whole evening; it was so interesting to measure my progress - downwards I must think - by comparing my present feelings at certain well-remembered passages with the past. After all, it might have been worse with my imaginative
[Page 34] past. I decidedly like the dear old book, even in this year of grace, far better than 'Rose Blanche,' &c. Execrable, that is; I could not have suspected even the ape of writing anything so silly. Lady H. read it all the way down, and decided it was 'too vulgar to go on with.' I myself should have also laid it aside in the first half volume if I had not felt a pitying interest in the man, that makes me read on in hope of coming to something a little better. Your marginal notes are the only real amusement I have got out of it hitherto.
My head feels as usual to be full of melted lead, swaying this way and that. There is no walking off the heaviness if walkable off, for the rain is incessant. Tell Anne to bid the confectioner bake half a dozen fresh little cakes for the X-----'s. Have patience with them. Are they not seeking, which is next best to having found?
John Forster, Esq., 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Chelsea: Thursday morning, April 1849.
Dear Friend, - Your Ganymede found me yesterday in a mortal crisis: in the thick of two afflictions, which put together did not make a consolation. In the first place I had got one of my patent headaches to do, which absolutely could not be put off any
[Page 35] longer; and at the same time it was required of me to endure the infinite clatter of an old lady - clack, clack, clack, like pailfuls of water poured all over me, world without end. Nevertheless I showed myself to Ganymede for a moment, and bade him tell you - heaven knows what! - that it was 'all right,' or that it was 'all wrong,' or perhaps that it was all right and all wrong in the same breath. I did not know what I was saying. Now that I do, thank you for the books and the veil and the stick. I have forwarded your note to Sterling, and doubt not but it will find the gracious welcome which it deserves; - and nothing earthly or divine shall make me forget! Bless you! I never forget anything, except now and then my veil, and, always and for ever, the multiplication table! I have never, for example, forgotten a single one of all the kindnesses you have shown me! So you may expect us on Thursday, as far as depends on me, with a confidence which has for its basis the laws of nature.
Poor Helen's Dublin glories ended (the second year, I think) in total wreck - drink, quarrel with her fool of a brother, dismissal home or into outer darkness, and adieu of the spitfire kind! From home she sent inquiries hither: old regrets, new alacrities, &c. &c. As our good little Anne was now to be wedded, and go to Jersey with her 'James'
[Page 36] (where she did well, but died in a couple of years, poor little soul!), we were glad to hear of Helen again. Helen came, a glad sight of her kind; to my eye nothing was wrong in her, but to another better observer (though in strict silence towards me) much, much! Accordingly before long strange faults (even theft, to appearance) began to peer out; and, after perhaps four or five months, came the catastrophe described below!
My darling took all pains with the wretched Helen; got her placed once, perhaps twice, candidly testifying to qualities and faults alike (drove off with her once in a cab, as I can still pathetically recollect having seen): - but nothing could save Helen! She was once, as we heard, dragged from the river; did die, an outcast, few months afterwards. Naivety and even geniality, - imbecility, obstinacy, and gin. Her 'sayings,' as reported to me here, were beyond all Jest-Books, - as gold beyond pinchbeck.
19 March, 1849, Cromwell. - A Third Edition got done (i.e. the MS. &c. copy of it) 'this morning.' - Printing haggles forward till October or after. Mrs. Buller's death 'week before.'
To Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.
5 Cheyne Row: Tuesday night, May 1849.
My dear Jane, - Many thanks for your kind letter and 'dainties'; these I only realised to-day - the weather having been bad, and my head not good, and no carriage turning up for me till to-day. I ate a little piece of cake so soon as I got it home, and pronounce it first-rate; the marmalade I have not yet broken into.
For ourselves, we are all going on as much as
[Page 37] usual. Mr. C. has not got reconciled to his 'interior,' nor I to my head, with which, indeed, I have had several more terrible bouts lately than ever in my life before, which is much to say! John is excessively kind to me on these occasions; has sat on his knees at my bedside for hours together, holding me down, and being sorry for me, which is just all that can be done in the way of alleviation. 'On earth the living have much to bear;' the difference is chiefly in the manner of bearing, and my manner of bearing is far from being the best.
They would tell you of the final crash of my maid Helen, how, on our return from a visit to Captain Sterling, she first would not open the door; and at last did open it, like a stage ghost very ill got up: blood spurting from her lips, her face whitened with chalk from the kitchen floor, her dark gown ditto. and wearing a smile of idiotic self-complacency. I thought Mr. C. was going to kick his foot through her, when she tumbled down at his touch. If she had been his wife he certainly would have killed her on the spot; but his maid-of-all-work he felt could not be got rid of without his being hanged for her. The young woman whom Providence sent me 'quite promiscuously' within an hour of this consummation has hitherto given us the greatest satisfaction. She is far the most lovable servant I ever had; a gentle,
[Page 38] pretty, sweet-looking creature, with innocent winning ways; a very fair worker too, clean, orderly, and 'up to her business.' My only fear about her is that being only four-and-twenty, and calculated to produce an impression on the other sex, she may weary of single service; unless indeed she can get up a sentiment for the butcher's man, who is already her devoted admirer; but 'he is so desperately ugly.'
Meanwhile, I have been busy, off and on, for a great many weeks in pasting a screen with four leaves, five feet high, all over with prints. It will be a charming 'work of art' when finished, but of that there is no near prospect. The prints are most of them very small, and it takes so much pondering to find how to scatter them about to the best advantage. What else I have been doing it were hard to tell. I read very little nowadays; not that my eyes are failed the least in the world, but that books have ceased to take any hold on me; and as for sewing, you know that 'being an only child, I never wished to sew.' Still, I have some inevitable work in that line, as, even if I felt rich enough to have the 'family needlework' done by others, I don't know where to
[Page 39] find others to do it for money, without bothering me with their stupidity worse than if I did it myself. But the great business of life for a woman like me in this place is an eternal writing of little unavoidable notes. It falls upon me to answer all the invitations, and make lying excuses world without end; so that I sometimes look back with the tear in my eye to the time when we were not celebrated, and were left to provide our own dinners as we could. A French poet dying of hunger, in a novel, calls, 'Oh, Glory, give me bread!' I would call to Glory often enough, 'Give me repose!' only that I know beforehand my sole response from Glory would be, 'Don't you wish you may get it?'
And now, dear, the sun is shining - has actually 'taken a notion' of shining for the first time these many days; and I have need to walk, having been shut up lately till I feel quite moulting. And so I must out into space.
Love to your husband and all the rest. It would be pretty of you to write to me sometimes; for I am always
Very affectionately yours,
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Nothing in the way of printing, or nothing in the least considerable, had come from me since 'Cromwell;' but much was fermenting in me, in very painful ways, during four years of silence. Irish Repeal, Paraclete, McHale, Irish Industrial Regiments, newspaper articles on such, &c., &c., - trifling growls, words idly flung away. In the fourth or third year especially, in the revolutionary 1848, matters had got to a kind of boiling pitch with me, and I was becoming very wretched for want of a voice. Much MS. was accumulating on me, with which I did not know what in the world to do. Nigger question (end of 1849) did get out, and the rest, vividly enough, as Latter-Day Pamphlets (next spring)! Meanwhile, all being dark and dumb, I had decided on a six-weeks' visit to Ireland (Duffy, &c. much pressing me). Record of the tour, written slapdash after my return, is among the worthless MSS. here. Emerson had now left England seven or eight months.
To T. Carlyle, Post Office, Dublin.
Addiscombe, Sunday night, July 2, 1849.
Well! it is a consolation of a sort that I cannot figure you more cold and lonely and comfortless there at sea than myself has been on land, even amidst 'the splendid blandishments' of Addiscombe. When I could not distinguish your white hat any longer I went home, and sat down to cry a little; but Elizabeth put a stop to that by coming in with - your plaid over her arm! and expressing her surprise that
[Page 41] master hadn't taken it. The plaid forgotten, and the day so cold! For one frantic moment I was for running back to the pier, and plunging into the water on my own basis, and swimming after you with the plaid in my mouth; but a very little reflection turned me from this course, and instead I proceeded to the kitchen, and silently boiled my strawberries, like a practical woman. Then I stowed away some of the valuables, and dressed myself; and, no one having come for my portmanteau, I took it with me in the omnibus to the top of Sloane Street, where I had it and myself transferred to a cab, for greater dignity's sake! I was at Bath House five minutes before twelve, shivering with cold, excessively low, and so vexed about the plaid! But 'no sympathy there, thank God! ' - 'wits' enough, if that could have helped me. 'You would have the sense to wrap yourself in a sail if you were cold,' or 'Depend upon it, you would seize on the rugs off all the other passengers' beds. At all events, you had promised to stay with them in Scotland, and that would quite set you up if you had taken cold!' Clearly, I must 'come out of that' if I were going to do any good; and I did, to appearance; but all day I was fancying you shivering, like myself. We came here in the open carriage, having picked up Miss Farrar and Blanche. And here there was neither fire nor sun to warm one. We were taken to the dairy to lunch on cold
[Page 42] milk and bread from the cold stone tables; and then to the hay-field to sit on cold hay-cocks; and a very large cold paddock jumped up my leg, good God! and 'it was a bad joy!' The dinner, at six, put me a little to rights; and I felt still better when we had put a lucifer to some sticks in the grate. At eleven we went to bed; 'and the evening and the morning were the first day!'
To-day, Lord Bath and Bingham Mildmay arrived to breakfast; Milnes and Poodle an hour later. It has been a warm, fresh-blowing day, and spent almost entirely out of doors, sitting about the swing, tumbling amongst the hay, walking and driving till eight, when we dined. And after that, very youthful and uproarious sports till twelve! I have written this much since coming up to bed. There is no more paper in my book; so I will now go to bed, and finish at Chelsea. I hope it has been as warm on the sea. Blanche ----- has confided to me all the secrets of her heart - her ideas about her father and mother and sisters and lovers - and wishes me to save her soul!
We are to dine here before starting, and if I do not send my letter till we get to London, there may be none at the post-office when you first call; and that would be vexatious. But there is no time or composure here by day for writing, so this must go as it is.
[Page 43] We have been in the Archbishop's grounds for three hours. The men are all gone back to town, except Lord Bath, who is at this moment singing with Blanche under my window, distracting me worse than a barrel-organ. Good Heavens! What tearing spirits everybody is in!
The note from Davis came before I left. I did not leave my address, so I don't know what others may have come; one to you from Neuberg I left behind. I ought to acknowledge with thankfulness that I have been less sick since I came. Oh, dear, I wish I heard of your safe delivery out of that ship!
J. W. C.
To T. Carlyle, Imperial Hotel, Dublin, Ireland.
Chelsea: Thursday, July 5, 1849.
I am so glad of your letter this morning! after Miss Wynn's nonsensical preparation, I could not feel at all sure. It sounds bad enough, but it might have been worse: 'kept at sea double the time,' and 'short of provisions;' - that would have been a go!
I am very busy to-day, having written to Mr. Neuberg that the last wild goose will alight at him
[Page 44] on Monday, and having a world of things to do in the meantime. And so I must be brief; better perhaps I let alone writing altogether, but then you might be 'vaixed.' Hitherto my time has been chiefly taken up by people. Anthony Sterling came while I was at tea, and presently after, Masson and Mr. Russell from Edinburgh; each of these gentlemen drank four cups of tea! I talked a great deal, having all the responsibilty to myself, and 'made so many wits' for them that Anthony bolted off at nine, and the others stayed till eleven, evidently quite charmed with me - so differently do 'wits' act upon different characters! Yesterday I rose with a headache, the penalty of all that cleverness; but cold water and coffee staved it off.
Having made an inventory of the plate, and packed it to be sent to Bath House, I went out and transacted a variety of small affairs; dined very slightly in a confectioner's shop - Blanche and Miss Farrar having insisted on coming to tea with me at five o'clock! - and was home just in time to receive them.
No such 'everlasting friendship' has been sworn to me these thirty years as this of Blanche's! She flings herself on my neck, begs me to call her Blanche, says with tears in her eyes, 'Oh! does not
[Page 45] everyone love you?' protests that she 'would like to stay with me for ever;' and in fact embarrasses me considerably with a sort of thing I have been quite out of these many years. While we were at tea (and these girls too had each four cups! with cakes and bread-and-butter in proportion), up drove Lady Ashburton, which was great fun for all parties. She was in 'tearing spirits,' and so were we by that time; and the racket that followed for the next hour and half was what Forster might have called 'stupendous! Great God!' She said my picture was the horridest thing she had ever seen, 'like, but so disagreeably like, exactly reminding one of a poor old starved rabbit!' I suppose she has criticised it to N-----, for he has sent to beg I will give 'one more' sitting; very inconvenient just now, but I promised to go to-morrow. Lord A. was to return last night, feeling a return of his gout, and wishing to be near Fergusson. My party dismissed in good time. Lady A. went at eight 'to dress for a party at Lady Waldegrave's;' the girls about nine, 'to dress for a ball at Lady Wilton's.' I walked to the cab-stand with them; - devoutly imagined to go on and ask for Mrs. Chorley, but was too tired; so I read the new 'Copperfield,' being up to nothing else, and went to bed between ten and eleven. Had again talked too much for sleep, and again rose with a headache,
[Page 46] which again yielded to cold water and 'determination of character.'
God bless you ever.
To T. Carlyle, at Galway.
Benrydden: Friday, July 20, 1849.
Oh, my dear, I have been 'packed!' The Doctor proposed to 'pack' me for courtesy, and I, for curiosity, accepted. So at six in the morning, just when I had fallen into sound sleep, I was roused by a bath-woman coming to my bedside, in a huge white flannel gown, and bidding me turn out. I got on to the floor in a very bewildered state, and she proceeded to double back one half of my bed clothes and featherbed, spread a pair of blankets on the mattress, then a sheet wrung out of cold water; then bade me strip and lie down. I lay down, and she swathed me with the wet sheet like a mummy; then swathed me with the blankets, my arms pinioned down, exactly, in fact, like a mummy; then rolled back the feather-bed and original bed-clothes on the top of me, leaving out the head; and so left me, for an hour, to go mad at my leisure! I had no sooner fairly realised my situation of being bound hand and foot under a heap of things, than I felt quite frantic, cursed my foolish curiosity, and made horrid efforts to release myself; thought of rolling to the bell, and ringing it with my teeth, but
[Page 47] could not shake off the feather-bed; did ultimately get one of my hands turned round, and was thankful for even that change of posture. Dr. Nicol says the bath-woman should have stayed with me during the first 'pack,' and put a wet cloth on my head; that it was the blood being sent to my head that 'caused all this wildness.' Whatever it was, I would not undergo the thing again for a hundred guineas. When the bath-woman came back at seven, I ordered her to take me out instantly. 'But the doctor?' The doctor, I told her, had no business with me, I was not a patient. 'Oh! then you have only been packed for foon, have you?' 'Yes; and very bad fun!' So she filled a slipper-bath to 'put me to rights,' and I plunged into that so soon as I was set loose, and she splashed pitcher after pitcher full of water on my head. And this shall be the last of my water-curing, for the present. I feel quite shattered still, with an incipient headache, and am wishing that Forster would come, and take us back to Rawdon.
I suppose Forster has sent you a Bradford paper containing the report of our meeting for 'Roman Liberty.' It went off very successfully as a meeting but did not bring in to Forster all the 'virtue's own reward' he anticipated, and he was out of humour for twenty-four hours after. In fact, the Bradford gentlemen on the platform were like Bess Stodart's legs, 'no great things.' But the Bradford men, filling
[Page 48] the hall to suffocation, were a sight to see! to cry over, 'if one liked' such ardent, earnest, half-intelligent, half-bewildered countenances, as made me, for the time being, almost into a friend of the species and advocate for fusion de biens. And I must tell you 'I aye thocht meikle o' you,' but that night I 'thocht mair o' you than ever.' A man of the people mounted the platform, and spoke; - a youngish, intelligent-looking man, who alone, of all the speakers, seemed to understand the question, and to have feelings as well as notions about it. He spoke with a heart-eloquence that 'left me warm.' I never was more affected by public speaking. When he ceased I did not throw myself on his neck, and swear everlasting friendship; but, I assure you, it was in putting constraint on myself that I merely started to my feet, and shook hands with him. Then 'a sudden thought' struck me: this man would like to know you; I would give him my address in London. I borrowed a pencil and piece of paper, and handed him my address. When he looked at it, he started as if I had sent a bullet into him - caught my hand again, almost squeezed it to 'immortal smash,' and said, 'Oh, it is your husband! Mr. Carlyle has been my teacher and master! I have owed everything to him for years and years!' I felt it a credit to you really to have had
[Page 49] a hand in turning out this man; - was prouder of that heart-tribute to your genius than any amount of reviewer-praises, or aristocratic invitations to dinner. Forster had him to breakfast next morning. I shall have plenty of things to tell you when we meet at leisure, if I can only keep them in mind; but in this wandering Jew life I feel no time on hand, even for going into particulars.
To-day I am pretty well finished off, for all practical purposes, by that confounded pack. My head is getting every moment hotter and heavier; and the best I can do is to get out on the hillside, and think of nothing! Lucas's father and sister are here: genteel Quakerly people - very lean.
After Monday, address to Auchtertool Manse, Kirkcaldy. I wish to heaven I were fairly there. I could almost lose heart, and turn, and go back to London; but I will go: as I used to say when a little child, and they asked if anything was too hard for me, 'Me can do what me's bid.' The difficulty is still chiefly to bid myself - and I have bid myself go to Scotland. Mrs. Paulet is asleep on a sofa beside me, so young and pretty and happy-looking; I wonder at her.
God bless you, dear. When I have 'some reasonably good leisure' again, I will write you better
[Page 50] letters; and more legible ones when I get a decent pen. If you saw the stump I am writing with, you would be filled with admiration of my superiority to circumstances. God bless you! All to be said worth the saying lies in that.
JANE W. C.
Of Irish journey, summer 1849, I think there is the rough jotting hastily done after my return home. In defect of that, or in supplement to that, here are some dates:
August 6, 7. - Miserable puddle of a night; disembarked at Glasgow; ditto day there, and second night with David Hope - last time I saw him. My Jane at Auchtertool (manse, with cousin). I run for Scotsbrig and its shelter first. Remember Ecclefechan station and my parting with W. E. Forster there.
August 27. - Through Kirkcaldy or Auchtertool for some days, we (Jane's last and probably first time) arrive at Linlathen, where I leave her intending for Haddington. Three days with the Donaldsons (three old ladies, dear friends of Dr. Welsh's family in early days), thence to Scotsbrig, and set out with Farie to Perth, intending for Glen Truin (Spey side) and the Ashburtons. There about a fortnight. Crowded, gypsy existence; everywhere chaos, and rest fled whither? Towards Scotsbrig and way home, September 14 at Edinburgh. See Jeffrey drearily, mournfully, for the last time (next spring he died). Not till last week of September get home, my poor, heavy-laden Jane, from Liverpool a few days before, waiting for me with her sad but welcome face - Ay de mi! - towards what a three months of excursion had we treated ourselves! Physically and
[Page 51] spiritually don't remember to have ever suffered more. I had never any health for touring. I should have stayed at home had not, indeed, my 'home' been London, with its summer torments! 'Latter-Day Pamphlets' now close ahead. - T. C.
To T. Carlyle (Galway, Sligo; had followed me to) Scotsbrig.
 Haddington: Thursday morning, July 26, 1849.
My dear dear, - I wrote you a long, very long, letter last night at midnight from this same place. But this morning, instead of putting it in the postoffice, I have torn it up. You may fancy what sort of a letter, 'all about feelings' (as Lady A. would say), an excitable character like me would write in such circumstances, after a long railway journey, and a three hours' pilgrimage all up and down, and across and round about Haddington. And you can also understand how, after some hours of sleep, I should have reacted against my last night's self, and thought all that steam best gathered back into the vale of silence. I have now only time to write the briefest of notes but a blessing from here I must send you; to no other mortal would I, or indeed could I, write from this place at this moment; but it comes natural to me to direct a letter to you here, and that is still something, is it not?
I will give you all my news so soon as I have slept
[Page 52] a night at Auchtertool. I expect Walter and Jeannie will meet me at the station in Edinburgh, where I shall be at a quarter after twelve. I am not too much tired; my journey has been made as easy for me as possible. From Rawdon to Morpeth on Tuesday, William Edward most kindly accompanying me there, and seeing me off next day. 'I looked so horribly helpless,' he said, 'that he could not reconcile it to his conscience to leave me a chance at losing myself.'
I was wandering about till after dark last night, and out again this morning at six; but I must leave all particulars till a more leisure moment, and till my heart is calmer than at present. I am so glad I came here on this incognito principle. It is the only way in which I could have got any good of the dear old place. God bless it! How changed it is, and how changed am I! But enough just now.
Ever your affectionate,
Oh! what a letter, what a letter, to read again now! (May 27, 1869.)
Much Ado about Nothing.
This is a very interesting little narrative, discovered by me the other day; I had never heard of it before. The 'Forster' mentioned in it is William Edward Forster, now M.P. for Bradford, conspicuous in various, to me, rather questionable ways - Nigger-Emancipator, Radical Patriot, &c., &c.;
[Page 53] at that time an enthusiastic young 'Wet-Quaker' (had been introduced to me by Sterling), full of cheery talk and speculation, and well liked by both of us till then. I was in Ireland, travelling about, mainly with Duffy (so far as not alone) in those weeks. Forster on quitting her at Morpeth (as mentioned within) shot off for Ireland, and in the very nick of the moment, the next Sunday morning, intersected Duffy and me at Castlebar (Westport, south-west region) just in the act of starting northward; sprang upon the car along with us, and was of the party till it ended (at Ecclefechan, through Derry and Glasgow, Forster's and my part of it), after which I have seen very little of him, nor did she more. - T. C. August 3, 1866.
On Tuesday, July 24, 1849, I left Rawdon after breakfast, and at five of the afternoon reached Morpeth, where I had decided to pass the night. William Forster escorted me thus far, and stayed to start me by the two o'clock train next day, out of purest charity, having adopted Donovan's theory of me, that I am wholly without observing faculty, with large reflectiveness turned inward; a sort of woman, that, ill-adapted for travelling by railway alone, with two boxes, a writing-case and carpet-bag. Anyhow, I was much the better of such a cheerful companion to stave off the nervousness about Haddington, not to speak of the material comforts - a rousing fire, brandy-negus, &c. - which he ordered for me at the
[Page 54] inn, and which I should not have had the audacity to order on my own basis.
After a modest dinner of chops and cherry-tart, we walked by the river-side in a drizzling rain (that was at my suggestion); then back to the 'Phoenix 'for tea, chess, and speculative talk till midnight; when I went to bed expecting no sleep to speak of, and of course slept unusually well; for the surest way to get a thing in this life is to be prepared for doing without it, to the exclusion even of hope.
Next morning was bright as diamonds, and we walked all about the town and neighbouring heights; where, rendered unusually communicative by our isolated position, I informed William Edward that my maternal grandmother was 'descended from a gang of gipsies;' was in fact grand-niece to Matthew Baillie who 'suffered at Lanark,' that is to say was hanged there. A genealogical fact, Forster said, which made me at last intelligible for him, 'a cross betwixt John Knox and a gipsy, how that explained all!' By the way, my uncle has told me since I came here that the wife of that Matthew Baillie, Margaret Euston by name, was the original of Sir W. Scott's 'Meg Merrilies.' Matthew himself was the last of gipsies; could steal a horse from under the owner if he liked, but left always the saddle and bridle; a thorough gentleman in his way, and six feet four in stature!
[Page 55] But to go back to Morpeth: we again dined at the 'Phoenix'; then Forster put me into my carriage, and my luggage into the van, and I was shot off towards Scotland, while himself took train for Ireland.
From Morpeth to Haddington is a journey of only four hours; again 'the wished-for come too late!' - rapidest travelling to Scotland now, and no home there any more! The first locality I recognised was the Peer Bridge; I had been there once before, a little child, in a post-chaise with my father; he had held his arm round me while I looked down the ravine. It was my first sight of the picturesque that. I recognised the place even in passing it at railway speed, after all these long, long years.
At the Dunbar station an old lady in widow's dress, and a young one, her daughter, got into the carriage, which I had had so far all to myself; a man in yeomanry uniform waiting to see them off. 'Ye'll maybe come and see us the morn's nicht?' said the younger lady from the carriage. 'What for did ye no come to the ball?' answered the yeoman, with a look 'to split a pitcher.' The young lady tchick-tchicked, and looked deprecatingly, and tried again and again to enchain conversation; but to everything she said came the same answer - 'What for did ye no come to the ball?' The poor young lady then tried holding her tongue; her lover (only her
[Page 56] lover would have used her so brutally) did the same; but rested his chin on the carriage window to scowl at her with more convenience. The interest was rising; but one could see who of them would speak first. 'Oh!' broke out the young lady, 'I'm just mourning!' 'What for?' ' Oh, just that ball!' 'What for then did ye no come?' growled the repeating decimal; 'I waited an oor for ye!' and he got his upper lip over the strap of his cap and champed it - like a horse! Squeal went the engine; we were off; the young lady 'just mourned' for a minute or two, then fell to talking with her mother. For me, I reflected how 'the feelings were just the same there as here,' and the Devil everywhere busy! Before the ladies got out at Drem I had identified the pale, old, shrivelled widow with a buxom, bright-eyed, rosy Mrs. Frank Sheriff of my time. The daughter had not only grown up but got herself born in the interval. What chiefly struck me, however - indeed confounded me - was to be stared at by Mrs. Sheriff as stranger or even foreigner! for, when I asked her some question about the road, she answered with that compassionate distinctness which one puts on with only foreigners or idiots. I began to think my precautions for keeping incognita in my native place might turn out to have been superfluous. One of these precautions had the foolishest little consequence.
[Page 57] In leaving London, I had written the addresses for my luggage on the backs of other people's visiting-cards, 'without respect of persons' - a stupid practice when one thinks of it! - but at Morpeth I removed three of the cards, leaving one to the carpet-bag, carpet-bags being so confoundable. I was at the pains, however, to rub off my own name from that card, which, for the rest, happened to be Mrs. Humphrey St. John Mildmay's. Well, at Longniddry, where I had to wait some fifteen minutes for the cross-train to Haddington, 'there came to pass' a porter! who helped me with my things, and would not leave off helping me, quite teased me in fact with delicate attentions. At last he made me a low bow and said he was 'not aware that any of the family were in this quarter.' I believe I answered, 'Quite well I thank you;' for I was getting every instant more excited with my circumstances. He shut the carriage-door on me, then opened it again and said, with another low bow, 'Excuse me, ma'am; but I was in the service of the brother of Mr. Humphrey St. John Mildmay.' I am positive as to my answer this time, that it was, 'Oh, thank you! - no, I am quite another person!'
A few minutes more and I was at the Haddington station, where I looked out timidly, then more boldly, as my senses took in the utter strangeness of the scene; and luckily I had 'the cares of luggage'
[Page 58] to keep down sentiment for the moment. No vehicle was in waiting but a dusty little omnibus, licensed to carry any number, it seemed; for, on remarking there was no seat for me, I was told by all the insides in a breath, 'Never heed! come in! that makes no difference!' And so I was trundled to the 'George Inn,' where a landlord and waiter, both strangers to me, and looking half-asleep, showed me to the best room on the first floor, a large, old-fashioned, three-windowed room, looking out on the Fore Street, and, without having spoken one word, shut the door on me, and there I was at the end of it! Actually in the 'George Inn,' Haddington, alone, amidst the silence of death!
I sat down quite composedly at a window, and looked up the street towards our old house. It was the same street, the same houses; but so silent, dead petrified! It looked the old place just as I had seen it at Chelsea in my dreams, only more dreamlike! Having exhausted that outlook, I rang my bell, and told the silent landlord to bring tea and take order about my bedroom. The tea swallowed down, I notified my wish to view 'the old church there,' and the keeper of the keys was immediately fetched me. In my part of Stranger in search of the Picturesque, I let myself be shown the way which I knew every inch of, shown 'the school-house' where myself had been Dux, 'the play-ground,' 'the boolin' green,' and
[Page 59] so on to the church-gate; which, so soon as my guide had unlocked for me, I told him he might wait, that I needed him no further.
The churchyard had become very full of graves; within the ruin were two new smartly got-up tombs. His looked old, old; was surrounded by nettles: the inscription all over moss, except two lines which had been quite recently cleared - by whom? Who had been there before me, still caring for his tomb after twenty-nine years? The old ruin knew, and could not tell me. That place felt the very centre of eternal silence - silence and sadness world without end! When I returned, the sexton, or whatever he was, asked, 'Would I not walk through the church?' I said 'Yes,' and he led the way, but without playing the cicerone any more; he had become pretty sure there was no need. Our pew looked to have never been new-lined since we occupied it; the green cloth was become all but white from age! I looked at it in the dim twilight till I almost fancied I saw my beautiful mother in her old corner, and myself, a bright-looking girl, in the other! It was time to 'come out of that!' Meaning to return to the churchyard next morning, to clear the moss from the inscription, I asked my conductor where he lived - with his key. 'Next door to the house that was Dr. Welsh's' he answered, with a sharp glance at my face; then added
[Page 60] gently, 'Excuse me, me'm, for mentioning that, but the minute I set eyes on ye at the "George," I jaloosed it was her we all looked after whenever she went up or down.' 'You won't tell of me?' I said, crying, like a child caught stealing apples; and gave him half-a-crown to keep my secret, and open the gate for me at eight next morning. Then, turning up the waterside by myself I made the circuit of The Haugh, Dodds's Gardens and Babbie's Butts, the customary evening walk in my teens; and except that it was perfectly solitary (in the whole round I met just two little children walking hand in hand, like the Babes of the Wood) the whole thing looked exactly as I left it twenty-three years back; the very puddles made by the last rain I felt to have stepped over before. But where were all the living beings one used to meet? What could have come to the place to strike it so dead? I have been since answered - the railway had come to it, and ruined it. At all rates 'it must have taken a great deal to make a place so dull as that!' Leaving the lanes, I now went boldly through the streets, the thick black veil, put on for the occasion, thrown back; I was getting confident that I might have ridden like the Lady Godiva through Haddington, with impunity, so far as recognition went. I looked through the sparred door of our old coach-house, which seemed to be vacant; the house itself I left over till morning,
[Page 61] when its occupants should be asleep. Passing a cooper's shop, which I had once had the run of, I stept in and bought two little quaighs; then in the character of travelling Englishwoman, suddenly seized with an unaccountable passion for wooden dishes, I questioned the cooper as to the past and present of his town. He was the very man for me, being ready to talk the tongue small in his head about his town's-folks - men, women, and children of them. He told me, amongst other interesting things, 'Doctor Welsh's death was the sorest loss ever came to the place,' that myself 'went away into England and - died there!' adding a handsome enough tribute to my memory. 'Yes! Miss Welsh! he remembered her famously, used to think her the tastiest young lady in the whole place; but she was very - not just to call proud - very reserved in her company.' In leaving this man I felt more than ever like my own ghost; if I had been walking after my death and burial, there could not, I think, have been any material difference in my speculations.
My next visit was to the front gate of Sunny Bank, where I stood some minutes, looking up at the beautifully quiet house; not unlike the 'outcast Peri' done into prose. How would my old godmother and the others have looked, I wondered, had they known who was there so near them? I longed to go in and kiss them once more, but positively dared not;
[Page 62] I felt that their demonstrations of affection would break me down into a torrent of tears, which there was no time for; so I contented myself with kissing the gate (!) and returned to my inn, it being now near dark. Surely it was the silentest inn on the planet! not a living being, male or female, to be seen in it except when I rang my bell, and then the landlord or waiter (both old men) did my bidding promptly and silently, and vanished again into space. On my re-entrance I rang for candles, and for a glass of sherry and hot water; my feet had been wetted amongst the long grass of the churchyard, and I felt to be taking cold; so I made myself negus as an antidote, and they say I am not a practical woman! Then it struck me I would write to Mr. Carlyle one more letter from the old place, after so much come and gone. Accordingly I wrote till the town clock (the first familiar voice I had heard) struck eleven, then twelve; and, near one, I wrote the Irish address on my letter and finally put myself to bed - in the 'George Inn' of Haddington, good God! I thought it too strange and mournful a position for ever falling asleep in; nevertheless I slept in the first instance, for I was 'a-weary a-weary,' body and soul of me! But, alas! the only noise I was to hear in Haddington 'transpired' exactly at the wrong moment; before I had slept one hour I was awoke by - an explosion of cats! The rest of that night I spent betwixt sleeping
[Page 63] and waking, in night-mare efforts to 'sort up my thoughts.' At half after five I put my clothes on, and began the business of the day by destroying in a moment of enthusiasm - for silence - the long letter 'all about feelings' which I had written the night before. Soon after six I was haunting our old house, while the present occupants still slept. I found the garden door locked, and iron stanchions - my heavens! - on the porch and cellar windows, 'significative of much!' For the rest, there was a general need of paint and whitewash; in fact, the whole premises had a bedimmed, melancholy look as of having 'seen better days.'
It was difficult for me to realise to myself that the people inside were only asleep, and not dead - dead since many years. Ah! one breathed freer in the churchyard, with the bright morning sunshine streaming down on it, than near that (so-called). habitation of the living! I went straight from one to the other. The gate was still locked, for I was an hour before my time; so I made a dash at the wall, some seven feet high I should think, and dropt safe on the inside - a feat I should never have imagined to try in my actual phase, not even with a mad bull at my heels, if I had not trained myself to it at a more elastic age. Godefroi Cavaignac's 'Quoi donc, je ne suis pas mort!' crossed my mind; but I had none of that feeling - moi - was morte enough I knew, whatever face I
[Page 64] might put on it; only, what one has well learnt one never forgets.
When I had scraped the moss out of the inscription as well as I could with the only thing in my dressing case at all suited to the purpose, namely his own button-hook with the mother-of-pearl handle, I made a deliberate survey of the whole churchyard; and most of the names I had missed out of the signboards turned up for me once more on the tombstones. It was strange the feeling of almost glad recognition that came over me, in finding so many familiar figures out of my childhood and youth all gathered together in one place; but, still more interesting for me than these later graves were two that I remembered to have wept little innocent tears over before I had a conception what real weeping meant - the grave of the little girl who was burnt to death, through drying her white muslin frock at the fire, and that of the young officer (Rutherford) who was shot in a duel. The oval tablet of white marble over the little girl's grave looked as bright and spotless as on the first day - as emblematic of the child existence it commemorated; it seemed to my somewhat excited imagination that the youthfulness and innocence there buried had impregnated the marble to keep it snow-white for ever!
When the sexton came at eight to let me in, he found me ready to be let out. How in the world had I
[Page 65] got in!' 'Over the wall!' 'No! surely I couldn't mean that?' 'Why not?' 'Lords' sake then,' cried the man in real admiration, 'there is no end to you!' He told me at parting, 'There is one man in this town, me'm, you might like to see, James Robertson, your father's old servant.' Our own old Jamie! he was waiter at 'The Star.' - Good gracious! - had returned to Haddington within the last year. 'Yes, indeed,' I said, 'he must be sent to me at "The George" an hour hence, and told only that a lady wanted him.'
It was still but eight o'clock, so I should have time to look at Sunny Bank from the back gate, and streamed off in that direction; but passing my dear old school-house, I observed the door a little ajar, walked in and sat down in my old seat, to the manifest astonishment of a decent woman who was sweeping the floor. Ach Gott! our maps and geometrical figures had given place to texts from Scripture, and the foolishest half-penny pictures! It was become an Infant School! and a Miss Alexander was now teacher where Edward Irving and James Brown had taught. Miss A----- and her infants were not, it seemed, early risers, their schoolroom after eight o'clock was, only being swept: it was at seven of the morning that James Brown found me asleep there, after two hours' hard study, asleep betwixt the leaves of the Great Atlas, like a
[Page 66] keep lesson! but, 'things have been all going to the devil ever since the Reform Bill' - as my uncle is always telling us. The woman interrupted her sweeping to inform me amongst other things that it was 'a most terrible place for dust,' that 'a deal was put into bairns now, which she dooted was waste wark,' that 'it was little one got by cleaning after them,' and, 'if her husband had his legs, they might have the school that liked.' Not the vestige of a boy or even of a girl was to be seen about the Grammar School either. That school, I afterwards heard from Jamie, 'had gone to just perfect nonsense.' 'There was a master (one White), but no scholars.' 'How is that? ' I asked; 'are there no children here any longer?' 'Why, it's not altogether the want o' children,' said Jamie with his queer old smudge of inarticulate fun; 'but the new master is rather severe - broke the jawbone of a wee boy, they tell me; but indeed the whole place is sore gone down.' I should think so! But I am not got to Jamie yet, another meeting came off before that one.
Sunny Bank looked even lovelier 'in the light of a new morning' than it had done in the evening dusk. A hedge of red roses in full blow extended now from the house to the gate; and I thought I might go in and gather one without evoking any - beast. Once inside the gate, I passed easily to the idea of proceeding as far as the back-door, just to ask the
[Page 67] servant how they all were, and leave compliments without naming myself; the servants only would be astir so early. Well! when I had knocked at the door with my finger, 'sharp but mannerly,' it was opened by a tidy maid-servant, exhibiting no more surprise than if I had been the baker's boy!
Strange, was it not, that anybody should be in a calm state of mind, while I was so full of emotions? Strange that the universe should pursue its own course without reference to my presence in Haddington! 'Are your ladies quite well?' I asked nevertheless. 'Miss Jess and Miss Catherine are quite well; Miss Donaldson rather complaining. You are aware, me'm, that Mr. Donaldson is dead.' 'Oh, dear, yes!' I said, thinking she meant Alexander. 'At what hour do your ladies get up?' 'They are up, me'm, and done breakfast. Will you walk round to the front door?' Goodness gracious! should I 'walk round' or not? My own nerves had got braced somewhat by the morning air; but their nerves - how would the sight of me thus 'promiscuously' operate on them? 'You had better go round and let me tell the ladies,' put in the servant, as if in reply to my cogitations; 'what name shall I say?' 'None; I think perhaps my name would startle them more than myself; - tell them some one they will be glad to see.' And so, flinging the responsibility on Providence, who is made for being fallen back upon
[Page 68] in such dilemmas (Providence must have meant me to see them in raising them out of bed so betimes!), I did 'go round,' with my heart thumping, 'like, like, like anything.' The maid-servant met me at the front door, and conducted me to the drawing-room; where was - nobody, but on a table lay a piece of black bordered note-paper which explained to me that it was Mr. Donaldson of London who was dead - the last brother - dead in these very days! I wished I had not come in, but it was out of time now. The door opened and showed me Miss Catherine changed into an old woman, and showed Miss Catherine me changed into one of - a certain age! She remained at the door, motionless, speechless, and I couldn't rise off my chair - at least I didn't; but when I saw her eyes staring, 'like watch faces,' I said, 'Oh, Miss Catherine, don't be frightened at me!' - and then she quite shrieked 'Jeannie! Jeannie! Jeannie Welsh! my Jeannie! my Jeannie!' Oh, mercy! I shan't forget that scene in a hurry. I got her in my arms and kissed her into wits again; and then we both cried a little - naturally; both of us had had enough since we last met to cry for. I explained to her 'how I was situated,' as Mr. C. would say, and that I was meaning to visit them after, like a Christian; and she found it all 'most wisely done, done like my own self.' Humph! poor Miss Catherine! it's little she knows of my own self, and perhaps the less the
[Page 69] better! She told me about their brother's death, which had been sudden at the last. Supposing me still in London as usual, and that in London we hear of one another's deaths, they had been saying it was strange I did not write to them, and my godmother had remarked, 'It is not like her!' just while I was standing at their gate most likely, for it was 'the evening before, about dark,' they had been speaking of me.
But again the door opened and showed Miss Jess. Ach! she had to be told who I was, and pretty loudly too; but when she did take in the immense fact, oh, my! if she didn't 'show feeling enough' (her own favourite expression of old). Poor Jess after all! We used to think she showed even more feeling than she felt, and nothing came out on the present emergence to alter our opinion of her. But enough - the very old, it seems to me, should be admitted by favour to the privilege of the Dead - have 'no ill' spoken of them that can possibly be helped.
My 'godmother' was keeping her bed 'with rheumatism' and grief. As I 'would really come back soon,' it was settled to leave her quiet. They offered me breakfast, it was still on the table, but 'horrible was the thought' to me. It was all so solemn and doleful there that I should have heard every morsel going down my throat! besides, I was engaged to breakfast with myself at the 'George.' So, with blessings
[Page 70] for many days, I slipt away from them like a knotless thread.
My friend the cooper, espying me from his doorway on the road back, planted himself firmly in my path; 'if I would just compliment him with my name he would be terribly obliged; we had been uncommon comfortable together, and he must know what they called me!' I told him, and he neither died on the spot nor went mad; he looked pleased, and asked how many children I had had. 'None,' I told him. 'None?' in a tone of astonishment verging on horror. 'None at all? then what on earth had I been doing all this time?' 'Amusing myself,' I told him. He ran after me to beg I would give him a call on my return (I had spoken of returning) 'as he might be making something, belike, to send south with me, something small and of a fancy sort, liker myself than them I had bought.'
Breakfast stood ready for me at the inn, and was discussed in five minutes. Then I wrote a note to Mr. C., a compromise betwixt 'all about feelings' and 'the new silent system of the prisons.' Then I went to my bedroom to pack up. The chambermaid came to say a gentleman was asking for me. 'For me?' 'Yes; he asked for the lady stopping here' (no influx of company at the 'George' it seemed). 'Did you see him?' I asked, divining Jamie; 'are you sure it is a gentleman?' 'I am sure of his
[Page 71] being put on like one.' I flew down to my parlour and there was Jamie sure enough, Jamie to the life! and I threw my arms round his neck - that did I. He stood quite passive and quite pale, with great tears rolling down; it was minutes before he spoke, and then he said only, low under his breath, 'Mrs. - Carlyle!' So nice he looked, and hardly a day older, and really as like 'a gentleman' as some lords; he had dressed himself in his Sunday clothes for the occasion, and they were capital good ones. 'And you knew me, Jamie, at first sight?' I asked. 'Toot! we knew ye afore we seed ye.' 'Then you were told it was me?' 'No; they told us just we was to speak to a lady at the "George," and I knew it was Mrs. Carlyle.' 'But how could you tell, dear Jamie?' 'Hoots! who else could it be?' Dear, funniest of created Jamies! While he was ostler at the 'Black Bull,' Edinburgh, 'one of them what-ye-call bagmen furgotted his patterns' at Haddington, and he (Jamie) was 'sent to take them up; and falling in talk with him at the "Star," it came out there was no waiter, and so in that way,' said Jamie, 'we came back to the old place.' He told me all sorts of particulars 'more profitable to the soul of man' than anything I should have got out of Mr. Charteris in three years, never to say 'three weeks.' But 'a waggon came in atween ten and eleven, and he must be stepping west.' 'He was glad to have seen me looking so' (dropping his
[Page 72] voice) 'stootish.' [I saw him from the omnibus, after unloading the waggon, in his workday clothes almost on the very spot where, for a dozen years, he had helped me in and out of our carriage.]
And now there only remained to pay my bill and await the omnibus. I have that bill of 6s. 6d. in my writing-case, and shall keep it all my days; not only as an eloquent memorial of human change, like grass from graves and all that sort of thing, but as the first inn-bill I ever in my life contracted and paid on my own basis. Another long look from the 'George Inn' window, and then into the shabby little omnibus again, where the faces of a lady next me and a gentleman opposite me tormented my memory without result.
In the railway carriage which I selected an old gentleman had taken his seat, and I recognised him at once as Mr. Lea, the same who made the little obelisk which hangs in my bedroom at Chelsea. He had grown old like a golden pippin, merely crined, with the bloom upon him. I laid my hand on his arm, turning away my face, and said: 'Thank God here is one person I feel no difficulty about!' 'I don't know you,' he said, in his old blunt way; 'who are you?' 'Guess!' 'Was it you who got over the churchyard wall this morning? I saw a stranger lady climb the wall, and I said to myself,
[Page 73] that's Jeannie Welsh! no other woman would climb the wall instead of going in at the gate. Are you Jeannie Welsh?' I owned the soft impeachment; then such shaking of hands, embracing even! But so soon as things had calmed down a little between us, Mr. Lea laid his hand on my shoulder and said, as if pursuing knowledge under difficulties, 'Now tell me, my dear, why did you get over the wall instead of just asking for the key?' He spoke of William Ainsley's death; I said I had never known him, that he went to India before I could remember. 'Nonsense,' said Mr. Lea; 'not remember William Ainsley? Never knew William Ainsley? What are you thinking of? Why, didn't he wrap you in a shawl and run away with you to our house the very day you were born, I believe?' I said it might be very true, but that the circumstance had escaped my recollection. Mr. Lea was left at Longniddry, where he came daily, he said, to bathe in the sea. What energy!
While waiting there for the train from London; I saw again my lady and gentleman of the omnibus, and got their names from Mr. Lea. They were not people I had ever visited with, but I had been at school with them both. We passed and repassed one another without the slightest sign of recognition on their side. George Cunningham, too, was pacing the Longniddry platform, the boy of our school
[Page 74] who never got into trouble, and never helped others out of it - a slow, bullet-headed boy, who said his lessons like an eight-day clock, and never looked young; now, on the wrong side of forty, it might be doubted if he would ever look old. He came up to me and shook hands, and asked me by name how I did, exactly as though we met on 'change every day of our lives. To be sure I had seen him once since we were at school together, had met him at Craik's some twelve years ago. Such as he was, we stood together till the train came up, and 'talked of geography, politics, and nature.'
At Edinburgh Jeannie's sweet little face looked wildly into the carriage for me, and next minute we were chirping and twittering together on the platform, whilst the eternal two boxes, writing-case, and carpet-bag were being once more brought into one focus. 'Look, look, cousin!' said Jeannie, 'there are people who know you!' And looking as I was bid, who but the pair who had accompanied me from Haddington, with their heads laid together, and the eyes starting out of them me-ward. The lady, the instant she saw I noticed them, sprang forward extending her hand; the husband, 'emboldened by her excellent example,' did the same; they were 'surprised,' delighted,' everything that could be wished; 'had not had a conception of its being me
[Page 75] till they saw me smiling.' 'Eh, sirs! ' said my mother's old nurse to her after a separation of twenty years, 'there's no a featur o' ye left but just the bit smile!'
I will call for these Richardsons when I go back to Haddington: I like their hop-step-and-jump over ceremony, their oblivion in the enthusiasm of the moment that we had 'belonged to different circles' (Haddington speaking).
And now having brought myself to Edinburgh, and under the little protecting wing of Jeannie, I bid myself adieu and 'wave my lily hand.' I was back into the present! and it is only in connection with the past that I can get up a sentiment for myself. The present Mrs. Carlyle is - what shall I say? - detestable, upon my honour.
Auchtertool Manse: Aug. 2
Sunny Bank (now Tenterfield) is the Donaldsons' residence, a pleasant, most tranquil house and garden in the suburbs of Haddington - to her always a quasi-maternal house. Glen Truin (pronounced Troon) is Lord Ashburton's deer-hunting station in Macpherson of Cluny's country, rented, twice over I think, at the easy rate of 1,000l. a season - intrinsic value, perhaps, from 50l. to 25l. Thither I had passed from Scotsbrig; saw my darling at Linlathen for a day or two in passing (she ill oft, I ditto - much out of sorts both of us); had there, too, a miserable enough hugger-
[Page 76] mugger time. My own blame; none others' so much - saw that always. - T. C.
To T. Carlyle, at Glen Truin House.
Sunny Bank, Haddington: Sept. 5, 1849.
It looks a month since we parted at Dundee! I have had so much of both motional and 'emotional culture' since that evening. Goot look did not follow me into the Orient by any means. A headache followed me, and stuck by me till the Monday that I left Kirkcaldy; of heartache I will not speak; but there is no reason why I should be silent on the misfortune I happened one hour after my return to Fergus-dom; that might have happened to anyone, however little of an egoist. I had lain down on the black coffin-like sofa in my bedroom to try what rest, such as could be had under the circumstances, would do for my head, when I felt something like a bluebottle creep inside my hand; shook it off, and, oh, my! the next instant I was on foot like 'a mad' - stung by a wasp! Miss Jessie got the sting out, and admired it through her glass, and applied, on my own advice, laudanum and honey; but the pain went up to my shoulder and down to my side, and the swelling and inflammation spread so fast all up my arm, that Miss Jessie could hardly be hindered from running herself for both a doctor and a silversmith,
[Page 77] the last to cut a ring that could not be got off; but it was my mother's little pebble ring, and I would not suffer it to be cut, and neither would I be at the cost of a doctor just yet. All that evening I suffered horribly, in silence, and all night 'the trophies of the wasp would not let me sleep,' not one wink. However, I went next day to Auchtertool with my hand in a poultice, being still determined to 'come out of that' on Monday, and unwilling to go without saying farewell to my poor uncle, whom it is likely enough I shall never see again.
On Sunday night the pain was sufficiently abated to let me sleep. So I was up to leaving, according to programme, by the quarter-after-eight train. John and Jessie were up to give me breakfast, and see me off, and Mrs. Nixon gave me a nice little trunk to facilitate my packing. They were really very kind, the poor Ferguses; but somehow or other they are radically uncomfortable people for us to be mixed up with, in spite of their 'good intentions.'
I got to the Princes Street station a little before ten, and found on inquiry that I could have my luggage taken care of for me on paying the sum of sixpence for booking; so I left there everything but my writing-case, in which were my jewels and your manuscript; and with that I got into a cab, having bargained with the cabman for two shillings an hour (I tell you these details for your own guidance in
[Page 78] case of your returning by Edinburgh), and drove to Adam Street to Betty.
Of all the meetings I have had in Scotland, that was the most moving, as well as the happiest; was just all but a meeting betwixt mother and child after twenty years' separation. She was on her knees blackleading her grate, all in confusion, poor soul! her little carpet up, everything topsy-turvy, a domestic earthquake having been commenced that very morning in preparation for my coming, Miss Anne having kindly warned her that she might be 'all ready;' but I was too early, and so found her all unready, only her heart as right as could be. Oh, dear me! how she does love me, that woman, and how good and pious-hearted she is! While I sat on her knee, with my arms about her neck, and she called me her 'dear bairn,' and looked at me as if she would have made me welcome to her 'skin,' I felt, as nearly as possible, perfectly happy - just fancy that! But I must not get into the details of my visit to her just now; my few days here are so filled up, I have not yet seen half the people I wish to see. She gave me four biscuits wrapt in her best pocket-handkerchief, and promised to see me at my aunt's before I left in the evening; and then I jumped
[Page 79] into my cab again, and proceeded to Clarence Street.
A kind note, received at Kirkcaldy from Elizabeth, had prepared me for a rather warmer welcome than I had anticipated, but not for so warm a one as I got; it was a great comfort to me to be so received by my father's sisters, however unlike him. My heart was opened by their kindness to tell them that it was nothing but apprehension of their bothering me about my soul which had estranged me from them so entirely. Anne's reply, given with an arch look and tone, was very nice, 'Indeed, Jeannie, you need not have been afraid of our setting ourselves to reform you; it is plain enough that nothing short of God's own grace can do that, but I won't despair that a time may come, though I am not such a fool as to think that I can hasten it.' Anne went out with me, and we called for Mrs. George - not at home; at the Stoddarts' - the lady in the country, John petrified-looking, either hardened into stone, or quite stunned at seeing me, I could not tell which. On our way to Mrs. Stirling's we met her, and she flew into my arms in the open street, just as she would have done before writing 'Fanny Hervey.' I walked into Marshall the jeweller's, who knew me at once; and a Mrs. Watson, who met me on the bridge,
[Page 80] shouted out Jeannie Welsh! But I will tell you all the rest afterwards.
Miss Catherine was waiting for me with a carriage at the Haddington station, told me there was a letter from you here for me, but it proved only the briefest of notes from John. Yours, however, came yesterday forenoon, just when I was sallying out to make calls. I was through all our house yesterday, from garret to kitchen; everybody is so good to me, so very good! Miss Howden brought me a bouquet 'out of your own garden' last night, and Helen Howden has just sent me her children to look at, and you wrote me a nice long letter - so I ought to be thankful. I go back to 10 Clarence Street on Thursday (to-morrow night), and stay with my aunts till Saturday, when I shall go to Scotsbrig. I have written to John.
J. W. C.
No more room; margin itself half full. - T. C.
To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Maryland Street, Liverpool: Friday, Sept. 14, 1849.
Oh, my dear, my dear! How thankful I may be that I knew nothing of that colic till it was over! A colic in these cholera-times would have alarmed me in any circumstances; but there - remembering,
[Page 81] as I still do, 'rather exquisitely,' my own sore throat transacted at Alverstoke three winters ago, and other little attacks of my own, under the same régime - how could I have stayed in my skin, with no certainty that you would be able to get so much as a cup of bad tea, never to speak of hot water to your feet, or human sympathy? You were not, it would seem, so wholly left to Providence as I was; still it is a great mercy that you were not long laid up in that house, or any other of their houses. As my aunt Grace told me very often during my bad day: 'There is mercy mixed up with all our afflictions! It is a great comfort to think you are in better hands than ours - I mean in Jesus Christ's.' 'Oh, ay!' said dear Betty, 'Christ has care of my bairn a'wheres, even on the railway! And a great comfort that is for me to think, now that she gangs sae muckle be them!' But of all that, some quiet evening at Chelsea.
I have to tell you now that a note from Elizabeth, lying for me here, stated that she continued better, but not strong yet, and that her sister was still with her, and would stay till I came - a great luck that this sister happened to be out of a place just now. I fancy the poor girl had been in a very dangerous way before we heard of her illness.
Now that I know of this sister being with her, I feel in less breathless haste to fly to her rescue - can yield to Jeannie's wish, which is indeed an obligation
[Page 82] of duty on me, with a good grace, that I would stay here over Sunday, to give her my advice about Helen; she (Jeannie) being to arrive from Auchtertool to-morrow night, to look after poor Helen, who has been very ill indeed, and I am afraid has a disease on her that may end fatally, sooner than any of them are aware. I was dreadfully shocked with her shape, and emaciated look; still she can go out for exercise, and protests that she is getting better, but there is death in her face. We wish John to examine into her case; but she is extremely nervous about him, and it must be gone about delicately when Jeannie comes. I am glad dear John came with me.
When I have talked with Jeannie I can be of no further use here, only a trouble in fact; so, on Monday, I mean to go to Manchester, to make amends to Geraldine for the vexation about me, caused by that foolish Harriet Martineau; and to London straight, next day. That is my present programme; if it receive any modification I will write again to Scotsbrig, where I hope this will find you safe and slept. If you get as nice porridge, and nice coffee, and nice everything, with such a seasoning of human kindness, as I got there, you will need no more pity.
John went out with Betsy last night, there being
[Page 83] no bed for him here, unless he had chosen to sleep in a little one in my room, which I told him he was welcome to do, if he liked!! But he declined. He promised to come to-day about one, and stay till night. And to-morrow Betsy is to bring the carriage, and take me to Seaforth for a few hours, just to satisfy her that I have not 'registered a vow in Heaven' never to set my foot in her house again. But a few hours will be enough of that. She looks to be more than ever in a state of 'mild delirium.'
And now I must end and go to Helen. Kindest love to your mother and all of them. And tell Isabella I forgot the woodriff; and she must stuff some into your carpet-bag.
If you write on Sunday or Monday, in time for Tuesday morning, address to Geraldine's. You remember Carlton Terrace, Green Heys, Manchester.
Ever affectionately yours,
JANE W. C.
To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row: Sunday, Oct. 1849.
My dear Mrs. Carlyle, - If John is not there to talk to you, how you will be needing more than ever to be written to. And I should be very ungrateful for all your affection and kindness if I did not contribute
[Page 84] my mite, especially as you are the only person that ever complimented me on my handwriting!
The settling down at home after all those wanderings has been a serious piece of work for both Mr. C. and myself; for me, I have only managed it by a large consumption of morphia. At last, however, I begin to sleep, if not like a Christian yet, at least less like a heathen. Mr. C. is at his work again, and my maid is at her work again; and the supernumerary sister is gone away; and now that the house should go on in its old routine there is only needed a cat (the last was drowned for unexampled dishonesty during my absence) to eat the regiments of mice, who have effected a settlement in every part of the house, the parlour not excepted, and who threaten to run up one's very petticoats while one is reading one's book! Mr. C., in the midst of talking to me the other evening, suddenly stamped his foot on the hearth-rug and called out furiously 'Get along, sir!' and he had not gone mad, had merely perceived a mouse at his feet!
I am also terribly ill off for curtains, bugs having invaded the premises as well as mice, and all my curtains having been frantically torn down, and sent to the dyers; not so much to have the colour renewed, as to have the bugs boiled to death.
The middle of next week it is promised I shall
[Page 85] have my bed set up again; but in the meanwhile I feel like a poor wretch in an hospital, or a beggar's lodging-house, lying without a rag about me to hide my ' sleeping,' or oftenest sleepless, 'beauties' from the universe! What troubles people have in this world in merely protecting themselves from the inferior animals!
For the rest: London is quiet enough for the most retired taste at present, and I like it best so there are always some 'dandering individuals' dropping in, to prevent one from growing quite savage, and of excitement I had enough in Scotland to serve me for many months to come. I am very glad I have been in Scotland once more, and seen all those places and people; though it was smashing work at the time! I have brought away many recollections that will be a pleasure for me all my life; and my visit to Scotsbrig was the one in which I had most unmixed satisfaction; for, along with my pleasure at Haddington and Edinburgh, there was almost more pain than I could bear. But you were all so kind to me, and then you were little changed. I had seen you all so much more recently, and, in short, in finding so much to please me at Scotsbrig, I missed nothing I had ever possessed there. In the other places it was far otherwise.
I hope you have the same mild weather that has been here the last few days; that your poor face
[Page 86] may be quite mended. We shall be very anxious till we hear that you are in your usual state again, and that Jamie is come home well. I am very sorry about Jamie's ill-health; he seems to deserve more than any of us to be strong, leading the natural, hard-working life that he leads, and manifesting at all times such a manly, patient, steadfast mind.
My love to Isabella, who I hope is not gone with him; for she is not strong enough for encountering agitations of that sort.
Hoping to hear soon good news of you all, I remain, dear Mrs. Carlyle, ever yours
JANE W. CARLYLE.
To Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.
5 Cheyne Row: Oct. 1849.
My dear Jane, - Your letter was one of the letters that one feels a desire to answer the instant one is done reading it - an out-of-the-heart letter that one's own heart (if one happen to have one) jumps to meet. But writing with Mr. C. waiting for his tea was, as you will easily admit, a moral impossibility; and after tea there were certain accursed flannel shirts (oh, the alterations that have been made on them!) to 'piece;' and yesterday, when I made sure of writing you a long letter, I had a headache, and
[Page 87] durst not either write or read for fear of having to go to bed with it. To-day I write; but with no leisure, though I have no 'small clothes' to make, nor any disturbance in that line (better for me if I had); still I get into as great bustles occasionally as if I were the mother of a fine boisterous family. Did you hear that I found bugs in my red bed on my return? I who go mad where a bug is! and that bed 'such a harbour for them,' as the upholsterer said. Of course I had it pulled in pieces at once, and the curtains sent to the dyeing - at immense expense - and ever since I have been lying in the cold nights between four tall bare posts, feeling like a patient in a London hospital. To-day at last two men are here putting up my curtains, and making mistakes whenever I stay many minutes away from them; and as soon as their backs are turned I have to go off several miles in an omnibus to see Thackeray, who has been all but dead, and is still confined to his room, and who has written a line to ask me to come and see him. And I have great sympathy always with, and show all the kindness in my power to, sick people - having so much sickness myself, and knowing how much kindness then is gratifying to me.
So you see, dear, it is not the right moment for writing you the letter that is lying in my heart for you. But I could not, under any circumstances, refrain
[Page 88] longer from telling you that your letter was very, very welcome; that the tears ran down my face over it - though Mr. C. was sitting opposite, and would have scolded me for 'sentimentality' if he had seen me crying over kind words merely; and that I have read it three times, and carried it in my pocket ever since I got it, though my rule is to burn all letters. Oh, yes; there is no change in me, so far as affection goes, depend upon that. But there are other changes, which give me the look of a very cold and hard woman generally. I durst not let myself talk to you at Scotsbrig, and now that the opportunity is passed I almost wish I had. But I think it not likely, if I live, that I will be long of returning to Scotland. All that true, simple, pious kindness that I found stored up for me there ought to be turned to more account in my life. What have I more precious?
Please burn this letter - I mean don't hand it to the rest; there is a circulation of letters in families that frightens me from writing often; it is so difficult to write a circular to one.
How glad I am to hear such good news of Jamie. I hope to-night's post will tell us he is safe home. John, I fancy from Jeannie's last letter, does not go back with him, but to Auchtertool for a little longer.
[Page 89] Your poor mother and her face - what a bout she must have had! For me, I am really better; though I may say, in passing, that Mr. C.'s 'decidedly stronger' is never to be depended on in any account he gives of me - as, so long as I can stand on my legs, he never notices that anything ails me; and I make a point of never complaining to him unless in case of absolute extremity. But I have, for the last week, been sleeping pretty well, and able to walk again, which I had not been up to since my return.
About the bonnet: send it by any opportunity you find, just as it is; I can trim very nicely myself, and perhaps might not like Miss Montgomery's colour. But I cannot have it for nothing, dear. If Miss G. won't take money, I must find some other way of paying her. God bless you, dear Jane, and all yours. Remember me to James; and never doubt my affection for yourself, as I shall never doubt yours for me.
Ever, J. W. C.
John Forster, Esq., 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Chelsea: Tuesday evening, Nov. 14, 1849.
God's will be done! dear Mr. Forster. If one said otherwise, it would do itself all the same in spite of
[Page 90] our teeth; so best to subscribe with a good grace. I have taken 'a heavy cold ' - had not five minutes' sleep all night with it, and am just risen after a feverish day in bed. There is no present prospect of my being up to any sort of pleasure to-morrow; and I think with dismay of Mrs. Dickens brought to meet me, and me not forthcoming. So I write at once that you may if you like put the other female off. But for Mrs Dickens, who may not perhaps feel so perfectly at home 'in Chambers' as you have taught me to feel, I should have waited till the last moment in hope of a miracle being worked in my favour.
Mr. C. of course will be with you as little too late as possible for a man of his habits.
There is a novel I might read if I could get it during this period of sneezing and streaming at the eyes, written by a very young girl of the name of Mulock; not Dickens's 'a young lady grow'd.' I can't remember the name of the book; but the authoress's name is Molock or something very like it, and it is published by Chapman. It must be rather curious to see, for I am told by Madame Pepoli the Molock is eighteen, has read 'absolutely no books,' and seen 'nothing whatever of society;'
[Page 91] and the book is coming to a second edition - 'circulates in families,' and will yield profit.
Poor little Nero, the dog, must have come this winter, or 'Fall' (1849)? Railway Guard (from Dilberoglue, Manchester) brought him in one evening late. A little Cuban (Maltese? and otherwise mongrel) shock, mostly white - a most affectionate, lively little dog, otherwise of small merit, and little or no training. Much innocent sport there rose out of him; much quizzical ingenuous preparation of me for admitting of him: 'My dear, it's borne in upon my mind that I'm to have a dog!' &c. &c., and with such a look and style! We had many walks together, he and I, for the next ten years; a great deal of small traffic, poor little animal, so loyal, so loving, so naïve and true with what of dim intellect he had! Once, perhaps in his third year here, he came pattering upstairs to my garret; scratched duly, was let in, and brought me (literally) the Gift of a HORSE (which I had talked of needing)! Brought me, to wit, a letter hung to his neck, inclosing on a saddler's card the picture of a horse, and adjoined to it her cheque for 50l. - full half of some poor legacy which had fallen to her! Can I ever forget such a thing? I was not slave enough to take the money; and got a horse next year, on the common terms - but all Potosi, and the diggings new and old, had not in them, as I now feel, so rich a gift! Poor Nero's last good days were with us at Aberdour in 1859. Twice or thrice I flung him into the sea there, which he didn't at all like; and in consequence of which he even ceased to follow me at bathing time, the very strongest measure he could take - or pretend to take. For two or three mornings accordingly I had seen nothing of Nero; but the third or fourth morning, on
[Page 92] striking out to swim a few yards, I heard gradually a kind of swashing behind me; looking back, it was Nero out on voluntary humble partnership - ready to swim with me to Edinburgh or to the world's end if I liked! Fife had done his mistress, and still more him, a great deal of good. But, alas! in Cook's grounds here, within a month or two a butcher's cart (in her very sight) ran over him neck and lungs; all winter he wheezed and suffered; 'Feb. 1st, 1860,' he died (prussic acid, and the doctor obliged at last!) - I could not have believed my grief then and since would have been the twentieth part of what it was - nay, that the want of him would have been to me other than a riddance. Our last midnight-walk together (for he insisted on trying to come), Jan. 31, is still painful to my thought. 'Little dim-white speck, of Life, of Love, Fidelity and Feeling, girdled by the Darkness as of Night Eternal!' Her tears were passionate and bitter; but repressed themselves as was fit, I think the first day. Top of the garden, by her direction, Nero was put under ground; a small stone tablet with date she also got - which, broken by careless servants, is still there (a little protected now).
John Forster, Esq, 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Chelsea: Dec. 11 1849.
My dear Mr. Forster, - I died ten days ago and was buried at Kensal Green; at least you have no certainty to the contrary: what is the contrary? Do you mean to fulfil that promise of coming in the evening?
Do you know Alfred's address? if so, forward the inclosed, please; it is a piece of a letter that may gratify him a little, and, though no great hand at the
[Page 93] 'welfare of others' business, I don't mind giving a man a little gratification when it can be done at the small cost of one penny.
Oh, Lord! I forgot to tell you I have got a little dog, and Mr. C. has accepted it with an amiability. To be sure, when he comes down gloomy in the morning, or comes in wearied from his walk, the infatuated little beast dances round him on its hind legs as I ought to do and can't; and he feels flattered and surprised by such unwonted capers to his honour and glory.
John Forster, Esq., 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Chelsea: Dec. 1849.
My dear Mr. Forster, - I hope the newspaper arrived safe! Henry looked so excited when he heard it was consigned to the Post Office, and exclaimed so wildly, 'I would not for five pounds that it were lost! Mr. Forster would be in such a way,' that I quite trembled with apprehension about it all the evening. Mr. C. put it in with his own hand, and out of his own head.
I am still confined to the house in a very shabby
[Page 94] condition indeed, and need cheering spectacles (don't I wish I may get 'em?), a sight of you for example. Meanwhile thanks for Mulock's book, which I read with immense interest. It is long since I fell in with a novel of this sort, all about love, and nothing else whatever. It quite reminds one of one's own love's young dream. I like it, and like the poor girl who can still believe, or even 'believe that she believes,' all that. God help her! She will sing to another tune if she go on living and writing for twenty years!
I am desired by the other Forster, the unreal it must be since you are 'the real,' to forward to you his defence of W. Penn, as if anybody out of the family of Friends cared a doit about W. Penn. For me, I never could get up a grain of interest about any Quaker, dead or alive, except 'Tawell' of the apple pips.
All good be with you.
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Dec. 31, 1849.
Dearest Mrs. Russell, - To think that I should never have written you one line since the distracted
[Page 95] little note I sent you from Nottingham in July last, and so often I have thought of it too! Nay, I actually began a letter one day in October; I had just been writing Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill, on the back of a letter to Lady Ashburton, who was on a visit there, and had written me out the address as particularly as if I had never heard of Drumlanrig in my life. And it struck me as something quite unnatural that I should be writing Thornhill after any other name than yours; just as when I first wrote to you I found it so very strange and sad to be writing that place after anyone's name but my mother's. And so, by way of making amends to nature, I began a second letter, one to you to go by the same post; but some visitor came in, and what does not get done by me at the right moment is apt to miss getting done altogether.
When I wrote from Nottingham I remember I durst not trust myself to tell you anything about me, even if there had been leisure for it. I was in such a nervous state: promised to Mr. C. and to my own mind to go to Scotland, but afraid to make my purpose known lest, after all, I should shirk it at the last moment, as I had done once before; and, even if I got into Scotland, I could not have told you, for my life, what I was going to do there, where I should go or not go. Sometimes, in brave moments, I thought of visiting Thornhill as well as
[Page 96] Haddington; and then it seemed all but impossible for me ever to set foot in either place - and if I did I was not sure that I would show myself to any living person of my friends, in either the one place or the other. So I thought it best to say nothing to you of my intentions till I ascertained, by trying, what part of them I could carry out. It was not till I was in the railway for Haddington that I was sure I was really going there. And I did spend a night there in the principal inn, the windows of which looked out on our old house, without anyone suspecting who I was. I arrived at six in the evening, and left at eleven next day, after having walked over the whole place, and seen everything I wished to see - except the people. I could not have stood their embraces, and tears, and 'all that sort of thing,' without breaking down entirely; so I left that part of the business till the agitation, caused by the sight of the old place, should have subsided, and I could return with my nerves in good order. Which I did for three days, after having been six weeks in Fife and other places, with which I had no associations either sad or gay. It was the same when I went to Annandale; till the last moment I was not sure I could go, and would not have gone but for the pain I was going to give my husband's family by passing them by. Actually when I left Edinburgh for Ecclefechan, I did not know whether the railway went through
[Page 97] Thornhill! had not dared to satisfy myself! and at all the stations after I got into Dumfriesshire I kept my eyes shut. This will sound to you like sheer madness; but it was no more than extreme nervousness, which I could not control, and so must be excused for. I stayed only two days at Scotsbrig, and then hurried on to Manchester, where I was detained by severe illness. Another time it will not be so bad, I hope; and I shall behave more like a rational woman. You may believe I got little good of the country, under such circumstances: I returned to London so ill, and continued so ill, so long a time, that I got into the way of doing nothing I could possibly help; and so it happened that, having lightened my conscience of the half-sovereign which a Miss Skinner undertook to convey to you, I postponed writing till - now!
If anniversaries be, in many respects, painful things, they are useful at least in putting orderly people, like me, on settling up their duties as well as their accounts. And so I am busier this week than for months back, bringing up my correspondences, &c., &c. Fortunately I am on foot, and even able to go out a little in the forenoon, though the frost is hard enough. I seem to have got off, this winter, with only three weeks' confinement. For the rest, the pleasantest fact in my life for a good while is, that I have got a beautiful little dog, that I hope I will not
[Page 98] make such a fool of myself with, as Mrs. M----- used to make of herself with - what was the object's name? He is not, of course, either so pretty or so clever as Shandy, and if he were I should not think so; but he is 'better than I deserve,' as Coleridge said of his cold tea; and I like him better than I choose to show publicly. The sad part of the business is that I dare not take him out with me without a chain, for fear of the 'dog-stealers,' who are a numerous and active body.
I am sending you, for good luck, a book, which I hope you will get some amusement out of - perhaps the best New Year's gift one can make - a little amusement I mean. The two bits of things, for Margaret and Mary, you will give them with my kind remembrance, and the Post-Office Order I need not point out the use of.
God bless you, dear Mrs. Russell, with love to your husband and father,
I am ever your affectionate
Please tell me how old Mary stands. When is her money due? I always forget.
'Latter-Day Pamphlets' had at last, winter, 1849, resolved themselves into that form; and were to be published by Chapman; Forster, he, and I walking together (I very sad and heavy) towards Chapman's house, which I did not enter, on cold windy Sunday (Chapman with the rough MSS. in his pocket): this I can still recollect; and that my resolution was taken and Chapman's not doubted of - but not the month or day. Probably after December, on which day Nigger Question (in 'Fraser') had come out with execrative shrieks from several people - J. S. Mill for one; who indeed had personally quite parted from me, a year or two before, I knew not and to this day know not why; nor in fact ever much inquired, since it was his silly pleasure, poor Mill!
First 'Latter-Day' dated 'Feby 1' had come out January 29 and been sent to me at 'The Grange'; where with Robert Lowe and Delane I recollect being for a day or two - and ultimately having a pleasant wise kind of night with Milnes as the one other guest; 'Boreas' the lady's arch designation for me as we talked! Pamphlet 1st was read by both the Lady A----- and Milnes next day in the railway as we all journeyed up; remarks few or none. I was to be very busy thenceforth till the chaos of the MSS. was all got spun out into distinct webs - and after that till I tired, which was soon after, essential impulse being spent there.
In this short absence, I have no letter, except this which Nero wrote me, dear little clever dog! 'Columbine' is the black cat, with whom he used to come waltzing in, directly on the dining-room door opening, in the height of joy; like Harlequin and Columbine, as I once heard remarked and did not forget. 'Mrs. Lindsay,' I believe, is a sister of Miss Wynne's. 'Small beings,' Mazzini's name for two roasted larks she would often dine on, especially when by
[Page 100] herself! For smallness, grace, salubrity and ingenuity, I have never seen such human diners. - T. C.
To T. Carlyle, The Grange, Alresford, Hants.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 1850.
Dear Master, - I take the liberty to write to you myself (my mistress being out of the way of writing to you she says) that you may know Columbine and I are quite well, and play about as usual. There was no dinner yesterday to speak of; I had for my share only a piece of biscuit that might have been round the world; and if Columbine got anything at all, I didn't see it. I made a grab at one of two 'small beings' on my mistress's plate; she called them heralds of the morn; but my mistress said, 'Don't you wish you may get it?' and boxed my ears. I wasn't taken to walk on account of its being wet. And nobody came, but a man for 'burial rate'; and my mistress gave him a rowing, because she wasn't going to be buried here at all. Columbine and I don't mind where we are buried.
This is a fine day for a run; and I hope I may be taken to see Mohe and Dumm. They are both nice well-bred dogs, and always so glad to see me; and the parrot is great fun, when I spring at her; and Mrs. Lindsay has always such a lot of bones, and doesn't mind Mohe and Dumm and me eating them on the carpet. I like Mrs. Lindsay very much.
Dear Master, - My mistress brought my chain, and said 'come along with me, while it shined, and I could finish after.' But she kept me so long in the London Library, and other places, that I had to miss the post. An old gentleman in the omnibus took such notice of me! He looked at me a long time, and then turned to my mistress, and said 'Sharp, isn't he?' And my mistress was so good as to say, 'Oh yes!' And then the old gentleman said again, 'I knew it! easy to see that!' And he put his hand in his hind-pocket, and took out a whole biscuit, a sweet one, and gave it me in bits. I was quite sorry to part from him, he was such a good judge of dogs. Mr. Greig from Canadagua and his wife left cards while we were out. Columbine said she saw them through the blind, and they seemed nice people.
I left off, last night, dear master, to be washed. This morning I have seen a note from you, which says you will come to-morrow. Columbine and I are extremely happy to hear it; for then there will be some dinner to come and go on. Being to see you so soon, no more at present from your
Obedient little dog,
To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 1850.
My dear Mrs. Russell, - Perhaps Mr. C. may be in Scotland this coming month; you may have seen by the newspapers that one party of the Aberdeen students want him for their Lord Rector, the others wanting the Duke of Argyll, who will suit the purpose better, I should think. If Mr. C. be elected, he must, in common civility to his admiring boys, go and make them a speech, and come back again. A long journey for so brief a purpose! and at an inconvenient time, when he is bothering with his pamphlets. So he rather wishes the Duke may be the happy man.
The great delight of my life at present is the little dog I think I told you of. It was stolen for a whole day; but escaped back to me on its own four legs. Mr. C. asked while it was a-missing: 'What will you be inclined to give the dog-stealers, for bringing it back to you?' (dog-stealing being a regular trade here); and I answered passionately with a flood of tears 'my whole half-year's allowance!' So you may fancy the fine way I am in. Lady Ashburton has given me the name of Agrippina; the wit of which you would not see unless I told you my dog's name was Nero.
[Page 103] I want you to do something for me, if you can: - I saw at Auchtertool, a slip of the Templand sweetbriar, that had taken root finely, brought by one of those ladies I saw. If, at the proper time for slipping, you could get me a little bit and send it by post, I should be very grateful. I brought, or rather had sent, from Haddington, a slip of the jessamine that grew over our dining-room window, and another of a Templand rose, which my mother took with her to Sunny Bank; and both are growing to my great satisfaction.
All good be with you, dear Mrs. Russell.
Your ever affectionate
Is at Addiscombe, on visit for a few days; returned thence, soon, as will be seen. I was too deep in 'Latter-Day Pamphlets' to accompany. 'Poor orphan' was to me abundantly ridiculous, though lost to any stranger. Willie Donaldson and Mrs. (usually called Peg Irrin), crossing Solway sands, with their small cargo of merchandises in their wheezy little equipage, fancy themselves, at one moment, lost utterly; but are not, and are overheard in dialogue:
William: 'O Paig, Paig, a misspaint life!' Peg (as if in soliloquy): 'What'll become of the poor orphin at home? ' - their only child 'Bett,' a loud haveril of a lass, against whom this bit of pathos was remembered.
Willie was an Aberdeen man; probably a carpenter before enlisting; had fought at the Bunker Hill business;
[Page 104] was now a pensioner, asthmatically making rakes, used to lend his cart, on bonfire-victory occasions (as if in duty bound) to be whirled rapidly from door to door, over the village in peremptory demand of the fuel necessary. - T. C.
To Master Nero, (under cover to) T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
Addiscombe: Wednesday, March 20, 1850.
My 'poor orphan!' My dear good little dog! How are you? How do they use you? Above all, where did you sleep? Did they put you to bed by yourself in my empty room, or did you 'cuddle in' with your surviving parent? Strange that amidst all my anxieties about you, it should never have struck me with whom were you to sleep; never once, until I was retiring to bed myself without you trotting at my heels! Still, darling, I am glad I did not take you with me. If there had been nothing else in it, the parrot alone was sufficient hindrance; she pops 'all about;' and for certain you would have pulled her head off; and then it would have been 'all over' with you and me. They would have hated us 'intensely!'
The lady for whom I abandoned you - to whom all family ties yield - is pretty well again, so far as I see. She is very kind, and in good spirits; so my absence from you has all the compensation possible.
[Page 105] But I shall be glad to receive your affectionate caresses to-morrow. Kiss your father for me.
Ever your loving
Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.
Chelsea: Sunday, April 1850.
My dear Jane, - The. spirit moves me to write you a letter this morning; if I begin with excuses, the impulse will get overlaid by the difficulty of the thing, and stick short in a mere 'good intention;' so here goes 'quite promiscuously.' I have little to tell you worth even a penny stamp; oneself - at least myself - is a sort of Irish-bog subject in which one is in danger of sinking overhead; common prudence commands therefore to 'keep out of that,' whatever else; and my days do not pass amidst people and things so interesting, in themselves, as to be worth writing about to one safe and sound on the outside of all that, as you are. What good would it do you, for example, to have given the 'most graphic' description of the great 'flare up' we had at the Wedgwoods yesterday - where all the notabilities Mrs. W. had ever got a catch at were hauled in 'at one fell swoop,' making a sort of Tower of Babel concern of it; that has left nothing behind for me, 'as one solitary individual,' but a ringing in my ears,
[Page 106] and a dull headache! What a tenacity there must be in human nature, that people can go on to the oldest age with that sort of thing! The young ladies in wreaths and white muslims with 'the world all before them where to choose' - a husband - those one can understand delighting in such gatherings; as a young Irish lady told a friend of mine, 'I go wherever I am invited, however much I may dislike the people who ask me; for nobody knows on whose carpet one's lot may be!' But the people who have already taken up their lot and found it (as who does not?) a rather severe piece of work, what they get or expect in such scenes to compensate the cost and fatigue I have no conception. I was sitting beside old Mrs. Fletcher of Edinburgh last night - she is seventy-four, I believe - when old Sir R. Inglis was brought up to her, 'to renew their acquaintance.' 'I dare hardly say,' said Sir Robert, 'how long I believe it to be since I had last the pleasure of meeting you in society.' 'It is just forty-one years,' replied Mrs. Fletcher! and these two old people did not burst into tears or 'go aboot worship' but fell to talking trivialities just like the young ones! Well I shall be dead before I am anything like as old as Mrs. Fletcher, and I shall not wait till I am dead to retire from public life. My beau-ideal of existence this long while has been growing farther and farther from that 'getting on' or rather 'got on' in society
[Page 107] which is the aim of so much female aspiration and effort!
I suppose John will be coming back soon now, and that will he one good thing. I have a little dog that I make more fuss about than beseems a sensible woman. The next time I go to Scotland he shall accompany me, and see if he don't 'ingrush himself with the people'! He walks with me, this creature, and sleeps with me, and sits with me - so I am no longer alone any more than you are with your bairns - though the company is different! mine has one advantage however; it needs no sewing for, and then, too, I am troubled with no anxiety about its prospects in life.
An old East Lothian friend turned up for me lately who comes a great deal and makes terrible long stays. The last time I had seen her she was riding away in bridal finery beside her artillery officer husband; I found her now, after thirty years and odd, without teeth, all wrinkled, in weeds for that same husband, whom, however, she had long been separated from. So goes the world! Here is a specimen of a new sort of lady's work - the embroidery is cut out and stitched on - it is done very fast.
With kind regards to James,
Ever your affectionate
To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Monday, July 15, 1850.
My dear Mrs. Russell, - I could give myself a good whipping (with a few side-strokes to the getters-up of our new Post Office regulations), for having let the 14th pass without any remembrance of me to old Mary. But it is myself who am the chief delinquent; for I might have sent my packet to you any day of the week, who would not have been too puritanical to transmit it to her on the Sunday. I did not think of that, however, till too late, having not yet got familiarised to these new regulations; it was only on Friday that it struck my stupidity, a letter despatched that night would not be delivered any longer on Sunday. Better late than never, anyhow; so I send to-day five shillings for a pair of new shoes to Mary, or anything else you may please to invest it in, and some lace for Margaret to put on a cap.
Two of the roses you sent me are in a promising way, and also the polyanthuses, but the third rose is clean dead, and the sweet-briar too, I fear, is past hope; it did well at first - too well, I suppose - for it hurried itself to put out leaves when it should have been quietly taking root - a procedure not confined to sweet-briars; one sees many human beings go off in the same fashion.
[Page 109] There has been a dreadful racket here this season, - worse, I think, than in any London season I ever lived through - it has seemed to me sometimes as if the town must burst into spontaneous combustion. All the people of my acquaintance who come to London occasionally, have come this year at one time, spoiling the pleasure I should have had in seeing them individually by presenting themselves all in a rush - in fact, our house, for two months back, has been like an inn, only 'no money taken,' and I feel like a landlady after an election week. And the balls and parties all round one, to certain of which I have had to go, for the sake of what is called 'keeping up one's acquaintance,' have been enough to churn one into a sort of human 'trifle.' Peel's death came like a black cloud over this scene of so-called 'gaieties,' for a few days - but only for a few days. Nothing leaves a long impression here. People dare not let themselves think or feel in this centre of frivolity and folly; they would go mad if they did, and universally commit suicide; for to 'take a thocht and mend' is far from their intention.
I don't know what is to be done next, now that the town is emptying, and my husband in the act of finishing his last pamphlet. I suppose he will go away somewhere, but where or when will not be known till the day before he does it. My old Helen (now gone to the dogs) used to beg pathetically
[Page 110] that she might be 'told in time to wash all his shirts,' but he couldn't tell what he didn't know himself till the eleventh hour. Probably he will be in Annandale wherever else; for myself, I have an ardent and wholesome desire to get my house cleaned, under my own eyes this year, for doesn't it need it! Besides, I had such a fagging about last year that I feel no need of stirring at all, and London is always pleasantest to me when it is what is called 'empty.' For my health, it is rather better than last year - not much, but I make it do.
All good be with you and yours, dear Mrs. Russell.
Ever your affectionate
'Latter-Day Pamphlets' finished and safe behind me, I go for Wales, to Redwood, 'last day of July' it would seem, on which evening, till near noon of next day, I was Walter Savage Landor's guest, much taken with the gigantesque, explosive, but essentially chivalrous and almost heroic old man. In his poor lodging, 3 Rivers Street, Bath, and his reception and treatment of me there, I found something which I could call 'ducal' or higher than if he had been a duke, and still palatial. To Bristol, to Cardiff, to good solitary Redwood's country cottage next day. There for perhaps a month - solitary and silent. - T. C.
To T. Carlyle, Cowbridge.
Sunday night, Aug. 4, 1850.
'Oh dear me!' It looks already a month since you went away, counting by the number of things I have pulled to pieces, and the weary hours I have lain awake, and the lonely thoughts that have persecuted me. But to lie awake at nights, and to have lonely thoughts by night and by day is surely nothing new or strange for me, that I should think it worth recording at this date! And for the work, it will not be irksome, but 'a good joy,' such good joy as I am still susceptible of - when it gets into the stage of restoring to order. The house has, in fact, been rushing down towards chaos during the last year; a certain smoothing of the surface kept up; and underneath, dirt and confusion really too bad. But it is in the way of getting itself rehabilitated now; and I shall try in time coming to be a better housewife at least; that career being always open to talent. I remember, when I was very ill of a sore throat at Craigenputtock, thinking that, if I died, all my drawers would be found in the most perfect order; and there was more satisfaction in the thought than you (a man) can conceive. Curious to think how all would have gone, if I had died then! But you will like better some news than 'bottomless speculations of that sort.'
[Page 112] Well, till Thursday night I had no speech with any mortal; then, about eight o'clock, walked in Mrs. N-----. of all undesired people! My first feeling was that I was intruded upon by 'an improper female;' but as the interview proceeded, her calm self-approving manner, and radiant face - radiant as with conscious virtue (!) really - quite subjugated me, and I began to fancy it must be 'all right' for her, though looking so very shocking to me. N----- came to take her home; in tearing spirits. He theatrically kissed the tips of my fingers when I shook hands with him, and then kissed Mrs. N----- on the mouth! and said, 'Well, darling! how did you get here?' A more comfortable well-doing-like pair one could not wish to see!
On Friday night Count Reichenbach came, a shade less silent and woebegone. Then Masson. I am going to take Count Reichenbach to Mrs. Austin's with me, if she permit - will write to-morrow to propose the thing for Wednesday or Thursday (to give myself a day's recreation from my earthquakery). I am sorry for the man, he looks so lost.
To-day (being Sunday) I told Elizabeth to take herself off for the whole day if she chose, that I might have no proposals to 'go out' during the week, when I intend that she shall work. Most
[Page 113] likely no one would come, I thought; and if anyone did, I would simply not open the door. I was standing with hands all over whiting, having just made a brilliant job of the curtain rods, when there came a rap and ring - no reply; I held Nero's nose that he might not bark; again a rap, very loud; then, after a long pause, both together as loud as could be. Decidedly the individual would get in. I kept quite still; 'surely it is over now,' I was just saying when the knocking and ringing recommenced, and went on at intervals for, I am sure, ten minutes! I could hardly help screaming, it made me so nervous. At last all was quiet; and, some quarter of an hour after the uproar, I went to look in the letter-box if the horrid visitor had left a card. When I looked in, I met, oh mercy, a pair of fox-eyes peering at me through the slit. I threw the door open in a rage (my hands had been washed by this time); and a coarse-featured red-haired squat woman exclaimed: 'She will com now, please no to shut; Mees S----- com.' 'What is it?' I asked sharply. 'Oh she sit in so small house at corner! I run! keep open! no shoot!' And off she went; and in three minutes brought back Miss J----- S-----. I felt ready to strangle her in the first moment; but she looked so
[Page 114] pale and grave, like the widow of Chopin, and was so friendly, and unconscious, to all appearance, of my dislike to her, that I behaved quite amiably after all. She had asked at Chalmers' door if we were all gone; and the manservant said you were gone, that Elizabeth had told him you were to go first to Bath, then to Scotland, then to the Black Sea!! And at the stick-shop at the corner the woman assured her 'I always came home at five to my dinner' (it was then half after four); so she had meant to wait, and sent her maid to keep watch!
A letter for you, from Chorley, not read by me for the world! And an invitation from that bare-necked hooing gawk Stewart -----. I might have sent word you were away; but he deserves to be left speculating, for his impudence - sitting in Sloane Street, and summoning you to him to be presented to his grand-lady wife, as he thinks her; a 'rum' lady that could marry the like of him!
For me a note from Emily Baring, an invitation, very kind; but necessarily answered in the negative. It is too long and expensive a journey for a few days; and in my present complication I could not be absent longer than two or three days. Besides, Geraldine is still hanging in the wind.
Miss W----- likes 'Jesuitism' best of all the pamphlets; so does Masson - 'such an admirable
[Page 115] summing up;' just what I said. Your mother's copy was sent on Thursday.
Took morphine last night, and slept some. A letter this morning from Mrs. Macready, two little sheets all crossed! inviting me to Lyme Regis. Nero desires his respectful regards.
Ever affectionately yours,
To T. Carlyle, Cowbridqe, Glamorganshire.
Chelsea: Thursday night, Aug. 22, 1850.
Now, dear! I have done a fair day's work (of sewing chiefly), and can sit down with a certain leisure to write you a peaceable little letter. Yes, yes; I have 'composed myself,' am 'quiet.' You shall have no more wail or splutter from me on this occasion. If I had been an able-bodied woman instead of a thoroughly broken-down one, I should surely have had sense and reticence enough not to fret you, in your seclusion, with details of my household 'worry.' But that dreadful Elizabeth 'murdered sleep;' I 'lost my happetite,' and became so weak and excited that I was really no more responsible for what I wrote than a person in a brain fever would have been. For the last three nights I have been getting into sleep again without morphia, which
[Page 116] had become worse than useless; and for the last three days I have eaten some dinner 'to speak of,' and now I begin to feel sane again, and, as John says, 'to see my way.'
Geraldine left me last night, very unwillingly. A little pressing would have made her throw over Letty altogether, and remain here for an indefinite time. It was not my wish, however, that she should protract her stay longer than she had already done; the pleasure of having her to talk with, and to rub my feet, was not - at least would not have continued to be - a sufficient compensation for the additional trouble of a visitor in the house, with no servant but a little girl who had 'never been out before,' who could not cook a morsel of food or make a bed, or do any civilised thing, without having me at her heels. One does not like, if one can stand on one's legs at all, to see one's visitor doing servant's work; and besides poor Geraldine can't cook or make a bed any more than the girl who has 'never been out;' and at the same time she is nothing like so indifferent as I am to eating, and 'all that sort of thing.' And then to get on with 'the rowans,' and her here, was impossible. When I was not cooking in the kitchen, or in some way providing for the present moment, I must 'lie down' and have my feet rubbed.
[Page 117] By myself I get on quite nicely with the little maid, who, now that I have got her to tidy herself, and that she is no longer frightened, has developed a curious likeness to your sister Jane, which makes me feel quite friendly towards her. Not being to keep her, I put off no time in training her, but use her up to the best advantage. To-day, for example, she has been cleaning out the kitchen, closets, and presses, where many an abomination came to light, showing new cause why the 'no-interference' principle should never more get 'carried out' in this house, or any house of which I am the mistress. To-morrow, or next day, I shall probably hear from Miss Darby something final as to the Essex girl she had in view for me. I feel it very kind of you to offer to take me away, but I am perfectly clear that I should be here rather than anywhere else just now. In the first place, locking up the house would be foolish risk to run; there are more loose people about here now than when we did so formerly, and we are known now to be better worth robbing than we were formerly thought to be; and even then it was 'a tempting of Providence' only to be repeated on necessity. I should like very ill to have the house robbed; there are so many odds and ends in it that no money could replace. Secondly, not foreseeing (how could I?) that I was to be left sole agent of my own will and pleasure, I commenced in the first week of your absence a series of operations,
[Page 118] which I feel my housewife honour concerned in bringing, without help or with such help as I can get, to a more or less satisfactory close; what I have tumbled up and pulled down must be restored to at least the habitable state I found it in, and no Brownie, I guess, would do that for me if I put the house-key in my pocket and went away. Thirdly (a woman has always three reasons), flying from the present inconvenience would be only postponing it; a servant must be found and set a-going in 'the right way' some time; and when better than now, when you are out of the road of being bothered by the initiatory process? Would it be preferable to arrive at home, hungry and travel-wearied, with our door-key, to usher ourselves into a dark, cold, foodless house, and go out the first thing next day to hunt up a servant? If Craik's woman could have been engaged for any particular time, that would have met the last objection. But my belief is that they will take her to Ireland and keep her there as long as she will stay. At all events, I can elicit no particle of certainty about her; and, indeed, feel it indelicate to press them on the subject. So now, 'compose yourself' and trouble your heart no further with my 'difficulties.' When I am not too ill for stirring about, as I have not been to-day, and do not mean to be for some time to come, and when you are not there to be put about by them, I make as light of material
[Page 119] difficulties as any woman I know; find them, in fact, rather inspiriting; it was entirely the moral disturbance from Elizabeth that agitated me so absurdly at the commencement of the present mess.
Friday morning. - So far I had written last night when the clock struck twelve, and Nero, with his usual good sense, insisted on my going to bed; he had gone half an hour before by himself, and established himself under the bedclothes; but he returned at twelve and jumped till I rose and followed him.
I have hardly anything to tell you of the outer world. Mazzini is back from Paris, was here on Tuesday. The revolution in Paris is postponed for the moment. It was anticipated that the President's reception 'would have been, through - what shall I say? - bribery and so on, more enthusiastic;' then the President would have been emboldened to venture his great coup, and the Communist party would then have tried conclusions with him. As it is, these 'have nothing to fight against,' which is surely very sad. Another concert had come off the night before, in which, at the hour of commencement, not a performer had arrived, nor for half an hour after. Then all the gas went suddenly out; then 'a very fat - what shall I say? - drunk woman fell on Mazzini's neck and almost stifled him, upon my honour.' Then the principal singer did not come at all, and had to
[Page 120] be brought par vive force 'in a state of horrible drunkenness,' and was only sobered by Mazzini's taking his hand and 'appealing to his patriotism.' Then Mario and Grisi arrived for the last act without their music. My late difficulties dwindled into insignificance beside those of Mazzini with that tremendous concert - 'but there will be much money.'
Anthony Sterling came up on Wednesday, and took Geraldine to the railway at night, I not feeling at all up to taking her myself. Next morning he was to start for Devonshire to have a week's yachting with Mr. Trelawny.
Count Reichenbach started for Belgium the end of last week, as mournful-looking as he came. I have seen no one else lately except Mrs. and Miss Farrar, who called on Tuesday, I think; the old lady in a state for having her patriotism appealed to (it struck me), and the young one very pale, 'needing some outing,' she said, and was to start on a yachting expedition this day. I never thanked you, I verily believe, for the heather, or the peacock's feather, but they were carefully preserved nevertheless.
I think they must have an empty room at Maryland Street just now, Helen being still in Scotland.
I am sure the Nation miscarried through no fault
[Page 121] of mine. After the fate of the former week's Leader, I was very careful to put up the paper firmly, and it was posted in Chelsea on Monday.
To T. Carlyle, Cowbridge, S. Wales.
Chelsea: Friday, Aug. 23, 1850.
My dear, my dear, my dear! - I sent a long letter off yesterday, knowing that for the next few days I should have something like the sack of Troy on my hands. The sweeps are here, and the whitewashers, and the carpet-beaters! and myself is at this moment all over bread-crumbs, from cleaning the parlour paper, and - and - and -. Even Nero has the consideration to leave off jumping for things, and has retired into 'a place by himself.'
And now 'comes to pass,' a poor son of Adam in want of a bathing-cap 'by return of post,' and none nearer than Albemarle Street will please him! Well, I will go after the cap, his hair being so long; but for writing, it cannot be asked of me under the present distracting circumstances. Only a word of thanks for your long letter. Don't mind length, at least only write longly about yourself. The cocks that awake you; everything of that sort is very interesting. I hasten over the cleverest descriptions
[Page 122] of extraneous people and things, to find something 'all about' yourself 'all to myself.' But I must not dawdle.
Left Wales, intending Gloucester, Liverpool, Scotsbrig. Never saw the good Redwood again. He died within a year. I still remember him with grateful affection - the thoroughly honest soul. First station (poor Redwood's and railway's blame) had to waste four hours in reading, on the grass. Chepstow; Gloucester streets on a Saturday night. George Johnston (Ecclefechan schoolmaster), unsuccessful visit rather. Break off for Birmingham - Sunday night. To Liverpool next day - Ohe! - T. C.
To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row: Friday, Aug. 30, 1850.
My poor dear! - That was the worst journey, 'but one,' I ever read of. You can perhaps guess the exception. One good thing will come of it, I hope; and that is a certain sympathy with Quashee! You will be more disposed henceforth to grant to your black brother the compensation of unlimited pumpkins! Such is indeed the only benefit that I, 'as one solitary individual,' ever get from being made excessively miserable in any particular way; it develops a new sympathy in me for another class of human sufferers. In all other respects, I should say
[Page 123] that being made excessively miserable is not for one's soul's good at all, but the reverse. Natures strong and good to begin with (that is, the exceptional natures), may be 'made perfect through suffering.' When one can digest it, I daresay it goes to fibre; but where the moral digestion is unhappily weak, the more miserable one is, the more one grows - 'what shall I say? - bad, upon my honour!'
But you would rather be told, is the new maid come? Yes. She arrived yesterday unexpectedly early. Eliza, the young person, who has been 'doing for me,' intended to have her kitchen seductively clean for the stranger, and had just tumbled everything up, and swashed the floor with fresh water, when her successor came to hand, with plenty of nice trunks; and we had to shut her up in the spare room with some sewing (one of her accomplishments is 'needlework'), until she could find a dry place below for the sole of her foot! 'With the best intentions,' &c.! I will venture no opinion of her on such short observation, further than that she looks, though rather youthful, perfectly 'respectable,' and that her manners are distinguished! so self-possessed, and soft-voiced, and, calm, as only English people can be!
The second volume of Dr. Chalmers is come, very bulky, this one weighs an ounce over the two pounds, or I would have sent it at once by post
[Page 124] to your mother, who, I think, got the first volume. There is also come a novel, called 'Alton Locke,' which I flung aside in my worry, as not readable; but now I hear from Geraldine, 'whom the 'Athenæum' has invited to review it, that it is the novel of young Kingsley; and, though 'too like Carlyle,' a production of astounding merit; so I shall fall on it some evening.
For the rest, I have nothing to tell, except 'goot look' has not returned to me yet from 'the Orient;' I surely never had such a run of provoking things 'since I kent the worl!' but it will 'come all to the same ultimately,' one does hope.
From the Wednesday night, when Geraldine went off with Anthony Sterling, I had no speech with any one till Sunday, that I made a call at Miss Wynne's; no one had been here; and for me, I cerco nessuno. Then, again, I was silent till Tuesday evening; when Craik came, and insisted on playing at chess with me. I beat him three games in no time, and he went away heavy and displeased. The only person since was Anthony Sterling, yesterday, rather bored by his yachting expedition. His wife was to return to Knightsbridge last night, and he intended to take her to Headley; where Mrs. Prior is coming or come, on a visit of indefinite duration. The Irish business is going on towards a law-suit, perhaps the best for Anthony that could come of it. The possession of
[Page 125] more money will only add to his troubles; but going to law for his rights will be an excitement for him, as good as any other.
Kindest regards to them all at Scotsbrig.
Ever affectionately yours,
'For virtue ever is its own reward.' So had a young tragic poet written, but his critical friend objected, argued, &c.; upon which the poor poet undertook to make the line - 'For virtue,' &c., 'unless something very particular occur to prevent it.' - John Mill's story.
'And he buried her beautiful, ma'am,' said a certain housemaid to her once. 'Cockney idea of a future state.' - Allan Cunningham.
'If so obscure a person,' &c. - Lady Waldegrave, of herself. - T. C.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Monday night, Sept. 2, 1850.
Yes indeed, dear, a letter from you on Saturday night would have been more to my purpose than the lot of newspapers, which I never look at except for 'a bird's-eye' glance at the leader, just to see how the creatures 'get through it,' and more to my purpose than even the new 'Copperfield,' which came at the same rush, and which to this hour remains uncut; the former one having given me no
[Page 126] feeling but remorse for wasting mortal time on such arrant nonsense. But on Saturday night there came no letter: both your letters arrived together this morning, puzzling me extremely which of them to open first. It is much to be wished that one had a post that knew what it was doing again; and lawmakers that knew what they were doing. If I were the Government, I should feel rather ashamed of making regulations one month and unmaking them the next; but 'folk maun do something for the bits of bairns' (as Adam Bogue said when reproached with ruining himself in racehorses).
Before you receive this I hope your mother will have got the volume of 'Chalmers.' I found on inquiring of the postmaster in Piccadilly, when I posted my last letter, on my way to the library, that books of any weight could be sent by post, at the rate of sixpence to the pound; so I despatched the bulky concern to-day, with nine blue stamps, and all the newspapers at the same time, deferring the writing of my own letters to the evening, partly because I thought you had literature enough by one post, and partly because 'I felt it my duty' to go and ride all the forenoon in an omnibus, instead of aggravating the sickness I was feeling by writing or indoors work.
On my return I learnt from Emma that 'a gentleman
[Page 127] in a carriage with two servants' had been here - names are a thing she does not at all meddle with - but a 'Pendennis' on the table told me that Darwin had returned, the first of the Romans! Yesterday I had Elizabeth Pepoli for three hours. I wondered at the length of her visit, and wondered at the softness of her manner; to-day the whole thing is explained; it was our last meeting! I asked her, 'When are you going?' and she answered, 'Soon, but don't let us speak of that.' 'Well,' I said at parting, I shall go to you on Tuesday or Wednesday.' To-night is come a note saying, 'Don't come here, dear Jane, for you will not find me!' Alas! what a way to part! a saving of emotion certainly to both; but should we never meet again, as is most likely, some farewell words would have been a comfort for the survivor to recall.
Pepoli is in depths of tribulation at present, through 'something very particular' having occurred to prevent his virtue (in the case of old Manfredi) being 'its own reward.' (Is it not always through the virtue on which one piques oneself that one gets over the fingers in this life?) He would take a painter into his house, 'regardless of expense,' and, of the comfort of his wife; and having played out that freak of princely generosity without justice, and old Manfredi being 'eventually' dead, and 'buried beautiful,' the Manfredi relations in Bologna ('if
[Page 128] so obscure a person can be said to have relations') institute a prosecution against Pepoli, for having dishonestly appropriated, and made away with, immensely valuable pictures belonging to the old man he pretended to protect! ('The female Satyrs suckling their young' was the best of these pictures, Elizabeth says, and was sold for ten shillings to keep Manfredi in brown sugar which he licked.) The idea of figuring as a swindler in his native town has taken possession of Pepoli's whole soul, and caused the cholera; but the worst result is, that it has decided him to return to Bologna instead of settling in Ancona, where Elizabeth anticipated fewer disgusts. John Fergus is 'better, but far from well yet.'
What a dismal story is that of the Curries! Poor old man! he will surely die soon; the best that could be wished for him!
Passing along Paradise Row the other day, I found two mutes standing with their horrid black bags at Maynard's, the butcher's, door. There was a hearse too, with plenty of plumes, and many black coaches, and all the people of the street seemed turned out to look. 'Is old Mrs. Maynard dead?' I asked the omnibus conductor, surprised; for I had seen the long son at our door in the morning as usual, and had heard of no death in the family. 'Oh, no, not the old lady, it is the son George!' the
[Page 129] handsome young man that has latterly come for orders with the cart. On the Thursday he had come and I shook my head at the window, and he touched his hat and drove on. That same day he had 'three fits,' which left him delirious; on Sunday he died, and there, on the day week that I had seen him, was he getting himself buried! His brother tells me that although he 'would work to the last,' it was 'a happy release;' that for years he had been suffering horrors from disease of the liver, but he wouldn't give in, for he was as fine a lad as ever breathed,' the tall butcher said, with a quivering mouth. Just think! going round asking all the people what they wanted for dinner, and return home to die!
I think the new servant will do; she looks douce, intelligent, well-conditioned. Very like Lancaster Jane (if you remember her), with a dash of Ann and of Phoebie Baillie! She is not what is called 'a thorough servant,' but that will be no objection to signify, as I am not 'a thorough lady,' which Grace Macdonald defined to be one 'who had not entered her own kitchen for seven years.' I must say, however, that, so far as I have seen her yet, I have not discovered wherein she falls short of the servants who give themselves out for 'thorough.' Yet she is only twenty, and for the last two and a half years has been acting as nursemaid! However she may turn out, I am certainly under great obligations to Geraldine's
[Page 130] old Miss Darby, for having hunted up this girl and taken much trouble to 'suit me,' in a situation that was really very desolate, my state of weakness at the time considered. But all is going on decently now again.
And so, good night, for it is time I were in bed. Love to your mother and the rest.
Ever yours affectionately,
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Pray do not go ahead in milk diet too impetuously. 'In every inordinate cup the ingredient is a devil' - even in an inordinate cup of innocent milk.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 1850.
'If the buttons be here on Wednesday they will be in abundant time.' I should think they would! and 'don't you wish you may get them?' Why, how on earth could I have them there on Wednesday, unless, indeed, I had immediately last night, after reading your letter and swallowing my tea, dashed off in an omnibus to Regent Street, by dark; and then, having bought perhaps yellow buttons for drab ones, posted them before my return to Chelsea? One is capable of such acts of devotion to save 'a man's
[Page 131] life, or even his watch!' But merely to expedite his buttons? hardly!
I shall go now, however, when I have written a bit; for I am able to go out again without risk. The town seemed to come momentarily alive yesterday, like a blue-bottle on an unseasonable winter's day. I was just finishing the nailing down of the library carpet - 'Still that to do,' you think, 'after nearly two months of earthquaking?' Yes; and it could not have been got done sooner, under the circumstances, by the exemplary Martha Tidy herself!
Ah, that is the mystery
Of this wonderful history.
And you wish that you could tell.
I have a flue misadventure about the library also to reveal to you; but that and my other various misadventures shall form a Chelsean night's entertainment, when sufficiently remote to be laughed over. So I decided some weeks ago, when I saw the part your ungrateful 'Destinies' had taken against me, that it would be better to keep my squalid difficulties to myself till I could 'take a bird's-eye view' of them in the past tense, and work them up, at my ease, into a conversational 'work of art.' But I was going to say that just as I was finishing the above-mentioned job, I was surprised by the rare sound of a knock and ring, and a brisk little voice asking,
[Page 132] 'Is your mistress within?' Emma came up with much awe in her face, and said, 'It is the Bishop of something, I don't know what.' Actually * * * * again! He had been brought up, not at his own expense, to bear witness that he had married a couple who want to be divorced, and deny having been properly married ever. 'It was a love runaway sort of match.' After an hour and half, he went his way and I returned to my carpet. In five minutes I was called down again to 'two gentlemen and a lady.' 'Don't you know their names?' 'No; but there is a coachman and a footman, and the lady is very stout.' Bunsen, Madame Bunsen, and a young German doctor. The lady was formal as usual; but Bunsen was really charming. He praised much the pamphlets; 'already saw them doing much good;' especially he delighted in "Jesuitism"!' 'Oh! his definition of Jesuitism is capital, so good, so good!' By the by, nobody that I have ever asked about it understands Bunsen recalled.
After these came my cousin John to early tea, his second visit since he was settled at Kew, three weeks ago. And, lateish, Craik, who improves in sententiousness and that universal forgiveness which springs from universal understanding. A luck I didn't wait for his maid. He now 'thinks of keeping her three months; and she thinks of 'a little shop after.'
[Page 133] If I don't be off I shall be belated. Nero bids me give his kind regards, and wishes you had seen him this morning when he came to breakfast, with hair on his face all died bright crimson! I thought he must have done it himself to improve his looks; till I recollected that he was sent down last night to have his face washed; he had been rubbing it dry, I suppose, after his fashion, on a piece of red cloth that was lying under the table; but the effect was startling.
Love to your mother and all.
Carlyle was about to return from Scotland. Mrs. Carlyle was going on a visit to the Grange. - J. A. F.
To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row: Monday, Sept. 23, 1850.
Alas, dear! I am very sorry for you. You, as well as I, are 'too vivid;' to you, as well as to me, has a skin been given much too thin for the rough purposes of human life. They could not make ball-gloves of our skins, dear, never to dream of breeches. But it is to be hoped you will feel some benefit from all this knocking about when it is over and you are settled at home, such as it is. It does not help to raise my spirits, for my own adventure, that you are
[Page 134] likely to arrive here in my absence. You may be better without me, so far as my company goes. I make myself no illusion on that head; my company, I know, is generally worse than none; and you cannot suffer more from the fact than I do from the consciousness of it. God knows how gladly I would be sweet-tempered and cheerful-hearted, and all that sort of thing for your single sake, if my temper were not soured and my heart saddened beyond my own power to mend them.
But you would certainly be the better for me to stand between you and this new servant, who has as little idea of going on without 'interference' as Elizabeth of going on with it. She is very willing, however, and 'not without sense;' only you must give your orders in simple unfigurative speech, and one after another. If you were to tell her, in the same breath, three things to be done, she would fly at them all at one time, and spin round on her heel simply. For living, you must confine yourself to broiled chops, or fowl quartered, one quarter boiled in soup, another broiled. Mutton broth is beyond her; and in roasting, she is far from strong. We are getting very plausible potatoes, and she boils these pretty well.
I did not find Miss Wynne on Saturday. She had been 'poorly' at Dropmore, and was not expected till Thursday; so I shall not see her at all.
I was too late for Miss Farrar after; so I went to her yesterday. Miss Farrar could not go on Wednesday after all; 'her brother was coming to town on Thursday, and she would not for the whole world go away without having seen him.' The old mother had just told John and me, before Miss ----- came into the room, that she was 'detained on account of the means not being procurable before Friday!' I intended to go on Wednesday all the same before getting the inclosed this morning from Lady A.
I have 'the means,' thank God, though Mrs. Farrar and her daughter did ask Mrs. White if we didn't live dreadfully poorly!' I have had no money from Chapman, however. He has not come nor sent, and my house-money is utterly done, and no mistake. But then I flatter myself I have a good many things to show for it. All my little accounts are settled, except one, which I leave for you, as beyond the limits of my savings; and if you do not approve the outlay, I have a heart above slavery, and will pay it myself out of my next twelvemonth's income. But though the house-money is done, my own allowance is not. I have still five pounds - might have had more if I had not chosen to lay out what you repaid me for my ball dress on my own bedroom; a much more satisfactory investment, to my ideas! If I find
[Page 136] myself in danger of bankraiping I will tell you. So do not plague yourself by sending any money for the present. I have been interrupted in this note by MacDiarmid and Colonel Burns. Oh, such a withered up skite poor Mac is become.
I am going to be very vexed at having to leave Nero.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
The Grange: Thursday, Oct. 3, 1850.
I have put a lucifer to my bedroom fire, dear, and sat down to write, but I feel more disposed to lay my head on the table and cry. By this time I suppose you are at home; returned after a two months' absence, arrived off a long journey - and I not there! nobody there but a stranger servant, who will need to be told everything you want of her, and a mercy if she can do it even then. The comfort which offers itself under this last innovation in our life together (for it is the first time in all the twenty years I have lived beside you that you ever arrived at home and I away) is the greatest part of the grievance for my irrational mind. I am not consoled, but 'aggravated' by reflecting that in point of fact you will prefer finding 'perfect solitude' in your own house,
[Page 137] and that if I were to do as nature prompts me to do, and start off home by the next train, I should take more from your comfort on one side than I should add to it on another, besides being considered here as beyond measure ridiculous. Certainly, this is the best school that the like of me was ever put to for getting cured of every particle of 'the finer sensibilities.'
Mrs. ----- was in London yesterday and saw my maid on business of her own, and brought back word from her that you were coming last night; and the shouts of laughter, and cutting 'wits,' with which my startled look and exclamation, 'Oh, gracious!' were visited when the news was told me as we sat down to dinner, were enough to terrify one from 'showing feeling' for twelve months to come. Mrs. ----- shan't snub me, however. I am quite as clever as she any day of the year, and am bound to her by no ties, human or divine. And so I showed her so plainly that I was displeased with her impertinent jesting at my expense that she made me an apology in the course of the evening.
And now what is to be done next? You say, stay where I am, as if you were not - easily said, but not at all easily done. It is quite out of the question my remaining here till the 20th, the day Lady A. has appointed for the term of my visit, doing nothing, and thinking of you at home with that inexperienced girl. Who cares one doit for me here, that I should
[Page 138] stay here, when you, who still care a little for me, more anyhow than any other person living does, are again at home? And what good can 'ornament and grandeur,' and 'wits,' and 'the honour of the thing,' do to my health when 'my heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here?' Oh dear! certainly not; I shall keep to my original programme, and come home after a fortnight - that will be next Wednesday, when you will have had plenty of time to subside from your jumbling, and will have exhausted all Emma's powers of cooking: unless you are savage enough to wish not to see my face till the 20th, and honest enough to tell me so; or, unless you prefer to accept the invitation, which Lady A. is again writing to you, to come here after you are rested. You would be bored here just at present with -----'s solemn fatherhood, and the much talk and bother about the children. But the -----s depart, sucking-baby and all, on the eighth, and after that I hear of no one coming but Thackeray and Brookfield and Lady Montague. George Bunsen and Colonel Rawlinson are coming, but only for a day or two. Do, dear, 'consult your authentic wish,' whether you will join me here, or have me back there; whichever way of it you like best, I shall like best, upon my honour. The only very good reason for my staying till the twentieth, viz, to be 'another woman in the house,' as Lady A. said, while men visitors are here in Lord A.'s absence, is done
[Page 139] away with by the fact of Lady Montague's coming, and Miss Farrar's being to stay till the nineteenth. In going next Wednesday, I shall not put Lady A. about then the least in the world. At the same time you might be better here, perhaps till the twentieth, than in London, as Lady A. says you should have this bedroom, which is quiet enough - at least, will be - when the ----- children have ceased to 'run horses' overhead; and shall have your dinner by yourself at what hour you please.
And so I will now go and try to walk off the headache I have got by - by what do you think? - crying actually. Prosaic as this letter looks, I have not, somehow, been able to 'dry myself up' while writing it. I suppose it is the 'compress ' put on me in the drawing-room that makes me bubble up at no allowance when I am alone.
October 5, 1850.
Thackeray is here - arrived yesterday, greatly to the discomfort of ----- evidently, who had 'had the gang all to himself' so long. First he (Thackeray) wrote he was coming. Then Lady A. put him off on account of some Punch-offence to the -----s; then Thackeray wrote an apology to ----! then Lady A. wrote he was to come after all, and went to Winchester to meet him, and -----
[Page 140] sulked all yesterday evening, and to-day is solemn to death. In fact he has been making a sort of superior agapemone here, in which he was the Mr. Prince, the Spirit of Love; and no wonder he dislikes the turn that has been given to things by the arrival of the Spirit of Punch. Col. Rawlinson comes to-morrow, Kinglake with Brookfield on the 15th, and a great clerical dinner to the Bishop of Winchester comes off on Tuesday, so that you will happily escape. Poor dear little Nero! I am so glad he knew you, and showed himself 'capable of a profound sentiment of affection,' in spite of your disbelief.
To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Dec. 31, 1850.
Don't the years get to gallop so fast, dear Mrs. Russell, that it seems no longer worth while to take note of them? Since last New Year to this one, I seem to have hardly had time enough for one good long sleep! To those, however, whom the winter finds with no money in their pockets to buy fire and food, the new winter may not look so short; I wonder if to old Mary, for example, time seems to fly in this way, with ever-increasing velocity? Do you think she has any satisfaction in her life? If so, what shame to some of us! Poor old soul! as long as the life is in her, I fancy she will like a bit of
[Page 141] finery, especially if sent from London; and so the scarlet scarf (!) I send her, however preposterous a present you may think it, won't have been so ill-judged. I wish I were nearer her; I could give her plenty of old warm things, that poor people here hardly thank me for, and pawn generally for drink; but the carriage of such things costs more than they are all worth, and such trifles as can be easily sent by post are not adapted to the wants of a poor old woman. Yet I am sure she likes something coming from myself better than she would like the money to buy a New Year's trifle to herself. So tell her, with my kind regards, to twist this scarf several times round her old throat, and to be sure and not strangle herself with it. There is a ribbon for Margaret - the ugliest, I must say, that I ever set my eyes on; but I sent my maid to buy it, having got a little cold to-day, and this was her notion of the becoming! I must put in a cap border with it to carry it off. The sovereign please to distribute for me according to your discretion.
Things are going on well enough with us for the present. There has been no winter hitherto to give me a chance at getting myself laid up (for my cold to-day is nothing to speak of), and my headaches have neither been so frequent nor so severe latterly. But I met with a horrid accident some weeks ago - banged my right breast against the end of the sofa,
[Page 142] and for three weeks the pain continued, and so, not being able to get the thing forgotten, I was frightened out of my wits for the possible consequences, especially as my brother-in-law wrote from Scotsbrig that I was not to go to any doctor with it, 'London doctors being so unsafe for making a case out of everything, and any meddling with such a thing as this being, in his opinion, positively injurious.' There! what does Dr. Russell say to such views of the medical profession? The pain is quite gone now, however, and I try to think no more about it; but it may be excused to me, all things recollected, that I have suffered a good deal of apprehension from this accident. I have also been bothered to death with servants this autumn - have had three in quick succession. The first new one roasted fowls with the crop and bowels in them! and that mode of cookery was not to our taste. The second, a really clever servant and good girl, came to me with a serious disease upon her, and had to be soon sent to the hospital, where she is still, after two months; the third and last, thank Heaven, suits capitally - but I had best not praise her too much, it is 'a tempting of Providence' to 'cry before one is out of the wood.'
Kindest regards to your father and husband. Tell me about your health, and 'the smallest news will be gratefully received.'
Ever yours affectionately,
1 'Lost in statistics,' said old Sterling, of a certain philosopher here.
1 Poor old Cochrane, our first librarian of London Library, and essentially the builder and architect there. The only real bibliographer I have
ever met with in Britain.
2 Turned out to be a porch and pillars.
3 Then No. 4, Cheyne Row.
1 Have forgotten.
1 Servant in the adjoining house.
1 He used to come very assiduously hither, poor little soul, but was
now rising in the world.
1 Singular indeed! In this world the force of nonsense could no
1 Dickens, 'Dombey's marriage,' man of 'science' contemplating
Dombey on that occasion.
2 On a visit to Lady Harriet Baring.
1 Patience! patience! but there never was a more complete mistake.
1 Bölte's translation of Verfehltes Leben.
1 A gift of his; still here.
1 A Manchester 'editorial gentleman,' &c., &c. He and another took me out one evening to Rochdale, where ensued (not by my blame or seeking) a paltry enough speaking-match with John Bright (topics commonplace, shallow, totally worthless to me), the only time I ever saw that gentleman, whom I seem to have known sufficiently without seeing ever since.
1 Our neighbours still. I know not why so prosperous at present.
1 Proofs of a novel by Miss Jewsbury.
1 Carlyle on visit there to Mr. and Lady Harriet Baring, has written
to press his wife to join him. - J. A. F.
1 Note, vol. i., p. 97.
1 Not 'shells' (Ossian).
1 Mrs. Carlyle, after three months' illness, was now at Addiscombe.
- J. A. F.
1 G. H. Lewes's novel.
1 February 1849.
1 This must have been Elizabeth Sprague, from Exeter, a high-going,
shining kind of damsel, who did very well for about two years; but then,
like most of the genus, went away, and disappeared. What a province
of the 'domesticities' that is at present! Anarchic exceedingly; the
funnel-neck of all our anarchies.
2 Stands here to this day, the beautifullest and cleverest screen I
have ever seen. How strange, how mournfully affecting to me now!
1 These Notes were given by Mr. Carlyle to a friend, from whom they
passed into the hands of Messrs. Sampson Low & Co., and were published
by that firm in the spring of 1882. - J. A. F.
1 Scotch for frog.
2 In Dublin.
1 One of Robson's printers; did the 'Lists,' &c., in Cromwell; a
very superior kind of man.
1 Neuberg, with his sister, then in Nottingham; my poor pilgrim on
the road thither, as her first stage.
2 Son of surgery professor, ended very tragically long after.
3 Bölte's phrase.
1 John, of the Examiner, &c. &c.
1 The St. Simonian recipe.
2 John Brown's widow (of her murdered husband) to Claverhouse's soldiers.
1 Catholic editor, Irish M.P., poor soul!
1 See p. 40.
1 Mrs. Carlyle had gone to Haddington for the first time since her
marriage twenty-three years before. - J. A. F.
1 Near Bradford, Yorkshire.
2 A quack physiognomist, &c., of the time.
1 My mother, on reading Wilhelm Meister.
1 Her father's.
1 Cousin from Liverpool (now Mrs. Chrystal).
1 A Mazzini locution.
1 Supra, Haddington is east. Mrs. Carlyle had returned thither to stay with the Donaidsons.
1 The old Haddington servant - almost from my Jeannie's birth - is
still living (1869), one of the venerablest and most faithful of women.
I never saw such perfection of attachment, and doubt if it exists elsewhere. - T. C.
1 To her aunts, Elizabeth, Ann, and Grace Welsh.
2 Widow of George Welsh.
3 Susan Hunter.
1 Got by a too violent excursion to Glen - large miscellaneous party.
Lord Ashburton and I rode over stock and stone on Highland ponies.
1 Gossip of some kind.
2 Mrs. Paulet.
1 Brother Jamie. Been at Edinburgh for a surgical operation with
1 Mr. Forster's servant.
1 William Edward (of Bradford), the ex-Quaker, now Her Majesty's
Minister, &c. &c.
3 Advocate's excuse.
1 Lady A.'s 'green chimera.'
1 G----- N.'s wife. Once a very pretty little woman, but now getting
stranded on a most miserable shore! Thanks to ----, &c., &c. Faugh!
- T. C.
1 A hoarse-voiced, restless, invalid Scotch lady, of some rank, mostly
wandering about on the Continent, entertaining lions, and Piano Chopin,
&c., &c., but always swooping down upon London and us now and then.
1 Come back from Spain, I suppose.
1 A servant who had given trouble.
1 Letty -----, an intrusive, stupid, ugly, fat Berlin Jewess, coursing
about on the strength of sending windy gossip to the newspapers then.
1 In aid of some Mazzini fund, no doubt.
1 Newspaper (Irish).
1 Misanthropic joiner in Dumfries, whom we had heard of.
2 Mazzini's sweep! (supra).
3 Carlyle himself. - J. A. F.
1 A Haddington farmer.
1 So Carlyle had written from Scotsbrig. - J. A. F.
1 Phrase of old McDiarmids, of Dumfries.
1 French Revolution, Tannery of Meudon.
1 Insisting on the old day. Note still extant. 'Lady William
Russell and her two sons,' &c., &c.