To John Welsh, Esq., Liverpool.
Chelsea: Jan. 2, 1851.
'John! Sole uncle of my house and heart!' I have just one word to say to you to-day, viz, that I'll be hanged if I ever give you anything another time, if you are to go on the William Gibson tack and instantly set about making 'a suitable return.' I thank you heartily for your New Year's gift; but, only, don't do the like of that again, uncle of me! I hope the summer will plump out my poor scraggy arms into a state adapted for such transparent elegancies. And now I must simply promise you a long letter; for to-day is most unfavourable for writing one.
There arrived on us yesterday a young heroine of romance, with a quantity of trunks and a lady's-maid, who is for the moment keeping this poor house and my poor self in a state of utter disgust. I had invited her to dine one day, and, if it suited her better, to stay over the night. And she has so arranged her affairs that, if she leave here to-day, it must be to live till next week in an hotel (at nineteen). What can one do, then, but let her remain - with protest against the lady's maid. She is Mrs. -----'s adopted daughter, whom you may have heard of, and has just been playing the Sultana in India for a
[Page 144] year and - Oh dear, here is her lover come to see her, and in a quarter of an hour a prison inspector is coming to take Mr. C. and me through Pentonville Prison. I am bothered to death, my blessed uncle; so adieu. I will write again next week.
To John Welsh, Esq., Liverpool.
Chelsea: Jan. 7, 1851.
Dear, estimable uncle of me, - Have you been reading Thackeray's 'Pendennis'? If so, you have made acquaintance with Blanche Amory; and when I tell you that my young lady of last week is the original of that portrait, you will give me joy that she, lady's-maid, and infinite baggage, are all gone! Not that the poor little ----- is quite such a little devil as Thackeray, who has detested her from a child, has here represented; but the looks, the manners, the wiles, the larmes, 'and all that sort of thing,' are a perfect likeness. The blame, however, is chiefly on those who placed her in a position so false that it required extraordinary virtue not to become false along with it. She was the only legitimate child of a beautiful young 'improper female,' who was for a number of years -----'s mistress (she had had a husband, a swindler). His mother took
[Page 145] the freak of patronising this mistress, saw the child, and behold it was very pretty and clever. Poor Mrs. ----- had tired of parties, of politics, of most things in heaven and earth; 'a sudden thought struck her,' she would adopt this child; give herself the excitement of making a scandal and braving public opinion, and of educating a flesh and blood girl into the heroine of the three-volume novel, which she had for years been trying to write, but wanted perseverance to elaborate. The child was made the idol of the whole house; her showy education was fitting her more for her own mother's profession than for any honest one; and when she was seventeen, and the novel was just rising into the interest of love affairs, a rich young man having been refused, or rather jilted, by her, Mrs. ----- died, her husband and son being already dead; and poor ----- was left without any earthly stay, and with only 250l. a year to support her in the extravagantly luxurious habits she had been brought up in.
She has a splendid voice, and wished to get trained for the opera. Mrs. -----'s fine lady friends screamed at the idea, but offered her nothing instead, not even their countenance. Her two male guardians, to wash their hands of her, resolved to send her to India, and to India she had to go, vowing that if their object was to marry her off, she would disappoint them, and return 'to prosecute the artist life.' She produced
[Page 146] the most extraordinary furore at Calcutta; had offers every week; refused them point-blank; terrified Sir ----- by her extravagance; tormented Lady ----- by her caprices; 'fell into consumption' for the nonce; was ordered by the doctors back to England! and, to the dismay of her two cowardly guardians, arrived here six months ago with her health perfectly restored! But her Indian reputation had preceded her, and the fine ladies who turned their backs on her in her extreme need now invite a girl who has refused Sudar Judges by the dozen. She has been going about from one house to another, while no home could be found for her. The guardians had a brilliant idea - 'would we take her?' 'Not for her weight in gold,' I said; but I asked her to spend a day with me, that I might see what she was grown to, and whether I could do anything in placing her with some proper person. The result of this invitation was that alarming arrival, bag and baggage, on New Year's Day!
She has saved us all further speculation about her, however, by engaging herself to someone (from ----shire) who came home in the ship with her, and seems a most devoted lover. She told me she 'had been hesitating some time betwixt accepting him, or going on the stage, or drowning herself.' I told her her decision was good, as marrying did not preclude either 'going on the stage' at a subsequent period, or 'drowning herself;' whereas had she decided
[Page 147] on the drowning, there could have been no more of it.
I have my own notion that she will throw him over yet; meanwhile it was a blessed calm after the fly rolled her away from here on Saturday. 'Oh, my dear!' Mr. Carlyle said, 'we cannot be sufficiently thankful!' Indeed you can have no notion how the whole routine of this quiet house was tumbled heels over head. It had been for these three days and three nights not Jonah in the whale's belly, but the whale in Jonah's belly; that little creature seemed to have absorbed this whole establishment into herself.
There is a long story for you, which perhaps you can't take any interest in; I am sure, however, you would be amused with an account of our visit, the other day, to Pentonville Prison, if I had left myself time and breath to tell it. 'Oh, my!' (as old Helen used to say) 'how expensive!' prisoners costing 50l. a year each! You may fancy their accommodations are somewhat remarkable. In each cell I saw a pretty little corner cupboard, on one shelf of which was the dressing apparatus - a comb and brush, and small tooth comb! - laid on a neatly folded-up towel; a shaving jug with metal top on one side, an artistic soap-box on the other! In one cell I remarked a blue tassel, with a bit of steel chain attached to it, hung from a brass nail. 'What is the use of that tassel?'
[Page 148] I asked the inspector. 'That tassel, ma'm? why that tassel is - a fancy of the prisoner's own; we allow them to have their little fancies!' They all wear masks when in each other's presence, that, should they afterwards meet in society, their feelings may be spared. They have such charming bath-rooms! Each man has a good-sized court all to himself to run about in for an hour at a time; and while we were there they all 'went to school,' with books and slates under their arm, masked! If any man wishes to have the comforts of life, and be taught, and, 'have his fancies,' let him rush out and commit a felony
We went to hear their religious teaching in the chapel. An under-chaplain stood on the altar with a Bible in one hand and a red book (like a butcher's) in the other; he read a passage from the Bible, then looked in the red book for the numbers (they have no names), whose turn it was to be examined. For instance, he read about the young man who came to Jesus, and asked what he should do to be saved? Then after consulting the red book he called out, Numbers thirty-two and seventy-eight: What shall I do to enter into eternal life?' Thirty-two and seventy-eight answered, the one in a growl, the other in a squeal, 'Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor.'
Now, my blessed uncle, did you ever hear such nonsense? If a grain of logic was in the heads
[Page 149] of thirty-two and seventy-eight, mustn't they have thought, 'Well, what the devil are we taken up, and imprisoned, and called criminals for, but just because we take this injunction seriously, and help you to carry it out, by relieving you of your watches and other sundries.' I should tell you too that each prisoner has a bell in his cell! One man said to some visitor, 'and if I ring my bell a fool answers it.'
Uncle dear, good-night. If you and I were the Government, wouldn't we sweep such confounded humbug out of creation!
Ever your affectionate
Love to the children.
End of July or beginning of August, 1851, we went to Malvern to the water cure, which was then, and perhaps is still, a prevalent delusion among chronic invalids. Dr. Gully, a distinguished professor of the new art, by far the most distinguished then, had pressingly again and again invited us. 'Oh, come, lodge in my house; only come and I will cure you!' Me especially, I suppose, which indeed would have suited well two ways had he succeeded (vide Lytton Bulwer's flaming pamphlet, and other nonsenses). My own faith in water cure was nearly zero, and has not since risen higher. But I reflected with myself, 'You will have to try it some day (as you had to try that rubbing with hair gloves humbug, though with damage). No humbug can prevail among your acquaintances, but they will force
[Page 150] you to get the means of saying, "Oh, I have tried all that and found it naught!"' So lying open for a summer jaunt, and judging humanly well of Gully, we decided to go; stayed with him, as per bargain, a month: most humanly and hospitably entertained; drank a good deal of excellent water there, and for some time after tried compressors, sitting baths, packings, &c. Admired the fine air and country; found by degrees water, taken as a medicine, to be the most destructive drug I had ever tried - and thus paid my tax to contemporary stupor, and had done with water cure.
I remember vividly enough our rolling off for Worcester; and except (more indistinctly) our parting somewhere, and my arrival at Scotsbrig, almost nothing more. My Jeannie (as this letter rekindles into light in my memory) had gone for Manchester; I for Scotsbrig, full of gloom and heaviness, and totally out of health, bodily and spiritual. Prussian Friedrich, and the Pelion laid on Ossa of Prussian Dryasdust, lay crushing me with the continual question, 'Dare I try it? dare I not?'
The portmanteau I do recollect. It had been flung off at Kendal junction by mistake, and next afternoon arrived safe at Scotsbrig.
Mrs. Gaskell is the novelist, since deceased. Dr. Smith (Angus Smith), a chemist of merit and man of much naïveté and simplicity, is he who, now in Government pay, goes about investigating foul atmospheres (mines, factories, cities, slums), and says, 'How foul!' - T. C.
To Thomas Carlyle, Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan.
2 Birchfield Place, Higher Ardwick, Manchester:
Friday, Sept. 5, 1851.
Well, really! you don't 'beat us all for a deep thought.' If you had lost my address, why not send
[Page 151] a letter for me to the care of F. Jewsbury, Fire Insurance Office, Manchester? or to the care of Mr. Ireland, or any of the many people in Manchester you are in correspondence with, if you could not risk writing to the care of Miss Jewsbury, Manchester, which is address enough for practical purposes. Round by Chelsea, at second-hand, was a very 'slow' proceeding - 'upon my honour!' Besides, the sight of a letter addressed to Geraldine, in John's handwriting, was calculated to give me a serious fright. When we came in late last night from Bowden, where we had passed the day, and I saw on the table only that letter for her, instead of the one I made sure of for myself, my heart jumped into my mouth, I assure you; and I tore it open without asking her leave, and was downright thankful to learn that 'my brother had merely found his portmanteau missing.' I hope you have recovered it by this time; it can't be that it is permanently lost? If it be irrecoverable, however, you must just try to think how much worse it would have been to have lost a manuscript or me? that (so far as I am aware) it is but, after all, a question of shirts and woollen clothes, which may all be replaced with a small expenditure of money and patience. I shall be very happy, however, to hear that the old portmanteau is safe at Scotsbrig, for 'you are the last man in England' that should, in the course of a kind Providence,
[Page 152] be visited with such untoward accidents. As I have by this time quite forgiven you for coming to go through the form of kissing at parting with a lighted cigar in your mouth (!), I am sadly vexed at the idea of all this new botheration for you at the end of your journey; and vexed, too, for your mother and the rest, whose pleasure in your arrival would be spoiled for them by your arriving in a state of worry.
For myself, it seems almost Grahamish, under the circumstances, to tell you that I performed my journey in the most prosperous manner - even to the successful smuggling of Nero. At the Manchester station a porter held out his hands for the basket in which I had him, that I might descend more conveniently; but I said with wonderful calm, 'Thank you - I have something here that I require to be careful of, I will keep it myself,' and the man bowed, and went for my other luggage.
I found Geraldine in a much nicer house - with large high rooms prettily furnished, really as beautiful a house as one could wish to live in; and she is the same kind little hostess as ever. With her old Peggy and a new young girl, she manages to surround me with 'all things most pleasant in life;' and I don't know where I could be better off for the moment. The first night Dilberoglue and Dr. Smith came to tea; the next, Mrs. Gaskell and her husband,
[Page 153] and Ireland, and young Bernays. All yesterday we spent at Bowden, with a Miss Hamilton (who has a history), and to-night we are to drink tea at Dilberoglue's, with the Greek mother and the beautiful daughter Calliope. For the rest, I keep up as much as possible the forms of Malvern life, splash in cold water, and walk before breakfast; though the Manchester atmosphere is so thick that one feels to put it aside with one's nose - oh, so thick, and damp, and dirty! Still the walk does me good. We dine at two, and I resolutely abstain from pills - continuing to wear my compressor. I went in search of one to send on to you, but unsuccessfully as yet; and I have not had leisure to make one, though I am sure I can, if none be procurable at the shops.
I wrote to Miss Gully since I came here, but there has not been time to get an answer. The more I think of these people the more I admire their politeness and kindness to us. I don't remember ever in my life before to have stayed a whole month in anybody's house without ever once wishing to be away: Geraldine says, 'My dear, it is a fact that speaks volumes.'
I am writing under your image - Geraldine has got your large print, in a pretty gilt frame over the chimney-piece in my bedroom, facing Neukomm; and a little lower between you is - a similar sized print of Jesus Christ.
[Page 154] But what will you be caring for all this that I write if - the portmanteau be still in infinite space. Pray write the state of the case; long letters are a bore to write when one is in retreat, and I don't want you to take any bore on my account; but a short note concerning the portmanteau and your health I cannot dispense with.
Nero sends his dear little love, and bids me say that since you went his digestion has been much neglected, everybody stuffing him with dainties, out of kindness, and no exercise to speak of. He is afraid of ending like the king and queen of the Sandwich Islands.
My kind regards to all at Scotsbrig.
Ever yours faithfully,
To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
The Grange, Hants: Monday, Dec. 1851.
My dear Mrs. Russell, - I must appeal to your well-known kindness to help me out of a little puzzle. I left home on a visit to Lord Ashburton's some four or five weeks ago, intending to go back on the day after Christmas; but some people were to be here this week, strangers to Lady A., and known to me, and I was requested to remain another week to make these young people's visit more agreeable to
[Page 155] them. Thus New Year's Day finds me unprepared with any little presents for those whom I wish to remind of me at this season. There is a town (Winchester) eight miles off; but I cannot drive there to procure any things, having caught a bad cold in the first week of my visit, which confined me to the house the first three weeks as a measure of necessity, and I have gone on limiting my exercise since to a walk in the conservatory, and corridors, as a measure of precaution. Cold is so easily retaken, and it is so miserable to be ill in other people's houses. What I must ask of you then is, to be so good as to advance the usual sovereign for me, which I will repay with a Post-Office order immediately on my return, and then you must buy for Margaret and Mary a pair of warm stockings each, or some such thing - half-a-crown each you may lay out for them, and don't say but that I sent the stockings, or whatever it may be, from London. I am sure you will do this for me, without grudging time and trouble.
I hear very often from Liverpool since that serious illness of my uncle's. At present he is pretty well, but his life seems to hang by a mere thread now. Every little agitation, such as 'listening for the guns of the American steamer, bringing a letter from Johnnie!' produces threatenings of the same sort of attack, and another attack will probably be
[Page 156] fatal. I wish very much to go and see him once more, and must try to manage it early in the spring. Perhaps I may be in Scotland again next year, and surely you will come and see me somewhere, if I should not be able to find courage to go to Thornhill. A young friend of mine married the Earl of Airlie last autumn, and asks me to visit her at Cortachy Castle; and there is an old gentleman, called 'the Bear' in London society, who has a beautiful place twenty miles beyond Fort Augustus, who has also invited us. And there I should really like to go, to see again the places where I went with my mother, about thirty years ago.
We have had a deal of company here since I came, Macaulay amongst the rest, whom I had never before seen at any length. I used to think my husband the most copious talker, when he liked, that was anywhere to be fallen in with; but Macaulay beats him hollow! in quantity.
You need not take the trouble of writing till after I have returned and sent the money; but then you must write me all about yourself, and about dear old Thornhill.
Kindest regards to your father and husband.
Ever yours, dear Mrs. Russell, affectionately,
JANE W. CARLYLE.
This was the year (only first year, alas!) of repairing our house; 'architect' (Helps's) was 'Mr. Morgan,' a very honest man, and with workmen honest though inexpert; he himself had no talent for managing the chaos he created here, and indeed he at length fell sick, and left it to end by collapse. My own little heroine was manager, eye, inventress, commandress, guiding head and soul of everything; and made (witness this drawing-room, and compare it with the original, i.e. with every other in the street) a real triumph of what without her would have been a puddle of wasteful failure. She feared no toil howsoever unfit for her, had a marked 'talent in architecture,' too - in fact, the universal talent of applying intellect, veracity, and courage to things gone awry for want of those qualities. My noble darling! few women have had such an outfit of talent, far fewer such a loving nobleness and truth of heart to urge it into action and guide it there. Meanwhile, to escape those horrors of heat and dust, I fled (or indeed was dismissed) to Linlathen, to my excellent T. Erskine's, where I morbidly and painfully stayed three weeks, gentlest and best of hospitality able to do little for me. I remember trying to bathe in the summer mornings - bad bathing coast. Most of my leisure went in translating what is now the Appendix to Friedrich, vol. vii, of 2nd edition. - T. C.
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: July 13, 1852.
Dearest Mrs. Russell, - I might be excused for forgetting my own birthday this time, and even my own name and address, and everything about me, except the one terrific fact that I am in a house
[Page 158] under what is called 'thorough repair.' Having never had to do with London workmen, you cannot form any adequate idea of the thing. Workmen who spend three-fourths of their time in consulting how the work should be done, and in going out and in after 'beer,' were not, at least in my day, known in Scotland; and then a thorough repair complicated by the altering of chimneys and partitions, and by heat at 82° in the shade, was a wild piece of work with any sort of workmen. The builder promised to have all done in six weeks, painting included; if he get done in six months it is as much as I hope. Meanwhile I run about in the great heat, carrying my furniture in my arms from one room to another, and sleep, or rather lie about, like a dog, just where I see a cleared space. I am needed here to keep the workmen from falling into continual mistakes; but why Mr. Carlyle, who is anything rather than needed, stays on I can't imagine. Nor do I know when I shall get away, nor where I shall go. We were to have gone to Germany, but that is all knocked on the head - at least for the present. If you saw me sitting in the midst of falling bricks and clouds of lime dust, and a noise as of battering-rams, you wouldn't wonder that I should make my letter brief.
The poor little sweetbriar grew through all the east winds, and was flourishing beautifully, when heavy rains came and killed it. I am vexed, and can't
[Page 159] help feeling the sweetbriar's unwillingness to grow with me a bad omen somehow. I wonder if you will be good-natured and unwearied enough to send me another slip to try when the right time comes?
And now to the business: will you lay out five shillings for old Mary in some judicious way for me, and will you give my little packet to Margaret, and tell them I still think of them both kindly?
I had a great hope, very vague, but quite probable, that I should have gone to Scotland this summer and seen you somewhere. Now everything is unsettled with the talk about Germany, and the fact of this house-altering.
Ever affectionately yours,
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, Linlathen, Dundee.
5 Cheyne Row: Friday night, July 24, 1852.
Oh, my! I wonder if I shall hear to-morrow morning, and what I shall hear! Perhaps that somebody drove you wild with snoring, and that you killed him and threw him in the sea! Had the boatmen upset the boat on the way back, and drowned little Nero and me, on purpose, I could hardly have taken it ill of them, seeing they 'were but men, of like passions with yourself.' But on the
[Page 160] contrary, they behaved most civilly to us, offered to land us at any pier we liked, and said not a word to me about the sixpence, so I gave it to them as a free gift. We came straight home in the steamer, where Nero went immediately to sleep, and I to work.
Miss Wilson called in the afternoon, extremely agreeable; and after tea Ballantyne came, and soon after Kingsley. Ballantyne gave me the ten pounds, and Kingsley told me about his wife - that she was 'the adorablest wife man ever had!' Neither of these men stayed long. I went to bed at eleven, fell asleep at three, and rose at six. The two plumbers were rushing about the kitchen with boiling lead; an additional carpenter was waiting for my directions about 'the cupboard' at the bottom of the kitchen stair. The two usual carpenters were hammering at the floor and windows of the drawing-room. The bricklayer rushed in, in plain clothes, measured the windows for stone sills (?), rushed out again, and came no more that day. After breakfast I fell to clearing out the front bedroom for the bricklayers, removing everything into your room. When I had just finished, a wild-looking stranger, with a paper cap, rushed up the stairs, three steps at a time, and told me he was 'sent by Mr. Morgan to get on with the painting of Mr. Carlyle's bedroom during his absence!' I was so taken by surprise
[Page 161] that I did not feel at first to have any choice in the matter, and told him he must wait two hours till all that furniture was taken - somewhere.
Then I came in mind that the window and doors had to be repaired, and a little later that the floor was to be taken up! Being desirous, however, not to refuse the good the gods had provided me, I told the man he might begin to paint in my bedroom; but there also some woodwork was unfinished.
The carpenters thought they could get it ready by next morning. So I next cleared myself a road into your bedroom, and fell to moving all the things of mine up there also. Certainly no lady in London did such a hard day's work. Not a soul came to interrupt me till night, when ----- stalked in for half-an-hour, uncommonly dull. 'It must have taken a great deal to make a man so dull as that!' I never went out till ten at night, when I took a turn or two on Battersea Bridge, without having my throat cut.
My attempts at sleeping last night were even more futile than the preceding one. A dog howled repeatedly, near hand, in that awful manner which is understood to prognosticate death, which, together with being 'in a new position,' kept me awake till five. And after six it was impossible to lie, for the plumbers were in the garret, and the bricklayers in the front bedroom! Mr. Morgan came after breakfast,
[Page 162] and settled to take up the floor in your bedroom at once. So to-day all the things have had to be moved out again down to my bedroom, and the painter put off; and to-night I am to 'pursue sleep under difficulties' in my own bed again. They got on fast enough with the destructive part. The chimney is down and your floor half off!
After tea I 'cleaned myself,' and walked up to see Miss Farrar. She and her sister were picnicking at Hampton Court; but the old mother was very glad of me, walked half-way back with me, and gave me ice at Gunter's in passing. I am to have a dinner-tea with them next Wednesday. And to-morrow I am to give the last sitting for my picture, and take tea at Mrs. Sketchley's. And now I must go to bed again - more's the pity.
I shall leave this open, in case of a letter from you in the morning.
Thanks God too for some four hours of sleep last night. I don't mind the uproar a bit now that you are out of it.
Love to Mr. Erskine; tell him to write to me.
J. W. C.
'Dalwig,' grandson of the famed cavalry general of Friedrich the Great, was himself a Prussian officer of horse; from Silesia, where his rank and possessions were ample; as fine, handsome, intelligent, brilliant, and modest a young fellow of his kind as I ever saw. 'Reichenbach' (once Graf von Reichenbach and his neighbour and friend) brought him to us here; where he met Kate Sterling, our late John's second daughter, and one of the brightest of young women. Dalwig, much struck with her, was evidently deliberating great things; and did, before long, apply formally to Captain Anthony Sterling, uncle and guardian, for the 'great honour and pleasure of making some acquaintance' with Kate. To both of us, who knew him, it seemed precisely the offer that might suit beyond all, both for the noble Kate and for her friends, especially her sisters; who were in no society here for making fit matches, but who there, in Silesia, having portions of solid amount, and being all pretty and amiable, need not fail of marrying well if they cared to marry, &c., &c.: to all which we wished cordially well, but kept, and had kept, strictly silent except to one another. Abrupt Captain Anthony, now growing elderly, and very abrupt and perverse, was not slow in answering, as if to 'a beggarly foreigner,' his emphatic No! To which Dalwig, like a man of honour, at once bowed. Bright Kate testified all along a maidenly indifference, maidenly nescience, but was not thought to have an averse feeling.
Poor, ardent, enthusiastic, high-minded Kate! she used to ride with me sometimes in those years; she was to the last passionately the friend and adorer of my Jane; perhaps there hardly was in England a brighter young creature;
[Page 164] and her fate was cruel - this of Dalwig, the turning-point, I rather think! Being forbidden our house (abrupt Captain Anthony being in some tiff of his own here), she frequented 'uncle Maurice's,' where no foreigners frequented, but only young 'unsound' divines much did. One of these .... she did, on her own footing - 'over twenty-one now!' - give her hand to: .... was at length declared to be consumptive, and in four or five years died .... She was very beautiful, very high and heroic; father and mother both beautifully noticeable in her, and as if changed into a still finer tertium quid both of person and, still more, of mind. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Linlathen, Dundee.
Chelsea: Tuesday, July 27, 1852.
Now you are not here to paint out the horrors of every kind so eloquently, I don't care, the least in the world, about the noise, or the dust, or the tumble heels over head, of the whole house. All I am concerned about is, to get it rapidly on; which, as builders and builders' men are at present constituted, seems pretty much of an impossibility. Yesterday I wrote to Mr. Morgan to take back the third carpenter, and bestow him on somebody with more patience and a less correct eye than myself. But it's worse than useless plaguing you, in your cold, clean retirement there, with the worries from which you have just fled away. Best you should forget the sound of our hammering altogether; so I will henceforth
[Page 165] fight my own battle with the house, without saying a word about it.
Better news for you is, that Lord Ashburton is 'greatly better, quite well since the last attack, and gone on to the place in Switzerland.' Such was the answer to a message of inquiry which I sent to Bath House on Sunday. 'His lordship had written himself' to the large housemaid. So all is right in that direction.
Poor Dalwig is gone away. He came on Saturday with Reichenbach to bid me farewell. I gave him the copy of the 'Life of Sterling' I extorted from you for Mrs. Newton, who never got it; not in memory of Kate I told him, but of myself; and he blushed and kissed my hand, and went away rather sad, but with as manly and dashing a bearing as if Kate had been ever so kind. I don't believe the girl will ever have such another chance in her whole life.
There was also here one day a Rev. Llewelyn Davies, Lincoln. Do you know such a person? He asked for me, on hearing you were absent; shook hands with me, sat talking half-an-hour with me as if we were friends; and did all this so coolly and naturally, that he left me persuaded I had known him some time. Did I ever know him? Clough, too, was here last night; and Miss Wilson again, to
[Page 166] offer me her carriage 'to do any business I might have.'
She promised to drink tea with me on my return from Sherborne; where I still mean to go on Friday, and stay till Monday. It is a long way to go for so short a time. But I should repent it afterwards if I did not gratify that poor dear woman's wish to see me once more.
Ever affectionately yours,
J. W. CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Thursday, Aug. 5, 1852.
You recollect, dear, that Macready told me of two routes, recommending that by Frome as the quickest and least fatiguing; so I rendered myself at the Paddington station on Friday morning, with my night-things in a bag on one arm and my 'blessed' in a basket on the other. He gave me no trouble, kept himself hidden and motionless till the train started, and then looked out cautiously, as much as to say, 'Are we safe?' The journey to Frome was quite a rest after that morning's work (carrying down all the books from the top landing-place into the back parlour), and I descended from the train quite fresh for the thirty miles by coach.
[Page 167] But when I inquired about the coach to Sherborne, I was told there was none. 'A coach passing through Sherborne passed through Frome without coming to the station at eleven in the morning,' three hours before the time we were at; 'no other since many months back.' My first thought was, 'What a mercy you were not with me!' my next, that the Macreadys could not blame me for keeping them waiting; and then I 'considered,' like the piper's cow, and resolved not to stay all day and night at Frome, but to take a Yeovil coach, which started at five, and which could take me, I was told, to a wayside inn within eight miles of Sherborne, and there I hoped to find a fly 'or something.' Meanwhile I would proceed to the town of Frome, a mile from the station, and get something to eat, and even to drink, 'feeling it my duty' to keep my heart up by all needful appliances. I left my little bag at the station, where the coach came, and set my dog quite free, and we pursued our way as calmly and naturally as if we had known where we were going.
Frome is a dull, dirty-looking place, full of plumbers; one could fancy the Bennett controversy must have been a godsend to it. I saw several inns, and chose 'The George' for its name's sake. I walked in and asked to have some cold meat and a pint bottle
[Page 168] of Guinness's porter. They showed me to an ill-aired parlour, and brought me some cold lamb that the flies had been buzzing round for a week - even Nero disdained to touch it. I ate bread, however, and drank all the porter; and 'the cha-arge' for that feeble refection was 2s. 6d.! Already I had paid one pound eight and sixpence for the train. It was going to be a most unexpectedly costly journey to me. But for that reflection I could almost have laughed at my forlorn position there.
The inn and town were 'so disagreeable' that I went presently back to the station, preferring to wait there. One of the men who had informed me about the coach came to me, as I was sitting on a bench, and remarked on the beauty of the scene, especially of some scarlet beans that were growing in his own piece of garden. 'Ah,' he said, 'I have lived in London, and I have lived abroad; I have been here and there, backwards and forwards, while I was in service with them as never could rest; but I am satisfled now that the only contentment for man is in growing his own VEGETABLE! Look at them beans,'
[Page 169] he said again. 'Well! to-morrow they'll be ready, and I'll be pulling them, and boiling them, and eating them - and such a taste! No agriculture like that in Piccadilly!' Then he looked sympathisingly at me and said, 'I'm going to get you something you'll like, and that's a glass of cool, fresh, clear water;' and he went away with a jug to his garden and fetched some water from a little spring well and a great handful of mignionette. 'There! there's something sweet for you, and here's splendid water, that you won't find the like of in Piccadilly!' I asked him how it was going with Mr. Bennett? 'Huh! I hear no complaints, but I goes to neither one nor other of them, and follows my own notions. I finds agriculture the thing!' He would have been worth a hundred pounds to Dickens, that man.
I had the coach all to myself for awhile; then a young gentleman got in, who did exactly the right thing by me, neither spoke to me nor looked at me till we stopped at Castle Carey (Yeovil is pronounced Youghal, Carey Carry? I grew quite frightened that I had been somehow transported into Ireland). There the young gentleman went into the inn, and said to me first, 'Excuse the liberty I take in asking, but would you take anything - a little wine and water?' I thought that very polite; but I was to meet with 'something more exquisite still' before I got to Sherborne. At the 'Sparkford Inn.' eight miles from
[Page 170] Sherborne, I got out and asked, had they a fly? 'Yes, but one of its wheels was broken, and it was gone to be mended!' 'Had they any other conveyance that was whole - a gig or cart?' 'Yes, they had a nice little gig, and I should have the loan of a cloak to keep me warm' (the evening was rather chill). So I went in, and sat down in a parlour; where an old gentleman was finishing off with bread-and-cheese. He soon made himself master of my case, and regretted he was not going back to Sherborne that night, as then he would have taken me in his carriage; and presently he offered something else more practical, viz., to try to recover my parasol (my mother's, the one she bought with the sovereign you gave her and which I had got new covered), left stupidly on the roof of the coach, and never recollected till the coach, with its four horses, had thundered past the window! If the landlady would tell the coachman about it next day, and get it there, he, the old gentleman, would bring it to Sherborne House. I went into the lobby to tell the landlady, some five or eight minutes after the coach had started, and told her, in presence of a gentleman, who was preparing to start in a barouchette with two horses. He looked hard at me, but said nothing; and a minute or two after I saw him also drive past
[Page 171] the window. Some twenty minutes after, I started myself, in a little gig, with a brisk little horse, and silent driver. Nothing could be more pleasant than so pirring through quiet roads, in the dusk, with the moon coming out. I felt as if I were reading about myself in a Miss Austen novel. But it got beyond Miss Austen when, at the end of some three miles, before a sort of carrier's inn, the gentleman of the barouchette stept into the middle of the road, making a sort of military signal to my driver, which he repeated with impatience when the man did not at once draw up! I sat confounded, expecting what he would do next. We had halted; the gentleman came to my side, and said, exactly as in a book: 'Madam, I have the happiness of informing you that I have reclaimed your parasol; and it lies here in my carriage ready to be restored!' 'But how on earth?' I asked. 'Madam, I judged that it would be more pleasing for you to take the parasol along with yourself than to trust to its being brought by the other gentleman; so I just galloped my horses, overtook the coach as it was leaving this court, reclaimed the parasol, and have waited here, knowing you could take no other road to Sherborne, for the happiness of presenting it to you!' - To an ostler - 'Bring the parasol!' It was brought, and handed to me. And then I found myself making a speech in the same style, caught by the infection of the
[Page 172] thing. I said: 'Sir, this day has been full of mischances for me, but I regard the recovery of my parasol so unexpectedly as a good omen, and have a confidence that I shall now reach my destination in safety. Accept my thanks, though it is impossible to give any adequate expression to my sense of your courtesy!' I never certainly made so long and formal a speech in my life. And how I came to make anything like it I can't imagine, unless it were under mesmerism! We bowed to each other like first cousins of Sir Charles Grandison, and I pirred on. 'Do you know that gentleman?' I asked my driver. 'Never saw him before.'
I found Sherborne House without difficulty; and a stately, beautiful house it was, and a kind welcome it had for me. The mistake had been discovered in the morning, and great anxiety felt all day as to my fate. I was wonderfully little tired, and able to make them all (her too) laugh with my adventures. But I must positively interrupt this penny-a-lining, and go to bed. It is true to the letter, all I have told.
My two days at Sherborne House were as happy as could possibly be with that fearfully emaciated, dying woman before my eyes. They were all doing their best to be cheerful - herself as cheerful as the others. She never spoke of her death, except in taking leave of me; when she took my head in her
[Page 173] hand, and kissed it, and gave me her solemn blessing, and asked me to come again with you, to see William and the children, when she should be gone. That was a dreadful trial of my composure. I am so glad I went, it pleased her and all of them so much!
The journey back by Dorchester went all right, and was less expensive, for I came by the secondclass, and so saved the nine shillings my gig had cost me. It was a weary long way, however, from a quarter before nine till half after seven flying along in one shape or other, with only ten minutes' delay (at Southampton). My only adventure on the road back was falling in with a young unfortunate female in the Chelsea boat, the strangest compound of angel and devil that I ever set eyes on, and whom, had I been a great, rich lady, I should decidedly have - brought home to tea with me and tried 'to save!' The helpless thought that I had nothing to offer her instead alone prevented me. I could not leave her, however, without speaking to her, and my words were so moving, through my own emotion, that she rushed from me in tears to the other side of the vessel. You may feel a certain curiosity to know what I said. I only recollect something about 'her mother, alive or dead, and her evident superiority to the life she was leading.' She said, 'Do you think so, ma'm?' with a look of bitter wretchedness, and
[Page 174] forced gaiety that I shall never forget. She was trying to smile defiantly, when she burst into tears and ran away.
I made a frantic appeal to the workmen the other day, since when we have been getting on a little more briskly. The spokesman of them, a dashing young man, whom you have not seen, answered me: 'My dear (!) madam, you must have patience, indeed you must; it will be all done - some day!' The weather is most lovely. Monsieur le Thermomètre pretty generally at 70°.
My health continues wonderfully good. To-day I dine at the Brookfields', for what poor Helen used to call 'a fine change.'
Ever yours affectionately,
JANE W. C.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Tuesday night, Aug. 10, 1852.
Oh, my dear, what a comfortless letter! In your last from Linlathen you said you were 'decidedly better,' and now again you seem to be again 'all nohow.' I hope it has only been the fag of the journey. Don't fret about the house; it is getting on pretty fast now, and will be satisfactory when finished. For my part, I am got quite used to the
[Page 175] disturbance, and begin to like the - what shall I say? - excitement of it. To see something going on, and to help its going on, fulfils a great want of my nature. I have prevented so many mistakes being made, and afforded so many capital suggestions, that I begin to feel rather proud of myself, and to suspect I must have been a builder in some previous state of existence. The painter is my chief delight; he does his work so thoroughly. He is only in your bedroom as yet, but he has rubbed it all down with pumice-stone, till it looks as smooth as paper. And I have never been inconvenienced by any smell! Perhaps the house may be habitable a week or two sooner than I guessed, though I hardly think the workmen will be fairly out of it sooner. I shall 'see my way' better next week. The weather is capital for drying both paint and plaster, that is one blessing! My half of the low room is kept always tidy; the bedding, and tables with their legs in the air, as if in convulsions, which show themselves above the screen, often make me laugh. When the noise is very great I practise on the piano! I do quite well, in short; and don't see how I can be spared till things are done to my mind, and the chaotic heaps of furniture restored to their proper places. Decidedly nobody but myself can do that.
I found your letter to-day on my return from Tavistock House, where I had gone to see Forster.
[Page 176] He is staying there for a change, in the absence of the Dickenses. I had promised the Macreadys to go, and tell him about her, and found no time till to-day. I went by the boat to Paul's Wharf, like a goose, and found myself so far off my destination! Besides, a violent thunder-shower fell just as I set my foot on land, and having on a pair of those cheap boots I bought a stock of (chiefly paper, Mr. Carlyle!), my feet were wet through in two minutes. I went into a shop and bought a pair of stockings, then on till I found a good-looking shoe-shop, and bought a pair of real boots; left my dripping stockings and paper boots with the shoemaker, requesting that when they were dry, and not till then, he would pack them up and send them to the care of Forster; and so proceeded on my long walk dry-shod. Cleverly managed, don't you think? and 'regardless of expense.' Forster was very glad to see me. He is a little less helpless, but still on fish diet. I got into a Holborn omnibus after, which left me at the top of Regent Street; and then I went to Verey's, and had - a beautiful little mutton chop and a glass of bitter ale! That is the sort of thing I do! It was my second dinner at Verey's. Meat dinners at home are as nearly impossible as can be, and one sleeps ill on tea-dinners. The charge at Verey's is very moderate, and the cooking perfect. For my dinner and ale to-day I paid one-and-fivepence. The day I went to the Foundry I
[Page 177] dined at a clean-looking shop in the Strand, where I had half a roast chicken (warm; very small indeed), a large slice of warm ham, and three new potatoes, for one shilling! It amuses me, all that, besides keeping me in health; and for the outrage to 'delicate femaleism,' I am beyond all such considerations at present. However, I see single women besides myself at Verey's - not improper - governesses, and the like. And now good-night; I am off to bed.
Wednesday. - Ah! it is a tempting of Providence always to congratulate oneself on the weather! Today it 'is pouring hale water' (as Helen used to say), and has so poured all night. If it weren't for the paint and plaster's sake I should have no objection. I called at the London Library yesterday on my way home to get Madame de Staël's 'Mémoires' for Count Reichenbach. Mr. Donne never comes out of that end room seemingly. Mr. Jones was 'absent three days for a little pleasuring.' The tall young man was on the eve of his departure; had 'found on trial of six years that the place didn't suit him.' He was going to embark in a silk manufactory at Derby - 'a very good opening indeed.' Mrs. H----- M----- (did I tell you?) left your books and a card for me just before leaving town. Dilberoglue might surely call that 'glorious prudence!' Nevertheless she might have safely relied on her own powers of boring me,
[Page 178] and on my general indisposition to intrude! God help us! I don't know of any fine people remaining except the Farrars, who can't get away for fear of their house being robbed. Mazzini was here on Sunday morning, and made my hair stand on end with his projects. If he is not shot, or in an Austrian fortress within the month, it will be more by good luck than good guiding. I rely on the promise, 'God is kind to women, fools, and drunk people.'
Kind love to your mother and all of them. After going all that way to Sherborne for two days, who knows whether I shan't run to Scotsbrig for two days and see her when she is not thinking of me?
J. W. C.
If you won't go to Germany alone, and don't much like the notion, is there no little lodging to be got by the sea-side, within reach of Scotsbrig's butter and eggs, for two or three weeks, - for yourself, I mean?
T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Saturday, Aug. 14, 1852.
'With the best intentions always unfortunate.' I was putting together my packet yesterday, when
[Page 179] Dr. Weber came, and stayed long enough to belate the whole affair. He seemed bent on coming up to the immense expectations I must have formed of him. And that excessive desire to please was just what I disliked him for. But he is clever and gentlemanly, and thoroughgoing, to appearance at least, when looked at in front; for the back of his head and neck, and all down, has a different character, much less bred, and less intellectual; 'the human curve' not so well defined. He reminds me of a statue that had been perfectly polished in front, and left rough-hewn behind, to stand with its back to a wall. He gave me the most flourishing accounts of Lord and Lady A. And we parted after 'swearing everlasting friendship' to a certain very limited extent.
Your letter came after; and also, alas! came news, through Mr. Piper, of the death of Mazzini's mother. The accounts had been written to Mrs. Hawkes in two letters. She found them on her return from town, where she bad been all day, and, opening first the letter which told only of a stroke of apoplexy, she rushed off to Mazzini with the news. Having returned to her own house, she opened the second letter, which, in her agitation, she had not looked at, and found it an announcement of death,
[Page 180] and so had again to go to Mazzini. He is dreadfully struck down, the Pipers say. I have not seen him. I wrote him a few lines last night, and took them up myself, but would not go to him, though Mrs. Piper thought it might be good for him to see me. I am sure there are too many bothering him with kindness.
Kind regards to all.
JANE W. C.
Under way for Germany at last. My first visit. I remember too well the base miseries, and even horrors (physical, chiefly), which had now begun for me, and did not cease till the voyage did. At midnight (August 29 it must have been) I embarked at Leith on a small Rotterdam steamer (laden to the lip with iron I found, and the uneasiest of kicking little wretches); never sailed in such a craft before, or since; rested little, slept worse (except on a bench in the Rhine steamboat) till I got to Bonn. Neuberg waiting on the beach for me - Neuberg - but not any sleep there either. Pfui!
Hon. Byng, called Poodle Byng all his days, the Eton name he had.
'Engrush' for 'ingratiate' (a very old expression of ours).
Car il était très aimable, &c.: Robespierre - A Parisian myth which G. Lewes used to give us with first-rate mimicry, &c.
Fanny is 'Irish Fanny,' whom I recollect well; she was
[Page 181] by nature a very good girl (and got full generously treated here, even to the saving of her life, I might say), and she did well for a year or more; but after that sank to the common level or below it, and had to disappear like the others.
'Beautiful enthusiasm.' - Foolish, inflated English lady, of the elderly governess kind, who once came to us at Craigenputtock (where we had little need of her), spoke much to her of a 'Ba-ing I could love,' 'Brush the down from the cheek of,' &c. - T. C.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., Bonn.
Chelsea: Tuesday night, Sept. 1852.
When I returned from Addiscombe yesterday forenoon, I saw a letter on the table, and cut short poor Nero's vehement leaping to take it; and, lo! it was my own letter from Rotterdam, addressed to the London Library, St. James' Square! a fact which puzzled me extremely. 'An old man' had brought it from there, and said 'a shilling had been paid for it,' the second shilling the unlucky dud had cost. By-and-by I noticed that the envelope had the London Library mark on it, and then the small mystery was solved. I had written the letter at the London Library, after some hours of wild galloping in a street cab to ascertain about the passport: indeed that passport affair was as pretty a version of 'Simon Brodie's Cow' as any I have lately had on hand. To-day I have to thank you for a letter more agreeable to receive than that one. As
[Page 182] you have not got 'stolen or strayed' hitherto, one may now feel a moderate assurance that you will be safely landed at the far end of this journey to - what shall I say? - Flaetz! Neuberg being not likely either to lose sight of you, or to lose patience with you.
The Addiscombe programme was only once changed. We went on the Saturday instead of the Friday, separately of course; I by steamboat and railway. The G-----s, baby and all, came about an hour after me; and an hour after them the Poodle. Mrs. G. was as sweet as syrup, and dreadfully tiresome, her husband enqrushing himself, très aimable dans la société, and the baby a 'bit of fascination' seemingly for everyone but me. The visit went off harmoniously, but I got no better sleep in my entirely curtainless bed there than among the bugs at number two. On Monday forenoon the G-----s and I came back together by the railway. Lady A. was to come too, and sleep at Bath House, and go to the Grange this morning. Mr. G----- invited me to dine with them the same evening; but I preferred a chop and silence at home. He seems to be very fond of me, has a perception, I think, that I don't adore his wife, and is grateful to me for that. I was engaged to tea at the Farrars to-night; but a note came from Annie to say
[Page 183] that her mother was lying ill with a blister on her back, and her sister brought home from a visit she had been making with her nose broken, and otherwise all smashed by a dreadful fall. Poor girl! I saw her the day before I went to Addiscombe looking so pretty.
Thursday morning. - At this point I stopped on Tuesday night, the thunder and rain becoming too loud 'for anything.' It was still raining violently when I went to bed (in your room - the bed up; for the rest, carpetless and full of lumber), so I left only one of the windows open; and what with the paint smell, and the fatigue of having nailed up all the hangings myself, and the want of sleep at number two and at Addiscombe, I took quite ill in the middle of the night - colic, and such headache! In the morning I crawled down to the sofa in the parlour, and lay there all day, till eleven at night, in desperate agony, with a noise going on around me like the crack of doom. If it had not been for Fanny's kindness, who, when all else that she could do failed, fairly took to crying and sobbing over me, I think I must have died of the very horror and desolation of the thing; for the plasterers came back yesterday to finish the cornice in the new room, and the bricklayers were tramping out and in repairing the backyard; and the painter was making a rare smell of
[Page 184] new paint in my old bedroom; besides the two carpenters, into whose head the devil put it to saw the whole day, at God knows what, without a moment's intermission, except to hammer. I have passed a good many bad days in this world, but certainly never one so utterly wretched from mere physical and material causes as yesterday. It is over now, however, that bout, and I should be thankful to have held out so long.
In the evening came a note, which I was not up to looking at till some hours after, when lo! it was a few hurry-scurry lines from John, to say that he and 'the Ba-ing' were actually engaged; they were all well, I was to tell you, and had got your letter. No newspaper reached me except the Athenæum, which I supposed had been overlooked at Scotsbrig. I hope poor John is 'making a good thing of it;' the 'parties' having known each other for fifteen years, it is possible they mayn't be marrying on a basis of fiction. Reflecting with a half-tragical, half-comical feeling that John was just my own age, I turned to another letter still lying unopened, and found what might have been a proposal of marriage to - myself! had you not been alive at Bonn. A man who, having wished to marry me at fifteen, and 'with the best intentions proved unfortunate,' and whom I had seen but once these twenty years, now 'thought himself sufficiently master of his emotions to dare to
[Page 185] tell me that for nearly forty years (!) he had loved me with the same worshipful love - me, the only human soul who ever possessed the key to his locked heart!' And they say man is an inconstant animal! Poor fellow! I am afraid he must be going to die, or to go mad, or he would have continued to pursue the silent system, which use must have rendered easy to him. The practical inference from all this, and a good deal more I could instance, is that the laws of nature in the matter of love seem decidedly to be getting themselves new made; 'the bloom' not to be so 'speedily swept from the cheek of that beautiful enthusiasm.'
You may calculate on having your bedroom quite ready, and the new room in a cleaned-out state, not papered; but really that is easily to be borne after what has been to bear. The door in the parlour has been left as it was, partly because I dreaded to let the wretches begin any new mess, and partly because I find the room can be made so warm for winter by having the door opened into the passage, and the folding-door space completely filled by the screen. Now that I see a probable end to the carpenters and bricklayers, I may tell you, without putting you quite wild, that Mr. Morgan has been here just twice since you left home, and neither time have I seen him. The first time I was out at 'the balloon,' and the second time was yesterday,
[Page 186] when I was on my back in an agony, and could not have stood up for anyone. The botheration of hounding on the men of such a careless master, and the responsibility of directing them, you may partly figure. Fanny is the best comfort I have had, so willing to fly over the moon for me, and always making light of her discomforts. And now I must write a word of congratulation to John.
Ever affectionately yours,
J. W. C.
John Clerk (Lord Eldin ultimately), of the Scotch 'Court of Session,' a man of great faculty and singular, rather cynical, ways, and much famed in Edinburgh, was a dilettante in art withal, and an expensive collector of pictures. After his long-delayed advancement to the bench his faculties began to decline, and many stories of his outbreaks were current; e.g., Visitor one day (to Lord Eldin): 'What a bit of painting you have done there, my lord! Admirable! exquisite! Why, it reminds one of Titian!' Eldin: 'Titian (Tishon)? Tishon never did the like o't.' Jeffrey's story to us (twenty years before).
At Craigenputtock, foolish man-servant of ours, reporting his procedures on an errand to Edinburgh: 'Called for Mr. Inglis, ma'm, Messrs. Donald (Doandle) and Inglis, m'm.' 'Told me Inglis was not in, but Mr. Doandle yes, who was all the same as Mr. Inglis.'
To T. Carlyle, Poste Restante, Dresden.
Chelsea: Sunday, Sept. 13, 1852.
As there was already a letter gone to you, dear, and as next day was Sunday, when there would be some human quiet, I did not answer yesterday by return of post, but went instead to the city, where I had business. Indeed, it was well to get out into space yesterday, for the plasterers were rushing about like demons, finishing off, and clearing away their scaffoldings, &c., and the plumbers were once more boiling lead in the kitchen, to repair some spout on the roof, and a note I had written to Mr. Morgan, that your brother Alick 'never did the like o',' in point of sarcasm, had produced an influx of things perfectly bewildering. And the two carpenters, who have been too long together, fell to quarrelling so loud, that I had to send the painter to express my sentiments. In fact, it was a patent hell here yesterday for any 'lover of quiet things.'
In the evening I had a tea-party to wind up with. Had madly invited some people to meet a man, who, after all, couldn't come, but will come next Tuesday instead. The man was Herzen, whom you have had some correspondence with. He is in London for a
[Page 188] short time, and was very bent on seeing you; and Saffi, who is much with him, asked leave to bring him to me, not as being 'all the same as Mr. Doandle,' but as the Hades through which these people pass to you - or hope to. So I said he might bring him last night, and asked Darwin, and the Reichenbachs, and Brookfield to meet him - all in this end of a room. There were six of us, and we spoke four languages, and it is all to be done over again on Tuesday. Herzen is not a German as you fancied him, but a Russian; and he is rich, which is indicated by his having given Mazzini two hundred pounds for his objects.
Chapman has told Saffi to write him three articles, one on Italian religion, two more on Italian literature; and Saffi is very thankful to you. The other Chapman, when I was in his shop the other day to get a note from him to Griffiths, made me again the offer of 'very advantageous terms' for a novel of my own; so I have something to 'retire upon' in prospect, not inferior to 'an old washerwoman.'
But meanwhile what a pity it is that you can't get any good sleep; all the rest would be made smooth for you were that one condition granted. It is not only German beds, however, that one can't get sleep in. Three nights ago in desperation I
[Page 189] took a great dose of morphia for the same state of things, and was thankful to get four hours of something like forgetfulness by that 'questionable' means. I am not otherwise ill, however; that one horrid headache I told you of has been my only real illness since you left.
I had a long, very nice letter from John two days ago. His marriage is not to come off till November or December. He talks about it with an innocent faith that is quite touching, and already seems to be 'seeing his way' more clearly than I ever knew him to do. Thomas Erskine, too, wrote to me that 'he loved me much,' and wished he could see what God intended me for. I answered his letter, begging him to tell me 'what God intended me for,' since he knew and I didn't. It would be a satisfaction even to know it. It is surely a kind of impiety to speak of God as if He, too, were 'with the best intentions always unfortunate.' Either I am just what God intended me for, or God cannot 'carry out' His intentions, it would seem. And in that case I, for 'one solitary individual,' can't worship Him the least in the world.
I had a visit the other morning from Cooper, the Chartist; come, not to pay the five pounds he borrowed, but to 'ask for more!' You had desired him, he said, to apply to you again, if he were again in difficulty!! I told him that I 'had none to give
[Page 190] him,' and he took the refusal like a man used to it, quite 'light and airy.'
Fanny is really a nice servant; a dash of Irish 'rough and ready' in her, but a good cleaner, and a good cook, and a perfect incarnation of 'The Willing Mind!' Very tidy too in her own person, under all circumstances. An awful complication revealed itself two or three days after she came, which she stood by me under with a jolliness that was quite admirable. When the new-painted kitchen was capable of being slept in, she fell to taking the bed in pieces to give it 'a good washing.' Anne, who would never be at the trouble to look to her bed, pretended, when she did finally take it down by my express order, before she went away, to have found 'nothing worth mentioning;' 'just four bugs,' and these 'very small ones,' like the girl's illegitimate child. Well! I was sitting writing here, when Fanny came and said, 'Do step down, ma'am, and see what I have kept to show you;' and when I had gone down, not knowing what she had been at, there lay her bed all in pieces, and beside it a large basin of water, containing the drowned bodies of something like two hundred bugs!! The bed perfectly swarmed with these 'small beings;' was in fact impregnated with them beyond even my cleansing powers. We gathered it all up, and carried it out into the garden to be sold to a broker, who is coming
[Page 191] for certain rubbish of things; and I went the same day and bought a little iron bedstead for the kitchen, for one pound two-and-sixpence. The horror of these bugs quite maddened me for many days; and I would not tell you of them at the time, that you might not feel them prospectively biting you; but now I think we are 'quite shut of them.' The painter's consolation, that he 'knew fine houses in Belgrave Square where they were crawling about the drawing-room floors!' did not help me at all.
The poor white cat no longer gives offence to Nero; I suppose she 'couldn't stand the muddle,' like that girl who went away into infinite space two weeks ago. Darwin says, if I can put up with 'a cat with a bad heart,' I may have his. 'That minds me' (as Helen used to say) of an Italian, living with Mazzini at present, who is beating Saffi hollow in 'the pursuit of English under difficulties;' sitting down by some Englishman the other day, he said 'fluently,' 'Now let we have a nice cat together!' (chat).
How disappointed poor Bölte will be that I am not along with you! I will write to her one day.
Mr. Kenyon and Browning left their cards for me yesterday. I heard at Addiscombe that Macaulay was ill of some mortal disease, but the information seemed vague. Thiers is expected at the Grange the
[Page 192] first of November, 'to stay till they come to London, and live on at Bath House after.' And now, a Jew, a Jew! for I have still some writing to do before I go out: a letter to Geraldine in the Isle of Man, and one to John. My love to Neuberg, and bid him 'be strong.'
J. W. C.
To T. Carlyle, Poste Restante, Berlin.
20 Hemus Terrace, Chelsea: Sept. 25, 1852.
By this time, dear, you will have got my letter to Dresden. I wrote there according to your first instructions. Since then I have been rather pleased that uncertainty about your whereabout afforded me a fair excuse for observing silence. In all my life I was never in a state more unfavourable to letter-writing; so 'entangled in the details,' and so continually out of temper. I have often said that I couldn't be at the trouble to hate anyone; but now decidedly I hate one man - Mr. -----! His conduct has been perfectly shameful; not a promise kept, and not even an apology made for breaking them. I have ceased to write to him, or send any messages to him. I merely pray God to 'very particularly damn him.'
[Page 193] The carpenters, bricklayers, and plasterers are all gone out of the house; there are still some odds and ends for the carpenter to do, and the bricklayer will be outside; but the only work doing for the last week has been painting. And though Mr. ----- promised that two more painters should be sent to help the one already here, that promise has gone ad plures. Neither will he send back the paper-hangers to finish in the staircase. With this one painter it was impossible to do all that was needed before your return. So I have had to give up the painting of the lower rooms - too thankful to get them thoroughly cleaned once more, and refurnished. Fanny and Mrs. Heywood were two days washing the old paint, while I cleaned the paper; and two days more it took us to bring the furniture to its old condition. The new room is cleaned out, and has the old furniture in it; and, though sufficiently bare-looking, will not be uninhabitable during the winter, and when it is papered and furnished prettily, it will be a very fine room indeed. Chalmers said, with a look of envy, that we couldn't have got a house with such a room in it under a hundred and fifty pounds a year.
The new bedroom upstairs is still representing 'the belly of Chaos,' all things thrown out of their old
[Page 194] places finding refuge there, but my old bedroom will be 'better than I deserve' till the other is ready. The bed is up there, without curtains, but the work of rehabilitation is going on in it; so that it will be ready for sleeping in, when one can safely sleep in the house at all; which is not the case at present, the new paint in the staircases poisoning the whole house. And your bedroom! Ah! that has been the cruelest cut of all. I had it painted the first thing, that it might be well aired for you; and the presses you wished for, which they would not make on the spot, but must have made at the workshop, were ordered, and promised to be all painted there to save us the smell; and, behold! after keeping me up with this delusion for six weeks, they bring them home in raw wood - declaring they could not be painted till they were fixed up. And so that room, where I had been sleeping for a week, had to be again abandoned. I could not try the sofa in the parlour again, for the passage was all in wet paint; and I felt myself growing quite ill; got up every morning with a sick headache, and had got back my old sickness through the day, which I had hoped was gone for good. So there was no sense in staying on till I took a nervous fever, or some such thing. I went off then on a new hunt for lodgings; and found a decent little apartment next door to Mrs. Thorburn, whose house was
[Page 195] fully let. I have the ground floor, and my bed is quite free of 'small beings,' an unspeakable mercy. Indeed, it is a very comfortable little bedroom, though feebly furnished; and the people very decent, quiet people. I go home to breakfast every morning, and work there very hard till dinner-time - two o'clock, and for an hour after, or as long as I can bear the smell; and then I come back here to early tea, and spend the evening in pure air. The quantity of work it takes to restore order at Cheyne Row, and repair the ruin of that general upturn, is perfectly incredible. Three fittings, they say, is equal to a fire; but a 'thorough repair' is equal to three fires.
Oh, dear, in case I forget Masson! Masson is quite frantic at having received no testimonial from you. The election takes place on the fifth; so pray try to write to him in time. I promised to tell you his ardent wish as soon as I knew where to hit you with a letter.
I see hardly anybody; - going nowhere. Dr. H----- has called four times (!) without finding me; two of the times I was in the house - au secret. Darwin is into his new house, and now off to Shrewsbury for a little while. The Farrars are gone to Malvern. Poor Mrs. Macready is gone; died at Plymouth on the eighteenth. Miss Macready wrote me a long, most kind letter, telling me that till her
[Page 196] last hour she 'loved me much.' Her life had become too suffering, it is best that it is over.
I should like to have seen Göthe's and Schiller's house with you. In fact your travels, though you make them out rather disagreeable than otherwise, look to me quite tempting.
I have given you a good dose of the house this time; and, besides that, I have really no news worth telling. A. Sterling came one day; returned from Scotland, and on the road to Cowes - a dreadfully corpulent black Werter. A letter from John would be lying for you at Dresden with mine, so I need not tell his plans. I hope I shall like this new sister-in-law. He seems to think I have as much share in marrying her as himself has.
John Welsh has been made much of at Belfast, and complimented in public by Colonel Sykes. He sent me a Belfast newspaper. Oh! I had nearly forgotten - Lady Stanley has been in town, and sent to ask when she could find me, or if I would come to her. Drank tea with her - went and came in omnibus, but having Mrs. Heywood with me by way of lady's-maid. And now, good-night. I am very tired; and the tireder I am, the less I sleep.
To T. Carlyle, British Hotel, Unter den Linden, Berlin.
Chelsea: Oct. 5, 1852.
I write, dear, since you bid me write again; but upon my honour it were better to leave me silent; all the thoughts of my heart just now are curses on Mr. -----. I have not a word of comfort to give; I am wearied and sad and cross; feel as if death had been dissolved into a liquid, and I had drunk of it till I was full! Good gracious! that wet paint should have the power of poisoning one's soul as well as one's body! But it is not the wet paint simply; it is the provocation of having an abominable process spun out so interminably, and the prospect of your finding your house hardly habitable after such long absence and weary travel. Never in all my life has my temper been so tried. So anxious I have been to get on, and the workmen only sent here, seemingly, when they have nowhere else to go, and Mr. ----- dwindled away into a myth! Not once have I seen his face! I will have your bedroom at least in order for you, and if the smell of the staircase is too bad, you must just stay the shorter time here. Lady A. wrote to invite us to the Grange on the fifteenth, for 'a long visit,' and I have engaged to go - myself for a week or ten days; but if you, I said, could stay longer it would be the better for
[Page 198] you. We shall see how it smells when you come, and need not make long programmes.
For myself I have been sleeping about at home, again, have done so since Monday. I had to give up my snug little lodging suddenly and remain here, for 'reasons which it may be interesting not to state.' As the painter (only one can I get) paints me out of one floor, I move to another; but I have slept oftenest in the back parlour, on the sofa, which stands there in permanency, and which, with four chairs and a quantity of pillows, I have made into an excellent bed. But surely it were more agreeable to write of something else.
Dr. H----- then! What Doctor H----- means I am at a loss to conjecture, but that he comes here oftener than natural is a positive fact. After the five ineffectual visits he made a sixth, which was successful. I was at home, and he stayed an hour and half! - looking so lovingly into my eyes that I felt more puzzled than ever. Is it to hear of Lady A. he comes? I thought, and started that topic, but he let it drop without any appearance of particular interest. 'He is an Austrian,' I thought again, and all Austrians are born spies, Reichenbach said; he may know I am the friend of Mazzini, and be wanting to find out things of him; so then I brought in the name of Mazzini, but that was also no go. When he was going away he said, 'In a few days I will do
[Page 199] myself the honour of calling again!' I did not want him to be taking up my time in the mornings, so I said, 'It was the merest chance finding me at present in the mornings.' 'At what time then may I hope to find you?' 'In the evenings,' I said, 'but it is too far for you to come then.' 'Oh, not at all.' Better fix an evening I thought, and have somebody to meet him. So I asked him for Wednesday, and had Saffi and Reichenbach here, and both were charmed with him, as well they might be, for he took such pains to please us; actually at my first request sang to us without any accompaniment. To-day he has been here again with his wife, a pretty, ladylike, rather silly young woman, whom Lady A. has taken into favour. Mrs. G ----- called yesterday - of the same genus. The Captain is come to town and is on his good behaviour for the moment. He says he was keeping a journal of his travels in Scotland, but when he found no letter from me at Oban where he had begged me to write, he dropt his journal - 'never wrote another word.'
I have had no accounts from John very lately - entangled in the details no doubt; indeed, I get almost no letters, not having composure or time to write any.
Geraldine has been some weeks in the Isle of Man, making love to some cousin (a doctor) she has there, and even she has fallen mute.
[Page 200] Last Sunday I thought I had got a letter! Oh, worth all the letters that this earth could have given me! I was tumbling two boxfuls of my papers into one large box, when the desire took me to look into my father's day-book, which I had never opened since it came to me, wrapt in newspaper, and sealed, from Templand. I removed the cover and opened it; and fancy my feelings on seeing a large letter lying inside, addressed 'Mrs. Carlyle,' in my mother's handwriting, with three unbroken seals of her ring! I sat with it in my hands, staring at it, with my heart beating and my head quite dizzy. Here was at last the letter I had hoped would be found at Templand after her death - now, after so many years, after so much sorrow! I am sure I sat ten minutes before I could open it, and when I did open it I could not see to read anything. Alas! it was not that wished-for letter of farewell; still it was something. The deed was there, making over my property to her, and, written inside the envelope were a few words: 'When this comes into your possession, my dearest child, do not forget my sister. - G. W., Templand, May 1827.'
Beside the deed lay my letter, which accompanied it, and a long, long letter, also mine, most sad to read, about my marriage, some copies of letters also in my father's writing, and a black profile of him. On the whole I felt to have found a treasure, though I was
[Page 201] dreadfully disappointed too, and could do nothing all the day after but cry.
Wednesday, 6th. - Last night I took to crying again at this point; besides, it was more than time to go to bed (figuratively speaking); and now I have my all work to attend to. Fanny continues the best-tempered of creatures, and her health keeps pretty good through all the mess; so that decidedly one may hope she will be equal to our needs in the normal state of things.
Do you know I think I have found out, though Erskine has never written to tell me, 'what God intended me for' - a detective policeman! I should have gone far in that career had it been open to my talent! You may remember an ornament I have been wearing for some years on my neck, or rather you certainly remember nothing about it. It was a large topaz, set richly in gold, forming a clasp to a bit of black velvet ribbon. Well, this disappeared while I was at my last lodging, and I was very sorry, as it was the first jewel I ever possessed, and was given me by my father. As I had perfect faith in the honesty of the simple people of the lodgings, I would not fancy it stolen there, and as little was it possible for me to believe anyone here had stolen it; it was gone anyhow, and for the first time in my life I let a thing I valued go, helplessly and hopelessly,
[Page 202] without one effort to recover it, beyond searching thoroughly the two places. One day, about a week after, it came into my head in the King's Road, 'Does it not look like a decay of my faculties to so part with my clasp? How many things have I not recovered by trying the impossible?' And then I said to myself, 'It is not too late for the impossible even now;' and set myself to 'consider ' - thus: 'I am certain it is not mislaid, either at the lodging or at home; I have searched too thoroughly. I am equally certain that in neither house would any of the people have stolen it. Ergo, it must have been lost off my neck, or out of my pocket, out of doors. Off my neck? No; I had a blue ribbon on my neck when it was lost. Out of my pocket then? Now it couldn't have leapt out of my pocket; it must have been pulled out with my handkerchief or my purse. With my handkerchief? No, I never use one, unless I am crying, or have a cold in my head; and I don't cry on the streets, and have had no colds this twelve-month. With my purse, then, it must have been pulled out - ergo in some shop. I could not be pulling out my purse, except to pay for something. Now what shops was I in last week? I could easily count them: the Post Office, Warne's, Smith's, Todd's. I asked at the Post Office, at Smith's - no result; at Todd's - the same careless answer - but suddenly a gleam of intelligence came over Mrs. Todd's face, and she exclaimed to her girl, 'That couldn't be gold surely,
[Page 203] that thing the children were playing with!' And it was my clasp, found by Mrs. Todd under a chair in her shop, and taken for 'a thing of no value,' and given to her little boys to play with; and so well had they played with it that only the setting could be found, and that after two days' search; the topaz had been 'lost in the Green Park!' But I was so glad to have the frame at least, and am getting some hair put in it, instead of the stone. But just fancy recovering such a thing out of space in London, after a week! I wonder if my letter will be over-weight. Such weather - rain, rain, and the paint - ecco la combinazione! Kind regards to Neuberg, who will certainly go to Heaven without any lingering in Purgatory.
Ever affectionately yours,
J. W. Carlyle.
To Dr. Carlyle.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Friday, Oct. 18, 1852.
My dear John, - The last letter you got from me lay here two days before it got posted. I was put in what Anthony Sterling calls 'a state of mind,' and forgot it in my pocket. It was written at Hemus Terrace, that letter, late at night, and after writing it I went to bed, and I awoke with a bad headache, and when I got up at my usual hour (six o'clock), I reeled about like 'a drunk' (as Mazzini would say). But as no coffee or attentions were
[Page 204] there, I would go home to breakfast as usual, and, after splashing my head with cold water, succeeded in getting my clothes on. When I opened the front door it was a deluge of rain, and I had only thin silk shoes, with holes in them, and no umbrella. A beautiful outlook, with a sick headache! I rang the bell, and implored the landlady's daughter to lend me a pair of clogs and an umbrella, and these being vouchsafed me, I dragged home, thinking resolutely of the hot coffee that Fanny would have all ready for me, to be taken at the kitchen fire, and the kind sympathy that she would accompany it with. On reaching my own door I could hardly stand, and leant on the rails till it was opened. Fanny did not open it, but a Mrs. Heywood, who had been assisting in the cleaning for some days - a decent, disagreeable young woman. 'Oh,' she said, the first thing, 'we are so glad you are come! Fanny is in such a way! The house has been broken into during the night! the police are now in the kitchen!' Here was a cure for a sick headache! and it did cure it. 'Have they taken much?' I asked. 'Oh, all Fanny's best things, and a silver table-spoon, and a table-cloth besides!' A mercy it was no worse! In the kitchen stood two police - sergeants, writing down in a book the stolen items from Fanny's dictation; she, poor thing, looking deathly. There was no coffee, of course - no fire even - everything had gone to
[Page 205] distraction. The thieves had come in at the larder window, which Mr. Morgan had kept without a frame (!) for three weeks; the bolts on the outside of the back-kitchen door had saved the whole house from being robbed, for Fanny slept sound and never heard them. They had taken her nice new large trunk out of the back kitchen into the larder, broken off the lock, and tumbled all the contents on the floor, carrying away two shawls, two new dresses, and a variety of articles, along with the spoon, which had unluckily been left, after creaming the milk for my tea, and a table-cloth (good), which had been drying Nero; they had also drunk the milk for my breakfast, and eaten a sweet cake baked for me by Mrs. Piper; but they had not taken the half of Fanny's clothes, which are all excellent; nor three sovereigns, which she had lying wrapped in a bit of brown paper at the bottom of her box; nor a good many things of mine that were lying open in a basket for the laundress, and which they had also tumbled on the floor; nor many little things lying about in the back kitchen, which would have been useful to them, whence I infer that they had been frightened away. Fanny, though not conscious of having heard them, said that about midnight 'something awoke her,' and she stretched out her hand for her handkerchief which lay on a table at her bedside, and in so doing knocked over a brass candlestick,
[Page 206] which 'made a devil of a row ' - doubtless that had disturbed them, or we should have lost more. As it was, Fanny's loss amounted to four sovereigns, I computed, which, of course, I gave her, though she was not expecting, poor thing, to be compensated, and kept declaring she was thankful it was her, and not the mistress, that had lost most. There were dirty prints of naked feet all over the larder shelf, on which they stepped from the window; a piece of the new shelf burnt with a candle that had been stuck to it. A mercy the fine new house was not set on fire! Policemen, four of them, kept coming in plain clothes, and in uniform, for the next three days, talking the most confounded nonsense, and then died away re infecta, not a trace of any of the corpus delicti found. Mr. Chalmers had a pair of heavy steps carried over his wall, and applied to a window of number one the same night, and a pair of bad worsted stockings left in his conservatory; the carrying away of the steps proved there had been more than one thief, as they were too heavy for one to take over a high wall. The window at number one was got up a little way, but stuck there. Almost every night since some house in the immediate neighbourhood has been entered or attempted, and still the police go about 'with their fingers in their mouths.' Of course I no longer went out to sleep, but occupied the sofa below, where the paint was least noxious.
[Page 207] Fanny was thrown into such a nervous state that I was sure she would take a nervous fever if she were not relieved from all sense of responsibility, which could only be through my own presence in the house. So I declined Mr. Piper's offer to come and sleep here instead of me. Besides, as they had seen our open condition - ladders of all lengths lying in the garden, and all the windows to the back, except the parlour ones, absolutely without fastenings (!) - I had considerable apprehension that they would return in greater force, and Mr. Piper, his wife confessed to me, 'would be useless against thieves, as he slept like a stone.' I sleep lightly enough for such emergency, and if I had to wait several days before the carpenter would return to put on the fastenings, I could at least furnish myself with a pair of loaded pistols. Capital good ones lie at my bedside every night, the identical pistols with which old Walter of the Times was to have fought his duel, which did not come off. Bars of iron I got put in the larder window next day, independently of Mr. Morgan. In a day or two more these bothering ladders will be taken away, and then, when I go to the Grange on Friday, Mr. Piper can come for the consolation of Fanny's imagination, and sleep as sound as he likes. I took care to let all the workmen, and extraneous people about, know of my loaded pistols. The painter came and examined them one day when I
[Page 208] was out, and said to Fanny: 'I shouldn't like to be a thief within twenty feet of your mistress, with one of these pistols in her hand. I shouldn't give much for my life; she has such a devil of a straight eye!' The workmen have all had to suffer a good deal from my 'eye,' which has often proved their foot rules and leads in error.
In writing to Isabella to-night I said nothing of all this, in case of frightening your mother, nor have I told Mr. Carlyle, in case he should take it in his head to be uneasy, which is not likely, but just possible.
And now good-night, and kind regards to the Ba-ing .
Returning (middle of October, 1852), 'half dead,' out of those German horrors of indigestion, insomnia, and continual chaotic wretchedness, I fly upstairs to my poor Heroic Helper; am met by her dear warning, 'Take care of the paint!' and find that she too is still fighting - has not conquered - that beast of a task, undertaken voluntarily for love of one unworthy. Alas, alas! it pains me to the heart, as it may well do, to think of all that. Was ever any noble, delicate, and tender woman plunged into such an abyss of base miseries by her own nobleness of heart and of talent, and the black stupidities of others? She was engaged out to dinner, and, as it was already night, constrained me to go with her, Hans Place. Senior, Frederick Elliot, &c. - not a charming thing in the circumstances.
[Page 209] We hereupon took refuge for a week or ten days (it seems) at the Grange - nothing recollected by me there - and by November were at last settled in our own clean house. Frederick had been upon my mind since 1851, and much reading and considering going on; but even yet, after my German investments of toil and pain, I felt uncertain, disinclined; and in the end engaged in it merely on the principle Tantus labor non sit cassus (as the 'Dies Iræ' has it). My heart was not in it: other such shoreless and bottomless chaos, with traces of a hero imprisoned there, I did never behold, nor will another soon in this world. Stupiditas stupiditatum, omnia stupiditas.
Beginning of March 1853 I must have been again at the Grange for about a month. Portuguese Ambassador and other lofty insignificances I can vaguely recollect, but their date not at all. She from some wise choice of her own, wise and kind it was sure to be, had remained at home. - T. C.
To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row: Friday, Dec. 31, 1852.
My dear Mrs. Russell, - Here is another year; God help us all! I hope it finds you better than when I last heard of you from my friends at Auchtertool. I have often been meaning to write to you without waiting for a New Year's Day; but in all my life I never have been so driven off all letter-writing as since the repairs began in this house. There were four months of that confusion, which ended quite romantically, in my having to sleep with loaded pistols at my bedside! the smell of paint making it as much as
[Page 210] my life was worth to sleep with closed windows, and the thieves having become aware of the state of the premises. Once they got in and stole some six pounds' worth of things, before they were frightened away by a candlestick falling and making what my Irish maid called 'a devil of a row;' it was rather to be called 'an angel of a row,' as it saved further depredation. Another time they climbed up to the drawing-room windows, and found them fastened, for a wonder! Another night I was alarmed by a sound as of a pane of glass cut, and leapt out of bed, and struck a light, and listened, and heard the same sound repeated, and then a great bang, like breaking in some panel. I took one of my loaded pistols, and went downstairs, and then another bang which I perceived was at the front door. 'What do you want?' I asked; 'who are you?' 'It's the policeman, if you please; do you know that your parlour windows are both open?' It was true! I had forgotten to close them, and the policeman had first tried the bell, which made the shivering sound, the wire being detached from the bell, and when he found he could not ring it he had beaten on the door with his stick, the knocker also being off while it was getting painted. I could not help laughing at what the man's feelings would have been had he known of the cocked pistol within a few inches of him. All that sort of thing, and much else more disagreeable, and less amusing,
[Page 211] quite took away all my spirit for writing; then, when Mr. C----- returned from Germany, we went to the Grange for some weeks; then when I came home, and the workmen were actually out of the house, there was everything to look for, and be put in its place, and really things are hardly in their places up to this hour. Heaven defend me from ever again having any house I live in 'made habitable!'
What beautiful weather! I was walking in the garden by moonlight last night without bonnet or shawl! A difference from being shut up for four months, as I used to be in the winter.
All is quiet in London now that we have got that weary Duke's funeral over; for a while it made our neighbourhood perfectly intolerable. I never saw streets so jammed with human beings in all my life. I saw the lying-in-state, at the cost of being crushed for four hours, and it was much like scenes I have seen in the Lyceum Theatre, only not so well got up as Vestris would have had it. I also saw the procession from Bath House, and that too displeased me; however, when the funeral car happened to stop exactly opposite to the window I was sitting at for some eight minutes, and I saw Lord Ashburton, and several others of the Duke's personal friends standing on the terrace underneath, with their hats off, looking on the ground very sorrowful, and remembered that the last time I had seen the old Duke alive was in that very
[Page 212] room, I could not help feeling as if he were pausing there to take eternal leave of us all, and fell to crying, and couldn't stop till it was all over. I send you some pictures of the thing which are quite accurate. It may amuse you to see what you must have read so much of in the newspapers.
And now will you give Mary and Margaret some tea or something, with my blessing, and dispose of the rest of the sovereign as you see fit?
With kindest regards to your husband and father, believe me
Ever, dear Mrs. Russell,
Sir James Stephen used to frequent us on an evening now and then - a volunteer, and much welcome always. Son is the now notable James Fitzjames. Fat Boy is Senior the younger; had been at Malvern with us for the reason below, 'too much 'ealth,' according to the Gullies. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., at the Grange.
Chelsea Thursday, March 31, 1853.
Several letters for you; but nothing to tell, except that we have had a - what shall I say? - second fright with the cat! He or she (whichever be its honour-worthy sex) disappeared this time for a whole day and night together, and having gone away over the garden wall, returned by the front area. A clever
[Page 213] cat this one, evidently, but of an unsettled turn of mind. The weather is beautiful now; the wind in the east, I fancy, from the roughness of my general skin; but the sun cannot be shining more brightly even at the Grange.
Sir James Stephen and his inseparable long son left a card yesterday. I saw them from the top of the street, and slackened my steps, till they were clear off. 'The Fat Boy' also made an ineffectual call one day, surely in a moment of 'too much 'elth!' I was in the house, but 'engaged,' reading the last pages of 'Jeanne de Vaudreuil,' which, if Lady A. felt down to reading a pretty religious book, you may safely recommend to her; it is worth a dozen 'Preciosas.'
When I was paying a bill at Wain's on Monday, he asked, with an attempted solemnity, 'had I heard the news?' 'No, I had heard nothing; what was it?' 'The Queen!' 'Well?' 'Premature labour.' 'Well! what of that?' 'But - accompanied with death!' 'The child you mean?' 'No, the Queen! - very distressing isn't it, ma'am - so young a woman? Is there anything I can have the pleasure of sending you to-day?' I hardly believed the thing, and by going a little further satisfied myself it was 'a false report.' But was not that way of looking at it, 'so young a woman,' noteworthy? Mr. Wain being a model of respectable shopkeepers. What a difference since the time of the Princess Charlotte!
[Page 214] Tell Lady A. that I think there is no great harm in oranges in the forenoon; the rubbish at dessert is what you need to be withheld from.
I should be glad if you would ask for a bouquet for me when you are coming away.
J. W. C.
'Moffat House,' where brother John was now established with his wife, is the Raehills' (Hope Johnstone) town house; a big, old-fashioned, red ashlar edifice, stands gaunt and high in the central part of Moffat; which the Hope Johnstones now never use, and which, some time ago, brother John had rented as a dwelling-place, handy for Scotsbrig, &c., being one of various advantages. 'Beattock' (ancient Roman, it is thought) is now the railway station about a mile from Moffat.
To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Moffat House: Friday, July 8, 1853.
And my letter must be in the Post Office before one o'clock! 'Very absurd!' And I have had to go to Beattock in the omnibus with my cousin Helen to see her off for Glasgow, and am so tired! Don't wonder then if you get a 'John's letter' from me also.
The most important thing I have to tell you is,
[Page 215] that you could not know me here, as I sit, from a Red-Indian! That I was kept awake the first night after my arrival by a - hyæna! (Yes, upon my honour; and you complain of a simple cock!) And that yesterday I was as near as possible to giving occasion for the most romantic paragraph, of the 'melancholy accident' nature, that has appeared in any newspaper for some years!
But, first, of the hyæna. On my arrival I found an immense caravan of wild beasts, pitched exactly in front of this house; and they went on their way during the night, and the animal in question made a devil of a row. I thought it was the lion roaring; but John said 'No, it was only the hyæna!' I rather enjoyed the oddness of having fled into the country for 'quiet,' and being kept awake by wild beasts!
Well, having got no sleep the first night, owing to these beasts, and my faceache, I felt very bothered all Wednesday, and gladly accepted John's offer to tell you of my safe arrival, meaning to write myself yesterday. But it was settled that we should go yesterday to see St. Mary's Loch, and the Grey-Mare's Tail. We started at nine of the morning in an open carriage, 'the Doctor,' and Phoebe - a tall, red-haired young woman, with a hoarse voice, who is here on a visit ('the bridesmaid' she was); my
[Page 216] cousin Helen, one little boy, and myself: the other two boys preceding us on horseback. It was the loveliest of days; and beautifuller scenery I never beheld. Besides that, it was full of tender interest for me as the birthplace of my mother. No pursuit of the picturesque had ever gone better with me till on the way back, when we stopped to take a nearer inspection of the Tail. The boys had been left fishing in the Loch of the Lows. John and Miss Hutchison had gone over the hills by another road to look at Loch Skene, and were to meet us at the Tail; so there were only Phoebe, Helen, and I as we went up to the Tail from underneath.
We went on together to the customary point of view, and then I scrambled on by myself (that is, with Nero), from my habitual tendency to go a little further always than the rest. Nero grew quite frightened, and pressed against my legs; and when we came close in front of the waterfall, he stretched his neck out at it from under my petticoats, and then barked furiously. Just then, I saw John waving his hat to me from the top of the hill; and, excited by the grandeur of the scene, I quite forgot how old I was, how out of the practice of 'speeling rocks;' and quite forgot, too, that John had made me take the night before a double dose of morphia, which was still in my head, making it very light; and I began to climb up the precipice! For a little way I
[Page 217] got on well enough; but when I discovered that I was climbing up a ridge (!), that the precipice was not only behind but on both sides of me, I grew, for the first time in my life that I remember of, frightened, physically frightened; I was not only afraid of falling down, but of losing my head to the extent of throwing myself down. To go back on my hands and knees as I had come up was impossible; my only chance was to look at the grass under my face, and toil on till John should see me. I tried to call to him, but my tongue stuck fast and dry to the roof of my mouth; Nero barking with terror, and keeping close to my head, still further confused me. John had meanwhile been descending the hill; and, holding by the grass, we reached one another. He said, 'Hold on; don't give way to panic! I will stand between you and everything short of death.' We had now got off the ridge, on to the slope of the hill; but it was so steep that, in the panic I had taken, my danger was extreme for the next quarter of an hour. The bed of a torrent, visible up there, had been for a long time the object of my desire; I thought I should stick faster there, than on the grassy slope with the precipice at the bottom of it: but John called to me that 'if I got among those stones I should roll to perdition.' He was very kind, encouraging me all he could, but no other assistance was possible. In my life I was never
[Page 218] so thankful as when I found myself at the bottom of that hill with a glass of water to drink. None of them knew the horrors I had suffered, for I made no screaming or crying; but my face, they said, was purple all over, with a large black spot under each eye. And to-day I still retain something of the same complexion, and I am all of a tremble, as if I had been on the rack.
It is a lovely place this, and a charming old-fashioned house, with 'grounds' at the back. It is comfortably but plainly and old-fashionedly furnished, looks as if it had been stripped of all its ornamental details, and just the necessaries left; There is a cook, housemaid, and lady's-maid, and everything goes on very nicely. The three boys are as clever, well-behaved boys as I ever saw, and seem excessively fond of 'the Doctor.' John is as kind as kind can be, and seems to have an excellent gift of making his guests comfortable. Phoebe's manner is so different from mine, so formal and cold, that I don't feel at ease with her yet. She looks to me like a woman who had been all her life made the first person with those she lived beside, and to feel herself in a false position when she doubts her superiority being recognised. She seems very content with John, however, and to suit him entirely.
[Page 219] My hand shakes so, you must excuse illegibility.
I don't know yet when I am to go to Scotsbrig.
[No room to sign.]
Mrs. Braid is the excellent, much loving, and much loved old servant Betty. Her husband Braid, an honest enough East-Lothian man, is by trade and employment a journeyman mason in Edinburgh, his wife keeping a little shop in Adam Street there by way of supplement. They have one child, 'George,' an innocent, good lad, who has learned the watchmaking business, and promises modestly in all ways to do well; but had, about this time, fallen into a kind of languid illness, from which, growing ever worse, and gradually deepening into utter paralysis, he never could recover, but was for eight or nine years the one continual care of poor Betty till he died.
Mrs. Braid, Adam Street, Edinburgh.
Moffat House, Moffat: July 13, 1853.
My dearest Betty, - I am afraid almost to tell you that I am here, without being able to say positively that I am coming to see you. When I left London, to see you was one of the chief pleasures I expected from my travels. I intended to be in Scotland some six weeks at least, and to go to Haddington and Fife. But now it seems likely I shall have to return to London, almost immediately, without having seen anyone but my husband's relations in Dumfriesshire. Mr. Carlyle remained behind at Chelsea, having never
[Page 220] recovered (he says) from the knocking about he had last year in Scotland and Germany, while the house was repairing. He is very melancholy and helpless left alone at the best of times; and now I am afraid he is going to have a great sorrow in the death of his old mother. She has been in a frail way for years back; but within the last few days her weakness has increased so much that Dr. Carlyle thinks it probable enough she may not rally again, in which case I shall go home at once, to be some help to Mr. Carlyle. I am staying now with Dr. Carlyle's wife, while he himself is gone to see his mother; and his report to-night will decide me what to do. So in case I do not see you, dear Betty - and I fear I shall not see you - here is a ribbon, in remembrance of my birthday, with a kiss and my blessing.
Mr. Erskine writes that he saw you, and liked you very much. I am sure you would like him too.
The little view at the top of this sheet is where I live in London.
Bishop Terrot told me George was poorly when he saw you last. I hope he is recovered. If I do not write within a week, address to me, Cheyne Row, Chelsea.
Her visit to my mother I perfectly remember, and how my dear old mother insisted to rise from bed to be dressed, and go downstairs to receive her daughter-in-law out of doors, and punctually did so. I suppose the last time she was in holiday clothes in this world! It touched me much. My Jane she had always honoured as queen of us all. Never was a more perfect politeness of heart, beautifully shining through its naïve bits of embarrassments and simple peasant forms. A pious mother, if there ever was one: pious to God the Maker and to all He had made. Intellect, humour, softest pity, love, and, before all, perfect veracity in thought, in word, mind, and action; these were her characteristics, and had been now for above eighty-three years, in a humbly diligent, beneficent, and often toilsome and suffering life, which right surely had not been in vain for herself or others. The end was now evidently nigh, nor could we even wish, on those terms, much longer. Her state of utter feebleness and totally ruined health last year (1852) had been tragically plain to me on leaving for Germany. For the first time even my presence could give no pleasure, her head now so heavy.
These by my Jeannie are the last clear views I had of this nobly human mother. It is pity any such letters should he lost.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
Scotsbrig: July 20, 1853.
I daresay you have thought me very neglectful, dear, in not writing yesterday, to give you news of your mother; but there was nothing comfortable, or even positive, to be said yesterday; and to torture
[Page 222] you at a distance with miserable uncertainties seemed a cruel attention. Through Saturday and Sunday your mother continued much the same as I found her on my last coming. Too weak and frail to be out of bed, but without pain or sickness; for the rest, perfectly clear in her mind, and liking us to be in the room talking to her. During the Sunday night she became very restless, and about seven on Monday morning she fell into a state which was considered by all here, the minister included, to be the beginning of the end. There was no pain, no struggle. She lay without sense or motion, cold and deathlike, hardly breathing at all. The minister prayed without her hearing him. John and Mary were sent for, with scarce a hope that they could arrive in time, and all of us sat in solemn silence awaiting the end. Had it come thus, you would have had no cause to lament, dear; a more merciful termination there could not have been to a good life. But after lying in this state from seven in the morning till a quarter after two in the day, she rallied as by miracle. Jane was wiping her lips with a wet sponge, when she (your mother) suddenly took the sponge out of Jane's hand and sponged her face all over with her own hand; then she opened her eyes, and spoke quite collectedly, as if nothing had happened; nor has she ever shown the least consciousness of having come through that fearful crisis.
[Page 223] When John and Mary arrived together, at a quarter after four, not expecting to find her alive, they found her a little weaker perhaps, but not otherwise worse than when they left her. She talked a good deal to me during the afternoon; said you had been as good a son to her as ever woman had; 'but indeed they had been all good bairns; and Isabella, puir bodie, was gaiy distressed hersell, and it was just to say that Isabella had been often kind to her, extraordinar kind, and was ay kindest when they were alane thegither, and she had none else to depend on.' That I can well believe; and very glad I was to have those kind words to carry to Jamie and Isabella. Isabella had been crying all morning, for since Jane came your mother had hardly spoken to her. When I left your mother that night, she said in a clear, loud voice, 'I thank ye most kindly for all your attentions.' 'Oh, if I could but do you any good!' I said. 'Ye have done me good, mony a time,' she answered. I went to bed to lie awake all night, listening for noises. John slept in the mid-room. But the light of a new day found your mother better, rather than worse. It was more the recollection of the state in which she had been than her actual state that kept us in agitation all yesterday. One thing that leads me to believe her life will be prolonged is, that she recovered out of that crisis
[Page 224] by the natural strength that was still in her; she must have been much stronger than anyone thought, to have rallied after so many hours of such deathlike prostration, entirely of herself.
She had been in the habit of getting what seems to me perfectly extraordinary quantities of wine, whisky, and porter, exciting a false strength, not to be depended on for an hour. Of late days this system has been discontinued, and she takes now only little drops of wine and water, two or three times a day, and about the third of a tumbler of Guinness' porter at night. The day that John was sent for last week, he told me himself she had 'a bottle of wine (strong Greek wine), a quarter of a bottle of whisky (25 over proof), besides a tumbler of porter.' A life kept up in that way was neither to be depended on, nor I should say to be desired. Now she is living on her own strength, such as it is; and you may conceive what irritation is removed. I don't know whether it is to be considered lucky or unlucky that I came at this time. Of course I give as little trouble as possible, and make myself as useful as possible, and I feel sure that Jamie and Isabella like me to be here, even under these sad circumstances, and that the sight of me coming and going in her room does your mother good rather than harm; and then I shall be able to answer all your questions about her when I come back, better than the others could do by letter. As
[Page 225] for Mary, she is the same kindly soul as I knew her at Craigenputtock. Jamie was to have driven me over to the Gill on Monday, and instead the empty gig was sent to bring Mary here. She ran out of the house to meet me, and was told her mother was at the point of death. She is still here - but goes home tomorrow, I believe; and John goes back to Moffat to-day. He will probably be down again to-morrow. It is a comfort to himself to come, but he can do nothing; no doctor can do anything against old age, which is your mother's whole disease.
I shall be home one of these days. Any little spirits for visiting and travelling that I had left are completely worn out by what I have found here. I only wait till things are re-established in a state in which I can leave with comfort.
I have just been to see if your mother had awoke; she has slept two hours. I asked her if she had any message for you, and she said, 'None, I am afraid, that he will like to hear, for he'll be sorry that I'm so frail.' She has had some chicken broth. I will write again to-morrow, and I beseech you not to be fancying her ill off in any way. She has no pain, no anxiety of mind, is more comfortable, really, lying in bed there 'so frail,' than we have often seen her going about after her work. She is attended to every moment of the day, gets everything she is able to take. No one can predict as to the length of her
[Page 226] life, after what we saw on Monday; but there is nothing in her actual state or appearance to make it impossible, or even improbable, that she should live a long time yet. I would much rather not have written to-day, but I judged that my silence might alarm you even more than the truth told you. I like few things worse than writing ill news.
Ever affectionately yours,
J. W. CARLYLE.
I had a very kind letter from Jeannie Chrystal, pressing me to go there for a week or two; but, as I have said, I am quite out of heart. I have had no sleep the last two nights, and shall get none now, probably, till I am in my own bed at Chelsea. It is quite affecting, James's devoted attention to me. If I am but out half an hour for a walk, he will follow me to my bedroom, no matter how early in the day, carrying (very awkwardly, you may be sure) a little tray with a decanter of wine (not the Greek wine, but wine bought for me by himself) and a plateful of shortbread. Nor can anybody be more heartily and politely kind than Isabella has been to me.
My remembrances to Fanny.
To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Scotsbrig: Thursday, July 21, 1853.
It is a pleasure to write to-day, dear; your mother is so well. She went to sleep last night about eight o'clock, and slept a fine natural 'pluffing' sleep till one in the morning, when she awoke and asked for some porridge, which having taken, she went to sleep again, and slept till six in the morning. Then she opened her eyes and said, 'write a line to the doctor' by the train to tell him 'no to come back the-day; for 'atwell she wasna needing him.' Then off to sleep again till half after nine. I was sitting at her bedside when she woke up then quite fresh, and her first word was, 'Did they send a bit line to the doctor to bid him no come?' Her going on hitherto is all confirmatory of my first impression, that it could not be for nothing that she had come out of that death-like trance through her own unassisted strength; but that she was going to have a new lease of life with better health than before. I have not seen her so well as she is to-day since I came to the country; and Jane says she has not seen her so well since Candlemas; and Mr. Tait told me an hour ago he had not seen her so well for eight weeks. And she has not had a drop of wine or whisky, or any of those horrible
[Page 228] stimulants to-day, so that one is sure the wellness is real.
It was put in my power, 'quite promiscuously,' to give her a little pleasure this morning. I 'do all the walking of the family' at present; carry all the letters backwards and forwards, like a regular post-woman, of my own free will of course, for Jamie would send to Middlebie or Ecciefechan at any time for me; but I can be best spared to go, and I like it. Since I came here, I 'have been known' to walk to Ecclefechan and back again twice in one day! And most times I get an old man for company; different old men attach themselves to me, like lovers; and I find their innocent talk very refreshing.
This morning I went to Middlebie as usual on the chance of a letter from you, and the post, as usual, not being come (I always go far too soon), I walked on, as usual, and met the postman halfway to Ecclefechan. Coming back, reading your notes, I met three or four women, one of whom stopped me to inquire for your mother. Then she left her companions and turned back with me, telling me about her mother, how ill she had been last week, and that she would 'like weel to ken what I thocht o' her looks compared wi' Mrs. Cairl's.' And when we arrived at a farmhouse on the Ecclefechan side of the mill she
[Page 229] begged me, as a great favour, 'just to step in and take a look o' her mother, and say what I thocht.' I did not refuse, of course; but went in, and sat awhile beside a good patient-looking old woman in the bed, who asked many questions about your mother, and told me much about herself. When I came in and described where I had been, it turned out I had brought your mother the very information she had been asking of all the rest yesterday with no result; and she had left off, saying, 'naebody cared for auld-folks nowadays, or some o' them would hae gaen an' asket for puir Mrs. Corrie.' And there had I come home with the most particular intelligence of Mrs. Corrie.
I must write to Thomas Erskine to-day; and to Liverpool to tell them they may look for me any day. With John hovering about 'not like one crow, but a whole flight of crows,' and Jane rubbing everything up the wrong way of the hair, my position is not so tenable as it would have been alone with your mother and Jamie and Isabella. But I could not have gone with comfort to myself, while your mother was in so critical a state. I shall probably go to Liverpool tomorrow or next day; at all events, you had best write there.
I am decidedly of opinion that one should make oneself independent of Ronca and all contingencies
[Page 230] by building the 'sound-proof' room, since so much money has already been spent on that house.
Yours ever affectionately,
JANE W. C.
A letter, perhaps two letters, seem to be lost here, which contained painful and yet beautiful and honestly pathetic details of her quitting Scotsbrig before the time looked for, and on grounds which had not appeared to her, nor to anybody except my brother John, to be really necessary in such a fashion. It is certain all the rest at Scotsbrig (Jamie and Isabella especially, her hosts there) were vexed to the heart, as she could herself notice; and her own feeling of the matter was sorrowful and painful, and continued so in a degree, ever after, when it rose to memory. My dear little heavy-laden, tender-hearted, 'worn and weary,' fellow pilgrim, feet bleeding by the way over the thorns of this bewildered earth. Of this weeping all the way to Carlisle, on quitting one's fatherland, I surely remember another letter to have said (in the words of a foolish song then current) -
And I left my youth behind
which gave the last sad touch to the picture. In one of
[Page 231] her letters to me it indubitably was. 'Sophy,' an orphan half-cousin, to whom and to her mother Uncle John's munificence had been fatherly and princely, was now, and still continues, Alick Welsh's good and amiable wife. T. C.
For somebody else to find.
To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Liverpool: Monday, July 25, 1853.
Sophy's letter yesterday would be better than nothing, would at least satisfy you I had come to hand, though in assez mauvais état. I got your last letter, addressed to Scotsbrig, at Middlebie on my way to the station; and it cheered me up a little for 'taking the road.' God knows I needed some cheering. In spite of your letter I cried all the way to Carlisle pretty well; I felt to love my poor old country so much in leaving it that morning, privately minded never to return. After an hour-and-half of waiting at Carlisle I was whirled to Liverpool so fast, oh so fast! My brains somehow couldn't subside after. The warmest welcome awaited me at Maryland Street. My uncle looked especially pleased; Nero ran up to him alone in the drawing-room, as if to tell we were come; and when I went in, it was standing at his knees, my uncle's hand on his head, as if receiving his blessing.
But the front door and windows were being painted at Maryland Street; and they were afraid of the smell annoying me, and had settled I was to sleep
[Page 232] at Alick's. Alick and Sophy were there to take me home with them. I was better pleased to sleep here; it is a much larger, better-aired house. A more comfortable, quieter bedroom never was slept in; but I couldn't close my eyes; took two morphia pills at three in the morning, and they produced that horrible sickness which morphia produces in some people.
All yesterday I was in bed alternating between retching and fainting. Sophy 'came out very strong' as a nurse, and even as a doctor; reminding me so much of her mother. I wish you would write two lines of answer to her note; she was really uncommonly kind to me. To-day I am recovered, having slept pretty well last night, only 'too weak for anything.' I shall probably be home on Thursday, hardly sooner I think; but I will write again before I come. I told Sophy to tell you that your mother had slept twelve hours the night before I came away. She does not read herself at present, but Jane was reading the books you sent aloud to her. And Margaret Austin read aloud some of Chalmers's letters.
As Jamie and I were driving to the station on Saturday, we met Jessie Austin going to Scotsbrig to stay a little while in room of Margaret, who had gone home when Jean came.
I thought Jessie a remarkably nice-looking young
[Page 233] woman, sweet-tempered, intelligent, and affectionate-looking, and well-bred withal. I only spoke with her five minutes in passing, but she made the most decided impression on me.
'No more at present.'
J. W. C.
Your letter to Maryland Street was brought up in the morning; but I could not read it till after noon. Thanks for never neglecting.
[Contains inclosure from Kate Sterling (dated 'Petersburg'!); do. from sister Mary, last part of letter is written on that.]
'Uncle John,' at Liverpool, died shortly after Mrs. Carlyle returned to London. 'Helen,' to whom this letter is written, died a few weeks after.
To Miss Helen Welsh, Auchtertool Manse.
Chelsea: Wednesday, Oct. 12, 1853.
Dearest Helen, - I know not what I am going to say. I am quite stupefied. I had somehow never taken alarm at my uncle's last illness. I had fixed my apprehensions on the journey home, and was kept from present anxiety by that far off one. My beloved uncle, all that remained to me of my mother. A braver, more upright, more generous-hearted man
[Page 234] never lived. When I took leave of him in Liverpool, and he said 'God bless you, dear' (he had never called me dear before), I felt it was the last time we should be together, felt that distinctly for a few hours; and then the impression wore off, and I thought I would go back soon, would go by the cheapest train (God help me), since it gave him pleasure to see me. That we have him no longer is all the grief! It was well he should die thus, gently and beautifully, with all his loving kindness fresh as a young man's; his enjoyment of life not wearied out; all our love for him as warm as ever; and well he should die in his own dear Scotland, amid quiet kindly things. We cannot, ought not to wish it had been otherwise, to wish he had lived on till his loss should have been less felt.
But what a change for you all, and for me too, little as I saw of him. To know that kind, good uncle was in the world for me, to care about me, however long absent, as nobody but one of one's own blood can, was a sweetness in my lonely life, which can be ill-spared.
Poor dear little Maggie, I know how she will grieve about these two days, and think of them more than of all the years of patient, loving nursing, which should be now her best comfort. Kiss her for me. God support you all. Write to me when you can what you are going to do. Alas! that I should be
[Page 235] so far away from your councils. I need to know precisely about your future in an economical sense; through all the dull grief that is weighing on me, comes a sharp anxiety lest you should be less independent than heretofore; to be relieved of that will be the best comfort you could give me at present. I never knew what money you had to live on, nor thought about it; now, it is the first question I ask. I am dreary and stupid, and can write no more just now.
When I saw your handwriting again last night, my only thought was 'how good of her to write another letter soon.' I was long before I could understand it.
After her return, 'Friedrich' still going on in continual painful underground condition, the 'sound-proof' operation was set about, poor Charley zealously but ineffectually presiding; Irish labourers fetching and carrying, tearing and rending, our house once more a mere dust-cloud, and chaos come again. One Irish artist, I remember, had been ignorant that lath and plaster was not a floor; he, from above, accordingly came plunging down into my bedroom, catching himself by the arm-pits, fast swinging, astonished in the vortex of old laths, lime, and dust! Perhaps it was with him that Irish Fanny, some time after, ran away into matrimony of a kind. Run or walk away she did, in the course of these dismal tumults, she too having gradually forgotten old things; and was never more heard of here.
[Page 236] We decided for Addiscombe, beautifullest cottage in the world; the noble owners glad we would occupy a room or two of it in their absence. I liked it much, and kept busy reading, writing, riding; she not so much, having none of these resources, no society at all, and except to put me right, no interest at all. I remember her coming and going; nay, I myself came and went. Off and on we stayed there for several weeks till the hurly-burly here was over or become tolerable. Miserable hurly-burly; the result of it, zero, and 'Satan's Invisible World Displayed' (in the building trade, as never dreamt of before!).
For the Christmas month, we were at the Grange, company brilliant, &c., &c.; but sad both of us, I by the evident sinking of my mother (though the accounts affected always to show the hopeful side); she, among other griefs, by the eminently practical one of Ronca's 'Demon Fowls,' as we now named them, and the totally futile issue of that 'sound-proof room.' 'My dear,' said she, one day to me, 'let us do as you have sometimes been saying, fairly rent that Ronca's house, turn Ronca with his vermin out of it, and let it stand empty - empty and noiseless. What is 40l. or 45l. a year, to saving one's life and sanity? Neighbour Chalmers will help me; the owner people are willing; say you "yes," and I will go at once and have the whole bedlam swept away against your return!' I looked at her with admiration; with grateful assent, 'Yes, if you can' (which I could only half believe). She is off accordingly, my saving champion (beautiful Dea ex machinâ), and on the day following, writes to me [T. C.]:-
To T. Carlyle, Esq., The Grange.
Chelsea: Monday, Dec. 19, 1853.
I cannot write till to-morrow, but just a line that you may not be fancying horrors about me. I did
[Page 237] get home, and did do what was to be done, but now I must go to bed. It is nothing whatever but a nervous headache, which was sure to have come after so many nights without sleep; and perhaps it was as easy to transact it on the railway as in a bed in a strange house. I shall be better to-morrow, and will then tell you how the business proceeds.
Greetings to Lady B-----.
J. W. C.
No. 6 Cheyne Row was, if I recollect, the joint property of two brothers, 'Martin' their name, one of whom had fallen imbecile, and could, or at least did give no authority for outlay on the house, which had in consequence fallen quite into disrepair, and been let to this Ronca with his washing tubs, poultries, and mechanic sons-in-law, and become intolerable as a neighbourhood. Poor Ronca was not a bad man, though a misguided ('Irish Fanny,' a Catholic like the rest of them, was thought to have done mischief in the matter); but clear it was, at any rate that on him (alone of all London specimens), soft treatment, never so skilful, so graceful, or gentle, could produce no effect whatever. But now wise appliance of the hard, soon brought him to new insight; and he had to knuckle and comply in all points. In a few days, my guardian genius saw herself completely victorious; the Ronca annoyances, Ronca himself in three months, &c., &c. Neighbour Chalmers, great in parochialities, did his best. The very house-agent was touched to the heart by such words (one Owlton, whom I never saw, but have ever since thanked), and this tragic
[Page 238] canaillerie too had an end. As all here has - all - but not the meaning and first of all! Thou blessed one, no. Farther letters on this tragic contemptibility I find none; indeed, perhaps hardly any came till my own sad re-appearance in Chelsea, as will be seen. - T. C.
To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Friday night, Dec. 31, 1853.
My dear Mrs. Russell, - Ever since I received your note by Mrs. Pringle, I have been meaning to write to you, yet always waited for a more cheerful season, and now here is New Year's day at hand, and my regular letter due, and the season is not more cheerful; and besides I am full of business, owing to the sudden movements of the last two weeks, and Mr. C----'s absence, leaving me his affairs to look after, as well as my own. We went to the Grange, (Lord Ashburton's) in the beginning of December to stay till after Christmas. I was very glad to get into the country for a while, and had nothing to do but dress dolls for a Christmas-tree. For the last months had quite worn me out; I had had nothing but building and painting for so long, varied with Mr. C-----'s outbursts against the 'infernal cocks' next door, which made our last addition of a 'silent apartment' necessary. Alas! and the silent apartment had turned out the noisiest apartment in the house, and the cocks still crowed, and the macaw still shrieked, and Mr. C----- still stormed. At the Grange I should
[Page 239] at least escape all that for the time being, I thought. The first two days I felt in Paradise, and so well; the third day I smashed my head against a marble slab, raised a bump the size of a hen's egg on it, and gave a shock to my nerves that quite unfitted me for company. But I struggled on amidst the eighteen other visitors, better or worse, till at the end of a fortnight I was recovered, except for a slight lump still visible, when Mr. C----- came to me one morning, all of a sudden, and told me I must go up to London myself, and take charge of some business - nothing less than trying to take the adjoining house ourselves, on the chance of letting it, and get our disobliging neighbours turned out; and, there being but six days till Christmas (the time for giving them notice to quit), of course despatch was required, especially as the owner of the house lived away in Devonshire. I thought it a most wild-goose enterprise I was sent on, and when Lady Ashburton, and the others asked him why he sent poor me instead of going himself, and when he coolly answered, 'Oh I should only spoil the thing, she is sure to manage it;' it provoked me the more, I was so sure I could not manage it. But he was quite right - before the week was out I had done better than take a house we did not need, for I had got the people bound down legally 'under a penalty of ten pounds, and of immediate notice to quit, never to keep, or allow to be kept,
[Page 240] fowls, or macaw, or other nuisance on their premises,' in consideration of five pounds given to them by Mr. Carlyle. I had the lease of the house, and the notice to quit lying at my disposal; but the threat having served the end, I had no wish to turn the people out. You may fancy what I had suffered, through the effects of these nuisances on Mr. C-----, when I tell you that, on having this agreement put in my hand by their house-agent, I burst into tears, and should have kissed the man, if he had not been so ugly. Independently of the success of my diplomacy about the cocks, I was very thankful I happened to be sent home just then, otherwise I should have got the news of my cousin Helen's death in a houseful of company. It was shock enough to get it here. I had received a long letter from herself a day or two before leaving the Grange, in which she told me she was unusually well; and the night after my return I had sat till after midnight answering it. Two hours after it had gone to the post-office came Mary's letter, announcing her death. And the same day came Mr. C-----, who had suddenly taken the resolution to go to Scotsbrig, and see his mother once more, John's letter indicating that she was dying fast. I hurried him off all I could, for I was terrified he would arrive to find her dead, and he was just in time. He writes he will probably be home tomorrow night. It has been a continuous miracle for me,
[Page 241] Mrs. C-----'s living till now, after the state I saw her in last July. But poor Helen Welsh! One has to think hard, that she had a deadly disease with much suffering before her, painful operations before her, had she lived, to reconcile oneself to losing her so suddenly.
Tell me, when you write, if poor Mary got her comforter. Mrs. Aitken forgot it for a long time but on my telling her you had not received it, she sent it, she said, at once. I send the money order for the usual purposes - Mary, Margaret, who else you like.
I hope Dr. Russell is quite strong now. Kind regards to him and your father. Tell Mrs. Pringle, when you see her, that I regretted being from home when she called, and that I really think my own full second cousin might have come to see me without a recommendation, and at first, instead of at last. As she left word she was going next door, there was nothing to be said or done.
If you should not receive the usual donation from my cousins for old Mary, be sure to tell me; she must not be worse off at this advanced age. But I dare say Maggie will be very desirous to continue her father's good deeds. Poor little Maggie, I am like to cry whenever I think of her, kind, patient, active,
[Page 242] little nurse, and now transplanted to another country, her occupation gone.
J. W. Carlyle.
I send for New Year's luck a book, which I hope you have not read already.
From the Grange I must have followed in three days. The Scotsbrig letters on my mother's situation were becoming more and more questionable, indistinct too (for they tried to flatter me); evident it was the end must be drawing nigh, and it would be better for me to go at once. Mournful leave given me by the Lady Ashburton; mournful encouragement to be speedy, not dilatory. After not many hours here I was on the road. Friday morning, December 23, 1853, got to the Kirtlebridge Station; a grey dreary element, cold, dim, and sorrowful to eye and to soul. Earth spotted with frozen snow on the thaw as I walked solitary the two miles to Scotsbrig; my own thought and question, will the departing still be there? Vivid are my recollections there; painful still and mournful exceedingly; but I need not record them. My poor old mother still knew me (or at times only half knew me); had no disease, but much misery; was sunk in weakness, weariness, and pain. She resembled her old self, thought I, as the last departing moon-sickle does the moon itself, about to vanish in the dark waters. Sad, infinitely sad, if also sublime. Sister Jean was there. Mary and she had faithfully alternated there for long months. It was now, as we all saw, ending; and Jean's look unforgettably sad and grand. Saturday night breath was nearly impossible; teaspoons of weak whisky punch alone giving some relief.
[Page 243] Intellect intrinsically still clear as the sun, or as the stars, though pain occasionally overclouded it. About 10 P.M. she evidently did not know me till I explained. At midnight were her last words to me, tone almost kinder than usual, and, as if to make amends, 'Good night, and thank ye!' John had given her some drops of laudanum. In about an hour after she fell asleep, and spoke or awoke no more. All Sunday she lay sleeping, strongly breathing, face grand and statue-like; about 4 P.M. the breath, without a struggle, scarcely with abatement for some seconds, fled away whence it had come. Sunday, Christmas Day, 1853. My age 58; hers 83.
T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Tuesday, Dec. 27. 1853.
Oh, my dear! never does one feel oneself so utterly helpless as in trying to speak comfort for great bereavement. I will not try it. Time is the only comforter for the loss of a mother. One does not believe in time while the grief is quite new. One feels as if it could never, never be less. And yet all griefs, when there is no bitterness in them, are soothed down by time. And your grief for your mother must be altogether sweet and soft. You must feel that you have always been a good son to her; that you have always appreciated her as she deserved, and that she knew this, and loved you to the last moment. How thankful you may be that you went when you did, in time to have the assurance of her love surviving all bodily weakness, made doubly sure to you by her
[Page 244] last look and words. Oh! what I would have given for last words, to keep in my innermost heart all the rest of my life; but the words that awaited me were, 'Your mother is dead!' And I deserved it should so end. I was not the dutiful child to my mother that you have been to yours. Strange that I should have passed that Sunday in such utter seclusion here as if in sympathy with what was going on there.
It is a great mercy you have had some sleep. It will surely be a comfortable reflection for you in coming home this time, that you will look out over a perfectly empty hen-court; part of it even already pulled down, as all the rest, I daresay, soon will be. There are cocks enough in all directions, as poor Shuttleworth remarked; but none will plague you like those, which had become a fixed idea, and a question, Shall I, a man of genius, or you, 'a sooty washerwoman,' be master here? If you would like to know the ultimate fate of the poultry, it was sold away to a postman, who has 'a hobby for fowls,' in Milman's Bow. I let them make what profit they could of their fowls, for we had no right to deprive them of them, only the right of humanity to have the people forced to do us a favour voluntarily for a suitable compensation. I am on terms of good neighbourhood now with all the Roncas, except the old laundress herself, who 'took to her bed nearly mad,' the married daughter told me, 'at lying under
[Page 245] a penalty.' 'She must leave the place,' she said, her husband would sooner have died than broken his word, when he had passed it - and to be bound under a penalty!' I felt quite sorry for the people as soon as I had got them in my power, and have done what I could to soothe them down.
J. W. C.
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: July 13, 1854.
Isn't it frightful, dear Mrs. Russell, what a rate the years fly at? Another birthday come round to me! and it looks but a week or two ago since I was writing to you from Moffat! The days look often long and weary enough in passing, but when all 'bunched up' (as my maid expresses it) into a year, it is no time at all to look back on.
We are still in London with no present thought of leaving it. The Ashburtons have again offered us Addiscombe to rusticate at, while they are in the Highlands. But, in spite of the beauty and magnificence of that place, and all its belongings, I hate being there in the family's absence - am always afraid of my dog's making foot-marks on the sofas or carpet; of asking the fine housemaid to do something
[Page 246] 'not in her work,' &c., &c.; and so would, for my part, much rather stay in my own house all the year round. When Mr. C----- gets ill with the heat, however - if this year there is to be any - he may choose to go there for a few weeks, and will need me to order his dinners.
I am hoping for a considerable acquisition before long: Miss Jewsbury, the authoress of 'The Half Sisters,' &c., the most intimate friend I have in the world, and who has lived generally at Manchester since we first knew each other, has decided to come and live near me for good. Her brother married eighteen months ago, and has realised a baby, and a wife's mother in the house besides. So Geraldine felt it getting too hot for her there. It will be a real gain to have a woman I like, so near as the street in which I have decided on an apartment for her. All my acquaintances live so far off that it is mechanically impossible to be intimate with them.
You would be sorry to hear of poor Elizabeth Welsh's accident. Ann has written me two nice long letters since, and added as few printed documents as could be expected from her. From my cousins I hear very little now. Jeannie in Glasgow never was a good correspondent; I mean, always wrote remarkably bad letters, considering her faculty
[Page 247] in some other directions. Now there is a little tone of married woman, and much made of married woman, added to the dulness and long-windedness, that irritates me into - silence. As for the others, they all seem to think I have nothing to do at my age, but send them two or three letters for one! When my dear uncle was alive, my anxiety to hear of him overcame all other considerations; and I humoured this negligence more than was reasonable. Besides, Helen wrote pretty often, poor dear, and good letters, telling me something. Now, as they are all healthy, and 'at ease in Zion,' I mean to bear in mind, more than heretofore, that I am not healthy, and have many demands on my time and thought, and am besides, sufficiently their elder to have my letters answered.
I began to make a cap for old Mary; but it is impossible to get on with sewing at this season; so you must give her a pound of tea from me instead. Do you know I am not sure to this moment that she ever got the woollen thing I sent her through Mrs. Aitken. Mrs. Aitken forgot it, I know, and it was long after she said she had sent it to you by the carrier.
God bless you, dear Mrs. Russell. I am in a great hurry, visitors having kept me up all the forenoon. Love to your father and husband.
I inclose a cheque (!) for five shillings.
To Mrs. Russell.
November 7, 1854. - Oh, aren't you miserable about this war? I am haunted day and night with the thought of all the women of England, Scotland, and Ireland, who must be in agonies of suspense about their nearest and dearest. Thank God I have no husband, or father, or son, in that horrible war. I have some few acquaintances, however, and one intimate friend - Colonel Sterling; and I read the list of killed and wounded always with a sick dread of finding his name.
To the same.
December 30. - I have been shut up in the house almost entirely for six weeks with one of my long colds; but for that I should have been now at the Grange, where I had engaged myself to go on the 19th. The month of country, of pure air and green fields, might have done me good; but I felt quite cowardly before the prospect of so much dressing for dinner and talking for effect, especially as I was to have gone this time on my own basis, Mr. C----- being too busy with his book to waste a month at present, besides having a sacred horror of two several
[Page 249] lots of children who were to be there, and the bother about whom drove him out of all patience last year.
For me no letter in 1854. We did not shift at all from home that year, but were constantly together. Addiscombe at Easter was intended (at least for her) but it misgave. Ditto the Grange with me through December with a day or two of January - not executable either when the time came. She was in poor fluctuating health; I in dismal continual wrestle with 'Friedrich,' the unexecutable book, the second of my twelve years' 'wrestle' in that element! My days were black and spiritually muddy; hers, too, very weak and dreamy, though uncomplaining; never did complain once of her unchosen sufferings and miserable eclipse under the writing of that sad book.
One day last year (November 8, 1854) I had run out to Windsor (introduced by Lady Ashburton and her high people) in quest of Prussian prints and portraits - saw some - saw Prince Albert, my one interview, for about an hour, till Majesty summoned him out to walk. The Prince was very good and human. Next autumn (1855) I was persuaded out to a Suffolk week, under Edward Fitzgerald's keeping, who had been a familiar of mine ever since the old battle of Naseby inquiries. Father, a blundering Irishman, once proprietor of vast estates there and in Suffolk, &c. Foolish Naseby monument, his. Edward still lives in Woodbridge, or oftenest in his coasting boat, a solitary, shy, kindhearted man. Farlingay was a rough, roomy farm and house, which had once been papa's, and where Edward still had a rough and kind home when he chose. I did not fare intolerably there at all; kind people, rather interesting to me. Snatch of country welcome on
[Page 250] the terms. The good Fitz gave me a long day's driving, and, indeed, several others shorter, which are partly in my recollection, too. I had seen Aldborough, had bathed there, and thought as a quasi-deserted, but not the least dilapidated, place it might suit us for a lodging.
Ugly home voyage in Ipswich steamer, &c., stuffy railway having grown so horrible to me. At Addiscombe some time after, I had three weeks, mostly of utter solitude, strange and sombre. She only going and coming as need was. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Farlingay Hall.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Aug. 14, 1855.
No, dear, I don't take your sea-bathing place, because I have a place of my own in view! Positively I fancy I have found the coming cottage. I am just going off to consult Tait about it. And at all events you must go and look at it with me next Monday, before we incur any lodging expenses, which would be best laid out on a place 'all to oneself.'
I took such an amount of air and exercise yesterday as would have done for most nineteenth century 'females.' Started at eight by the boat, with a good tide, and was at the station a quarter before nine. Was quite well situated in my open carriage, and
[Page 251] reached Brighton without the least fatigue. Bathed, the first thing; and then walked along the shore to a little inn I had been told of by Neuberg and Ballantyne, as a charming, quiet place 'for even Mrs. Carlyle' to stop at; - found it, of course, noisy, dirty, not to be even dined at by Mrs. Carlyle, and walked on still further along the cliffs to a village I had seen on the map, and was sure must be very retired. The name of it is Rottingdean. It is four miles at least from the Brighton Station. I walked there and back again! and in the last two miles along the cliffs I met just one man! in a white smock! Thus you perceive the travelling expenses to one of the quietest sea villages in England is just, per boat and third class train, 3s. 10d.! - a convenient locality for one's cottage at all rates. The place itself is an old sleepy-looking little village close on the sea, with simple poor inhabitants; not a trace of a lady or gentleman bather to be seen! In fact, except at the inn, there were no lodgings visible. I asked the maid at the inn, 'was it always as quiet as this?' 'Always,' she said in a half whisper, with a half sigh, 'a'most too quiet!' Near the inn, and so near the sea you could throw a stone into it, are three houses in a row; the centre one old, quaint, and empty, small rooms, but enough of them; and capable of being made very liveable in, at small cost; and there are two 'decent women' I saw, who might, either of them, be trusted to keep it.
[Page 252] But I should fill sheets with details without giving you a right impression. You must just go and look. I returned to Brighton again, after having dined at the Rottingdean inn on two fresh eggs, a plateful of homebaked bread and butter, and a pint bottle of Guinness's (cha-arge 1s. 6d.). I walked miles up and down Brighton to find the agent for that cottage - did finally get him by miracle; name and street being both different from what I set out to seek; and almost committed myself to take the cottage for a year at 12l. (no rates or taxes whatever) or to take it for three months at 6l. However, I took fright about your not liking it; and the expenses of furnishing, &c., &c., on the road up; and wrote him a note from Alsop's shop that he might not refuse any other offer and hold me engaged, till you had seen and approved of it. If Tait shared this cottage, and went halves in the furnishing, it would cost very little indeed. My only objection to it, this morning, is that one might not be able to get it another year; and then what would be done with the furniture? But, oh, what a beautiful sea! blue as the Firth of Forth it was last night! I lay on the cliffs in the stillness, and looked at the 'beautiful Nature' for an hour and more; which was such a doing of the picturesque as I have not been up to for years. The most curious thing is the sudden solitude beginning without gradation just where Kemp Town ends. It
[Page 253] is as if the Brighton people were all enchanted not to pass beyond their pier.
One can get any sort of lodgings in Brighton. I brought away the card of one - very beautiful, and clean as a pin, where the lady 'received no dogs nor children; dogs she did not dislike, but she dreaded their fleas!' An excellent sitting-room and bedroom 30s.; sitting-room and two bed-rooms 2l.; but then they are such rooms as one has at home, not like Eastbourne! But Brighton is Brighton. Rottingdean is like a place in a novel.
I am stiff to-day. I had to walk to St. Paul's last night, after all my walking, before I got an omnibus, and then from Alsop's home.
And last night the results of Cremorne in the King's Road were - what shall I say? strange, upon my honour! First I heard a measured tread; and then, out of the darkness, advanced on me eight soldiers carrying, high over their heads, a bier! on which lay a figure covered with a black cloth, all but the white, white face! And before I had recovered from the shock of that, some twenty yards further on, behold, precisely the same thing over again! I asked a working man what had happened. 'It was a great night at Cremorne, storming of Sebastopol; thirty or forty soldiers were storming, when the scaffolding
[Page 254] broke, and they all fell in on their own bayonets! The two who had passed were killed, they said, and all the others hurt.' But a sergeant, whom I accosted after, told me there were none killed and only three hurt badly.
Lord Goodrich had your 'Zouaves,' and it is come back with a farewell note to me from the lady. And Lady Sandwich brought on Sunday 'Anecdotes Germaniques.' Is that one of the books you had last? Your silent room is swept and the books dusted.
I am making shocking writing; but my pen is horrid; my mind in a frightful hurry; and my hand very unsteady with yesterday's fatigues.
A letter from you was eagerly asked for last night, but it came this morning.
Those cows must have been Philistines in some previous state of existence.
J. W. C.
EXTRACTS FROM MRS. CARLYLE'S JOURNAL.
A part only of the following extracts was selected by Mr. Carlyle, and a part, sufficient merely to leave a painful impression, without explaining the origin of his wife's discomfort. There ought to be no mystery about Carlyle, and there is no occasion for mystery. The diaries and other papers were placed in my hands, that I might add whatever I
[Page 255] might think necessary in the way of elucidation, and in this instance I have thought it right to avail myself of the permission. It has been already seen that among the acquaintances in the great world to whom Carlyle's reputation early introduced him, were Mr. and Lady Harriet Baring, afterwards Lord and Lady Ashburton. Mr. Baring, one of the best and wisest men in the high circle of English public life, was among the first to recognise Carlyle's extraordinary qualities. He soon became, and he remained to his death, the most intimate and attached of Carlyle's friends. Lady Harriet was a gifted and brilliant woman, who cared nothing for the frivolous occupations of fashion. She sought out, and surrounded herself with the most distinguished persons in politics and literature, and was the centre of a planetary system, in which statesmen, poets, artists, every man who had raised himself into notice by genuine intellectual worth, revolved, while she lived, as satellites. By Lady Harriet, Carlyle was ardently welcomed. In the society which gathered about herself and her husband, he found himself among persons whom he could more nearly regard as his equals than any whom he had met with elsewhere. He was thrown into connection with the men who were carrying on the business of the world, in a sphere where he could make his influence felt among them. He was perhaps, at one time, ambitious of taking an active part in such affairs himself, and of 'doing something more for the world,' as Lord Byron said, 'than writing books for it.' At any rate his visits to Bath House and the Grange, Lord Ashburton's house in Hampshire, gave him great enjoyment, and for many years as much of his leisure as he could spare was spent in the Ashburton society.
The acquaintance which was so agreeable to himself was less pleasant to Mrs. Carlyle. She was intensely proud of her husband, and wished to be the first with him. She had
[Page 256] married him against the advice of her friends, to be the companion of a person whom she, and she alone, at that time, believed to be destined for something extraordinary. She had worked for him like a servant, she had borne poverty and suffering. She had put up with his humours, which were often extremely trying. As long as she felt that he was really attached to her, she had taken the harder parts of her lot lightly and jestingly, and by her incessant watchfulness had made it possible for him to accomplish his work. And now his fame was established. He had risen beyond her highest expectations; she saw him feared, admired, reverenced, the acknowledged sovereign, at least in many eyes, of English literature; and she found, or thought she found, that, as he had risen she had become, what in an early letter she had said she dreaded that she might be, a 'mere accident of his lot.' When he was absorbed in his work, she saw but little of him. The work was a sufficient explanation as long as others were no better off than she was. But when she found that he had leisure for Bath House, though none for her, she became jealous and irritable. She was herself of course invited there; but the wives of men of genius, like the wives of bishops, do not take the social rank of their husbands. Women understand how to make one another uncomfortable in little ways invisible to others, and Mrs. Carlyle soon perceived that she was admitted into those high regions for her husband's sake and not for her own. She had a fiery temper, and a strong Scotch republican spirit, and she would have preferred to see Carlyle reigning alone in his own kingdom. Her anger was wrong in itself, and exaggerated in the form which it assumed. But Carlyle too was to blame. He ought to have managed his friendships better. He ought to have considered whether she had not causes of complaint; and to have remembered how much he owed to her care for him. But Carlyle was wilful, and impatient of contradiction.
[Page 257] When his will was crossed or resisted, his displeasure rushed into expressions not easily forgotten, and thus there grew up between these two, who at heart each admired and esteemed the other more than any other person in the world, a condition of things of which the trace is visible in this diary. The shadow slanted backwards over their whole lives together; and as she brooded over her wrongs, she came to think with bitterness of many recollections which she had laughed away or forgotten. Carlyle's letters during all this period are uniformly tender and affectionate, and in them was his true self, if she could but have allowed herself to see it. 'Oh,' he often said to me after she was gone, 'if I could but see her for five minutes to assure her that I had really cared for her throughout all that! But she never knew it, she never knew it.' - J. A. F.
October 21, 1855. - I remember Charles Buller saying of the Duchess de Praslin's murder, 'What could a poor fellow do with a wife who kept a journal but murder her?' There was a certain truth hidden in this light remark. Your journal all about feelings aggravates whatever is factitious and morbid in you; that I have made experience of. And now the only sort of journal I would keep should have to do with what Mr. Carlyle calls 'the fact of things.' It is very bleak and barren, this fact of things, as I now see it - very; and what good is to result from writing of it in a paper book is more than I can tell. But I have taken a notion to, and perhaps I shall blacken more paper this time, when I begin quite promiscuously without any moral end in view; but just as
[Page 258] the Scotch professor drank whisky, because I like it, and because it's cheap.
October 22. - I was cut short in my introduction last night by Mr. C.'s return from Bath House. That eternal Bath House. I wonder how many thousand miles Mr. C. has walked between there and here, putting it all together; setting up always another milestone and another betwixt himself and me. Oh, good gracious! when I first noticed that heavy yellow house without knowing, or caring to know, who it belonged to, how far I was from dreaming that through years and years I should carry every stone's weight of it on my heart. About feelings already! Well, I will not proceed, though the thoughts I had in my bed about all that were tragical enough to fill a page of thrilling interest for myself, and though, as George Sand has shrewdly remarked, 'rien ne soulage comme la rhètorique.'
October 23. - A stormy day within doors, so I walked out early, and walked, walked, walked. If peace and quietness be not in one's own power, one can always give oneself at least bodily fatigue - no such bad succedaneum after all. Life gets to look for me like a sort of kaleidoscope - a few things of different colours - black predominating, which fate shakes into new and ever new combinations, but always the same things over again. To-day has been so like a day I still remember out of ten years ago;
[Page 259] the same still dreamy October weather, the same tumult of mind contrasting with the outer stillness; the same causes for that tumult. Then, as now, I had walked, walked, walked with no aim but to tire myself.
October 25. - Oh, good gracious alive; what a whirlwind - or rather whirlpool - of a day! Breakfast had 'passed off' better or worse, and I was at work on a picture-frame, my own invention, and pretending to be a little work of art, when Mr. C.'s bell rang like mad, and was followed by cries of 'Come, come! are you coming?' Arrived at the second landing, three steps at a time, I saw Mr. C. and Ann in the spare bedroom hazily through a waterfall! The great cistern had overflowed, and was raining and pouring down through the new ceiling, and plashing up on the new carpet. All the baths and basins in the house were quickly assembled on the floor, and I, on my knees, mopping up with towels and sponges, &c.
In spite of this disaster, and the shocking bad temper induced by it, I have had to put on my company face to-night and receive. ----- and ----- were the party. Decidedly I must have a little of 'that damned thing called the milk of human kindness' after all, for the assurance that poor ----- was being amused kept me from feeling bored.
My heart is very sore to-night, but I have promised
[Page 260] myself not to make this journal a 'miserere,' so I will take a dose of morphia and do the impossible to sleep.
October 31. - Rain! rain! rain! 'Oh, Lord! this is too ridiculous,' as the Annandale farmer exclaimed, starting to his feet when it began pouring, in the midst of his prayer for a dry hay time. I have no hay to be got in, or anything else that I know of, to be got in; but I have a plentiful crop of thorns to be got out, and that, too, requires good weather. To-day's post brought the kindest of letters from Geraldine, inclosing a note from Lady de Capel Broke she is staying with, inviting me to Oakley Hall. This lady's 'faith in things unseen' excited similar faith on my part, and I would go, had I nothing to consider but how I should like it when there. I had to write a refusal, however. Mr. C. is 'neither to hold nor bind' when I make new visiting acquaintances on my own basis, however unexceptionable the person may be. The evening devoted to mending Mr. C.'s trowsers among other things! 'Being an only child,' I never 'wished' to sew men's trowsers - no, never!
November 1 - At last a fair morning to rise to, thanks God! Mazzini never says 'thank God' by any chance, but always 'thanks God;' and I find it sound more grateful. Fine weather outside in fact, but indoors blowing a devil of a gale. Off into space, then, to get the green mould that has been gathering
[Page 261] upon me of late days brushed off by human contact.
November 5. - Alone this evening. Lady A. in town again; and Mr. C. of course at Bath House.
When I think of what I is
And what I used to was,
I gin to think I've sold myself
For very little cas.
November 6. - Mended Mr. C.'s dressing-gown. Much movement under the free sky is needful for me to keep my heart from throbbing up into my head and maddening it. They must be comfortable people who have leisure to think about going to Heaven! My most constant and pressing anxiety is to keep out of Bedlam! that's all. ... Ach! If there were no feelings 'what steady sailing craft we should be,' as the nautical gentleman of some novel says.
November 7. - Dear, dear! What a sick day this has been with me. Oh, my mother! nobody sees when I am suffering now; and I have learnt to suffer 'all to myself.' From 'only childness' to that, is a far and a rough road to travel.
Oh, little did my mother think,
The day she cradled me,
The lands I was to travel in,
The death I was to dee.
November. - 'S'exagérer ses droits, oublier ceux des autres, cela pent être fort commode; mais cela
[Page 262] n'est pas toujours profitable et on a lieu souvent de s'en repentir. Il vaudrait mieux souvent avoir des vices qu'un caractère difficile. Pour que les femmes perdent les familles, il faut qu'elles aillent jusqu'à l'inconduite, jusqu'au désordre. Pour les y pousser, il suffit souvent qu'un homme gâte toutes ses bonnes qualités et les leurs par des procédés injustes, de ia dureté et du dédain.'
It is not always, however, that unjust treatment, harshness, and disdain in her husband drives a woman jusqu'au désordre, but it drives her to something, and something not to his advantage, any more than to hers.
To-day has been like other days outwardly. I have done this and that, and people have come and gone, but all as in a bad dream.
November 13. - Taken by ----- to Lord John's lecture at Exeter Hall. The crowd was immense, and the applause terrific; the lecture 'water bewitched.' One thing rather puzzled me: at every mention of the name Christ (and there was far too much of it) the clapping and stamping rose to such a pitch that one expected always it must end in 'hip, hip, hurrah.' Did the Young Men's Christian Association take his Lordship's recognition of Christ as a personal compliment, or did it strike them with admiration that a Lord should know about Christ?
November 20. - I have been fretting inwardly all
[Page 263] this day at the prospect of having to go and appeal before the Tax Commissioners at Kensington tomorrow morning. Still, it must be done. If Mr. C. should go himself he would run his head against some post in his impatience; and besides, for me, when it is over it will be over, whereas he would not get the better of it for twelve months - if ever at all.
November 21. - O me miseram! not one wink of sleep the whole night through! so great the 'rale mental agony in my own inside' at the thought of that horrid appealing. It was with feeling like the ghost of a dead dog, that I rose and dressed and drank my coffee, and then started for Kensington. Mr. C. said 'the voice of honour seemed to call on him to go himself.' But either it did not call loud enough, or he would not listen to that charmer. I went in a cab, to save all my breath for appealing. Set down at 30 Hornton Street, I found a dirty private-like house, only with Tax Office painted on the door. A dirty woman-servant opened the door, and told me the Commissioners would not be there for half-an-hour, but I might walk up. There were already some half-score of men assembled in the waiting-room, among whom I saw the man who cleans our clocks, and a young apothecary of Cheyne Walk. All the others, to look at them, could not have been suspected for an instant, I should have said, of making
[Page 264] a hundred a year. Feeling in a false position, I stood by myself at a window and 'thought shame' (as children say). Men trooped in by twos and threes, till the small room was pretty well filled; at last a woman showed herself. O my! did I ever know the full value of any sort of woman - as woman - before! By this time some benches had been brought in, and I was sitting nearest the door. The woman sat down on the same bench with me, and, misery acquainting one with strange bedfellows, we entered into conversation without having been introduced, and I had 'the happiness,' as Allan termed it, 'of seeing a woman more miserable than myself.' Two more women arrived at intervals, one a young girl of Dundee, 'sent by my uncle that's ill;' who looked to be always recapitulating inwardly what she had been told to say to the Commissioners. The other, a widow, and such a goose, poor thing; she was bringing an appeal against no overcharge in her individual paper, but against the doubling of the Income Tax. She had paid the double tax once, she said, because she was told they would take her goods for it if she didn't - and it was so disgraceful for one in a small business to have her goods taken; besides it was very disadvantageous; but now that it was come round again she would give up. She seemed to attach an irresistible pathos to the title of widow, this woman. 'And me a widow, ma'm,' was
[Page 265] the winding up of her every paragraph. The men seemed as worried as the women, though they put a better face on it, even carrying on a sort of sickly laughing and bantering with one another. 'First-come lady,' called the clerk, opening a small side-door, and I stept forward into a grand peut-être. There was an instant of darkness while the one door was shut behind and the other opened in front; and there I stood in a dim room where three men sat round a large table spread with papers. One held a pen ready over an open ledger; another was taking snuff, and had taken still worse in his time, to judge by his shaky, clayed appearance. The third, who was plainly the cock of that dungheap, was sitting for Rhadamanthus - a Rhadamanthus without the justice. 'Name,' said the horned-owl-looking individual holding the pen. 'Carlyle.' 'What?' 'Car-lyle.' Seeing he still looked dubious, I spelt it for him. 'Ha!' cried Rhadamanthus, a big, bloodless-faced, insolent-looking fellow. 'What is this? why is Mr. Carlyle not come himself? Didn't he get a letter ordering him to appear? Mr. Carlyle wrote some nonsense about being exempted from coming, and I desired an answer to be sent that he must come, must do as other people.' 'Then, sir,' I said, 'your desire has been neglected, it would seem, my husband having received no such letter; and I was told by one of your fellow Commissioners that Mr.
[Page 266] Carlyle's personal appearance was not indispensable.' 'Huffgh! Huffgh! what does Mr. Carlyle mean by saying he has no income from his writings, when he himself fixed it in the beginning at a hundred and fifty?' 'It means, sir, that, in ceasing to write, one ceases to be paid for writing, and Mr. Carlyle has published nothing for several years.' 'Huffgh! Huffgh! I understand nothing about that.' 'I do,' whispered the snuff-taking Commissioner at my ear. 'I can quite understand a literary man does not always make money. I would take it off, for my share, but (sinking his voice still lower) I am only one voice here, and not the most important.' 'There,' said I, handing to Rhadamanthus Chapman and Hall's account; 'that will prove Mr. Carlyle's statement.' 'What am I to make of that? Huffgh! we should have Mr. Carlyle here to swear to this before we believe it.' 'If a gentleman's word of honour written at the bottom of that paper is not enough, you can put me on my oath: I am ready to swear to it.' 'You! you, indeed! No, no! we can do nothing with your oath.' 'But, sir, I understand my husband's affairs fully, better than he does himself.' 'That I can well believe; but we can make nothing of this,' flinging my document contemptuously on the table. The horned owl picked it up, glanced over it while Rhadamanthus was tossing papers about, and grumbling about 'people that wouldn't conform
[Page 267] to rules;' then handed it back to him, saying deprecatingly : 'But, sir, this is a very plain statement.' 'Then what has Mr. Carlyle to live upon? You don't mean to tell me he lives on that?' pointing to the document. 'Heaven forbid, sir! but I am not here to explain what Mr. Carlyle has to live on, only to declare his income from literature during the last three years.' 'True! true!' mumbled the not-most-important voice at my elbow. 'Mr. Carlyle, I believe, has landed income.' 'Of which,' said I haughtily, for my spirit was up, 'I have fortunately no account to render in this kingdom and to this board.' 'Take off fifty pounds, say a hundred - take off a hundred pounds,' said Rhadamanthus to the horned owl. 'If we write Mr. Carlyle down a hundred and fifty he has no reason to complain, I think. There, you may go. Mr. Carlyle has no reason to complain.' Second-come woman was already introduced, and I was motioned to the door; but I could not depart without saying that 'at all events there was no use in complaining, since they had the power to enforce their decision.' On stepping out, my first thought was, what a mercy Carlyle didn't come himself! For the rest, though it might have gone better, I was thankful that it had not gone worse. When one has been threatened with a great injustice, one accepts a smaller as a favour.
Went back to spend the evening with Geraldine
[Page 268] when Mr. C. set forth for Bath House. Her ladyship in town for two days.
November 28. - Took the black silk ----- presented me with last Christmas to Catchpool, that it might be made up. 'Did you buy this yourself, ma'am?' said Catchpool, rubbing it between her finger and thumb. 'No, it was a present; but why do you ask?' 'Because, ma'am, I was thinking, if you bought it yourself, you had been taken in. It is so poor; very trashy indeed. I don't think I ever saw so trashy a moire.'
December 4. - I hardly ever begin to write here that I am not tempted to break out into Jobisms about my bad nights. How I keep on my legs and in my senses with such little snatches of sleep is a wonder to myself. Oh, to cure anyone of a terror of annihilation, just put him on my allowance of sleep, and see if he don't get to long for sleep, sleep, unfathomable and everlasting sleep as the only conceivable heaven.
December 11. - Oh dear! I wish this Grange business were well over. It occupies me (the mere preparation for it) to the exclusion of all quiet thought and placid occupation. To have to care for my dress at this time of day more than I ever did when young and pretty and happy (God bless me, to think that I was once all that!) on penalty of being regarded as a blot on the Grange gold and azure, is really too bad.
[Page 269] Ach Gott! if we had been left in the sphere of life we belong to, how much better it would have been for us in many ways!
March 24, 1856. - We are now at the 24th of March, 1856, and from this point of time, my journal, let us renew our daily intercourse without looking back. Looking back was not intended by nature, evidently, from the fact that our eyes are in our faces and not in our hind heads. Look straight before you, then, Jane Carlyle, and, if possible, not over the heads of things either, away into the distant vague. Look, above all, at the duty nearest hand, and what's more, do it. Ah, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, and four weeks of illness have made mine weak as water. No galloping over London as in seven-leagued boots for me at present. To-day I walked with effort one little mile, and thought it a great feat; but if the strength has gone out of me, so also has the unrest. I can sit and lie even very patiently doing nothing. To be sure, I am always going on with the story in my head, as poor Paulet expressed it; but even that has taken a dreamy contemplative character, and excites no emotions 'to speak of.' In fact, sleep has come to look to me the highest virtue and the greatest happiness; that is, good sleep, untroubled, beautiful, like a child's. Ah me!
March 26. - To-day it has blown knives and files; a cold, rasping, savage day; excruciating for sick
[Page 270] nerves. Dear Geraldine, as if she would contend with the very elements on my behalf, brought me a bunch of violets and a bouquet of the loveliest most fragrant flowers. Talking with her all I have done or could do. 'Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed. My soul also is sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long? Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: O save me for thy mercies' sake.'
March 27. - Mr. C. took Nero out with him tonight, and half an hour after he opened the door with his latch-key and called in, 'Is that vermin come back?' Having received my horrified 'No!' he hurried off again, and for twenty minutes I was in the agonies of one's dog lost, my heart beating up into my ears. At last I heard Mr. C.'s feet in the street; and, oh joy! heard him gollaring at something, and one knew what the little bad something was. Ach! we could have better spared a better dog.
March 30. - Plattnauer told me how the 'grande passion' between ----- and ----- had gone to the dogs utterly - the general recipients of 'grandes passions.'
Oh, waly, waly, love is bonnie
[Page 271] Beautiful verse, sweet and sad, like barley sugar dissolved in tears. About the morning dew, however! I should rather say, 'Goes out like candle snuff' would be a truer simile; only that would not suit the rhyme.
A little while when it is new;
But when it's auld
It waxeth cauld,
And melts away like morning dew.
April 11. - To-day I called on 'my lady' come to town for the season. She was perfectly civil, for a wonder. To-day also I lighted upon an interesting man. It was in our baker's shop. While the baker was making out my bill he addressed some counsel to a dark little man with a wooden leg and a basket of small wares. That made me look at the man to watch its effect upon him. 'I'll tell you what to do,' said this Jesuit of a baker; 'Go and join some Methodists' chapel for six months; make yourself agreeable to them, and you'll soon have friends that will help you in your object.' The man of the wooden leg said not a word, but looked hard in the baker's face with a half-perplexed, half-amused, and wholly disagreeing expression. 'Nothing like religion,' went on the tempter, 'for gaining a man friends. Don't you think so, ma'am?' (catching my eye on him). 'I think,' said I, 'that whatever this man's object may be, he is not likely to be benefited in the long run by constituting himself a hypocrite.' The man's black eye flashed on me a look of thanks and approbation. 'Oh,' said the baker, 'I don't mean him to be a hypocrite, but truly religious, you
[Page 272] know.' 'If this man will be advised by me,' I said, 'he will keep himself clear of the true religion that is purposely put on some morning to make himself friends.' 'Yes,' said the poor man pithily, 'not that at no price!' In my enthusiasm at his answer, and the manner of it, I gave him - sixpence! and inquired into his case. He had been a baker for some time, met with an accident, and 'had to let his leg be taken,' after trying over eight years to keep it. Meanwhile his grandfather died, leaving him a small property worth 40l. a year, which he was still kept out of for want of a small sum of money to prove his right to it. I did not understand the law part of the story, but undertook to get some honest lawyer to look at his papers and give him advice for nothing.
April 21. - I feel weaklier every day, and my soul also is sore vexed - Oh how long! I put myself in an omnibus, being unable to walk, and was carried to Islington and back again. What a good shilling's-worth of exercise! The Angel at Islington! It was there I was set down on my first arrival in London, and Mr. C. with Edward Irving was waiting to receive me.
The past is past, and gone is gone.
May 29. - Old Mrs. D. said to me the other day when I encountered her after two years, 'Yes, ma'am, my daughter is dead: only child, house, and everything
[Page 273] gone from me; and I assure you I stand up in the world as if it was not the world at all any more.'
Mr. B. says nine-tenths of the misery of human life proceeds according to his observation from the institution of marriage. He should say from the demoralisation, the desecration, of the institution of marriage, and then I should cordially agree with him.
June 27. - Went with Geraldine to Hampstead.
Various passages in this journal seemed to require explanation. Miss Geraldine Jewsbury, who was Mrs. Carlyle's most intimate friend, was the only person living who could give it. I sent her the book. She returned it to me with a letter, from which I extract the following passages;-
'The reading has been like the calling up ghosts. ... It was a very bad time with her just then. No one but herself or one constantly with her knows what she suffered physically as well as morally.
'She was miserable: more abidingly and intensely miserable than words can utter. The misery was a reality, no matter whether her imagination made it or not. ... Mr. C. once said to me of her that she had the deepest and tenderest feelings, but narrow. Any other wife would have laughed at Mr. C.'s bewitchment with Lady A.; but to her there was a complicated aggravation which made it very hard to endure. Lady A. was admired for sayings and doings for which she was snubbed. She saw through Lady A.'s little ways and grande-dame manners, and knew what they were worth. She contrasted them with the daily, hourly endeavours she was making that his life should be as free from
[Page 274] hindrances as possible. He put her aside for his work, but lingered in the "Primrose path of dalliance" for the sake of a great lady, who liked to have a philosopher in chains. Lady A. was excessively capricious towards her, and made her feel they cared more about him than about her.
'She was never allowed to visit anywhere but at the Grange; and the mortifications and vexations she felt, though they were often and often self-made, were none the less intolerable to her. At first she was charmed with Lady A., but soon found she had no real hold on her, nor ever could or would have. The sufferings were real, intense, and at times too grievous to be borne. C. did not understand all this, and only felt her to be unreasonable.
'The lines on which her character was laid down were very grand, but the result was blurred and distorted and confused.
'In marrying she undertook what she felt to be a grand and noble life task: a task which, as set forth by himself, touched all that was noble and heroic, and inspired her imagination from its difficulty. She believed in him, and her faith was unique. No one else did. Well, but she was to be the companion, friend, helpmate - her own gifts were to be cultivated and recognised by him. She was bright and beautiful, with a certain star-like radiance and grace. She had devoted to him her life, which so many other men had desired to share. She had gone off into the desert with him. She had taken up poverty, obscurity, hardship even, cheerfully, willingly, and with an enthusiasm of self-sacrifice, on asking to be allowed to minister to him. The offering was accepted, but, like the precious things flung by Benvenuto into the furnace when his statue was molten, they were all consumed in the flames; and he was so intent and occupied by what he was bringing forth that he could take no heed of her individual treasures. They were all swallowed up in
[Page 275] the great whole. In her case it was the living creature in the midst of the fire which felt and suffered. He gave her no human help nor tenderness.
'Bear in mind that her inmost life was solitary - no tenderness, no caresses, no loving words; nothing out of which one's heart can make the wine of life. A glacier on a mountain would have been as human a companionship. He suffered too; but he put it all into his work. She had only the desolation and barrenness of having all her love and her life laid waste. Six years she lived at Craigenputtock, and she held out. She had undertaken a task, and she knew that, whether recognised or not, she did help him. Her strong persistent will kept her up to the task of pain. Then they came back to the world, and the strain told on her. She did not falter from her purpose of helping and shielding him, but she became warped. - GERALDINE E. JEWSBURY.'
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday, July 3, 1856.
Dearest Mrs. Russell, - Your letter quite warmed my heart, and gave me a pull towards Scotland, stronger than I had yet felt. I think it in the highest degree unlikely, and certainly it will not be my own fault if I am there without seeing you. But we have no programme positively laid out yet for the summer, or rather the autumn. Mr. C. always hithers and thithers in a weary interminable way, before he can make up his mind what he would like most to do. And so, as I don't like wandering in
[Page 276] uncertainties, with a net of 'ifs,' and 'buts,' and 'perhapses,' and 'possibles,' and 'probables' about my feet, I have got into the way of standing aside, and postponing my own plans, till he has finally got to some conclusion. His present 'most probably' is that he will go to his sister's, at a farm within a few miles of Annan, and 'enjoy perfect solitude for a time.' I mean, in that case, to stream off after 'my own sweet will;' as he would not need me with him at the Gill, and indeed there would be no room for me there, and I should only complicate his case. When he has settled to go there, or anywhere else where I am not needed, I shall proceed to scheme out a programme for myself, and I want to go to Scotland too, and I want to see you, and to see my cousins in Fife, and my old people at Haddington. But I do not take up all that practically at the present stage of the business, in case he take some new thought, with which my wishes could not so easily combine. I don't see any hope of his quitting London anyhow till the beginning of August, at soonest, which is a pity; the present month would be passed so much more pleasantly in the green country than here, where everything seems working up to spontaneous combustion. I was thinking the other night, at 'the most magnificent ball of the season,' how much better I should like to see people making hay, than all these ladies in laces and
[Page 277] diamonds, waltzing! One grows so sick of diamonds, and bare shoulders, and all that sort of thing, after a while. It is the old story of the Irishman put into a Sedan chair without a bottom: 'If it weren't for the honour of the thing, I might as well have walked!'
I shall write, dear Mrs. Russell, whenever I know for certain what we are going to do. And, as I have great faith in the magnetic power of wishes, I pray you to wish in the meantime that I may come; as I, on my side, shall not fail to wish it strongly.
I am just going off this burning day to - sit for my picture! rather late! But I have a friend, who has constituted herself a portrait-painter, and she has a real genius for the business; and Ruskin told her she must paint a portrait with no end of pains, must give it 'twenty sittings at the least.' And I suppose she thinks I am the most patient woman she knows, and may give her these twenty sittings, out of desire for her improvement. As she is a clever, charming creature, I don't feel all the horror that might be expected of my prospect.
My kind regards to your husband and father.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
After Addiscombe and three months more of deadly wrestling with Friedrich and the mud elements, we went to the Grange for Christmas; stayed for several weeks. Company at first aristocratic and select (Lord Lansdowne and Robert Lowe); then miscellaneous, shifting, chiefly of the scientific kind (Jowett, and an Oxonian or two among them), some of whom have left more than the shadow of an impression on me. Our last Grange Christmas, such as it proved, under presidency of that great lady. We returned in January, both of us. I at least much broken by this long course of gaieties, resumed work for 1856, and with dreary obstinacy kept pushing, pushing. The intolerable heats of July forced us north again. Ride to Edinburgh in the Lady Ashburton's royal carriage, which took fire, and at Newcastle had to be abandoned, dustiest and painfullest of rides, regardless of expense, and yet actually taking fire and falling flat like Dagon of the Philistines. Nothing good in it but the admirable bearing of that great lady under its badness. The Ashburtons off towards Ross-shire next morning. I under promise to follow thither by-and-by. Towards Auchtertool Manse we two, where after some days I left my dear woman and took refuge with my sister Mary at the Gill, near Annan, seeking and finding perfect solitude, kindness, and silence (the first time there) for a good few weeks.
Scotsbrig ten miles off, but that was now shut to me. Poor brother John had tragically lost his wife; was much cast down, and had now, most unwisely as I thought, filled Scotsbrig with his orphaned step-sons - three mischievous boys, whom to this day none of us could ever get to like. Scotsbrig accessible only on a riding call at this time. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, The Gill.
Auchtertool: July 29, 1856.
I am glad that all has gone so well with you hitherto. 'A good beginning makes a good ending,' and we have both begun more prosperously than could have been anticipated. Even the lost clogs are quite well supplied, I find, by the things I bought, and which must have been made for the wife of Goliath of Gath; and they have got me a new box of Seidlitz powders, and new chloroform from Kirkcaldy. I have needed to take neither, 'thanks God.' For the rest all goes well with me also; only no sea-bathing has been practicable yet, nor does it look as if it would ever be practicable here; the dog-cart having many other more important demands on it, as well as old John and Walter himself. There are preachings going on just now, at which Walter has to assist. Last Sunday his place was supplied at his own church by a grey-headed preacher called Douglas, who flattered himself he had been at school with you; but the Thomas Carlyle he had been school-fellow to 'had reddish hair, and a sharp face.' I am never done thanking heaven for the freshness, and cleanness, and quietness into which I have plumped down; and for my astonishingly comfortable bed,
[Page 280] and the astonishing kindness and good humour that wraps me about like an eider-down quilt! It is next thing to being at Templand! I could almost imitate old 'Kelty,' and fall to writing 'A Visit to my Relations in the Country,' followed up by 'Waters of Comfort' in verse! Of course I am sad at times, at all times sad as death, but that I am used to, and don't mind. And for the sickness, it is quite gone since the morning I left Chelsea; and I am as content, for the time being, as it were possible for me to be anywhere on the face of this changeful earth.
Of course I will never be 'within wind' of Scotsbrig without going to see Jamie and Isabella, who have treated me always with the utmost kindness. If I had been their own sister they could not have made me feel more at home than I have always done under their roof. I never forget kindness, nor, alas! unkindness either!
My plans are still in the vague; I feel no haste to 'see my way.' My cousins seem to expect and wish me to make a long visit, and I am not at all likely to take to feeling dull nowadays beside people who really care for me, and have true hearts, and plenty of natural sense. Besides I have two invitations to dinner for next week! and have made acquaintance with several intelligent people. Meanwhile
[Page 281] I have written to my aunt Elizabeth, who I believe is alone just now at Morningside, and also to Miss Donaldson, to announce my proximity; and it will depend on their answers whether I pay them a few hours' visit from here, or a longer one when I leave here altogether.
Give my kind regards to Mary and the rest. I am sure you will want for no attention she can show you, or she must be greatly changed from the kind soul I knew her at Craig o' Putta.
JANE W. C.
My Jeannie has come across to Craigenvilla (fond reminiscences of Craigenputtock!), her aunts' new garden residence of their own in Edinburgh, Morningside quarter, same neat little place where the surviving two yet live (1869). They had all gone deep into conscious 'devotion,' religious philanthropy, prayer meetings, &c. &c., but were felt to be intrinsically honest-minded women, with a true affection for their niece, however pagan!
Old Betty's one child, a promising young man, who had grown to be a journeyman watchmaker, was struck with paralysis; powerless absolutely, all but the head, in which sad state his unweariable, unconquerable mother watched over him night and day till he died. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, The Gill.
Craigenvilla, Morningside, Edinburgh:
Thursday, Aug. 7, 1856.
Heaven and earth! I have been watching these three days for an hour's quiet to write in, but one would say there had been a conspiracy of things in general to prevent me. The day before yesterday I bathed at Kirkcaldy, and walked to Auchtertool after, and the fatigue was too much, and I was up to nothing but lying on the sofa all the evening, which delayed my packing till yesterday morning; and I got up at half after six, to leave time for a letter, and it was not till 'prayers' were over, and the breakfast ready, that I was ready to sit down. Immediately after breakfast the dog-cart came round to take me to the half after eleven boat. I tried writing again at Betty's; I could do nothing effectually except cry. She was so glad over me, so motherlike - and that poor dying lad, and her white worn face, and compressed lips; and the smile far more touching than any tears! Oh, it was so dreadfully sad, and yet her kisses, and the loving words about my father and mother, made me so happy! Then, when I got here to tea, my aunts were so unexpectedly tender and glad over me. I tried writing again in my bedroom, but it was lighted with gas, and I found I could not put the light out too soon to save my life. This morning,
[Page 283] again, I got up at half-past six to write to you; but I had paper and ink, and no pen! so went to bed again, and lay till half-past seven, amidst a tearing rumble of carts, that seemed to drive over my brain.
I go home to-night; and shall be there till Monday or Tuesday (address Sunny Bank till Monday, if you write), then back here, and I fear I cannot avoid staying a few days next time, in spite of the sleeping difficulties; but they are so kind, my aunts. By the end of the next week, anyhow, I hope to get to Auchtertool again. I will write from Haddington - this steel pen is too dreadful.
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, The Gill.
Sunny Bank, Haddington: Friday, Aug. 9, 1856.
I got here last night about seven. The carriage was waiting for me at the station, but this time empty; no kind Miss Kate in it. We came in at the back gate; and when we turned round the house I saw Miss Jess, or rather I saw a face, or rather eyes straining at the dining-room window with a look I shall remember while I live. The next moment I was in her arms; and then my 'godmother' tottered blindly forward, and took me in hers; and the two
[Page 284] dear old women clasped and kissed and wept over me both together, and called out 'Jeannie, Jeannie!' 'Oh, my own bairn!' 'My angel' (!!) and ever so many beautiful names. Mrs. Donaldson and Miss Eliza had kindly retired to their own room, that the meeting might transact itself in peace. A beautiful tea was waiting on the table - all so pretty and calm and good! It looked like one of those entertainments spread for the good boys that 'went out to poos their fortunes' in my godmother's fairy tales; and my godmother herself, like the good fairy, so little, oh, so little, she has grown! and her face so little and round, and so sweet! And Miss Jess has been transformed by Kate's death into an active, self-forgetting providence for the older and blinder sister. She waits upon her, cuts her bread into mouthfuls, is gentle and thoughtful for her, reads aloud to her. (Miss Donaldson tells me), she herself being about eighty; and instead of complaints about her own ailments, it is all now 'Poor Jean!' and the loss she had in Kate. The hearts of these two old women are as fresh as gowans. It is like being pretty well up towards heaven, being here. And what a house! so quiet and clean, and so perfectly the same as I knew it thirty years ago! The same papers, the same carpets, the same everything that I made acquaintance with when I was a child, in perfect condition
[Page 285] still. I expect to sleep in my great comfortable four-posted bed now that the first exciting night is over, and shall stay till the middle of next week, I think. My aunts were extremely kind, and expect me to make them a long visit on my return; but that is not possible, on account of the gas in my bedroom (at Morningside) and the public road passing the window, where carts grind from three in the morning. Besides that I like being at Auchtertool, and they want me there for all the time I can stay. Everybody is so kind to me - oh, so kind! that I often burst out crying with pure thankfulness to them all.
Betty said yesterday, speaking of the photograph I had sent her, the one with the bonnet and the dog, and which, together with yours, she has got handsomely framed and keeps in a pocket-handkerchief in a drawer! 'It has a look o' ye, but I dinna ken what that white thing is aboot the face!' 'That is the white roses of my bonnet, Betty.' 'A weel! a weel! May be sae! but as ye wur kindly sending me yer pictur, dear, I wud hae liket better ye had gotten 't dune wi' yer bare pow!' I promised her one with the bare pow, but said, 'You know, it is a shame for me to be without a cap or a bonnet at this age.' 'Ay, ay, I dar' say, it's no very richt; but ye ken, bairn, ye wasne brocht up to dae just like ither folk; at a' rates I'll hae the bare pow if ye please;
[Page 286] though I wudna be thocht ower greedy!' Dear, darling old Betty! She gets no rest night or day for that poor spectre of a son; and it looks to me he may live for years in this suffering, hopeless state. And the husband, though a good enough man in his way - sober and laborious, and all that - has not the refinement or the spirituality of Betty, and can be but a sorry comforter to her in her sore trouble. She called me back as I was coming away yesterday to say, 'Dear, wull ye tell Miss Donal'son, for I am sure it 'ill please her to hear it, that the Bish'p is rale gude to us, puir auld manny!'
I had two bathes in the sea; neither did me any good - the first a great deal of harm, by ill luck. Just the day after I wrote - I had had no bathing - Walter took me to Aberdour; and I was to partly undress, and get a bathing gown at Aberdour House, where Mrs. Major Liddle lives. She gave me the key of the park, that Maggie and I might walk through it to the shore; but the key proved a wrong one, and, as there was no time to return for the right key, I proposed to Maggie to leap from the top of the wall, which was only high on the off-side. She positively declined; and we were at a fix, when a working man passing, I called to him, and asked him to catch us in leaping. He took me between his big thumbs, one on my left side, and the other, alas! on
[Page 287] my right breast - that unlucky breast I am always hurting! There! I thought to myself, as I found my feet, 'There is something to serve me for six weeks again!'
I suffered a good deal for the first two or three days, and lost my just-recovered sleep. It (the pain) is going off, however, though still a nuisance, especially when I use my right arm. Remember that in estimating the virtue of this very long letter.
I inclose a note from Lady A., which was forwarded to me here this morning.
I am not sure where to address; but, as one letter was sent to Scotsbrig, I had best send this one to the Gill.
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, The Gill.
Craigenvilla, Morningside: Tuesday, August 19, 1856.
Oh, dear me! I am back from Haddington; and a sad day yesterday was. The people at Haddington seem all to grow so good and kind as they grow old. That isn't the way with us in the south. It wasn't the Miss Donaldsons only that made much of me, and cried over me at parting, as if I were 'their own bairn.' Mr. Howden, Mrs. Howden, and all of them still alive, that knew my father and mother, were in
[Page 288] tears; and poor old Mr. Lea, who has otherwise lost his wits, said, 'Oh, Jeannie, Jeannie, when you come again you won't find me here!' and then he said angrily to Miss Brown, 'Are you going to let that lassie go away by hersell? send the Man with her.' (The Man, meaning his keeper.) It would have touched you to the heart to see poor Jess Donaldson daundering about, opening drawers and presses to find something to give me. It was her chief employment all the time I was there. One day it was an Indian shawl; the next a real lace veil; the next a diamond ring, and so on, till the last hour, when after my boxes were all packed, she suddenly bethought her that I used to like old china, and took me privately to the press that contained her long-prized Indian china, and bade me take as much of it as I cared to carry; and then, when I told her my boxes were full, she said, 'Take my work-basket, dear, to pack it in; I shall never need it any more.' But inanimate objects were not all that I brought from home with me. I brought two live plants in flowerpots, one out of our own garden, and two live - oh, gracious! I picture your dismay! - 'whatever' will you say or sing? - two live - ca-ca-naries! They were born in our own house, the darlings; and poor Mrs. Howden made with her own hands a black silk
[Page 289] bag to draw over the cage, and trimmed it with braid. You may still hope that they shall get eaten by my aunt's cat, or my cousin's terrier, or, at least, by the cat or Nero at home. 'But I hope better things, though I thus speak.' At all events, they shan't plague you the least in the world; and it was a luck for me yesterday in coming away that I had these live things to look after.
Aren't you a spoiled child, without the childness and the spoiling, to go and write in that plaintive, solemn way about 'help of some connexions of Jane's in Glasgow,' as if you were a desolate orphan 'thrown out sang froid to charity.' If you weren't satisfied with the duffle you got, why couldn't you have said so straightforwardly, and told me you wished me to choose another? But I was to do it only 'if I wanted a lark,' or 'if it didn't satisfy me,' &c. &c. You know very well that if you had told me to go fifty miles to buy your dressing-gown, and that you were 'depending on me for doing it,' I shouldn't have hesitated a minute, and it could have been done now when I am on the spot without the least trouble, had you so chosen. But if it was merely to 'please my own taste' that I was to go into Edinburgh from Haddington and back again, or to give myself 'a lark,' I was right to decline. You have no notion what a disagreeable train that is; both in going and
[Page 290] coming you have to wait at Long Niddry from half an hour to an hour, in consequence of the irregularity of the London trains, which stop there. The express don't stop. Yesterday I had to wait an hour all but three minutes. You will be glad to hear as a symptom that an enterprising man is starting anew the old Haddington stage, to go twice a week at the same price as the railway, for the comfort of passengers who have not temper to stand this irregular waiting.
My aunts received me back with the heartiest welcome; and I don't think it will be possible for me to get back to Auchtertool this week without offending them. But I have changed my room for one to the back, left vacant by Ann, who is in Dumfriesshire, and it is as quiet as Cheyne Row, except for a very singular water-cistern that runs without a minute's interruption day and night.
'Men shall come, and men shall go,
But thou go'st on for ever!'
It is only a gentle sound, however, like the flow of a brook; and it rather helped me to sleep last night than otherwise.
By the way, the trash of things that bit you so must have been the new insect called 'harvest bugs,' or 'gooseberry lice,' imported, they say, in some American plants about twenty years ago; they last for six weeks, and are most tormenting. Mrs. Donaldson was covered, as with chicken-pox, from them;
[Page 291] and I finally was dreadfully bitten, but got off easier as I resolutely refused to scratch the places; they took me chiefly on the legs, of all places.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Craigenvilla: Saturday, August 23, 1856.
Your letter of yesterday arriving at the same time with one from my aunt Ann (away in Dumfriesshire) to Grace, just as we were going to breakfast, threw us into such a little flutter of excitement that we all fell quite unconsciously into sin. I was reading my letter, and had taken a sip or two of tea and bitten into my soda-scone, and the others had done the same, when Grace suddenly shrieked out like 'a mad, 'Mercy! we have forgotten the blessing!' I started on my chair, and (to such a pitch of compliance with 'coostom in part' have I already reached) dropped instinctively the morsel out of my mouth into my hand, till I should see what steps were to be taken for making our peace. But the case was judged past remedy, and the breakfast allowed to proceed unblessed.
I was regretting to Betty that my aunts should live in such a fuss of religion. 'My dear!' said she, 'they were idle - plenty to live on, and nocht to do for 't; they might hae ta'en to waur; so we maun
[Page 292] just thole them, an no compleen.' For the rest, they are more affectionate to myself than I ever found them before - really kind, almost to tenderness, especially Elizabeth, who seems much softened by her sad accident. I am glad I stayed, for henceforth I shall feel to have aunts, which is a gain to one who has no brothers or sisters, and whose 'many friends' are something like the hare's. At the same time I shall be well pleased to return to Auchtertool on Monday, where also they are adorably kind to me, and where I have more room to turn in, in all ways.
I have no friends in the north except Mr. Gillespie of Ardachy, who I dare say would give me a welcome. But it would be a deal too far to travel for any satisfaction I should get out of him, even were there no unknown wife in the case. I should prefer being 'well let alone' in Fife, till the time of our return to Chelsea, with just a week or so taken for Dumfriesshire. There they won't weary of me either, which is a main ingredient in my contentment. If I want to 'vaary the schane' a little, I may go a few days to Miss Fergus, who has returned to Kirkcaldy, and sent me a kindly expressed invitation for 'a long visit.' She does not mention your name, as indeed was natural - considering. Thomas Erskine also invites
[Page 293] us both to Linlathen, and understands you to have written that you would come.
I went to call at poor Captain Paterson's (the house is close by here), and saw the Patersons and Mrs. Stirling, who went home yesterday, and 'would write to me.' I should not much dislike going with you to Linlathen, if you take it on the way to the Highlands; but I would rather stay quietly with my own people. ----- -----, too, has sent me an affectionate letter about coming to ----- Castle; but, though in an affectionate mood when she asked me to come, her mood might change by the time I went. And, on the whole, I am not drawn towards ----- Castle, but 'quite the contrary.' 'The honour of the thing' looks too mean, and scraggy, and icy a motive, to make me go a foot length, or trouble myself the least in the world, with all those tears and kisses I brought away from Haddington, still moist and warm on my heart, tears and kisses bestowed on me for the sake of my dead father and mother.
I have just been interrupted by a touching visit from Mrs. Anderson (Miss Grove), who has been invalided with her spine for ten years. She was carried in by her husband, and laid on the sofa; a
[Page 294] sad, grey, resigned-looking, suffering woman. But the husband so gentle and attentive to her, that there was a certain comfort in looking at them. I have an engagement to Betty, who will have curds and cream waiting for me, and I must go now. I am to dine out to-day, for the first time, with Miss Hamilton (of Gladsmuir), who asked Grace, too.
I almost forgot to tell you that I met at the Liddells, in Fife, Mr. William Swan, and that I made him a pretty little speech about 'your enduring remembrance of his father's and mother's kindness to you,' on which account I begged to shake hands with him, which had the greatest success. He was so pleased that Walter followed up my advances by inviting him to a dinner-party at the Manse, and there I presented him with your photograph, which he called 'a treasure.' So fat a man one rarely sees, but he looks kind, and has the character of being 'most benevolent,' and he evidently had a deep affection for his parents.
Also I have a strange story to tell you about Samuel Brown's illness; but that must lie over, or I shall miss the omnibus.
Good luck to the new clothes.
Yours ever faithfully,
JANE W. CARLYLE.
1 Borrowed, doubtless.
1 Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties, &c. (a poor book of that
2 By Miss Sketchley (an amateur trying to become artist).
1 Never; nor I.
1 Going thither to visit good Mrs. Macready, who was now ill, and,
2 Dog Nero.
1 Something in the newspaper.
1 In my first voyage to London (1824, by Leith smack), a certain
very rustic-looking, but polite and quiet, old baronet, called Sir David
Milne, slept in the same cabin with me; and there and on deck was an
amusing human study. Courteous, solemn, yet awkward, dull; chewing
away the r when he spoke, which indeed was seldom, and then mainly in
the way of economic inquiry to passengers who knew London - what you
could do there, see, eat, &c.; and to every item, the farther question:
'And what is the cha-arge (charge)?'
1 A sovereign to each of them, on returning home with a pocketful
from my 'first lecture.' Ah, me!
1 Now librarian; excellent old Cochrane dead.
1 Late travelling doctor to the Ashburtons, who are at Salzburg, &c.
2 Mazzini's phrase. Plattnauer, for fat, was 'losing the human curve.'
3 Mazzini lodging with Piper.
1 Flätz (Jean Paul's Schmeltz),
2 In Cheyne Row, where she had slept once during the repairs in
Carlyle's own house. - J. A. F.
1 Oh, heavens! How can I endure all that?
1 Basil Montague's account of himself.
2 Big Russian exile and propagandist.
1 Don't know.
2 Darwin's valet: 'My father, he has now retired, sir, upon,' &c.
1 Manchester phrase; should be 'shot,' as in Annandale.
1 John's phrase.
2 Old McTurk, on paying his reapers at evening (who had taken to
'kemp,' and spoiled him much stuff), said to each, with the 2s. 6d.,
'God damn you!' and to one old woman (originator of the thing), 'And
God particularly ---- you, ye b----!'
1 Rich man of next door; an endless builder, renovator, and decorator of No. 4.
1 London professorship; I sent him one from Berlin.
1 A. Sterling.
1 That is truth, too.
1 Note, p. 181.
1 'Very absurd' is a phrase of John's.
2 Too brief generally.
1 Lofty cataract in the green wilderness left altogether to itself - the
most impressive I ever looked on. (See Sir Walter Scott, &c.)
1 Terrible to me was the first reading of this, with memory of the
horror and peril of the actual locality.
1 Gaiy, pretty much.
1 Cousin Jeannie, of Liverpool, now wedded in Glasgow.
1 That well; very certainly.
2 The clergyman.
1 Low Annandale for 'Carlyle's.'
1 Ronca, inhabitant of the then dilapidated No. 6 next door, who nearly
killed us with poultry and other noises! The 'sound-proof room' was a
flattering delusion of an ingenious needy builder, for which we afterwards
paid dear. Being now fairly in for 'Frederick,' and the poultry, parrots,
Cochin China, and vermin like to drive one mad, I at last gave in to
the seducer, set him to work on the top of the house story as floor, and
got a room, large, well ventilated, but by far the noisiest in the house,
and in point of bad building, scamping, and enormity of new expense
and of unexpected bad behaviour in hand and heart by his man and him,
a kind of infernal' miracle' to me then and ever since; my first view of
the Satan's invisible world that prevails in that department as in others.
1 Dowager Lady Bath, perhaps.
1 A cousin of the Welsh family - one of the Hunters.
1 Letter lost.
1 Her eldest aunt; fell and dislocated the thigh-bone; lame ever
since. Youngest aunt, Grace, is now dead (since 1867).
2 Given to inclose tracts, &c. Poor, good Ann!
1 Thrice stupid, hideous blotch of a 'Crimean War,' so called.
1 On visit there to Mr. Fitzgerald.
2 A poor old vacant hut at Rottingdean, which was to be furnished,
to be sure! Dear soul, what trouble she took, what hopes she had,
about that! Sunt lachrymæ rerum.
3 Chelsea steamboat, for London Bridge.
1 Populace, soldiers, officers: was there ever seen such a transaction
among men before?
1 Some French booklet on the subject.
2 Lowing by night!
1 Old scribbling governess person.
1 Old Haddington nurse.
1 To Haddington, to Misses Donaldson (eldest of them her 'godmother,' as was always remembered).
1 The famed Cantab. doctor's (Dr. Donaldson) mother and sister.
1 Terrot; the Donaldsons were Episcopal.
1 A kind of ex-military haberdasher (I think) - shop near the entrance to her father's house.
1 Scotch preaching phrase.
2 Not 'de sang,' &c. (supra.)
1 'A mad,' Mazzini's
1 'They might have taken to waur,' wise Betty! This was never
2 'Vaary the schane,' imitation of grandfather Walter - supra.
Reminiscences, vol. ii. p. 101.
1 'Captain Paterson,' Erskine's brother-in-law. Mrs. Stirling is
Erskine's widow sister and lady house-manager.
2 'Miss Grove,' once a young Haddington friend and loved protégée, being English, and a stranger.
1 'Samuel Brown,' doctor of great promise once; poor young man
killed in Edinburgh by too much kindness! (far worse than none, if