'Infants weeping in the porch.'
'Vagitus et ingens,
Infantumque animæ flentes in limine primo.'
Inclosures in this letter from poor Nero and servant Anne. This Anne, who had continued and did still for several years, was an elderly cockney specimen (mother still in Holborn), punctual, rational, useful, though a little selfish and discontented.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Auchtertool, Bedroom: Friday, August 29, 1856.
There! I have put my foot in it! I was well to a wonder; hadn't had one hour of my sickness, nor one wholly sleepless night since I left Chelsea; and the idea must needs take me, that Sunday I was in Edinburgh, to have out my humour to hear Dr. Guthrie. And so for two hours I was slowly simmered, as in one of Soyer's patent stewpans (the crush to hear him being quite as great in Edinburgh as in London). And then I had to walk to Morningside in a cutting east wind; and then, at the far end, a miserable refection of weak tea and tough toast by way of dinner, when I needed to have stimulants 'thrown into the system' (my aunts always dining on tea on Sundays, that the servant may attend both morning and afternoon 'services'). The consequence of all this bad management was a cold
[Page 296] on my nerves, which the crossing next day, and the blowy drive in the dog-cart, brought to a height. And I have been two whole days in bed 'suffering martyrs' (as poor Paulet used to say); and am still very poorly, though to-day I can sit up and write, as you see. Indeed, last night I never once closed my eyes. Nothing could be more ill-timed than this illness, two dinner-parties having gone off here in the meantime to my honour and glory; and 'gone off without effect,' so far as I was concerned. Mr. Peter Swan (the other brother) was at the yesterday dinner; Walter thinking, after my speech to the younger Swan, that he could not be too hospitable to that family. Poor Walter! his poor little stipend must be dreadfully perplexed to meet all the demands his munificent spirit makes on it.
Besides these dinner-parties, we have a house choke full. Jeannie and her husband come over to see me chiefly; and Sophy from Liverpool, with 'Jackie,' a remarkably stirring little gentleman of three and a half years; and another human mite, that rejoices as yet in the name of 'Baby.' And in the dead watches of the night there will arise a sound of 'infants weeping in the porch;' and on the whole it is not now like Paradise here, as it was in my first two weeks. I should have stayed still here while the coast was clear, and only been going on my
[Page 297] Haddington visit now. But, above all, I should not have gone and got myself all stewed into mush, hearing a popular preacher: though out of all sight the very most eloquent preacher I ever heard, or wish to hear. Never was there such exquisite artistic simplicity! never such gushing affluence of imagery! It reminded me of those god-daughters of good fairies in my nursery tales, who every time they opened their blessed mouths 'pearls and rubies rolled out.' But, alas! they were the pearls and rubies of a dream! One brought away none of them in one's pocket to buy a meal of meat with, if one happened to need one.
So long as it is in my head, please send me three or four autographs for my aunt Ann, to give to some friend of hers, who has applied to her to beg them of you for some philanthropic purpose or other. I have had a knot in my pocket handkerchief to remind me of this for some time.
As to Samuel Brown - 'the history of Samuel Brown is this:' For seven years he has, as you know, been afflicted with some derangement of the bowels, which was always expected to terminate fatally in iliac passion. Some weeks ago he seemed beyond recovery, and, indeed, they were watching him for death. At last his bowels being moved by some very strong medicine, there was passed a little
[Page 298] bone; a bone of some sort of game - grouse they think - about half an inch long only, and this having fixed its sharp end into the bowel had caused (the doctors are positive) his whole illness. He has no recollection of ever swallowing the bone. As it left an open hole in the bowel, and he was already so weak, they did not think he would be able to struggle through the cure, but it is now a good many weeks and he is still alive (I believe), and if he escapes the danger of having the bowel closed up in the course of healing the hole in it, he will be restored to perfect health, the doctors think. All this, which I was told by Susan Hunter in Edinburgh, was corroborated for me by the poor man's sister at Haddington. Isn't it a strange story? such a poor, little, little cause producing so much torment and misery.
I have written till the perspiration is running down my face - not wisely but too well.
JANE W. C.
T. Carlyle, Kinloch Luichart, Dingwall.
Scotsbrig: Thursday, Sept. 18, 1856.
Well, I am safe here, though not without a struggle for it.
[Page 299] Your letter this morning is a degree more legible than the first one! But, dear me! what galloping and spluttering over the paper; as if you were writing in a house on fire, and bent on making a little look as much as possible! I have measured the distance between your lines in the letter just come, and it is precisely one inch. In the first letter, it must have been an inch and half! I call that a foolish waste of writing-paper! If you have an excellent bedroom, could you not retire into it for, say, one hour, in the course of a whole week, and write composedly and leisurely? Why write in the midst of four people?
For the rest, in spite of all objections, 'for the occasion got up,' I daresay you are pretty comfortable. Why not? When you go to any house, one knows it is because you choose to go; and when you stay, it is because you choose to stay. You don't, as weakly amiable people do, sacrifice yourself for the pleasure of 'others.' So pray do not think it necessary to be wishing yourself at home, and 'all that sort of thing,' on paper. 'I don't believe thee!' If I were inclined to, I should only have to call to mind the beautiful letters you wrote to me during your former visit to the Ashburtons in the Highlands, and which you afterwards disavowed and trampled into the fire!!
[Page 300] As to Tom Gillespie, if you could have got into his hands, I am sure he would have been useful to you, and been delighted to be so. But the poor man is quite laid up, has been for long in a dangerous state. His sister, Mrs. Binnie, lives near the Caledonian Railway; and I spent the hours I had to wait for the train on Tuesday at her house, and she was speaking quite despondingly about him. So that is no go!
Five pounds is as easily sent as two one-pound notes; more easily indeed, for I have no one-pound notes. So I send a five-pound note to put you out of all danger of running short. It is a very unnecessary grievance that to incur! so long as one has money.
I write to Mrs. Russell to-day that I shall be at Thornhill on Monday, D.V. Isabella says I had best go from here to Annan; it will make the gig-journey shorter. I haven't the least objection to the gig-journey, 'quite the contrary.' But I daresay Jamie's time is very precious just now, so I accepted that route at once. Whether I return to Scotsbrig or not will depend on your arrangements.
Lady Ashburton is very kind to offer to take me back. Pray make her my thanks for the offer. But though a very little herring, I have a born liking to 'hang by my own head.' And when it is a question simply of paying my own way, or having it paid for
[Page 301] me, I prefer 'lashing down' my four or five sovereigns on the table all at once! If there were any companionship in the matter it would be different; and if you go back with the Ashburtons it would be different, as then I should be going merely as part of your luggage, without self responsibility. Settle it as you like, it will be all one to me; meeting you at Scotsbrig, or in Edinburgh, or going home by myself from Thornhill.
This is September 19th, the day of my father's death.
Jamie is going to take me a little drive at one o'clock. He is such a dear good Jamie for me always!
Walter wrote me a long letter, to meet me at Scotsbrig, which I received in bed yesterday, and it gave me 'a good comforting cry;' it is so kind - oh, so kind and brotherly!
JANE W. C.
T. Carlyle, Kinloch Luichart, Dingwall.
Scotsbrig: Monday, Sept. 22, 1856.
Oh, dear! oh, dear! To be thrown into a quandary like this, just when I am getting ready to start for Thornhill! You are so wrong in your dates that I don't know what to make of it. '22nd' you have written at the top of your note, and it arrives here on the 22nd!
It may be all right, but also it may very probably be all wrong, and the five-pound note I sent you from Ecelefechan on Thursday, the 18th, and the long letter that accompanied it, gone to nobody knows where! Pleasant! Why can't you take money enough with you? If I had not been told to inclose notes I would have sent a post-office order on Dingwall.
Till I hear for certain that the letter and money are lost, I don't know what to write! There is no pleasure in telling you the same things over again.
I took the letter to Ecclefechan in the gig, and Jamie posted it while I bought envelopes. There was no visibility of the note in it even when held between you and the light.
Please to write immediately on receiving this, to Mrs. Russell's, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, to say you have got the money.
[Page 303] Jamie is going to drive me to Annan, and it is a day of heavy showers. But I am to be met at Thornhill station, and must go.
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
Alas! my poor, much suffering, ever toiling, and endeavouring woman. No doubt I was very bad company, sunk overhead in the Frederick mud element.
Anne did not go at this time; but a sad, sick winter was awaiting my dear one: confined to the house for five months and utterly weak, says a note of the time! Her patience in such cases always was unsurpassable - patience, silent goodness, anxiety only for one unworthy. - T. C.
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Friday, Oct. 10, 1856.
Oh, my dear! my dear! my dear! - To keep myself from going stark mad I must give myself something pleasant to do for this one hour! And nothing so pleasant suggests itself as just writing to you, to tell you how miserable and aggravated I am! Geraldine says, 'Why on earth, when I was beside a doctor I had confidence in, didn't I consult him about my health?' Why? Because when I was beside Dr. Russell, and indeed (except for a common cold) all the time I was in Scotland, nothing ailed my health!
[Page 304] A London doctor's prescription for me long ago (the only sensible man I ever knew in the profession here - a pity he is dead), that I 'should be kept always happy and tranquil' (!!!), had finally got itself carried into effect for ten whole weeks, and was found an efficacy! But from the day I left Scotland quite other things than happiness and tranquillity have been 'thrown into my system'! I arrived here with a furious faceache, Mr. C. having insisted on my sitting in a violent draught all the journey; that kept me perfectly sleepless all night, in spite of my extreme fatigue, and so I began to be ill at once, and have gone on crescendo in the same ratio that my worries have increased. Figure this: [Scene - a room where everything is enveloped in dark-yellow London fog! For air to breathe, a sort of liquid soot! Breakfast on the table - 'adulterated coffee,' 'adulterated bread,' 'adulterated cream,' and 'adulterated water'!] Mr. C. at one end of the table, looking remarkably bilious; Mrs. C. at the other, looking half dead! Mr. C.: 'My dear, I have to inform you that my bed is full of bugs, or fleas, or some sort of animals that crawl over me all night!' Now, I must tell you, Mr. C. had written to me, at Auchtertool, to 'write emphatically to Anne about keeping all the windows open; for, with her horror of fresh air, she was quite capable of having the house full of bugs when
[Page 305] we returned;' and so I imputed this announcement to one of these fixed ideas men, and especially husbands, are apt to take up, just out of sheer love of worrying! Living in a universe of bugs outside, I had entirely ceased to fear them in my own house, having kept it so many years perfectly clean from all such abominations. So I answered with merely a sarcastic shrug, that was no doubt very ill-timed under the circumstances, and which drew on me no end of what the Germans call Kraftsprüche! But clearly the practical thing to be done was to go and examine his bed - and I am practical, moi! So, instead of getting into a controversy that had no basis, I proceeded to toss over his blankets and pillows, with a certain sense of injury! But, on a sudden, I paused in my operations; I stooped to look at something the size of a pin-point; a cold shudder ran over me; as sure as I lived it was an infant bug! And, oh, heaven, that bug, little as it was, must have parents - grandfathers and grandmothers, perhaps! I went on looking then with frenzied minuteness, and saw enough to make me put on my bonnet and rush out wildly, in the black rain, to hunt up a certain trustworthy carpenter to come and take down the bed. The next three days I seemed to be in the thick of a domestic Balaklava, which is now even only subsiding - not subsided. Anne, though I have reproached her with carelessness (decidedly there was not the vestige of a
[Page 306] bug in the whole house when we went away), is so indignant that the house should be turned up after she had 'settled it,' and that 'such a fuss should be made about bugs, which are inevitable in London,' that she flared up on me, while I was doing her work, and declared 'it was to be hoped I would get a person to keep my house cleaner than she had done; as she meant to leave that day month!' To which I answered, 'Very good,' and nothing more. And now you see, instead of coming back to anything like a home, I have come back to a house full of bugs and evil passions! I shall have to be training a new servant into the ways of the house (when I have got her) at a season of the year when it will be the most uphill work for both her and me. As to this woman, I kept her these three years because she was a clever servant, and carried on the house without any bother to me; but I never liked her as a woman; from the first week I perceived her to be what she has since on all occasions proved herself, cunning, untrue, and intensely selfish. The atmosphere of such a character was not good, and nothing but moral cowardice could have made me go on with her. But I did so dread always the bothers and risks of 'a change'! Now, however, that it is forced on me, I console myself by thinking, with that 'hope which springs eternal in the human mind,' that I may find a servant, after all, whom it may be
[Page 307] possible to, not only train into my ways, but attach to me! What a fool I am! Oh, I should so like a Scotchwoman, if I could get any feasible Scotchwoman. These Londoners are all of the cut of this woman. I have written to Haddington, where the servants used to be very good, to know if they can do anything for me. I suppose it is needless asking you; of course, if there had been any 'treasure' procurable you would have engaged her yourself. But do you really know nobody I could get from Nithsdale? How stupid it was of Margaret not to come when I wanted her. I am sure it is harder work she must have at the Castle. Oh, my darling, I wish you were here to give me a kiss, and cheer me up a bit with your soft voice! In cases of this sort, Geraldine with the best intentions is no help. She is unpractical, like all women of genius! She was so pleased with your letter! 'My dear,' she said to me, 'how is it that women who don't write books write always so much nicer letters than those who do?' I told her it was, I supposed, because they did not write in the, 'Valley of the shadow' of their future biographer, but wrote what they had to say frankly and naturally.
Your father (a kiss to him) should write me a word about 'Providence.' Oh, be pleased all of you, Dr. Russell too, for all so busy as he is, to think of me, and love me! I have great faith in the magnetic
[Page 308] influence of kind thoughts. And, upon my honour, I need to be soothed - magnetically, and in any possible way!
JANE W. CARLYLE.
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Jan. 2, 1857.
My dear Mary, - The box came yesterday, all safe - not so much as one egg cracked, and just in time to have one of the fowls boiled for Mr. C.'s dinner. Mr. C. dines all by himself at present, I merely looking on, as he doesn't participate in my dislike to eating in presence of one's fellow-creatures not similarly occupied.
Since my illness, that is to say, pretty nearly ever since I returned from Scotland, I have used my privilege of invalid (and no doubt about it) to dine at the hour when nature and reason prompt me to dine, viz. two o'clock, instead of at Mr. C.'s fashionable hour of six. So my go at the fowl comes off to-day. They look famous ones; and as for the goose - heaven and earth! what a goose! Even Anne, who is so difficult to warm up to bare satisfaction point with anything of an eatable sort, stood amazed before that goose, 'as in presence of the infinite!' and, when she had found her tongue, broke forth with, 'Lord! ain't it
[Page 309] fat, ma'm?' Thank you very much, dear Mary. Your box reminds me of the time when you came to me at some dreadful inn at Annan, where I happened to be, I don't remember why, and was doing I don't remember what, except that I was horridly sick and uncomfortable, and you came tripping in with a reticule-basket, and gave me little cakes and sweeties out of it; and that comforted my mind, if not exactly good for my stomach. Dear Mary, how kind you used to be in those old times, when we were thrown so much on one another's company! That is the only feature of my existence at Craig-o'-putta that I recall with pleasure; the rest of it was most dreary and uncongenial.
The meal is welcome, for I brought but little from Scotsbrig, not thinking to need more. When I dine in the middle of the day, however, I can take my old supper of porridge, provided I feel up to the bother of making it myself. So I have my porridge, while Mr. C. takes his more unsubstantial breadberry - so I call it - Anne calls it 'Master's pap'!
We have beautiful weather again, and I get out for a drive in an omnibus. The Scotsbrig gig would be nicer, but anything is better than walking, when one feels like an eel in the matter of backbone. I go in an omnibus from the bottom of our street to the end of its line, and just come back again; thus realising some fourteen miles of shaking at the modest
[Page 310] cost of one shilling. Mr. C.'s horse gives him the highest satisfaction; he says it is a quite remarkable combination of courage and sensibility. The Secretary, too, would do well enough if he could only give over 'sniffing through his nose.' The canaries are the happiest creatures in the house; the dog next.
Kind regards to your husband and Margaret.
Monday, May 4, 1857. - At Paris, on her way home from Nice, Lady Ashburton (born Lady Harriett Montague) suddenly died: suddenly to the doctors and those who believed them; in which number, fondly hoping against hope, was I. A sad and greatly interesting event to me and to many! The most queen-like woman I had ever known or seen. The honour of her constant regard had for ten years back been among my proudest and most valued possessions - lost now; gone - for ever gone! This was our first visit to Addiscombe after. I rode much about with Lord A. in intimate talk, and well recollect this visit of perhaps a week or ten days, and of the weeks that preceded and followed. How well I still remember the evening Richard Milnes brought down the news; the moonlit streets, and dirge-like tone of everything, as I walked up to Lady Sandwich's door and asked for the weak, devoted, aged mother. In no society, English or other, had I seen the equal or the second of this great lady that was gone; by nature and by culture facile princeps she, I think, of all great ladies I have ever seen.
My Jane's miserable illness now over, a visit to Haddington was steadily in view all summer. July 7. - Craik from
[Page 311] Belfast, with his daughters, was here holidaying; had decided on flying to Edinburgh by some unrivalled and cheap excursion train, and persuaded her to go with them. I accompanied to Euston Square; had dismal omens of the 'unrivalled,' which were fully realised through the night. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Sunny Bank, Haddington: Wednesday, July 8, 1857.
Oh, mercy! Lord be thanked! 'Good times, and bad times, and all times pass over.' Last night is passed over, like an excessively bad dream; and I am sitting here in cleanness and quiet, announcing my safety so far. But it is a wonder that somebody else has not rather to announce my death by 'bad air.' Oh, my dear! you saw all those people in one box, sixteen of them! Well, imagine that they closed every window and slit, except the fourth window, commanded by Georgina and me. Not one breath of air to be had all night except in holding one's head out of the window. Craik and his offsprings were very attentive and kind, and I ate my cold fowl wing, and drank a little brandy and water; and the large Scotchman offered me 'his shoulder to rest on, if it would be of any service;' but what availed all that against 'a polluted atmosphere'? How it happened that everybody got through the night alive I can't explain; nay, everybody but Craik, one of his girls, and myself, slept the sleep
[Page 312] of the just! By the way, you may tell Mr. Larkin 'snoring' is not audible in a railway train. My chief torment proceeded from the tendency to sleep produced by the atmosphere getting itself overcome by the upright position, with no rest for the head. It 'was cheap,' but I did not 'like it,' and have seldom been thankfuller than when I found myself the only living creature visible at the Dunbar station, after the Craiks had streamed away. I washed my face with Eau-de-Cologne, and combed my dishevelled hair in a little, cold, tidy waiting-room; and in about an hour my train came and picked me up, and set me down at Haddington station soon after nine, where the carriage was duly waiting.
I never saw the country about here look so lovely, but I viewed it all with a calm about as morbid as was my excitement last year. Dear Miss Jess received me with open arms in a room with a bright fire, and the prettiest breakfast-table set out. Miss Donaldson does not come down till eleven. They are the same heavenly kind creatures, and there is no falling off even in looks since last year. I am not going out of the house again to-day, but I cannot write, I am so wearied! oh, so dreadfully wearied! Being hindered from sleeping is quite another thing from not being able to sleep.
I hope you found a fire when you got home, and
[Page 313] some reasonable good tea. If you could fancy me in some part of the house out of sight, my absence would make little difference, considering how little I see of you, and how preoccupied you are when I do see you.
Do you know I had yester-even a presentiment I should die before I got back? Those things Lord Ashburton brought had shivered me all through, and the first thing we met was a coffin. I was so nervous that I wanted to scream, but the physical weariness had quashed down that nonsense.
Oh! be kind to Nero, and slightly attentive to the canaries, and my poor little nettle and gooseberry bush. Moreover, tell Anne she will find Mrs. Cook's bill in my blot-book; I forgot to give it to her. I also forgot to bring my boa; tell Anne, please, to shake it every two or three days, and to leave the fur jacket exposed to the air where I placed it, and shake it and the great fur coat downstairs frequently. She let the moths get into my fur last year. A kiss to Nero.
I wonder how you are getting along.
God keep you.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
I wish you would thank Lord Ashburton for me. I couldn't say anything about his kindness in giving
[Page 314] me those things, which she had been in the habit of wearing. I felt so sick and so like to cry, that I am afraid I seemed quite stupid and ungrateful to him.
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Haddington: July 14, 1857.
Good morning, dear! I wonder if you are 'quite happy and comfortable' this morning? or - what shall I say - ' contrairy'? Perhaps I may have a letter by the midday post; your last came by it. But it is best, in my own writing, to take time 'by the forelock;' his pigtail is so apt to come away in one's hand! Indeed, I have less time for letter-writing here than might be thought, considering the quiet monotony of the life I lead. I am 'called' at eight by their clock; but in reality at half-past seven; and at a quarter after eight (in reality) Miss Jess and I sit down to breakfast: tea, eggs, brown bread and honey-comb. This is Miss Jess's best talking time, and we sit till ten or so. From that till eleven I may write, or darn my stockings, or meditate on things in general, without being missed.
At eleven the carriage comes round, and both ladies go a drive of two miles along the Dunbar Road! I accompany them; and, having set them
[Page 315] down at their own door again, I go a long drive by myself. That is my chief entertainment during the day. Nowhere in the world that I know of are there such beautiful drives; and I recognise places that I had seen in my dreams, the recollection of them having been preserved in my sleep long after it had passed out of my waking mind.
I come in just in time to change my dress and rest before dinner at three; a dinner always 'very good to eat' (as you say) and of patriarchal simplicity. Alway strawberries and cream ad libitum! Between dinner and tea (at six) I talk to Miss Donaldson, and I take a little walk, to the churchyard or some place that I care for. After tea talking again, or I read aloud - excessively loud (I read them your Nigger Question, much to Miss Donaldson's approval and delight); and before supper (of arrowroot milk), at half-past nine, I have run down every evening to speak a few words of encouragement to my poor unlawful cousin, in her sick bed. I think she would recover if she could overcome the effects of the frightful quantity of mercury Mr. Howden has given her. My heavens, what my father would have said to him! At ten, bed!!
I am so grieved to find the fair, which used to be held to-day, has turned into a mere cattle-fair; no booths with toys and sweeties! and I had set my
[Page 316] heart on buying a pair of waxen babes of the wood covered with moss (by imaginary robins), in a little oval spale-box, which used to be my favourite fairing. Last night, however, I bought a - hedgehog from a wee boy. I thought I might take it home in my carpet-bag to eat the cockroaches. Perhaps I will think better of it!
I imagine Miss Jess was so inspirited by my presence, that last Sunday she 'took a notion' of going to church! She had not been there for years. Of course I had to go with her. As it was to 'the chapel' I didn't so much mind. I should not have liked to sit in a strange seat in our own church. I found the poor little whitewashed, bare-boarded chapel transformed into a little blossom of Puseyite taste! Painted glass windows! Magnificent organ! Airs from the opera of 'Acis and Galatea'! the most snow-white and ethereal of surplices! and David Roughead (he of the 'fertile imagination') chanting his responses behind us, and singing 'a deep bass,' and tossing off his A--mens! in a jaunty style, that gave me a strong desire to box his ears.
Give my compliments to Anne; the usual kiss to my 'blessed' dog.
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Sunny Bank: Thursday, July 23, 1857.
The pens you made me, dear, are all ground down on this lime-paper, and I am obliged to write now with the backs, which has a perverse effect on my ideas, and my ideas are rather awry to begin with. I feel provoked that, having 'made an effort' like this to get well, I do not succeed in doing it effectually and at once. 'Very absurd.' I ought to be thankful for ever so little amendment; above all, even if no cure should be worked on me by all this fresh air, and sweet milk, and riding in carriages, and having my own entire humour out, I ought to be thankful for the present escape from that horrid sickness, which nobody that has not felt it can know the horror of.
Though my nights are no better than they were at Chelsea - indeed, worse latterly - still it is only oppression and weariness I feel during the day; not that horrid feeling as if death were grasping at my heart. But, 'oh, my!' what a shame, when you are left alone there with plenty of smoke of your own to consume, to be puffing out mine on you from this distance! It is certainly a questionable privilege one's best friend enjoys, that of having all one's darkness rayed out on him. If I were writing to - who
[Page 318] shall I say? - Mr. Barlow, now, I should fill my paper with 'wits,' and elegant quotations, and diverting anecdotes; should write a letter that would procure me laudation sky-high, on my 'charming, unflagging spirits,' and my 'extraordinary freshness of mind and feelings;' but to you I cannot for my life be anything but a bore.
I went and drank tea with Mrs. David Davidson, the worst-used woman I ever knew; and at seventy-eight years of age she hasn't a drop of gall in her whole composition, and is as serene as if she had never had a sorrow. She has still the same servant, Mary Jeffrys, who was with her when I was a child; she has served her with the same relish for fifty years. 'Ye dinna find us as perfect as I could wuss,' she (Mary) said to me (the house was clean as a new pin); 'but I'm as wullin as ever to work, only no just sae able.' At the door she called after me: 'Ye'll find us ay here while we're to the fore; but it's no unco lang we can expect to get bided.' I don't think either mistress or maid could survive the other a month.
To-night, again, I go out to tea, at Miss Brown's; and on Saturday night at the Sheriffs', who were at school with me. On Monday I go to Mrs. Binnie's; on Tuesday to Craigenvilla, Morningside; and on Wednesday to Auchtertool.
[Page 319] I have a most affectionate letter from Lady Airlie, but I hardly think I shall go so far.
Compliments to Anne. Your care of the live stock does 'credit to your head and hort.'
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Sunny Bank: Sunday, July 26, 1857.
Thanks for your note, meant to be very soothing, I can see; but it rather soothes me the wrong way of the hair somehow - makes me feel I had been making a baby of myself, and a fractious baby. Well, never mind, as Miss Madeline Smith said to old Dr. Simpson, who attended her during a short illness in prison, and begged to use 'the privilege of an old man, and speak to her seriously at parting,' 'My dear doctor, it is so good of you. But I won't let you trouble yourself to give me advice, for I assure you I have quite made up my mind to turn over a new leaf!' That is fact. Simpson told it to Terrot, who told me.
And so I have made up my mind to turn over a new leaf, and no more give words to the impatient
[Page 320] or desponding thoughts that rise in my mind about myself. It is not a natural vice of mine, that sort of egoistical babblement, but has been fostered in me by the patience and sympathy shown me in my late long illness. I can very easily leave it off as I did smoking, when I see it to be getting a bad habit.
But about Miss Smith I have one thing to tell you which I think you will be rather glad of, as giving the death-stroke to testimonials. The Glasgow merchants are actually raising a subscription (it has reached nine thousand pounds) 'to testify their sympathy for her.' One man, a Mr. D----- , has given a thousand himself - he had better marry her, and get poisoned. Not that I believe the girl guilty of the poisoning; but she is such a little incarnate devil that the murder don't go for much in my opinion of her.
Haddington has half the honour of having produced this cockatrice. I knew her great-grandmother - a decent, ancient woman, called 'Mealy Janet,' never to be seen but with a bag of flour under each arm. She was mother to the 'Mr. Hamilton, architect of Edinburgh,' and to one of the most curious figures in my childhood, Mysie Hamilton, or 'Meal Mysie' (she continuing her mother's flour trade); she spoke with a loud man's voice, that used to make us children take to our heels in terror when we heard it. I remember the boys said Mysie was a -----
[Page 321] but what that was I hadn't a notion, nor have I yet; my mother thought her a good woman, and once by way of lark, invited her to tea. I bought a pamphlet the other day containing the whole 'trial,' on the very spot where Mysie Hamilton sold her flour, now a book-shop.
I was in our own house yesterday. They have new papered the drawing-room and dining-room. But the paint we left on it is still the same, and perfectly new-looking, after some forty years. My father always had everything done effectually. There are no such doors as those painted wainscoat ones that I ever saw, with their eight coats of paint and as many of varnish. The old drawing-room still looks to me a beautiful room, independent of associations. But a full-length portrait of Mr. Howden, leaning like Sir David Baird on his horse's neck, was over the mantelpiece, vulgarising everything by its groom-like presence. I gave young Dr. Howden, who lives there still, the large photograph of Woolner's Medallion, in the secret expectation it would be hung up in that dear old room which stills feels mine.
And my youth was left behind
For some one else to find .
The young girl-wife who lives there is very lovely, and writes poetry - God help her!
I adhere to my programme of leaving tomorrow,
[Page 322] &c., but have promised to stop here again on my way home. I could not help it, when I saw those dear old women crying about my going so soon.
[No room for signature. Two flower-leaves - petals - inclosed.]
Archy something, an enthusiast Annandale pedlar, gone half mad with theology and horror of mad dogs, was gratefully supping porridge and milk in a wealthy farmer's kitchen one summer evening, intending to lodge there, when a mischievous maid-servant whispered to another, 'Was that the bowl the stranger dog had?' as audibly to Archy as the 'Whisht, whisht!' (hush) of answer was. Archy sprang to his feet, snatched his pack, and ran through the wilderness many miles incessantly towards the cottage of a brother whom he had there. In the dead of the night a knock at the window was heard: brother asking who? what? Archy answered 'I'm degenerating.'
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Auchtertool: Monday, Aug. 3, 1857.
Oh, heaven! or rather, oh, the other place! 'I am degenerating from a woman into a dog, and feel an inclination to bark - bow wow! wow!' Ever since I came here I have been passing out of one silent rage into another at the things in general of this house. Viewed from the invalid point of view, they are enough really to make one not only bark but bite;
[Page 323] were it not that, in other people's houses, one has to assume the muzzle of politeness. The best intentions always unfortunate. The finest possibilities yielding zero, or worse. The maximum of bother to arrive at the minimum of comfort (so far as I am concerned). Is it possible that the change of a cook can make the difference betwixt now and last summer? or is it the increased irritability of my nerves that makes it? or are my cousins getting stupefied for want of anything to stir their souls on this hilltop? The devil knows best how it comes, but 'I, as one solitary individual,' find no satisfaction in the arrangements here, though 'there need be no reflections for want of roses,' and, 'beautiful views,' and 'pure air'! And it is not only my soul that protests but my body; I sleep shockingly, and the sickness has come back. How little Mary has escaped dying under these late and irregular hours, and bad bread, and all the rest of the 'much ado about nothing,' and 'don't you wish you may get it,' here, is a wonder to me, and I don't think much of her doctor. When I looked at him and his ways intently, the other day, with a half-thought to consult him myself about certain things, he 'left me cold,' - very cold indeed, and, 'with a decided preference,' for nature! Hadn't I better be going then? Decidedly; 'being an only child,' I have 'no wish' to stay. But then, 'that damned thing called
[Page 324] the milk of human kindness,' not being yet all gone to sour curd in me, I would not show any unfeeling impatience to be gone; where I am treated (though God knows how injudiciously) most kindly according to their light and ability.
I have written to Lady Airlie declining the honour proposed to me, which looked, on consideration, something of the Irishman's bottomless-Sedan sort. Also I have declined a pressing invitation to Thornhill. My flesh quivered at the thought of going through that again, in my present weakness of body and mind. But I mean to stop some days - a week perhaps - with my aunts; who are really good, intelligent companions when they keep off their hobby, and where I am well cared for materially. They have a good, plain house, and keep early hours and to a moment, and seem really pleased to have me. I never saw women more improved by keeping! I had been thinking to try a week's sea-bathing before you suggested it; and perhaps shall go for a week to Portobello or North Berwick. At all events, I go back, if I am spared, to Sunny Bank to start from there for London. I could not get away without promising that, and shall be very glad of another breath of my 'native air' - I shouldn't wonder if it were the last till it blows over my grave; for when
[Page 325] one of these dear old women dies, the other will follow fast; and they, too, gone, I don't think, if I even lived long, I should ever have the courage or wish to go back more.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Auchtertool: Monday, Aug. 10, 1857.
Oh, my dear! - I am so sorry to think of your having been all alone there with Anne 'dreadfully ill!' As it has turned out, it was better that you did not tell me; for certainly I should have at once flown off to the rescue, and arrived only to complicate your difficulties by falling 'dreadfully ill' myself. Still, the confidence in all being well (figuratively speaking), so long as I hear nothing to the contrary, is done for by this concealment. So it will be for my peace of mind to be making no further move that is not a move homeward. My consolation, under the images of your discomfort that present themselves, is of that melancholy sort produced by 'two afflictions.' I have been in such a way myself for the last week, that I could have done no good to you, Anne, or myself by being 'at my post'! The physical
[Page 326] pain has been over for three days, but followed by such horrible depression of spirits that it felt as if one degree more of it would make me hang or drown myself. I could not write to you anything but articulate moans and groans, with a sprinkling of execrations! And so I preferred letting down the valve and consuming my own smoke. The last two nights I have had better sleep; and to-day I feel a little more up to living, though still far enough from 'doing the hoping of the family.'
Walter is going to give me a drive. Since Friday I have not had any exercise. Jeannie, with her 'child of miracle' and its two attendants, is still expected tomorrow, and I have fixed my departure for Thursday, which is as much giving in to family proprieties as could reasonably be expected of me. I have not named any time for my stay at Morningside - will 'leave it open' (as you say); but, even should I thrive there, I don't think of more than a week. And another week at Sunny Bank will make as much 'outing' as should suffice for this year! For the rest, I may give myself the same comfort about my travels that I used to give you about your horse, when you were saying it did you 'next to no good;' I 'can't tell how much worse' I should have been had I stayed through all that heat of London. Certainly I have had nothing to suffer from heat, whatever else.
[Page 327] Oh, those Indian women! It seems sinful of one to complain of anything in face of their dreadful fate, and their mothers and sisters at home! It is difficult to reconcile such things with the belief that God takes care of every individual He has made! - that 'God is Love!' Love? It isn't much like a world ruled by Love, this. My dear, I am tempted to write a good deal of blasphemy just at this moment. 'Better not!'
Thanks for writing so often. If you saw your letters received, you would think them very important to me, surely; or that I am certainly too weak and nervous 'for anything' (as they say in Lancashire). The last two or three letters I turned quite sick at the sight of, and had to catch at a chair and sit down trembling before I could open and read them. This is 'a plain unvarnished' fact. And yet I was frightened for nothing in particular that I could have put into words. If you had put a loaded pistol to me, and required me to tell on my life what was agitating me to such a degree, I could have said nothing more lucid than that I didn't know whether there mightn't be some word in the letter that I would rather hadn't been there, or that the tone of the letter might show you were ill or uncomfortable, or that, in short, I couldn't guess whether it would make me gladder or sadder. But for a rational
[Page 328] creature to be at the point of fainting with no more reason than that! 'A poor, miserable wretch with no stamina!' (as old Sterling used to say).
Address to Craigenvilla, Morningside.
JANE W. C.
'Child of Glory,' absurd phrase in somebody's translation from poor Zacharias Werner, much commented upon at Comely Bank (I being thought concerned) by a certain Madame Viaris, zealous and honest Pomeranian, wife of an ex-Napoleon officer, whom and their one boy she honourably supported by teaching German. Reciting or reading in a high shrieky tone the original of Werner, she exclaimed passionately, at every turn, 'But where is the Child of Glory?' and got no answer, except in assenting smiles and long-continued remembrance. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Auchtertool: Thursday, Aug. 13, 1857.
My packing is just finished, dear; my dinner will be up in five minutes; and then I am off to Kirkcaldy to catch the three o'clock train. The day is very calm, so I hope to escape sickness; anyhow I shall be glad to have saved myself from 'The Child of Glory,' and its court. And as one hopes for relief, when one is feverish in bed, from turning on the other side, so I look forward to Morningside with a certain thankfulness. At all events, it is near Sunny Bank, and Sunny Bank is on the road to London.
[Page 329] Jeannie and her suite did not arrive till yesterday. The baby is about three finger-lengths long; the two nurses nearly six feet each. Five packing cases came before them by the carrier, and as many portmanteaus and carpet-bags in the carriage with them. 'Did you ever?' 'No, I never!' I have kept my temper with all this nonsense wonderfully, to outward appearance at least. But it is only the speedy prospect of getting far away from it that has enabled me to keep from bursting out into swearing.
I hoped to have had leisure to write at decent length yesterday afternoon or to-day; but one can't get on with anything in this infernal hubbub. So I just scribble this little note to put in the post-office on my way out to Morningside, that you may know I have 'crossed' without accident. The Morningside post leaves early I believe.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
Craigenvilla: Saturday, Aug. 15, 1857.
Now then, 'thanks God,' I am back into the regions of common sense; have a nice little 'my-foot-is-on-my-native-heath-and-my-name's-Macgregor' feeling. The lungs of my soul begin to play, after having been all but asphyxiated with tarnation folly. Such
[Page 330] a scene of waste, and fuss, and frivolity, and vanity, and vexation of spirit, I desire not to set my foot in again on this side of time. 'All sailing down the stream of time into the ocean of eternity, for the devil's sake. Amen!' I am sure it wasn't my irritability. Looking back on it coolly from here, I am as much disgusted as when I was in it.
I was taken to the Kirkcaldy station instead of Burnt Island, Walter having business there. Of course the first person I saw there was Mr. William Swan; and he was 'crossing' too, and took me under his ample wing. The sea was as smooth as a looking-glass, and I wasn't upset the least in the world. When my cab stopped at the gate here everybody ran out to meet me - three aunts, maid, and the very cat, with whom I am in high favour; it came purring about my feet, and whipping my leg with its tail; but you needn't say a word of that to Nero. I respect his too sensitive feelings. They made me quite comfortable, and got me warm tea in no time. We had just finished when another cab drove to the gate, out of which leapt John from Richmond, and one of his mother's sisters. I rushed off to open the house-door to him, and you should have seen how he started and stared. He looked dreadfully weak still, poor fellow! and coughed much, but not so incessantly as when we parted in London. He told my
[Page 331] aunts I looked better. They gave me nice porridge to supper, and plenty of milk - not turned, as every drop of milk and cream at Auchtertool was; and I have slept better both the nights I have been here.
By the time I get done with this, and Sunny Bank, I shall be heartily glad to get home. Betty says, 'My dear, ye just toiled yersel last year; oh, ye manna do that again! ' And I don't mean to. Nobody knows what going into Dumfriesshire is for me. Haddington I have now got used to - like the pigs - to a certain extent; but Thornhill! Oh, mercy!
Grace got hold of your proof-sheet yesterday, and shut herself up in her bedroom to read it. I knocked at the door to say something, and she opened it with spectacles on, and the open sheet in her hand, looking so fierce at being interrupted. She thought I was the maid. Her opinion is, 'It will be a remarkably interesting work - really very interesting; she can see that by even this much.' They all send you their kind regards and say, 'Tell him to come down.' Don't they wish they may get it!
Your letter has come since I began this. And, ach! since I began this, I have recollected to-morrow is Sunday; but you will get it on Monday morning.
[Page 332] I sent the photograph to Isabella a week ago.
Compliments to Ann; and no end of kisses to Nero.
J. W. C.
This is the last (and perhaps the first, and pretty much the one) bit of pure sunshine that visited my dark and lonesome, and in the end quite dismal and inexpressible, enterprise of Frederick; the rest was all darkness, solitude; air leaden coloured, frozen rain, sound of subterranean torrents, like Balder's ride to the Death Kingdom, 'needing,' as I often said, the obstinacy of ten mules for ten or thirteen years at that time of life. Except a small patch of writing by Emerson, this is the only bit of human criticism in which, across the general exaggeration, I could discover real lineaments of the thing. Very memorable was this of her to me, and will for ever be. How memorable are all these letters of 1857, and my silent moods (deep sorrow and toil, tinted with gratitude and hope) in those summer months! Two china seats (little china barrel-shaped things) in the garden here, which were always called 'Noble-men,' from a spiteful remark of Anne's about the purchase of them. My midnight 'smoke' there, looking up into the empyrean and the stars. Ah me ! - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
Craigenvilla, Edinburgh: Monday, Aug. 24, 1857.
Oh, my dear! What a magnificent book this is going to be! The best of all your books. I say so, who never flatter, as you are too well aware; and who
[Page 333] am 'the only person I know that is always in the right! So far as it is here before me, I find it forcible and vivid, and sparkling as 'The French Revolution,' with the geniality and composure and finish of 'Cromwell' - a wonderful combination of merits! And how you have contrived to fit together all those different sorts of pictures, belonging to different sorts of times, as compactly and smoothly as a bit of the finest mosaic! Really one may say, of these two first books at least, what Helen said of the letters of her sister who died - you remember? - 'So splendidly put together one would have thought that hand couldn't have written them!'
It was the sheets that hindered me from writing yesterday; though I doubt if a letter posted at Morningside (the Scotch Campo Santo) yesterday (Sunday) would have reached you sooner than if posted to-day. Certainly it is a devil of a place for keeping the Sunday, this! Such preaching and fasting, and 'touting and praying,' as I was never before concerned in! But one never knows whence deliverance is to come any more than misfortune. I was cut out of all, or nearly all, my difficulties yesterday by the simple providential means of - a bowel complaint! It was reason enough for staying away from church; excuse enough for declining to
[Page 334] be read to; and the loss of my dinner was entirely made up for by the loss of my appetite! Nothing could have happened more opportunely! Left at home with Pen (the cat), when they had gone every one to her different 'Place of Worship,' I opened my desk to write you a letter. But I would just take a look at the sheets first. Miss Jess had put a second cover on the parcel, and forwarded it by railway on Saturday night; and I had not been able to read then, by the gas-light, which dazzles my eyes. It is one of the little peculiarities of this house that there isn't a candle allowed in it of any sort - wax, dip, moulded, or composite! Well, I took up the sheets and read 'here a little and there a little,' and then I began at the beginning and never could stop till I had read to the end, and pretty well learnt it by heart. I was still reading when Church came out, and so my letter got nipt in the bud. If it is so interesting for me, who have read and heard so many of the stories in it before, what must it be to others to whom it is all new? the matter as well as the manner of the narrative! Yes, you shall see, it will be the best of all your books - and small thanks to it! It has taken a doing!
I suppose you are roasting again. Here there has been no such heat since I came north as in the last three days - mercury at 75° in the shade yesterday. But there is plenty of east wind to keep one
[Page 335] from suffocating, provided one can get it without the dust. I used to fancy Piccadilly dusty; but, oh, my, if you saw the Morningside Road!
I must tell you a compliment paid me before I conclude. A lady I hadn't seen for twenty years came to call for me. 'You were ill I heard,' she said. 'Ah, yes, it is easy to see you have suffered! an entire wreck, like myself.' Then, looking round on my three aunts, 'Indeed, like all of us!!'
JANE W. CARLYLE.
What of Lady Sandwich? You never mention her. Fleming at Raith! I should have been as astonished to meet him in Kirkcaldy, as to meet Tiger Wull's 'finest blackcock that ever stepped the streets of Greenock!
In final settlement of heritage into equal parts, John Welsh, senior, totally omitted her (i.e. her father, who was eldest, and had been the benefactor and stay of all the family), of which I remember she wrote at the time to me, nobly sorrowful - not ignobly then or ever, in that case or in any. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
Sunny Bank: Friday, August 28, 1857.
Here I am, dear, an incarnation of 'the bad sixpence.' Sixteen miles nearer home, anyhow. I left Edinburgh at two yesterday, was at Longniddry by half-past two, and didn't get to Haddington till four. Such complete misunderstanding exists between the little Haddington cross-train and all other trains, that one may lay one's account with having to wait always three-quarters of an hour at the least. Then the waiting-room is 'too stuffy for anything,' and the seated structure outside expressly contrived for catching cold in; so that one is fain to hang about on one's legs in space.
The bother of all this, taken together with the excitement of my rapturous welcome, kept me awake in a high fever, till my doomed hour of four o'clock this morning - or something kept me awake that the devil only knows! It was such an arrival, after all: the servants waiting outside the house, smiling and saying, 'Glad to see you back, ma'am.' Miss Jess, tumbling into my arms on the threshold, 'faintly ejaculating' (as a novelist would say), 'Our Precious!' 'Our Beloved!' and beyond her my godmother, advancing with her hands stretched out, groping the air, and calling out in an excited way, 'Is that my bairn?'
[Page 337] The niece and grand-niece were discreet enough to keep upstairs till 'the first flush o' meeting' was over, but were very cordial when they appeared. To their credit I must say, they might easily take offence at the preference shown me. Even in the midst of these raptures my eye sought and discovered your letter on the usual table, but I refrained from opening it (paragon of politeness that I was!) till dinner was over, for which I had already kept them waiting an hour.
They think me looking much better. Indeed, my first fortnight at Craigenvilla, with all its drawbacks of weekly fasts, inordinate reading to, gas, and water-cistern, was very good for my health, and, on the whole, pleasant to live. I cannot say which of my aunts was the kindest to me - they were all so kind. Grace knitted me a pair of such warm stockings while I was there; and Ann flowered me a most lovely collar; and Elizabeth procured a whole calf's stomach (!) for me (now in my carpet-bag) that I might have curds at home, as it was the thing I seemed to like best of all that they gave me to eat; and it was so pleasant talking about 'dear old long ago' with those who I felt (for the first time perhaps) had interests in common with me in it.
It was better so, surely, I thought, after our affectionate parting; far better so than if I had gone to law with them about that fraction of my grandfather's
[Page 338] property I might have disputed, and even gained it, and put heart-burnings and resentment between my own father's sisters and me for evermore. A little true family affection is worth a great many hundreds of pounds, especially when one isn't needing pounds!
Since writing this sheet I have been to Dirleton Castle, and it is now dinner-time, and I must take my letter to the post office immediately after, or you won't hear of me till Tuesday.
JANE W. C.
No date fixed yet, or, indeed, to be spoken of for the moment.
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Sunny Bank: Sunday, Aug. 30, 1857.
I am reading the sheets to them - they most likely will not live to see the finished book. You never saw more ardent listeners! My godmother, with her head bent forward, hearkening with her blind eyes, as well as her ears, might sit for a picture of Attention. And every now and then one or other asks some question or makes some remark, that shows how intelligently they listen. Miss Jess said one good thing: 'To look merely to the wording - it is so brief, so concise, that one would expect some
[Page 339] obscurity in the narrative, or at least that it would need a great effort of attention to understand it; instead of which the meaning is as clear as glass!' And Miss Donaldson said, 'I see more than ever in this, my dear, what I have always seen in Mr. Carlyle's books, and what I think distinguishes him from all the writers of the present day - a great love of truth; and, what is more' (observe the fine discrimination!), 'a perfect detestation of lies!'
I was afraid, having to read in a voice so high pitched, my reading would not do justice to the thing; but Miss Donaldson asked me last night, 'My dear, does Mr. Carlyle read what he writes to you bit by bit?' 'Oh, dear, no! he does not like reading aloud.' 'Then I suppose you read it often over to yourself? For I was noticing that in readiiig those sheets, you did it so natural-like, just as if it was coming out of your own head!'
I was dreaming last night about going to some strange house, among strange people, to make representations about cocks! I went on my knees at last, weeping, to an old man with a cast-metal face and grey hair; and while I was explaining all about how you were an author, and couldn't get sleep for these new cocks, my auditor flounced off, and I became aware he was the man who had three serpent-daughters, and kept people in glass bottles in Hoffman's
[Page 340] Tale! I forgot his name, but knew it well enough in my dream.
A kiss to Nero. Yours ever,
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Sunny Bank: Wednesday, September 2, 1857.
Oh, my dear, my dear! you give me the idea of a sensible Christian man making himself into a spinning dervish. Oh, 'depend upon't, the slower thou ridest, the faster thou'lt get,' &c. These dinings 'before sunset,' teas 'about ten,' - don't I know what comes of all that, and that what comes of it is 'eventually,' 'rale mental agony in your own inside'? hardly to be assuaged by blue pill and castor oil at a great expense of inward life. If I hadn't been coming home at any rate, your last letter would have determined me to come, just to put a spoke in your wheel, that you mayn't, like a furious grinding-stone, fly all off in sand.
It will be a great nuisance to you, I know, when you have got the bridle of time shaken off your head, about your heels, and your face to the wind, to be again in harness with a little steady-going animal, that looks to have her corn and her mashes regular, or lies down in the road.
[Page 341] But bless you, if you hadn't had a counter-pull on you in the direction of order, and regularity, and moderation, and all that stupid sort of thing, where would you have been by this time? Tell me that! Oh, how I wish I were home, that horrid journey over! Eliza Donaldson says, 'Not like the journey, Mrs. Carlyle? how odd!' I declare it is a consolation for having one's nerves 'all gone to smithers,' to see how stolid and unlovable good health makes people, with the best intentions too.
I have broken to Miss Jess the fact that I am going next week, on Tuesday or Wednesday; and before that time I shall surely have made up my mind about the train. Never fear, but I shall go by first-class this time. Only which first class? Haddington is most inconveniently situated as to the railway, which is the reason of those strange delays of letters. No express train stops at Longniddry. Well, well, as Nancy at Craigenputtock said of Elliot's descent from the roof, 'Pooh! his own weight will bring him down.' I shall get home surely by some force of gravitation or other.
I haven't got through the American novel yet. It is a curious book; very nearly a good book but spoiled, like old Sterling's famous carriage, by pretending to be too many different things all in one. It is 'Quinland' (a novel), or it is 'Varieties of American
[Page 342] Life.' Then it is an allegory (himself tells us that) symbolising the Marriage of Genius and Religion. Then it is a note-book of Mr. White, or White's opinions of all the authors he has studied, and all the general reflections he has ever made. Then it is an American Wilhelm Meister. Then it is Mr. White's realised Ideal of - a new Christian Bible! And, finally, one doesn't know what it is or is not; any more than whether the style is a flagrant imitation of you, or of Goethe, or of Jean Paul, or of Emerson. Happily it 'isn't of the slightest consequence' which.
Yours ever affectionately,
J. W. C.
Printing of Friedrich, first two volumes, now well advanced. Christmas was spent among the most refractory set of proof sheets I expect in this world.
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Christmas Day, 1857.
My dear Mary, - I understood that your brother would write himself to-day, to announce the safe arrival of your box, the contents of which were exhibited to him in succession last night. When it came to the goose, carried in on my arms like a strange new kind of baby (with that belly-band about it!), he burst into such a laugh! 'That fellow I think has got his quietus' (he said).
[Page 343] But now he has just come down, and is off for his ride, and when I asked 'had he written to Mary?' he exclaimed wildly that he had 'fifteen hours of the most awful work of correcting proofs ahead of him, that I who had nothing to do should have written to Mary!' With all the pleasure in life! had I known in time, instead of within just half an hour of post-time - from which is to be subtracted ten minutes for putting on my things and running to the post-office! But better a line than no letter at all till to-morrow - you thinking the while that those blessed birds may be coming to harm from being too long on the road!
No, my dear! one 'Chucka' is boiling at this moment for the master's dinner (I dine on anything at two o'clock; not being up to waiting for Mr. C.'s six or seven o'clock dinners). But I had one of the eggs to my breakfast, and it was the very best and biggest I ever ate in my life! There were only two broken, and not wasted even these; I lifted up the yolks, which lay quite round and whole, in a spoon (for puddings).
I wish I had begun in time, for I had plenty of things to say; but I must keep for this time to mere acknowledgment of your present - another day I may tell you the rest.
Yours ever affectionately,
She returned to me Wednesday evening, September 9, evidently a little better, says the record. Her winter was none of the best; end of the year she is marked very feckless, though full of spirit. I, deep all the while in Frederick proofs and fasheries, hoping to have all ended - of these two volumes - by the end of May, which term in effect was nearly kept.
In January 1858, we had engaged to a week at the Grange with Lord Ashburton, from which my poor Jeannie (trouble with servants, &c., superadding itself) was obliged to excuse herself and send me alone, who only stayed three days. This, her dear letter during these, which except two tragic moments - first entrance to the empty drawing-room in silence of dusk; then another evening Lady Sandwich and Miss Baring new hanging the pictures there - have left no trace whatever with me. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., at the Grange.
Cheyne Row: Monday, January 18, 1858.
My dear! 'Ye maun joost excuse us the day!' I have an aching head come to fraternise with my aching side, and between the two am 'very much detached;' can't easily sit still to write. For the rest, even Geraldine couldn't say of me that I am 'much happier for your being away.' I feel as forlorn as - 'the maiden' that 'milked the cow with the crumpled horn.' My sickness and helplessness striving to 'keep up its dignity,' and, what is more to the purpose, to keep its temper in this atmosphere of
[Page 345] systematic insolence and arsenical politeness, is one of those sufferings though which I suppose man (meaning woman) is 'made perfect,' or ought to be.
Then the poor little dog, who was to have been 'company to me,' is not recovered from the illness he took before you left. He seemed coming to himself yesterday forenoon, though still he had not tasted food since the last you gave him; and I stupidly let Mr. Piper take him to Fulham. He came home - carried most of the way, not able to keep his legs - his eyes extinct, his legs stretched out cold and stiff. He has lain ever since without moving, but he now looks at me when I stroke him, and his posture is more natural. You may fancy how many lucifers I lighted through the night, when I felt him quite cold, and couldn't hear him breathing! Poor wee Nero! how glad I should be to hear him snoring, or seeing him over-eating himself again!
Please thank Lady Sandwich for the dear little letter I had from her this morning. I don't say 'dear' in the Lady A. sense, but really meaning it. I will write to her when I have got my head a little above all this troubled water. Also thank Lord Ashburton for the game (hare and pheasants). It gives one a taste of the pleasures of patronage, having such things to give away.
Mr. and Mrs. Lowe called to ask for me yesterday morning (Sunday) between ten and eleven, on their
[Page 346] way to 'the Cottage.' Happily they found me in no muddle. In the middle of the day Geraldine walked in! She couldn't have managed to reappear at a more propitious moment for having her judgment commuted.
Just one packet of proofs. Though there is no sheet, I send it, in case you should stay over Wednesday. Don't hurry for me if you get good of the change. It will be all in my own interest your staying, if you come back better for it.
With Geraldine at hand, I don't suffer the same practical inconvenience from being confined to the house. I can send her on any message.
Love to Lady Sandwich.
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
For God's sake don't put such great platches of black wax on your letters, to me at least. My heart turned in my throat this morning; I thought it was some horrid news from Annandale.
Beginning of June, Friedrich quite off my hands. There were the usual speculations about sea quarters, covert from the heat, &c. (miserable feature of London life, needing to be disanchored every year, to be made comparatively a nomadic, quasi-Calmuck life). After much calculating, it is settled I am to go first to the Gill, afterwards to Germany, a second time; she, after settling home botherations, to go for Nithsdale, Mrs. Pringle, of Lann Hall, pressing to be her
[Page 347] hostess. Evening of June 24, with four fat Glasgow gentlemen, submissively astonished at my passion for fresh air, set off, ride vigilant all night - the last time of my entering Scotland with anything of real hope, or other than affectionate gloom and pain. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Friday, June 25, 1858.
'And the evening and the morning were the first day!' 'Let alone,' with a sort of vengeance. Exhausted human nature could not desire more perfect letting alone! It was wonderful to reflect, while breakfasting at nine, that you had probably already breakfasted at the Gill in Scotland. After all, railways are a great thing, only inferior to 'the Princess of China's "flying bed,"' Prince Houssain's 'flying carpet,' and Fortunatus's 'wishing cap.' Transported over night from here to there; from Chancellor's dungheap, the 'retired cheesemonger's dogs, and two-pence worth of nominal cream,' away to 'quiet, fresh air,' and 'milk without limit,' in one night! If it weren't for the four fat men in the carriage with you, wouldn't it be like something in a fairy tale?
Don't let your enjoyment of 'the country' be disturbed by thoughts of me still 'in town.' I won't stay here longer than I find it good for me. But what I feel to need at present is, above all things human and divine, rest from 'mental worry;' and nowhere is there such fair outlook of that for me as
[Page 348] just at home under the present conditions. 'The cares of bread' have been too heavy for me lately; and the influx of 'cousins' most wearing; and to see you constantly discontented, and as much so with me, apparently, as with all other things, when I have neither the strength and spirits to bear up against your discontent, nor the obtuseness to be indifferent to it - that has done me more harm than you have the least notion of. You have not the least notion what a killing thought it is to have put into one's heart, gnawing there day and night, that one ought to be dead, since one can no longer make the same exertions as formerly; that one was taken 'for better,' not by any means 'for worse;' and, in fact, that the only feasible and dignified thing that remains for one to do is to just die, and be done with it.
Better, if possible, to recover some health of body and mind, you say. Well, yes; if possible. In that view I go with Neuberg this evening to view a field of hay.
Mrs. Welsh did not come yesterday - only a note from her to say she and John would be here on Saturday afternoon. Her journey to Scotland was 'all up,' she said; but no reason given. Not a word
[Page 349] about the dear horse. So I wrote to bid her remember to bring the receipt for him on Saturday. I shall regret his being sent for, for I foresee that if he goes he will be left behind, as the shortest way of settling the matter.
I have not spoken to a soul since you left but Charlotte; only Lady Airlie called yesterday, and I was out. Charlotte is as kind and attentive as possible, and her speech is remarkably sensible. She was observing yesterday morning that 'master looked rather dull at going away, and I can't say,' she added, 'that you look particularly brilliant (!) since his departure.'
I have got Mrs. Newnham's little sick daughter lying out on the green to-day reading fairy tales, to her intense delight. Our green to her is grander than the Grange grounds to us.
No letters for you but one from Oxford, requiring information about India. Nero is much astonished that you do not come down in the mornings to take him out. He runs upstairs and then down to me,
[Page 350] and stares up in my face, saying as plainly as possible, 'did you ever?'
Give them at the Gill my kind regards.
J. W. C.
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Sunday, June 27, 1858.
Dearest Mary, - It is so long since I wrote, and I have been so bothered and bewildered in the interval, that I can't recollect whether it is your turn or my own to write. But whosesoever turn it is, the silence is equally needing to be broken, and if I am the delinquent, I can only say I have had plenty of excuse for all my sins of omission of late weeks. First, my dear, the heat has really been nearer killing me than the cold. London heat! nobody knows what that is till having tried it; so breathless, and sickening, and oppressive, as no other heat I ever experienced is! Then the quantities of visitors rushing about me at this season, complicated by an influx of cousins, to be entertained on special terms, have taken out, in talk, my dregs of strength and spirit!
Then Mr. Carlyle, in the collapse from the strain of his book, and the biliousness developed by the heat, has been so wild to 'get away,' and so incapable
[Page 351] of determining where to go, and when to go, that living beside him has been like living the life of a weathercock, in a high wind, blowing from all points at once! - sensibility superadded! - so long, at least, as he involved me in his 'dissolving views.' The imaginary houses, in different parts of the kingdom, in which I have had to look round me on bare walls, and apply my fancy to furnishing with the strength I have (!) (about equal to my canary's, which, every now and then, drops off the perch on its back, and has to be lifted up), would have driven me crazy, I think, if one day I hadn't got desperate, and burst out crying. Until a woman cries men never think she can be suffering. Bless their blockheadism! However, when I cried, and declared I was not strong enough for all that any more, Mr. C. opened his eyes to the fact, so far as to decide that, for the present, he would go to his sister's (the Gill), and let me choose my own course after. And to the Gill he went last Wednesday night, and since then I have been resting, and already feel better for the rest, even without 'change of air.'
What my own course will be I haven't a notion! The main point in my system of rest is, to postpone not only all doing, but all making up my mind to do; to reduce myself as much as possible to a state of vacant, placid idiotcy. That is the state, I am sure, a judicious doctor would recommend for the
[Page 352] moment. When the time comes for wishing for change and action, it will be time to decide where to go. Meanwhile I shall see what being well let alone will do for my health. All the cousins are gone now, the visitors going, no household cares ('cares of bread,' as Mazzini calls them), for, with no husband to study, housekeeping is mere play, and my young maid is a jewel of a creature. It seems to me the best chance I have had for picking up a little strength this good while.
I suppose you will be having my aunt Ann again soon. I hear from them very seldom. I should like so much if I could be set down there in 'the Princess of China's flying bed,' or on 'Prince Houssain's flying carpet,' to land at Thornhill, before the fine weather end; but the length of journey by rail terrifies me, especially the length of the journey back; Mrs. Pringle, I dare say, half expects me to visit her in August, for I have never said positively I would not, and she has pressed my coming most kindly. But to say where I will not go would require consideration and decision, as well as saying where I will go. And, as I have said, I mean to be an idiot for a time, postponing all mental effort.
Do write to me; I don't feel to know about you at all. Love to the doctor.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, The Gill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Sunday night, July 4, 1858.
Ach! what a three days and three nights I have had, dear! Jonah in the whale's belly could not have had worse. 'Brighton' still, I suppose! I was not to get off from that adventure with only one night and day of torture. I must have caught cold that day, and had it unpronounced in my nerves till Friday, when it broke out in sore throat, headache, faceache, rheumatism all over, retching and fever! Certainly I had done nothing after to give me a cold. But that was folly enough. I knew quite well that I was not fit for such an excursion; and yet I went, 'going whether I could or not.' My only comfort was to be at home, and not transacting these horrors on a visit; or in a wretched sea-side lodging.
I had some sleep this morning, and the cold seems now concentrating in my head - not in my chest, which would have been a drearier prospect. Don't disturb yourself about my being ill in your absence - that is to say, about the absence part of it. Outside of myself I have nothing to complain of. Charlotte is much kinder and helpfuller than Anne was, and the comfort of talking with you now and
[Page 354] then would have been counterbalanced in my present circumstances by 'the cares of bread.' Besides, I don't mean to be ill long, and once rid of this, won't I take care how I expose myself and over-fatigue myself again!
I can have as much society as I like, but I prefer none when I am ill; and I have these delightful volumes of Tourgueneff's to amuse me when I am up to being amused. I am gone 'into the country' 'at the shortest notice and on the cheapest terms' (as the undertakers' sign-boards have it). I have made the sideboard and large sofa change places, arranged the back parlour as a boudoir, filled up the folding doors with the screen, and look out on nothing but green leaves and the 'nobleman's seats!' Moreover, the dunghill is quite suppressed; I have not felt a whiff of it since the letter was written. To be sure, the hot weather went with you; the last week has been like winter. I have a fire, so has Mrs. Hawkes, and the fur rug is again in action. I have surely more amusing things to tell you; but I must leave off for to-night. I am dead tired already. Besides, to-morrow I may have a letter from you to answer. Don't forget to tell me the address to put on the newspaper for America.
'Nothing for Craigenputtock to-day.' Awell!
[Page 355] you waited, I suppose, for an answer, you cross thing! And if my sore throat on Friday had turned to 'the sore throat,' as I was half expecting, you might have waited long enough, and then wouldn't you have been 'vaixed'?
Neuberg came on Saturday evening, and, being told I couldn't see anyone, he went up to the study 'to get some books.' Half an hour after, I was going to my bedroom, and came on him, standing quite noiselessly on the landing-place, so I had to take him in and give him a cup of my tea, which was ready; and then he had the sense to go.
I am rather better to-day; had about four hours' sleep, and came down to breakfast. It is still very cold. I look forward to spending the day under my fur rug, reading Tourgueneff - nobody to be let in but Mrs. Hawkes, who will come at four o'clock. I have a nice little fire opposite me in my back-room, and the prospect of the 'nobleman's seat.'
J. W. C.
NOTES OF A SITTER-STILL.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
Chelsea: Sunday night, July 11, 1858.
Botkin (what a name!), your Russian translator, has called. Luckily Charlotte had been forewarned
[Page 356] to admit him if he came again. He is quite a different type from Tourgueneff, though a tall man, this one too. I should say he must be a Cossack - not that I ever saw a Cossack or heard one described, instinct is all I have for it. He has flattened high-boned cheeks - a nose flattened towards the point - small, very black, deep-set eyes, with thin semi-circular eyebrows - a wide thin mouth - a complexion whity-grey, and the skin of his face looked thick enough to make a saddle of! He does not possess himself like Tourgueneff, but bends and gesticulates like a Frenchman.
He burst into the room with wild expressions of his 'admiration for Mr. Carlyle.' I begged him to be seated, and he declared 'Mr. Carlyle was the man for Russia.' I tried again and again to 'enchain' a rational conversation, but nothing could I get out of him but rhapsodies about you in the frightfullest English that I ever heard out of a human head! It is to be hoped that (as he told me) he reads English much better than he speaks it, else he must have produced an inconceivable translation of 'Hero Worship.' Such as it is, anyhow, 'a large deputation of the Students of St. Petersburg' waited on him (Botkin), to thank him in the strongest terms for having translated for them 'Hero Worship,' and made known to them Carlyle. And even the young Russian ladies now read 'Hero Worship,' and 'unnerstants it thor-lie.' He was all in a perspiration when he went away, and so was I!
[Page 357] I should like to have asked him some questions; for example, how he came to know of your Works (he had told me he had had to send to England for them 'at extreem cost'), but it would have been like asking a cascade! The best that I could do for him I did. I gave him a photograph of you, and put him up to carrying it in the top of his hat!
I don't think I ever told you the surprising visit I had from David Aitken and Bess. I was so ill when I wrote after that all details were omitted. Charlotte had come to say one of the latch-keys was refusing to act. I went to see what the matter was, and when we opened the door, behold, David at the bottom of the steps, and Bess preparing to knock! 'Is this Mrs. Carlyle's?' she asked of myself, while I was gazing dumfoundered. 'My goodness!' cried I. At the sound of my voice she knew me - not till then - though at my own door! and certainly the recognition was the furthest from complimentary I ever met. She absolutely staggered, screaming out, 'God preserve me, Jane! That you?' Pleasant! David coming up the steps brought a little calm into the business, and the call got itself transacted better or worse.
They were on their way home from Italy. Both seemed rather more human than last time, especially David, whose face had taken an expression of 'Peace on
[Page 358] earth and goodwill unto men.' Bess had lost a tooth or two, was rather thinner, and her eyes hollower; otherwise much the same.
They invited me very kindly to Minto, and he seemed really in earnest.
Surely, dear, the shortest, most unimportant note you can write is worth a bit of paper all to itself? Such a mixed MS., with flaps too, may be a valuable literary curiosity 'a hundred years hence,' but is a trial of patience to the present reader, who, on eagerly opening a letter from you, had not calculated on having to go through a process like seeking the source of the Niger, in a small way.
For the rest, you don't at all estimate my difficulties in writing a letter every day, when I am expected to tell how I am, and when 'I's ashamed to say I's no better.' Dispense me from saying anything whatever about my health; let me write always 'Notes,' and it would be easy for me to send you a daily letter. As easy at least as it is to be lively with the callers, who go away in doubt (like George Cooke) 'whether I am the most stoical of women, or whether there is nothing in the world the matter with me?'
But you want to be told how I sleep, &c. &c.; and can't you understand that having said twice, thrice, call it four times, 'I am sleeping hardly any,
[Page 359] I am very nervous and suffering,' the fifth time that I have the same account to repeat, 'horrible is the thought to me,' and I take refuge in silence. Wouldn't you do the same? Suppose, instead of putting myself in the omnibus the other day, and letting myself be carried in unbroken silence to Richmond and back again, I had sat at home writing to you all the thoughts that were in my head? But that I never would have done; not a hundredth part of the thoughts in my head have ever been or ever will be spoken or written - as long as I keep my senses, at least.
Only don't you, 'the apostle of silence,' find fault with me for putting your doctrine in practice. There are days when I must hold my peace or speak things all from the lips outwards, or things that, being of the nature of self-lamentation, had better never be spoken.
My cold in the meanwhile? It is still carrying on, till Londsdale coom, in the shape of cough and a stuffed head; but it does not hurt me anywhere, and I no longer need to keep the house; the weather being warm enough, I ride in an omnibus every day more or less.
All last night it thundered; and there was one such clap as I never heard in my life, preceded by a flash that covered my book for a moment with blue light (I was reading in bed about three in the morning,
[Page 360] and you can't think what a wild effect that blue light on the book had!). To-day it is still thundering in the distance, and soft, large, hot drops of rain falling. What of the three tailors?
I could swear you never heard of Madame ----- de -----. But she has heard of you; and if you were in the habit of thanking God 'for the blessing made to fly over your head,' you might offer a modest thanksgiving for the honour that stunning lady did you in galloping madly all round Hyde Park in chase of your 'brown wide-awake' the last day you rode there; no mortal could predict what the result would be if she came up with you. To seize your bridle and look at you till she was satisfied was a trifle to what she was supposed capable of. She only took to galloping after you when more legitimate means had failed.
She circulates everywhere, this madcap 'Frenchwoman.' She met 'the Rev. John' (Barlow), and said, when he was offering delicate attentions, 'There is just one thing I wish you to do for me - to take me to see Mr. Carlyle.' 'Tell me to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to dance a polka with you,' said Barlow, aghast, 'and I would dare it, though I have not the honour of his acquaintance; but take anybody to Mr. Carlyle - impossible!' 'That silly old Barlow won't take me to Carlyle,' said the lady to George Cooke;
[Page 361] 'you must do it then.' 'Gracious heavens!' said George Cooke; 'ask me to take you up to the Queen, and introduce you to her, and I would do it, and "take the six months' imprisonment," or whatever punishment was awarded me; but take anybody to Mr. Carlyle - impossible!'
Soon after this, George Cooke met her riding in the Park, and said, 'I passed Mr. Carlyle a little way on, in his brown wide-awake.' The lady lashed her horse and set off in pursuit, leaving her party out of sight, and went all round the Park at full gallop, looking out for the wide-awake. She is an authoress in a small way, this charming Frenchwoman; and is the wife of a newspaper editor at Paris, who 'went into the country' (Miss F----- told me) 'and brought back a flowerpot full of earth, and, on the strength of that, put de ----- to his name of Monsieur -----.'
But the absurdest fact about her is, that, being a 'Frenchwoman,' she is the reputed daughter of Lord F. and a Mrs. G.! It is in Lord F.'s house that she stays here. Miss F----- also declares she was a celebrated singer at Munich. But Miss F----- is a very loose talker, and was evidently jealous of the sensation the lady produced by her wit and eccentricities.
Will that suit you?
Larkin (Henry; young Londoner, then collector or cashier on the Chelsea steamers, now partner in some prosperous metallurgic or engineering business) had come to me some three years before this in a loyally volunteer and interesting manner - a helper sent me by favour of Heaven, as I often said and felt in the years coming. He did for me all manner of maps, indexes, summaries, copyings, sortings, miscellanea of every kind, in a way not to be surpassed for completeness, ingenuity, patience, exactitude, and total and continual absence of fuss. Never had I loyaller or more effective help; nowhere was there a more honest-minded man; really of fine talent, too; clear, swift discernment, delicate sense of humour, &c.; but he preferred serving me in silence to any writing he could do (that was his own account on volunteering himself). Till Frederick ended he was my factotum, always at hand; and still from the distance is prompt and eager to help me actually; a man to thank Heaven for, as I still gratefully acknowledge. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Chelsea: July 19, 1858.
There, my dear! I send you a wonderful communication - a map of your new 'parish' and township in Australia! I have spent an hour over the packet before I could understand what it all meant. The letter accompanying the maps was inserted between them, so that it was not discovered at first. There are six copies of this map that I send you, and there is a large coloured map on excessively thick paper, professing to be 'Plan of the Township of Carlyle, in
[Page 363] the Parish of Carlyle, Murray District ;' to which is affixed the signature of 'C. Gavan Duffy, Minister of Land and Works.' This I will not send - it would cost so much - unless you wish for it at once. Poor Duffy appears by the letter to be very ill, but past the worst.
It is such a beautiful day, this! as clear as a bell, and not too warm. And for quiet, I question if you be nearly as quiet at the Gill. Charlotte is gone for her quarter's holiday, went off at eight in the morning with her nominal parents to Gravesend; and I wouldn't have Mrs. Newnham come till two o'clock, when my dinner would be needed, and there might be 'knocking at the door!'
The only sign of life in the house is the incessant chirp of a little ugly brown bird, that I rescued yesterday afternoon from some boys who were killing it; bought of them for twopence; and now I find it cannot feed itself, and I have to put crowdy into its mouth (which is always gaping) with a stick.
I went in an omnibus to Putney yesterday evening, and came back outside. It is as pleasant as a barouche and four, the top of an omnibus; but the conductors don't like the trouble of helping one up. When I came home at six, I found Charlotte wildly excited over Mrs. Cameron, who had waited for me more than an hour, played on the piano, and written 'a long letter on three sheets of paper.' Certainly she
[Page 364] had spoiled three sheets in telling me she had come to carry me off to Little Holland House, and that she would send back the carriage for me at nine, and bring me home at eleven. Charlotte told her I had been very ill, and was never out late; but that made no difference - the carriage would be sent; only if I could not come, she (Charlotte) must come over to Little Holland House and tell them in time to stop the carriage - 'it was a long way to send a carriage for nothing.' She did not consider it was a long way for my only servant to be sent for nothing.
While I was hesitating about sending, for of course I never dreamt of going, Mr. Neuberg came to tea; and, needing Charlotte at home, I found it too absurd that she should have to leave me to get the tea, while she went for Mrs. Cameron's whim to Holland House. So I wrote a note, and coolly gave it to the coachman to take back instead of myself.
You are very kind in pressing your present refuge on me, but I will never allow you to either 'pig in' at Scotsbrig, or to commit yourself to Providence at Dumfries. My greatest comfort all this time has been just knowing you situated according to your needs, in full enjoyment of air, milk, and quiet. Never fear but I will make some arrangement for myself when it becomes desirable that I should leave London. I am not yet equal to so long a journey as
[Page 365] to Scotland, but I am improving, and taking as much exercise as is good for me; change of air too.
I am going to-morrow to Mr. Larkin's mother's, to spend the day in that beautiful garden from which he brings me such bouquets. Mr. Larkin is to come himself at twelve o'clock to take me; and the next day Mrs. Forster is to come and take me to early dinner in Montague Square. I have had even an invitation to Ristori's benefit to-night, shawls and cloaks to be in readiness the moment I left the box, &c., and brought home with closed windows; but that, of course, I screamed at the idea of. It was little Mrs. Royston who wished to take me, a box having been given her. So you see I am very kindly seen to. I have slept better these two nights, and am rather stronger, and my cough is abated; speaking I find the worst thing for it.
J. W. C.
I am now about setting out on my second German tour 'to visit all the battlefields of Friedrich,' which cost me a great deal of misery, but was not honestly to be avoided. She, being rather stronger, is going to stay with Miss Baring, at Bay House, Alverstoke. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, The Gill.
Chelsea: Thursday, July 29, 1858.
Oh, my dear, my dear! What did you do with the key of your bureau? There is no vestige of a
[Page 366] passport in the upper 'little drawer next the fire,' the only drawer which is unlocked; the keys used to lie in that. I have wasted the whole morning in seeking a key to open the top part, or another drawer where the keys may be, and have found only two of your lost dog-whistles! I don't like to have the locks picked till it is hopeless finding the key. If you have it or know where you put it, and tell me by Saturday morning, there would just be time to send the passport before I start; but, as I tell you, my morning is all wasted, and in the afternoon I must go up to Piccadilly to get some indispensable little items for my visit. I have been kept back these two last days by the coldness of the weather, and my extreme sensitiveness. The prospect of going a journey and living in another person's house is doing me more harm than probably the reality will do; I could 'scream at the idea of it' sometimes, and write off, 'Oh, you must excuse me!' But again, just the more I feel nervous, the more I need to try anything that may brace my nerves; and, of course, a doctor would tell me to get rid of this incessant little dry cough 'before October.' I should not say incessant, for in the forenoons, when I hold my tongue, I hardly cough at all - at least it is quite another sort of cough, bringing up phlegm at intervals; but in the evening, especially if anyone comes, it is as incessant as the chirp of my adopted sparrow. I am not
[Page 367] getting weaker, however, except in my mind. I take exercise every day, 'chiefly in an omnibus, Mr. Carlyle!' And I try every day to do or see something cheering; I should soon fall into melancholy mania if I didn't. Last evening, for example, I had old Mrs. Larkin to tea - such a pretty little rough tea, you can't fancy, and Mrs. Larkin was so pleased. And I had Mrs. Hawkes to talk to them, and George Cooke came accidentally. George Cooke is very attentive and sympathetic to me. But the key, the key!
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Bay House: Monday, Aug. 2, 1858.
All right, dear; I got through my journey much better than could have been expected, having slept even soundly (mercifully), just the last night before leaving. A fat, old, real lady in the carriage opposite me paid me 'delicate attentions;' lent me her smelling bottle, gave me her nosegay, put her dressing-case under my feet, &c. &c., having commenced acquaintance by asking, 'Have you been poorly long?' When she changed trains at Bishopstoke, she looked over her shoulder to say: 'I sincerely hope you may soon be better, ma'am.'
[Page 368] How differently one's looks impress different people! The man who drove me from the station (and charged me three-and-sixpence!) evidently took me for well enough to be going to service at Bay House, for he turned round as soon as we passed through the gate to ask, 'was he to drive round to the back door?' And then the footman who received me took me for deaf! coming close up to me when he had anything to say, and shouting it into my ear. He was the only person I saw for three hours after my arrival. The 'Miss Barings out walking;' 'would I wish to be shown to my room?' 'Certainly.' 'Would I wish any refreshment?' 'Yes, a cup of tea.' It was brought, and then all lapsed into the profoundest silence. I could have fancied a pleasanter reception; at the same time 'it was coostom in part,' no harm meant.
Having had lots of time to unpack and dress myself, I was first in the drawing-room before dinner. A gentleman came in, whom I liked the look of, but no word passed between us; then Mrs. Mildmay came, and finally my hostess, who assured me she was 'delighted to see me,' and so I was installed. Another lady entered with Emily, whom I recognised as Mrs. Frederick Baring, and the gentleman was Frederick Baring, whom I had never seen before,
[Page 369] and of whom I had got the most absurdly unjust impression. Both he and his wife are kindly, unaffected people; he, indeed, strikes me as quite a superior man. I had a good deal of talk with him yesterday, and am sorry he is gone to-day. His wife went with him, so there is now only Mrs. Mildmay and her son.
The railway journey made me so sleepy that I could hardly keep my eyes open till I got to bed, and in bed I slept in a wonderful manner. My room is the same where I lay three days in a sore throat, and the boy 'Jack' had to bring in my breakfast. But no association could keep me long awake that night. Certainly if pure air, and quiet, and wholesome food, and freedom from all 'cares' but of dressing oneself, can cure me, I shall be cured - in a few days.
It is Louisa Baring that goes with Lord Ashburton to Scotland on Monday. I thought if Emily was going somewhere too, I might be wished to go away in less time than a week; and, at all events, living on in that sort of fear of over-staying one's welcome is very disagreeable. So I thought I had best go frankly to the end of it at once, and I said to Emily, when we were walking this morning, that I had meant to stay till the end of this week; but, as Miss Baring was leaving the place so soon as Monday, perhaps it would be more convenient
[Page 370] that I should go on an earlier day - would she kindly tell me? Emily protested against my going this week. She and Mrs. Mildmay are to be here till the twenty-fourth, and I 'had better stay over next week.' The invitation was given with cordiality enough to make me feel quite at ease for this week anyhow, the rest will disclose itself. The Baring manner is naturally so shy, and so cold, that I dare say one may easily underrate the kindness of feeling which accompanies it.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Bay House: Friday, August 7, 1858.
Only Friday morning, dear, yet! Heaven knows! Possibly this may not reach you till Monday. However, when it does reach you it won't bring bad news. I still have nothing but good to tell of myself. I continue to get a very tolerable allowance of sleep, and to eat my breakfast 'with the same relish.' And, will you believe it? I eat two dinners every day. I do that - one at half-past one, and the other at eight; which last, I call, in my own mind, supper, and take no tea after. The little nervous cough is entirely gone, and the rough cough gets rarer every day.
[Page 371] For the rest, I am quite comfortable morally. I never was put more at ease on a visit. I feel to have dropt into the regular life of the house, and to have found my place in it, without anybody taking trouble to adjust me, or myself taking trouble.
The only visitor now besides myself is Mrs. Mildmay (yes, Geraldine's mother, a much nicer woman than one fancied her, full of fun and good humour). She reads to us for an hour or so after breakfast ('Chambers's Annals of Scotland'), while the rest sew. Then we go to our rooms to write, or do anything that needs privacy. I, for my part, take always a stroll on the shore before lunch at half-past one. At three we go out in the open carriage, and have the pleasantest drives, being permitted to sit perfectly silent; Miss Baring seems to think this the natural way of driving in the open air, and she is quite right. Coming in about five, there are the letters; each one takes her own, and retires to her own room till dinner-time. After dinner, till eleven, we talk, and work, and read the newspapers, and play piquet. At eleven the butler enters with a silver tray, containing four bright crystal tumblers filled with the purest cold water; nothing else whatever. I always take one, and have grown to feel a need of it. You cannot think how genial the Miss Barings are at home; what a deal of hearty laughing they do in a day!
[Page 372] You will foresee that I am not going at the end of 'a week.' Miss Baring goes to join Lord A. on Monday; but Emily has pressed me quite cordially to remain with her and Mrs. Mildmay till she goes into Norfolk. And, if nothing unforeseen occur to 'dash the cup of fame from my brow,' I shall remain and be thankful to. I don't feel the least drawn to 5 Cheyne Row in your absence; indeed, I don't mean to have anything more to do with it than I can help till you are there. Don't think me crazy. I have written to Mrs. Pringle this morning (the 16th) that I shall be with her, if all go well, the end of this month; September is often a fine month in Scotland. You may see how much better I am, from this effort of moral courage, as well as if you were beside me. I can't be said to need 'change of air,' after having had it so long here - don't, indeed, intend to give any 'varnish of duty' to the journey. It may not have the least effect in keeping off illness through the winter; it can't in the least add to your comfort when you are only waiting for a yacht; but it will be a pleasant way of spending the next month, and perhaps may (if I manage myself carefully) help to keep me well through the next month; and, oh, my dear! I have suffered so much - so much, and so long - that even a month of respite looks to me a thing worth taking any trouble for and spending any
[Page 373] money for that I can lawfully spend. When I left home I did not believe that a change could do so much for me, even for the time being. Now that I feel what it has done, I want more of it. There is no other place nearer hand where I could get any good; besides, there is no place nearer hand that I am invited to.
To be sure I might go into lodgings nearer hand; but 'horrible is the thought to me!' and in lodgings I should have the 'cares of bread.' One of the reasons I eat so heartily here is, that I have had no forethought about the things set before me. Eating the dinner one has ordered oneself is, to a sick person, as ungrateful as wearing the gown one has made oneself is to an inexpert sewer. So please don't think me crazy! and, above all, don't fetter yourself with me the least in the world. If the 'yacht' turn up before I come - if your stay seems to find its natural limit before I come, go all the same. As I should try to cut the journey in two by sleeping at Liverpool, I could go straight on if you were not there to give me a rest and good speed. But it is far off yet, all that; and meanwhile it may become intolerably cold, or I may catch cold, or fall off my sleep, and so become too cowardly 'for anything.' I said to Mrs. Pringle I would go if I could, not that I would 'whether I could or not.'
[Page 374] Now I have just been down to lunch, and must get ready for Gosport, in the carriage. I will take this letter on chance of hastening it.
Dumfries. - Lord Ashburton did come by that road, and we drove together to New Abbey, &c., before his starting again next day. Rous, the house doctor. - A copiously medicinal man. 'William Harcourt,' the now lawyering, parliamenteering, &c.; loud man, who used to come hither at intervals. 'A glorious bit of colour.' - One of Leigh Hunt's little children dixit. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Bay House: Monday, Aug. 9, 1858.
How curious if Lord A. be at this moment on the road to Dumfries! Miss Baring started an hour ago in full assurance of finding him waiting to go with her to-morrow. Not one word has been received from him since they parted in London, on the understanding they were to go north together on the 10th; and I thought it best to say nothing of your news that he was to be at Dumfries on the 9th. She might have felt mortified at the new arrangement being communicated only through me, and nervous about what would await her in London. Rous, no doubt, will smooth all down. But what an odd man
[Page 375] Lord A. is! I hope it will come off all right, the meeting at Dumfries, and that it will enliven you for some days. Perhaps he will persuade you to go to Loch Luichart? Miss Baring is most anxious you should come. By the way, please to send the remaining volume of 'Tourgueneff' to her; she has taken the others, and fears there will be great dearth of literature in the Highlands.
I felt quite sorry to see her drive off this morning. She has really been most kind to me, and took leave of me quite affectionately; 'now that I had found my way to them, she hoped I would never be so hard to persuade here again.' We are now reduced to three; but Bingham Mildmay is expected. When he comes we are to go to inspect 'the camp,' and go again to 'the Island.' The camp astonished me the first time I went to walk on the shore - a field, about a quarter of a mile off, all covered over with snow-white cones. I thought for a moment it was the grandest encampment of gipsies. But there are some two thousand soldiers in these tents. Near it there is a most beautiful new fort a-building; the guns of which, if they ever come into action, will smash right through Bay House.
On Saturday we left for the island at eleven, and did not return till six, - Emily, Mrs. Mildmay, and I. At Ryde we got an open fly, and drove to a place up the shore called Spring Vale, where Sir Henry
[Page 376] Mildmay and his wife and rosebuds were rusticating. Very human, pleasant people. They had been warned of our coming, and had dinner (No. 1) waiting for us. Then we drove to St. Clair, the property and work of art of Colonel Harcourt, and Lady Catherine (uncle of William Harcourt). There, too, Mrs. Mildmay introduced me with graceful emphasis; and I was very courteously treated and shown about. A lady said I 'had forgotten her,' that she was the Mrs. Malcolm who dined with us at Lady Sandwich's; she is sister to Colonel Harcourt. The sea being as smooth as glass that day, I wasn't in the least sick, and the whole affair passed off to the general satisfaction.
Mrs. Mildmay is going to take us to Osborne to call for Lady Caroline Barrington, the governess to 'the Royal children,' and on to Cowes to call for somebody else. In fact, she is the most goodnatured of women, Mrs. Mildmay, besides being excessively amusing in herself. She is not the widow of Sir Walter's friend, but of his nephew and the heir to -----. One is so apt to lose a generation nowadays.
Did I tell you that Crocker's house is now a royal residence, has been given to little Prince Alfred, who is learning to be a sailor? I saw him this morning shaking hands with two of his tutors, and jumping into his little boat with the third - a slight, graceful
[Page 377] little boy. The Queen came over and breakfasted with him one morning, and another time took tea with him. He keeps a little red flag flying when at home, which adds 'a glorious bit of colour' to the scene.
Your description of 'Craig-o'-putta' made me feel choked; I know what that wood must be grown to. Close on the house, forming a great dark shearing-hook before the windows. I always thought the laying out of that planting detestable, and if I were living there I would set fire to it.
This paper is thick, so I will take off half a sheet to make room for poor little Charlotte's unexpected letter - worth reading.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
'What ornament and grandeur!' - Indignant old sailor to me once about his new binnacle in his new-fangled steamship. 'Suet and plums' was a casual reflection of my own. Rob Austin used to be our private post-boy once a week. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Dresden.
Lann Hall: Friday, Sept. 10, 1858.
I was sure of it; knew without being told that the bathe in the Baltic had given you cold. You
[Page 378] ought to know by this time that just the more you feel drawn to do these rash things, the more you should keep yourself from doing them. God grant this wild-huntsman rush over Germany don't spoil all the good you got in quiet Annandale! But you had to do it; would not have finished your book in peace without having done it!
I saw Eaves about the horse before I left; but he could not go out to Richmond till the following Sunday, when he got a good ducking to settle his account for the Sunday-breaking. He had no difficulty in finding the horse, who was in capital condition, and as nimble on his feet as the Irishman's flea. He (the horse) has no end of pasture to roam about in, and has 'found a friend;' formed a romantic attachment to another horse of his own way of thinking; they are always together, both in their feeding and their playing, and evidently enjoy their liberty and their abundant grass. So you may be quite happy in your mind so far as the horse is concerned.
Charlotte is behaving herself quite well so far as I can ascertain.
The sparrow whom I did design to train to flying, and 'eventually' to flying away, died before my return from Bay House; but the poor little canary has recovered health and feathers under the nursing of Mrs. Huxham, in whose 'bosom it spends several
[Page 379] hours every day;' I should think not too happy hours!
For the rest, one's life here is remarkably cheerful. It is the very loveliest glen I ever saw, endeared to me by old associations. The people in it are all remarkably prosperous, and were always hospitable. They are glad to see me again, and I am glad to see them.
The practical result has been a perfect explosion of lunches to my honour and glory, all over Glen Shinnel amid Glencairn. I would not be out after sunset, so these lunches are early dinner-parties; and, oh, my! what 'ornament and grandeur!' what 'suet and plooms.' I assure you, not at the Grange itself have I seen better food or better wine (champagne) than these big farmers or little lairds bring forth to one here 'in a lordly dish!' And it is so much heartier a sort of hospitality than one finds in the south! It makes one feel younger by twenty years! I catch myself laughing sometimes with a voice that startles myself as being not like my own but my mother's, who was always so much gayer than I. Indeed, it is good for me to be here; and I wish my visit had come off while you were at the Gill, that you might have tried it too. Better material accommodation you could have nowhere; and Mrs. Pringle has tact and consideration enough,
[Page 380] I think, to have suited the moral atmosphere to the shorn lamb (?).
The question is now about your journey home? Are you going straight to London? If that is decidedly the most convenient way for yourself, of course I should not so much as suggest your returning by here; and so far as my own journey is concerned, I should rather prefer doing it 'all to myself' (as the children say). Perhaps I might choose to stay a night at Liverpool. At all events, I might need to have a window shut when you preferred it open. But if you liked to return by Leith, and to be a little longer in the country under easy circumstances, you could not do better than stop here. About your welcome you may feel the most exuberant assurance.
If you decide to go straight to London, I should know as soon as possible, that I may shape my own course accordingly. For I should not like your being done for by only Charlotte. I have a week's visit promised to Mrs. Russell, and I also undertook to stay a few days at Scotsbrig, in case Dr. C. and his 'poor boys' lingered on at London till the end of my time here. I will see Mary and Jane on my road back. But I need to give myself as little rough travelling as possible, not to be going and catching a cold after all these mighty efforts to strengthen myself. The Donaldsons and my aunts won't believe I can mean
[Page 381] to go away without seeing them. To see the dear old women at Sunny Bank once more I would gladly incur the expense of the journey there; but that is the least of it. The 'tashing' myself which Betty so strongly protests against must not be ventured.
We have just had one perfectly fair, beautiful day since I came (last Wednesday), and I spent it in an excursion to - Craigenputtock! We took some dinner with us, and ate it in the dining-room, with the most ghastly sensations on my part. The tenant was at Dumfries; the wife very civil; the children confiding to a degree. Their father 'had wine,' 'whiles took ower muckle.' We called on the Austins and Corsons. Nobody knew me! or could guess at me! Peter said I 'micht hae speaket to him seven year, and he wouldna hae faund me oot.' Peter privately stroked my pelisse, and asked Mrs. Pringle, 'That'll be real silk, I'm thinking?' 'Satin,' said she. 'Aye,' said Peter, 'nae doot, nae doot, the best o't.' Rob Austin almost crunched my fingers in his big hand, and that was the only pleasant thing that befell me at my 'ancestral home.' Ach Gott!
I wrote already to Dresden.
Mrs. Pringle has been trying to write you a note, pressing you to come here on your way back; and now she comes with her face like to burst, asking me to 'say it all for her. She is so afraid to write to you.'
To Mr. James Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday, Sept. 30, 1858.
My dear Jamie, - I never saw such a thing in all my life! I plunged into a carriage full of ill-bred, disobliging, English tourists; they would make no room for me with my beehive, and all my little things! I had to force a way for myself and my belongings, and when I had got my hands freed, and turned round to shake hands with you, before I sat down, behold the door was shut, and you had disappeared, and we were in motion! I could have cried for vexation; and could not get it out of my head all the road to London - that I had come off without a word of thanks for your kindness to me, or a word of leave-taking! And I felt such a detestation of these broad-hatted women in the carriage with me, whose disobligingness had been the cause of my flurry.
I went to the guard, at Carlisle, and told him I would not go on with these people, and should like to have a carriage all to myself. He seemed quite taken with my assurance, and asked if I could put up with one lady beside me? I said, 'Yes, if she were not troublesome.' He took me to a stout gentleman (the clerk at Carlisle, I suppose) and said, 'This lady wants a carriage all to herself! but she
[Page 383] would allow one lady with her.' The gentleman said 'it was a very natural wish; but he did not see how it could be gratified; however, if I would keep quiet beside him, he would see what was possible!' And the result was, I got a carriage with only one lady in it! Nothing like a modest impudence for getting one on in this world! So far from objecting to the quantity of my luggage, they asked, 'Was that all? Had I nothing more?' and they put up my things quite softly, whereas everybody else's, I noticed, were pitched up like quoits ! The result is, that not so much as one egg was broken! And much satisfaction was diffused over the house by the unpacking of that improvised hamper!
When I found how much at ease I was in my carriage, I regretted not bringing away that kitten! It might have played about! But wasn't I thankful prudence had prevailed when I found myself already the enviable mistress of a kitten exactly the same size, but black as soot! Charlotte had taken the opportunity of my absence to discover 'there were mice in the house,' and bring home a new pet to herself! The dog and it are dear friends, for a wonder. I was delighted to see it this morning trying to ride on the dog's back!
Mr. C. was waiting for me, and had firmly believed for the last quarter of an hour that it was no use, as I must certainly have been smashed to
[Page 384] pieces! We were in fact an hour later than the regular time - in consequence of a bridge burnt down over the Trent, which occasioned a great roundabout. Besides, the train did not behave itself at all like an Express, stopping at a great many places, and for long whiles.
My house was all right; indeed, I never found it as thoroughly cleaned, or the general aspect of things as satisfactory. She is a perfect jewel, that young girl; besides all her natural work, she had crocheted, out of her own head, a large cover for the drawing-room sofa!
You will be glad to hear that a good situation is found at last for James Aitken. Carlyle seemed very grateful to you for the care you took of me. I told him about that 'close carriage' before we had been five minutes in the cab together.
Kindest love to Mary; and remember me to all those girls, visible and invisible, 'who are world-like,' their mother says, 'and have their wits.'
I will write to Mary before long.
Yours most kindly,
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Friday, Oct. 1, 1858.
Oh, my dear! my dear! Will you ask 'the Doctor' what is the reason that, when I travel from
[Page 385] London to Scotland I get quite fresh to the journey's end, however weakly I may have been at starting; but when I do the same journey back again, I am tired through every fibre of me, and don't get over it for days? I do begin to believe London a perfectly poisonous place for me, and to wish that the projected Pimlico Railway may actually tear our house up, and turn us adrift in space. Such a headache I had all yesterday! and to-day still I drag myself about with difficulty. Really, it is always 'pursuit of life under difficulties' here.
I hope your picture arrived, and safely. If it didn't, I will get you another. I was too ill with my head to write along with it. Indeed, I have not succeeded yet in getting my boxes all unpacked. I should be doing that 'duty nearest hand,' for the moment, if I were a thoroughly well-principled woman - such a woman as Mrs. Pringle, for example - instead of sitting here writing to you. But, my dear, it is so much pleasanter this; and I miss your kind face and kind voice so much, and writing to you is a sort of substitute for seeing and hearing you. My little visit to Mary Austin was very pleasant. But I was obliged to put on an additional box at the Gill, to hold the fresh eggs (!), 'pookit fools,' and other delicacies she loaded me with. Then Mr. Carlyle had left an enormous bundle of new clothes to come with me - the produce of the indefatigable
[Page 386] exertions of three tailors, whom he had kept sewing for him at the Gill for four weeks! besides a large package of books. So I made the journey with six pieces of luggage, not counting my writing-case, travelling-bag, and the bee-skep, which last I let nobody carry but myself. It arrived in the most perfect state. I told Mr. C. you had sent him 'improper female' honey, and I think he is greatly charmed with your immoral present. I took out some for immediate use; but I think I will not displace the rest.
When I was stepping into a carriage at the Cummertrees station that morning (Wednesday), a horrid sight turned me back. Nothing less than the baboon face of our new acquaintance the surgeon! I don't know if he recognised me; I dashed into the next carriage, and fell amongst an odious party of English tourists. My baboon friend and I exchanged glances at the different stations, where he expended his superfluous activity in fussing to and fro on the platform, till finally he left the London train at Lancaster. I wonder what impression he left at Lann Hall!
I find all extremely right here. A perfectly-cleaned house, and a little maid, radiant with 'virtue its own reward,' and oh, unexpected joy! a jet-black kitten added to the household! playing with the dog as lovingly as your cat with your dog! This acquisition
[Page 387] of Charlotte's announced itself to me by leaping on to my back between my shoulders. A most agile kitten, and wonderfully confiding. Charlotte said yesterday, 'I think Scotland must be such a fresh, airy place! I should like to go there! You did smell so beautiful when you came in at the door last night!' She is quite a jewel of a servant. Far more like an adopted child than a London maid-of-all-work. And, upon my word and honour, her bread is a deuced deal better than that loaf of Mrs. B-----'s.
A kiss to - the Doctor? or Nipp? And do tell Nipp to behave better at prayers.
Mr. C. has sent his book to your husband. It goes in some bookseller's parcel, so there may be a little delay.
[No room to sign] 'J. W. C.'
I returned from second German tour. - T. C.
J. G. Cooke, Esq.
5 Cheyne Row: Wednesday, October (?) 1858.
Dear Mr. Cooke, - I am here again - the more's the pity! Once for all, this London atmosphere weighs on me, I find, like a hundredweight of lead. No health, no spirits, one brings from 'the country' can bear up against it. Come and console me, at least come and try 'to!' - on Sunday afternoon perhaps.
[Page 388] Mr. C. is home from his battle-fields, and as busy and private as before. So my evenings are now sacred to reading on his part, and mortally ennuying to myself on mine.
Quoth Burgundy, the living
On earth have much to bear.'
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: November 1, 1858.
Oh, my dear ! I feel so fractious this evening; should like to break something, or box somebody's ears! Perhaps it is the east wind, perhaps my dinner of only soup, perhaps original sin; whatever it is, I must positively try to come out of it, and the best way I can think of to smooth my 'raven down' is writing some lines to you. Your last letter was charming, dear, just the sort of letter one wants from a place familiar and dear to one; all about everything and everybody. Since I knew Mrs. Pringle I have come to understand and enter into
[Page 389] the late Lady Ashburton's terror and horror of what she called 'all about feelings.'
My cousin John (George's son) was here again the other day, and I never felt so hopeless about him. His countenance, his voice, manner, everything about him is changed. And yet Bence Jones tells him it will be time enough, if he get to a warm climate before the spring winds set in. He will never go, I believe, if he wait till spring. I am going to Richmond the first possible day to talk to his mother. She is the strangest woman - always trying to hide her son's danger, as if it were a crime. The fatallest symptom I see in him is the sanguineness about his recovery, the irritability on the subject of his health, which have taken place of the depression he manifested in summer, while his state gives no reason for the change of mood; on the contrary, his cough, and expectoration are greatly increased, and so, he owns, are his night-perspirations. He is paler and thinner; and, from being the shyest, most silent of men, he now talks incessantly, and excitedly, and, in this state he goes about doing his usual work, and he left here the other day after dusk! I am very grieved about him. He is the only cousin I have, that I have had any pride or pleasure in.
Upon my word, I had better give up writing for this day - nothing to tell but grievances! Well, here is one little fact that will amuse you. Just imagine,
[Page 390] the bit of boiled ham, which you would hardly let me have, has lasted for my supper, up to last week; and I never stinted myself; only I kept it 'all to myself,' like the greedy boy of the story book. I began to think it was going to be a nineteenth century miracle. But it did end at last, and now I am fallen back on porridge and milk, which is not so nice. I don't know about Dr. Coupland; I fancied him an old man. I am curious to know what will become of the Irish tutor.
Love to the Doctor.
Yours ever affectionately,
J. G. Cooke, Esq.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Tuesday, about Dec. 22, 1858.
Oh, my dear kind friend, what a shock for you! And what a loss! The loss of one's mother! You can hardly realise it yet, so suddenly and softly it has befallen; but I doubt if there be any other loss in life equal to it - so irreplaceable, so all-pervading. And the consolation given one, that it is a loss 'in the course of nature,' and 'common to all who live long,' only makes it the sadder, to my thought. Yes; the longer one lives in this hard world motherless, the more a mother's loss makes itself felt, and understood, the more tenderly and self-reproachfully
[Page 391] one thinks back over the time when one had her, and thought so little of it. It is sixteen years since my mother died, as unexpectedly; and not a day, not an hour has passed since that I have not missed her, have not felt the world colder and blanker for want of her. But that is no comfort to offer you.
Come to-morrow; I shall certainly be at home, and shall take care to be alone. I feel very grateful to you, very, for liking to come to me at such a time of trouble.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: December 30, 1858.
Oh, young woman! there you go again! again a long silence! And I will tell you how it will be - your silence will become longer and longer, and be of more and more frequent occurrence, till you fall out of acquaintance with me again, feel shy, and distrustful with me, and speculate about 'not having the accommodation of Lann Hall to offer!' And, oh my dear, who will be to blame for that state of things but yourself? Like all very sensitive people, you need an atmosphere of the familiar to open the leaves of your soul in. The strange, the unaccustomed,
[Page 392] blights you like a frosty night; and yet, by procrastination, which your copy-lines told you was 'the root of all evil,' you suffer the familiar to become, by little and little, that 'strange,' which has such withering effects on you. Please don't, not in my case, for Heaven's sake! The more you don't write to me, the more you will find it uphill work when you do write, and from that, to speaking about 'the accommodation of Lann Hall,' is but a step or two in a straight line. You write such nice letters when your hand is in, that they cannot be a labour to write. Then do, my dear, keep your hand in.
Meanwhile, I have sent you a New Year's gift, which, if it come to hand safe, will, I am sure, at least I hope, give you a pleasant surprise; for really it will be like seeing into our interior in a peep-show. It is the only one, of the size that exists as yet, and I had it done on purpose for you. Another, smaller, is gone, inside of a large picture-book for Mrs. Pringle's children, to Robert MacTurk, a sort of amende honorable for having failed to give him myself - Good God! when he had some right to expect it - long ago, when I was an extremely absurd little girl. His good feeling towards me, after all, deserves a certain esteem from me, and a certain recognition, which, I hope, has been put into an acceptable form for him in the peep-show!
[Page 393] But I must not be expatiating over things in general to-day; for I am in a dreadful hurry, a great many letters to be written, besides that it is my day for driving out in what our livery-stable keepers call a neat fly, viz., a second-hand brougham with one horse - an expensive luxury, which Mr. C. forces on me twice a week 'now that I am old and frail, and have a right to a little indulgence,' he says.
The fact is, I have been belated in my letters, and everything, this week, by having had to give from two to three hours every day to a man who has unexpectedly lost his mother. He has five sisters here, and female friends world without end - is, in fact, of all men I know, the most popular; and such is relationship and friendship in London, that he has fled away from everybody to me, who wasn't aware before that I was his particular friend the least in the world. But I have always had the same sort of attraction for miserable people and for mad people that amber has for straws. Why or how, I have no idea.
Mrs. Pringle wrote me a long really nice letter, in answer to my acknowledgment of the intimation of her uncle's death. She is a clever woman (as the Doctor says), and has discovered now, no doubt, that the style which suits me best is the natural and simple style, and that my soul cannot be thrown into
[Page 394] deliquium, by any hundred-horse power of upholstery or of moral sublime. She is nice as she is.
I will get the money order for the poor women, in passing the post-office, and inclose it for your kind offices. Kindest regards to the Doctor, for whom I have a new story about Locock. God keep you both, for me, and so many that need you.
J. W. CARLYLE.
Miss Barnes, a very pretty, amiable, modest, and clever young lady, was the Doctor's one daughter; is now Mrs. Simmonds, of this neighbourhood (wife of a rising barrister), and was always a great favourite with my darling. - T. C.
Miss Barnes, King's Road, Chelsea.
5 Cheyne Row: Monday, June 1859.
Dear Miss Barnes, - Your father left a message for me this morning, the answer to which I expected him to 'come and take' when he had done with our next-door neighbour. But blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.
Pray come to tea with me to-morrow evening at seven, if my husband's particular friends 'the Destinies,' alias 'the Upper Powers,' alias 'the Immortal Gods' (your father says you read Mr. C., so you will understand me), don't interfere to keep you away.
[Page 395] I will drop this at your door in passing for my drive, and, along with it, a piece of old, old German crockery, which had the honour to catch your father's eye and has set its heart on belonging to him. So don't let it get broken - till he have seen it at least.
All you know of me as yet is that I seem to be in the very lowest state as to penmanship. But I assure you I can write much more tidily than this, made with the back of the very worst pen in the created world!
And if you will bring with you to-morrow evening whatever stock you may have of 'faith, hope, and charity,' I have no doubt but we shall become good friends.
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
This year 1859 it was resolved, for the hot weather, that 'Frederick' should be thrown aside, and Fife and the North be our refuge for a month or two. We had secured a tolerable upper floor in the farmhouse of Humbie, close by pleasant Aberdour; we had great need, especially she had, of all the good it could do us. I went by steamer with clever little Charlotte, my horse, and Nero; remember somewhat of the dreariness, the mean confusion, ennui; got at last to Granton, where brother John from Edinburgh joined me to accompany across the Frith. Our first talk was of
[Page 396] poor Isabella of Scotsbrig, who had died a few weeks before, a permanent loss to all of us.
My own Jeannie, frail exceedingly, had gone by rail to Haddington; in a few days more she joined Charlotte and me at Humbie; for a month after that at 'Auchtertool House' (a big, goodish house, rather in disrepair, for which no special rent, only some voluntary for such politeness, could be accepted), for above a month more.
Fife was profoundly interesting to me, but also (unexpectedly), sad, dreary, troublesome, lonely, peopled only by the ghosts of the past. My poor darling in Humbie Wood with me; weak, weak! could not walk, durst not (really durst not) sit on the loyal willing Fritz, with me leading; got her a cuddy (donkey) from Dumfries (none to be heard of in Fife), but that also was but half successful. She did improve a little; was visibly better when I rejoined her at home. For myself I had ridden fiercely (generally in tragic humour), walked ditto late in the woods at night, &c., bathed, &c., hoping still to recover myself by force in that way, 'more like a man of sixteen than of sixty-four,' as I often heard it said by an ever-loving voice! It was the last time I tried the boy method. Final Fife (particulars not worth giving) had a certain gloomy beauty to me - strange, grand, sad as the grave! - T. C.
J. G. Cooke, Esq., Mount Street, W.
Humbie, Aberdour, Fife: Saturday.
My dear Friend, - I was very glad of your letter, not only because it was a letter from you, but a sign that you had forgiven me - or, still better - that you had never been offended! I assure you, an hour or
[Page 397] two later, when left alone and quiet in the railway carriage, I wondered, as much as you could do, what demon inspired the tasteless jest with which I bade you goodbye! in presence too, of the most gossiping and romancing of all our mutual acquaintances! I was so tired that day! Oh my heavens! so tired! And fatigue, which makes an healthy human being sleepy, makes me, in my present nervous state, delirious. That is my excuse - the only one I have to make, at least - for the foolish words I took leave of you with.
Mrs. Hawkes will have told you that I arrived safe, and that I am quite content with the 'Farmhouse.' It commands the beautifullest view in the world, and abundance of what Mr. C. calls 'soft food' (new milk, fresh eggs, whey, &c.). The people are obliging; and the lodging very clean. Mr. C. bathes in the sea every morning, lyrically recognises the 'pure air,' and the 'soft food;' and, if not essentially in better health, is in what is almost as good - that make-the-best-of-everything state, which men get into when carrying out their own idea; and only then!
Charlotte is the happiest of girls! not that she seems to have much sensibility for the 'Beauties of Nature,' nor that her health was susceptible of improvement, but that the 'kindness of Scotch people' fills her with wonder and delight. 'Young men that
[Page 398] don't so much as know her name, passing her on the road, say to her, 'Bonnie wee lassie!' And the farmer here gave her 'a little sugar rabbit,' and said to her 'Little girl, you are growing quite pretty since you came.' Did I ever hear of such kind people? The horse also likes 'the change.' Mr. C. says 'he is a much improved horse; is in perfect raptures over his soft food (grass and new hay) but incapable of recovering from his astonishment at the badness of the Fife roads!' Nero bathes with his master from a sense of duty; and is gradually shaking off the selfish torpor that had seized upon him in London: he snores less, thinks of other things besides his food; and shows some of his old fondness for me. Myself is the individual of the party who has derived least benefit hitherto from the place and its advantages. Indeed, I am weaker than before I left home. But great expectations are entertained from - an ass (cuddy they call it here!) which arrived for me from Dumfriesshire last night. My own choice of animal to ride upon! Mr. C. mounted me twice on the enraptured and astonished horse. But a cuddy will suit better; as Betty remarked when she was here, 'it's fine and near the grund, dear. It'll no be far to fa'!' The farmer says, 'I hope it'll gang! Them creturs is sometimes uncommon fond to stand still!' I am just going to try it. Geraldine sent me a note that looked like being written on a ship in a storm at
[Page 399] sea. Such scrawling and blotting I never beheld, and the sense to match! If Mr. Mantel makes his way here, we shall give him a friendly welcome; but it is a much more laborious affair than from London to Richmond.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
LONDON: PRINTED BY
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
AND PARLIAMENT STREET
1 Of the Frith.
1 Never looked at eloquent Guthrie again.
2 See note, p. 294.
1 He died, poor fellow.
1 'I don't believe thee,' my father's phrase.
1 'Lashing down my four or five sovereigns.' 'They tould me he
was 'listed. I sought high and low; at last I found him in an upstairs
room at breakfast among them, with an ounce of tay and a quarter of
sugar, all lashed down on the table at one time! Says I, "Pat, you're
going on at a great rate here, but," &c. &c.' Speech of an Irish peasant's
father on his lost son, to Edward Irving long ago.
2 Both (supra).
1 Famous Dr. Reid on whisky punch.
1 Anglican comfits.
1 'Spale' is joiner's shaving, spill.
1 Poor Lady Bulwer, quizzing (her mother-in-law), in a mad mood,
where also were 'Fuz' = Forster, &c. &c.
2 The Glasgow murderess.
1 Of me.
2 Supra, my wrong recollection.
1 'That damned thing called the "Milk of human kindness." Sea-captain thanked God he had nothing of,' &c. Spedding's story.
1 'Two afflictions.' - 'Deux afflictions mises ensemble peuvent devenir
1 Indian Mutiny, and such news of its horrors!
1 Her clever cousin.
1 Hist., vol. i. and ii., Friedrich. - J. A. F.
1 'Faut avouer, ma chère, je ne trouve que moi qui aie toujours
raison,' said Madame Lafayette.
1 Fleming - Old fogie of fashion; once Charles Buller's 'attached.'
2 'Teeger Wull,' Tiger Will - William Dunlop, a well-known cousin
of hers, one of the strangest men of his age, with an inexhaustible sense
of fun. One friend promised another (according to Wull) 'the finest
blackcock that,' &c.
1 Archivarius Lindhorst: 'Oh, my beautiful little darling! was there ever a prettier dream, bad or good?
2 Servant Helen's phrase.
1 Our 'jack-of-all-trades' servant.
1 Mazzini, on his expeditions.
2 Maggie and Mary, of Auchtertool, had been to the Isle of Wight
for winter; lately home again.
3 Alas! alas! sinner that I am!
1 Poor horse 'Fritz,' beautiful, stout, and loyal, had been nearly
killed (on arsenic diet) by a villain here, and was now roaming in grass
2 The new maid, a fine little Chelsea creature - courageously, with
excellent discernment, and with very good success, now taken on trial.
3 An astonishingly good old cook, who sometimes officiates here -
curious Chelsea specimen too.
4 Sent that to John Mill (after long years of abeyance), who kindly
granted the young man 'a few minutes' interview.'
1 Groom's phrase about a horse of mine.
1 China barrel-shaped things (supra), p. 332.
2 Postmaster at Dumfries (painfully civil).
1 Minister of Minto and wife (once Bess Stoddart), Bradfute's niece
1 Cumberland old woman (supra).
1 'Why are these mills going to-day?' (Sunday, in Cumberland.)
Coostom in part.'
1 A phrase of John Jeffrey's (Lord Jeffrey's brother), quasi pathetic: 'eats his beef-steak with,' &c.
1 Scotch preacher (supra).
1 It I have quite forgotten, what or whom; only that it never came.
1 Far too flattering an account.
'Said Burgundy, 'I'm giving
Much toil to thee, I fear.'
Eckart replied, 'The living
On earth have much to bear.'
[Tieck's Phantasms; the trusty Eckart of my translating!]
1 Can't remember him (J. G. Cooke ?).
1 Mrs. James Carlyle.
1 Mrs. Carlyle's maid.