To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfries:
Thursday, Aug. 14, 1862.
Oh, my little woman, how glad I was to recognise your face through the glass of the carriage window, all dimmed with human breath! And how frightened I was the train would move, while you were clambering up like a school-boy to kiss me! And how I grudged the long walk there and back for you, and the waiting. Still you did well to come, for it (your coming) quite brightened up my spirits for the last miles of my journey, which are apt to be mortally tiresome. I had meant to wave my handkerchief from the window when we passed the Gill, but I found no seat vacant except the middle one; and disagreeable women, on each side of me, closed the windows all but an inch, so to make any demonstration had been impossible. The more my gladness to catch sight of your very face. And Jane and her husband and daughter were waiting for me at Dumfries, having heard of my coming from Dr. Carlyle. 'So the latter end of that woman' (meaning me) 'was better than the beginning.'
Dr. Russell was waiting for me - had been waiting more than an hour, like everyone else - with his carriage, in which I was conveyed through ways, happily for me, clothed in darkness, so that the first
[Page 111] object I saw was Mrs. Russell at the door of their new home. It is a most beautiful house and place they have made of old Holm Hill. And I do not see Templand from the windows as I feared I should. The trees have grown up so high.
The first night I couldn't sleep a bit for agitation of mind, far more than fatigue of body. The next night I slept; last night again not. So to-day I feel rather ghastly. Then it has rained pretty much without intermission. Yesterday we took a very short drive between showers, and that was the only time I have crossed the threshold; besides the bad weather I brought away with me a recently sprained foot, which makes walking both painful and imprudent.
Under these circumstances I have not yet formed any plan for my future travels; but shall tell you in a few days whether I will pay you a little visit on the road home, or run down from here, and back again. I will certainly not let that brief meeting stand for all, unless you forbid me to come. But I have all along looked to be guided by circumstances in this journey.
My stay is to be determined by the accounts I get of Mr. C. from himself, and (still more dependably) from my housemaid Maria; and my road back, whether as I came or by Edinburgh, to be decided on when I shall have heard from Lady Stanley and another English friend on the North Western line. But I would not leave you wondering what was become of
[Page 112] me, or if it had been really me or my wraith you had seen.
In a few days, then, you will hear further. Meanwhile
J. W. C.
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
Holm Hill Saturday, Aug. 30, 1862.
My dear, ever kind Mary, - In the first place, God bless you and, yours. Secondly, I am 'all right,' or pretty nearly so. Thirdly, I forward the proof-sheet of Mrs. Oliphant's book which I promised, and something else which was not promised - a photograph of my interesting self, taken by a Thornhill hairdresser, and not so very bad, it strikes me, as photographs go. This last blessed item of my sending is intended as a present to your husband, 'all to himself,' as the children say.
A letter from Mr. C. to me was forwarded from Scotsbrig to the Doctor, and given to me at the station, and another letter from Mr. C. awaited me at Thornhill; a very attentive Mr. C. really!
I have no time to spare for writing more than the absolutely needful. Six letters by post this morning, most of them needing immediate answer, and we are to drive to Morton Castle before dinner.
God keep you all, well and mindful of me till I come again. Yours affectionately,
To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
Craigenvilla: Tuesday, Sept. 2, 1862.
Oh, you stupid, stupid Good! not to know my handwriting when you see it at this time of day. It was I who directed that photograph and posted it at Thornhill. I just turned my handwriting a little back, and sent it, without a word, to puzzle you, forgetting that the post-mark would betray where it came from. It was done by a Thornhill hairdresser; Mrs. Russell and I got taken one day for fun, and if I had dreamt of coming out so well I would have dressed myself better, and turned the best side of my face.
My departure from Nithsdale was like the partings of dear old long ago, before one had experienced what 'time will teach the softest heart, unmoved to meet, ungrieved to part,' as the immortal Mr. Terrot once wrote. And then the journey through the hills to that little lonely churchyard - all that caused me so many tears, that to-day my eyes are out of my head, and I am sick and sore. And, of course, sleep was out of the question after such a day of emotion - when so ill to be caught at the best of times - and
[Page 114] I have had just one hour of broken slumber (from five till six), and I was up at six yesterday morning. So I mustn't go after Betty to-day; she would be too shocked with my looks. Grace and I will take a short drive in an omnibus (for a change). Neither must I sit writing to you, in detail, for my head spins round, and I could tell you nothing worth the effort of telling it. I left a letter to be posted at Thornhill yesterday.
So Garibaldi - or, as a man in the carriage with me last evening was calling him, Garri-Bauldy - is wounded and captured already - luck, I should say, to the poor fellows he was leading to destruction! Mazzini will be thankful he must have reached Garibaldi; it is to be hoped he is not taken also, but he went with his eyes perfectly open to the madness.
Grace was waiting at the train for me, and instantly found me under my hat and feather in the dark. She said it was by a motion of my hand.
They are all most kind. Elizabeth not so poorly as I expected to find her; Grace and Ann younger-looking than last time - hair raven black, far blacker than mine. Good-bye! I hope to sleep to-night; for I will have a dose of morphia now that I am near Duncan and Flockhart, and then I will be up to a better letter than this. I have left Grace to make out the 'old goose,' and tell me the needful.
J. W. C.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill.
Craigenvilla, Morningside: Tuesday, Sept. 2, 1862.
My darling! - Nature prompts me to write just a line, though I am not up to a letter to-day, at least to any other letter than the daily one to Mr. C., which must be written dead or alive. Imagine! after such a tiring day, I never closed my eyes till after five this morning! and was awake again for good, or rather for bad, before six struck! My eyes are almost out of my head this morning; and tell the Doctor, or rather don't tell him, I will have a dose of morphia to-night! - am just going in an omnibus to Duncan and Flockhart's for it. It will calm down my mind for once - generally my mind needs no calming, being sunk in apathy. And this won't do to go on!
Mr. C. writes this morning that he had received a letter in the handwriting of Dr. Russell (!) (my own handwriting slightly disguised), and 'had torn it open in a fright!! thinking that the Doctor was writing to tell I was ill! and found a photograph of me, really very like indeed,' but not a word 'from the Doctor' inside! He took it as a sign that I was off! (why, in all the world, take it as that?) 'but it would have been an additional favour had the Doctor written just a line!'
Grace was waiting at the station for me, much to my astonishment; and discovered me at once, under the hat and feather, actually! She said by 'a motion of my hand'! The drains are all torn up at Morningside, and she was afraid I would not get across the rubbish in my cab without a pilot. They are all looking well, I think - even Elizabeth. Many friendly inquiries about you, and love to be sent.
Oh, my dear, my dear! My head is full of wool! Shall I ever forget these green hills, and that lonely churchyard, and your dear, gentle face!
Oh, how I wish I had a sleep!
Your own friend,
The roots are all in the garden.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
Craigenvilla, Morningside (Edinburgh):
Thursday, Sept. 4, 1862.
'Two afflictions make a consolation' - of a sort! The disappointment of not receiving the usual good words from you this morning comforted my conscience at least for having failed in my own writing yesterday. I could figure you eating your breakfast at Cheyne Row, without any letter from me, with no particular pang of remorse; when I was eating my
[Page 117] breakfast here with only the direction on 'Orley Farm' for a relish to my indifferent tea! It was partly the morphia that hindered me yesterday, and partly the rain. The morphia, which answered the end capitally, and procured me the only really sound sleep I have had since I went on my travels, made me feel too listless for writing before going to Betty's; and the walk through the rain to the cab when we returned made me too tired for writing after in time for the Morningside post.
Well, I have seen Betty, and Betty has seen me. Poor dear! It wasn't so 'good a joy' as it might have been; for Ann and Grace in their kindness would not let me go by myself, and the three of us were too many for the wee house and for Betty's nerves, which aren't what they were. But she made the best of that as of everything else. 'It's weel they're so kind to ye, dear; and it's richt,' she said, during a minute we were alone together. She gave me the 'stockns' (beautiful fine white ones), and a little packet of peppermint lozenges were lying beside them, 'in case I ever cam.' Dear, kind soul! her heart is the same warm loyal heart; but these seven years of nursing have made terrible alterations in her: her hair is white as snow, and her face is so fined away that it looks as if one might blow it away like powder. I don't think she can stand much longer of it. George (poor patient 'Garg'!) is
[Page 118] neither better nor worse; his mind not weakened at all, I think (which is wonderful). Old Braid keeps himself in health by much working in his garden, which is prolific. 'Sic a crapp o' gude peas, dear! Oh, if I could have sent Mr. Carlyle a wee dish o' them to cheer him up when he was alane, poor man!' 'Oh, dear!' she said, again catching my arm excitedly, 'wad onybody believe it? He - yer gudeman - direcks "Punch" till us every week, his ain sell, to sic as us!' Mr. Braid did not know me when I went in at the door the first; and when I taxed him with it he said, 'How should I ken ye? Ye lookit like a bit skelt o' a lassie, wi' that daft wee thing a-tap o' yer heed!'
I mean to get home, please God, at the beginning of next week. I cannot fix the day just yet, being 'entangled in details' with the Auchtertool people. I have seen nobody here but the Braids - indeed, there is nobody I much care to see. A most uninteresting place Edinburgh is become. I would like to spend an hour at Haddington in the dark! But I 'don't see my way' to that. I was glad to hear that Scotsbrig Jenny was getting over her bad fit. Grace has just come in, and sends her regards.
To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.
Craigenvilla (Edinburgh): Friday, Sept. 5, 1862.
Thanks, dear; here is a nice little letter this morning, which has had the double effect of satisfying my anxieties and delivering me from 'prayers.' I ran up to my room with it, and shut myself in, and when I issued forth again, prayers were over! What luck! My aunts are as kind to me as they can be - all three of them - and they exert themselves beyond their strength, I can see, to make my visit pleasant to me; but still I am like a fish out of water in this element of religiosity, or rather like a human being in water, and the water hot.
I am glad you have heard from my lady at last. I was beginning to not understand it; to fear either you or I must have in some way displeased her. If you could bring yourself to go to the Grange at once I shouldn't at all mind your being away when I arrived; should rather like to transact my fatigues and my acclimatising 'in a place by mysell.' And we might still have the 'sacred week' of idling and sightseeing (an exceptional week in our mutual life, it would be) after your return.
I find I cannot get off from Auchtertool. I shouldn't dislike a couple of days there (though
[Page 120] many days couldn't be endured) if it weren't for that 'crossing.' But, like it or not, I must just 'cross and recross'! Maggie is returned. Walter has put off joining Alexander at Crawford; they are all expecting me, and the only expedient by which I could have avoided visiting them without giving offence to their kind feelings, viz., inviting them all to spend a day with me here, cannot be 'carried out' - for 'reasons it may be interesting not to state.' After all I have no kinder relative or friend in the world than poor Walter. Every summer, when invitations were not so plenty, his house, and all that is his, has been placed at my disposal. It is the only house where I could go, without an invitation, at any time that suited myself; and, considering all that, I must just 'cross' to-morrow, in the intention, however, of staying only two days. I should have gone to-day but for a letter of Walter's - 'mis-sent to Liberton' - and so not reaching me in time.
I am now going off to town with Grace, to get her photograph taken - 'for Jeannie's book,' she says; but I doubt the singleness of the alleged motive. I shall call for Mrs. Stirling - who else? Alas, my old friends are 'all wed away'!
I return the letter, which seems to me perfectly serious and rather sensible; only what of Shakespeare? Shakespeare 'never did the like o't!'
Address here; I shall find it (the letter) on my return from Auchtertool, if I am not here before it. It was thunder and lightning and waterspouts yesterday; terrible for laying the crops, surely.
JANE W. CARLYLE
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
Auchtertool Manse: Monday, Sept. 8, 1862.
So long as I am in Scotland, my darling, I cannot help feeling that my head-quarters is Holm Hill! though I go buzzing here and there, like a 'Bum-bee' in the neighbourhood of its hive. Everywhere that I go I am warmly welcomed, and made much of; but nowhere that I go do I feel so at home, in an element so congenial to me, as with you and the Doctor! At Craigenvilla, though treated as a niece, and perhaps even a favourite niece, I am always reacting against the self-assumption, and the religiosity (not the religion, mind!); and here, though I am 'cousin' - their one cousin, for whom their naturally hospitable and kindly natures are doubly hospitable and kindly - still I miss that congeniality which comes of having mutually suffered, and taken one's suffering to heart! I feel here as if I were 'playing' with nice, pretty, well-behaved children! I almost envy them their light-hearted capacity of
[Page 122] being engrossed with trifles! And yet, not that! there is a deeper joy in one's own sorrowful memories surely, than in this gaiety that comes of 'never minding'! Would I, would you, cease to regret the dear ones we have lost if we could? Would we be light-hearted, at the cost of having nothing in one's heart very precious or sacred? Oh, no! better ever such grief for the lost, than never to have loved anyone enough to have one's equanimity disturbed by the loss!
I came here on Saturday; was to have come on Friday, but had to wait for a letter of Walter's 'mis-sent to Liberton.' I go back to Morningside to-morrow forenoon, unless it 'rains cats and dogs!' And then to London after one day's rest! And after all my haste - at least haste after leaving Holm Hill - the chances are I shall find Mr. C. just gone to the Grange. He had 'partly decided on going next Tuesday (to-morrow).' And, if I wasn't home in time to go with him, he had engaged I would join him there! Don't he wish he may get me! He will have to stay considerably longer than the 'one week' he talks of, before I shall feel disposed to 'take the road' again! In fact, I should greatly like a few days 'all to myself,' to sleep off my fatigues, and get acclimatised, before having to resume my duties as mistress of the house.
Alex Welsh came to Crawford the 'next day,' as
[Page 123] predicted; but 'his Reverence' never joined him there. And Alex., finding the fishing as bad as possible, went on to spend a few days with the Chrystals in Glasgow, before returning to Liverpool.
God keep you, dearest friend; after the Doctor, there is nobody you are so precious to as to me! I will write from Chelsea.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row: Tuesday night, Sept. 30, 1862.
Dearest of Friends, - I am writing two lines at this late hour, because I don't want the feeling of closeness that has outlived the precious three weeks we were together to die out through length of silence. For the rest, I am not in good case for writing a pleasant letter, having had no sleep last night, and the bad night not having been compensated, as my bad nights at Holm Hill were, strangely enough, by a good day. And I am bothered, too, with preparations for a journey to-morrow. What a locomotive animal I have suddenly become! Yes, it is a fact, my dear, that to-morrow I am bound for Dover, to stay till Monday with that lady we call 'the flight of Skylarks,' who was wanting me to come home by her
[Page 124] place in Derbyshire. She is now at Dover, in lodgings, for the benefit of sea air; and has invited me there since I wouldn't go to Wooton Hall, and Mr. C., who thought I ought to have come home by her, wishes me to go. And I am sure I have no objections; for I like her much, and I like the sea much. But I 'am not to be staying away this time,' he says, 'and leaving him long by himself again.' No fear! I must return to London on Monday, or I should not see Charlotte Cushman (who is now in Liverpool and returns here on Thursday) before her departure for Rome. Indeed, charming as I think the 'flight of Skylarks,' I should not be unsettling myself again if only I had kept the better health and spirits I brought back from Scotland. It was too much to hope, however, that I could keep all that long. The clammy heavy weather we have had for the last week has put me all wrong somehow. I am sick at stomach, or at heart (I can't tell which), and have a continual irritation in my bits of 'interiors,' and horrid nights, for all which, I daresay, the sea is the best medicine. I shall tell you how it has answered when I come back.
Love to the Doctor.
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
1 Sidney Villas, Dover:
Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 1, 1862.
I may take a reasonable sheet of paper, dear! for, besides being not 'too tired for writing,' I have abundance of time for writing, 'the Larks' being all far up out of sight, beyond the visible sky! looking for me there. My journey was successful, and I stepped out at Dover worth half a dozen of the woman I left Chelsea. Curious what a curative effect a railway journey has on me always, while you it makes pigs and whistles of! Is it the motion, or is it the changed air? 'God knows!'
The first thing that befell me at Dover was a disappointment - no Larks waiting! not a feather of them to be discovered by the naked eye. The next thing that befell me was to be deceived and betrayed and entirely discomfited by - a sailor. After looking about for the Larks some ten minutes, and being persecuted as long by pressing proposals from cabmen and omnibus conductors, I was asking a porter how far it was to Sidney Villas. The porter not knowing the place, a sailor came forward and said he knew it, that it 'was just a few steps; I would be there in a minute if I liked to walk, and he would carry my trunk for me.' And, without waiting to have the question debated, he threw my trunk over his shoulder and walked off.
[Page 126] I followed, quite taken by assault. And we walked on and on, and oh, such a distance! - certainly two miles at least, the sailor pretending to not hear every time I remonstrated, or assuring me 'I couldn't find a prettier walk in all Dover than this.' At last we reached Sidney Villas; and when I accused my sailor of having basely misled me that he might have a job, he candidly owned, 'Well, things are dear just now, and few jobs going,' wiping the sweat from his brow at the same time, and looking delighted with the shilling I gave him. I thought it was all gone to the devil together when the man who answered the bell denied that Miss Bromley was there. On cross-questioning, however, he explained that she did reside there, but was not at home - was 'gone to the railway to meet a lady' - and his eye just then squinting on my portmanteau, he exclaimed, with sudden cordiality, 'Perhaps you are the lady?' I owned the soft impeachment, and was shown to the bedroom prepared for me, and have washed and unpacked. Meanwhile Miss B.'s maid, who had gone to one station while Miss B. went to the other to make sure of me, returned and gave me a cup of tea, and then went off to catch the poor dear Larks, who was waiting for me at the wrong station. There being a third station (the one at which I landed), it hadn't occurred to either mistress or maid to ask at which of the three stations the three o'clock train stopped.
Larks come with feathers all in a fluff. 'So dreadfully sorry,' &c. &c. Dinner not till seven, and to be enlivened by the presence of Mr. Brookfield, whom she had met while looking for me. 'Seven!' and I had only one small cup of tea and one slice of etherial bread and butter. But we 'must make it do.'
This house is within a stone-cast of the sea, and also, alas! of the pier; so that there is as much squealing of children at this moment as if it were Cheyne Row. Nothing but a white blind to keep out the light of a large window. But with shutters and stillness, and all possible furtherances, I was finding sleep impossible at home; so perhaps it may suit the contradictory nature of the animal to sleep here without them.
Now, upon my word, this is a fairly long letter to be still in the first day of absence. It will, at least, show that I am less ghastly sick and with less worry in my interior than when I left in the morning.
J. W. CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
1 Sidney Villas, Dover: Friday, Oct. 3, 1862.
Oh, my dear! I 'did design' to write you a nice long letter to-day. But 'you must just excuse us' again. I am the victim of 'circumstances over which
[Page 128] I have no control.' I must put you off with a few lines, and lie down on the sofa of my bedroom, and try to get warm, or it will be the worse for me, You see I am taking every day a warm sea-bath, hoping to derive benefit from it - 'cha-arge' half-a-crown. But, never mind, if I can stave off an illness at the beginning of winter, I shall save in doctor's bills! Well, my bath to-day made me excessively sleepy, and I lay down to sleep, and in five minutes I was called down to luncheon, and after luncheon I must go with Miss Bromley to call for Lady Doyle, with whom Miss Wynne, just arrived from Carlsbad, had been yesterday - might still be to-day. Our call executed, it was proposed we should drive on to Shakespeare's Cliff, and when there, we were driven away 'over the heights' - a most alarming road - all this time in an open carriage; and now that we are come in there is not a fire anywhere - never is any fire to warm myself at - and so I am not at all in right trim for letter-writing. And common prudence requires I should lie down and get into heat.
For the rest it is all right. I have slept very fairly both nights in spite of - 'many things!' Miss B. is kind and charming, the place is 'delicious,' and I am certainly much better for the change. But, for all that, I am coming home without fail at the time I fixed; not from any 'puritanical' adherence to my word given, but that by Monday I shall have had
[Page 129] enough of it and got all the good to be got. Miss B. has pressed me earnestly to stay till Monday week; but no need to bid me - 'be firm, Alicia!'
What a pity about poor Bessy! She says she 'was always a worshipper of genius, and recollects one day in particular when Mr. Carlyle poured out such a stream of continuous eloquence that she was forcibly reminded of the lady who spoke pearls and diamonds in the fairy tale.' She is very proud of her book and photograph. That absurd corkmaker sends me his photograph. I will bring his letter for you; inclosed in mine it is over-weight.
[No room to sign] 'J. W. C.'
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Monday, October 20, 1862.
Now Mary, dear! pray don't let the echoes of your voice die out of my ears, if you can help it! It makes the difference betwixt feeling near and feeling far away; the difference betwixt writing offhand, as one speaks, and writing cramped apologies. You may not have anything momentous to tell; but I am not difficult to interest, when it is you who are writing. Just fill a small sheet with such matter as you would say to me, if I were sitting opposite you, and I shall be quite content.
Neither have I myself anything momentous to
[Page 130] tell, except, I was going to say, that I had got a new bonnet, or rather my last winter's bonnet transformed into a new one; but it suddenly flashes over me, that is by no means the most momentous thing I have to tell; a new bonnet is nothing in comparison to a new - maid! Ah, my dear! Yes, I am changing my housemaid; I have foreseen for long, even when she was capering about me, and kissing my hands and shawl, that this emotional young lady would not wear well; and that some fine day her self-conceit and arrogance would find the limits of my patience. Indeed, I should have lost patience with her long ago, if it hadn't been for her cleverness about Mr. C.'s books, which I fancied would make him extremely averse to parting with her, as cleverness of that sort is not a common gift with housemaids. But not at all - at least not in prospect; he says she is 'such an affected fool,' and so heedless in other respects that it is quite agreeable to him 'that she should carry her fantasticalities and incompetences elsewhere!' She had calculated on being indispensable, on the score of the books, and was taking, since soon after my return from Scotland, a position in the house which was quite preposterous - domineering towards the cook, and impertinent to me! picking and choosing at her work - in fact, not behaving like a servant at all, but like a lady, who, for a caprice, or a wager, or anything except wages
[Page 131] and board, was condescending to exercise light functions in the house, provided you kept her in good humour with gifts and praises.
When Mr. C.'s attention was directed to her procedure, he saw the intolerableness as clearly as I did; so I was quite free to try conclusions with the girl - either she should apologise for her impertinence and engage (like Magdalen Smith) 'to turn over a new leaf,' or she should (as Mr. C. said) 'carry her fantasticalities and incompetences elsewhere!' She chose, of course, the worser part; and I made all the haste possible to engage a girl in her place, and make the fact known, that so I might protect myself against scenes of reconciliation, which, to a woman as old and nervous as I am, are just about as tiresome as scenes of altercation. All sorts of scenes cost me my sleep, to begin with; and are a sheer waste of vital power, which one's servant at least ought really not to cost one!
I am going to try a new arrangement - that of keeping two women (experienced, or considering themselves so) to do an amount of work between them which any good experienced servant could do singly having hitherto proved unmanageable with me. I have engaged a little girl of the neighbourhood (age about fifteen) to be under the Scotchwoman. She is known to me as an honest, truthful, industrious little girl. Her parents are rather superior
[Page 132] people in their station. The father is a collector on the boats. She is used to work, but not at all to what Mr. C.'s father would have called the 'curiosities and niceties' of a house like this. So I shall have trouble enough in licking her into shape. But trouble is always a bearable thing for me in comparison with irritation. The chief drawback is that the mother is sickly, and this child has been her mainstay at home; and though both parents have willingly sacrificed their own convenience to get their child into so respectable a place, my fear is that after I have had the trouble of licking her into shape, the mother, under the pressure of home difficulties, may be irresistibly tempted to take her home again. Well, there is an excellent Italian proverb, 'The person who considers everything will never decide on anything!' Meanwhile, Elizabeth looks much more alive and cheerful since she had this change in view; and I shall be delivered from the botheration of two rival queens in the kitchen at all events. That I shall have to fetch the books, and do the sewing myself, will perhaps - 'keep the devil from my elbow.'
I had a letter from my Aunt Ann the other day, the first I have had from any of them since I was at Craigenvilla, in spite of entreaties and remonstrances on my part. She tells me that the maidservant whom Grace 'converted' some years ago is still praying earnestly for Mr. Carlyle. She has been at it a long
[Page 133] while now, and must be tired of writing to my aunts to ask whether they had heard if anything had happened through her prayers. I will send you Ann's letter; burn it before, or having read it - as you like. Does it amuse you to read letters (good in their way) not addressed to yourself? Tell me that; for if it does, I could often, at the small cost of an extra stamp, send you on any letter that has pleased myself; without putting you to the trouble of returning them. I am afraid you will not have so many visitors to enliven you in the winter; and then you will take to thinking it was livelier at Thornhill, with your window looking on the street. Oh my dear! I wonder how the Doctor is so angelically patient with your hankering after the old house, when he has made the new one so lovely for you. Yet I can understand all that about the old house. I can, who am a woman!
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday, October 23, 1862.
Blessings on you, dear! These eggs have been such a deliverance. Can you believe it of me? I have been in such a worry of mind of late days, that were it asked of me, with a loaded pistol at my breast, whether or not I had written again after receiving your letter, I could not tell! So in case I did not, I write to-night, while I have a little breathing-time.
Lord Ashburton, whom we had been led to suppose out of danger, made no progress in convalescence and then began to sink. Lady A., who has had the news of her mother's death since his illness, was alone to nurse him day and night. Her sister, who had gone to her at Paris, was obliged to hurry back to London, to attend to her own husband, who is confined to bed. She told me I was the only other person whom her sister (Lady A.) would like to have beside her. Would I write and ask if I might come? It was a serious undertaking for me, at this season, who had never crossed the Channel, and suffering so from sailing, and whose household affairs were in such a muddle; a servant to go away and no one yet found to replace her - but what else could I do but go to her if she would have me? Mr. C., too, thought I could do nothing else. So I wrote and offered to come immediately, and you may think if I have not been perfectly bewildered while waiting her answer - 'seeing servants,' as the phrase is, all the while. This morning I had a few hurried lines from her - No - I was not to come, 'it could do her no good and would knock me up;' for the rest, she was 'past all human help,' she said, 'and past all sympathy.' And the poor dear soul had drawn her pen through the last words. So like her, that she might not seem unkind, even in her agony of grief and dread she thought of that.
Their doctor's last two letters to me were very despondent, and neither to-day nor yesterday has there been any word from him, as there would have surely been, could he have imparted a grain of hope. We dread now that the next post will bring the news of our dear Lord Ashburton's death. Carlyle will lose in him the only friend he has left in the world, and the world will lose in him one of the purest-hearted, most chivalrous men that it contained. There are no words for such a misfortune.
Meanwhile one's own poor little life struggles on, with its daily petty concerns, as well as its great ones. About these eggs, which mustn't be neglected, if the solar system were coming to a stand - I do not think, dear, it was the fewness of the eggs that kept them safe so much as the plentifulness of the hay. Depend on it, your woman's plan of making the eggs all touch each other was a bad one. We have still eggs for a week - and then? I know of two hens in the neighbourhood that have begun to lay, but they do it so irregularly, so I mustn't trust to them. I don't think it would be safe to send the butter and eggs in the same box; a coarse basket would do as well as a box for the eggs - the difficulty of getting them sent doesn't seem to be the carriage so much as things to pack them in. If we were but nearer, I might send what the Addiscombe gardener calls the empties back again at trifling cost. I must inquire what it would
[Page 136] cost to send empty baskets, as it is; I could take them myself to the office.
Oh dear me! what a pleasure it is when one is away from home and has no servants to manage, and no food to provide. Mr. C. gets more and more difficult to feed, and more and more impatient of the imperfections of human cooks and human housewives. I sometimes feel as if I should like to run away. But the question always arises, where to?
Kind regards to Jamie and the girls. What a pleasant time I had with you all, those nice evening drives! - Carlaverock Castle! How like a beautiful dream it all is, when I look back on it from here!
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday, Nov. 21, 1862.
Dearest Mary, - The last of the four notes I inclosed, which had come a few hours before I wrote to you, made us expect the worst; and as the day went on, we could not help expecting the worst with more and more certainty. The same night we were talking very sadly of Lord Ashburton, almost already in the past tense; Mr. C. saying, 'God help me! since I am to lose him, the kindest,
[Page 137] gentlest, friendliest man in my life here! I may say the one friend I have in the world!' and I, walking up and down in the room, as my way is when troubled in mind, had just answered, 'It's no use going to bed and trying to sleep, in this suspense!' when the door opened and a letter was handed me. It was from Paris, a second letter that day! I durstn't open it. Mr. C. impatiently took it from me but was himself so agitated that he couldn't read it, when he had it. At last he exclaimed, '"Better!" I see the one word "better," nothing else! look there, is not that "better"?' To be sure it was! and you may imagine our relief! and our thankfulness to Lady A. and Mrs. Anstruther for not losing a moment in telling us! The letters go on more and more favourable. The doctors say 'they cannot understand it.' When do these grand doctors understand anything? But no matter about them, so that he is recovering, whether they understand it or not!
I may now tell you of my household crisis, which has been happily accomplished. Maria has departed this scene, and little 'Flo'(!) has entered upon it; not a little dog, as you might fancy from the name, but a remarkably intelligent, well-conditioned girl between fourteen and fifteen, who was christened 'Florence' - too long and too romantic a name for household use! She is so quick at learning that
[Page 138] training her is next to no trouble. And Mr. C. is so pleased with the clever little creature, that he has been much less aggravating than usual under a change. Maria wished to make me a scene at parting (of course). But I brutally declined participating in it, so she rushed up to the study with her tears to Mr. C., who was 'dreadfully sorry for the poor creature.' The 'poor creature' had been employing her mind latterly in impressing on Elizabeth, who is weak enough to believe what mischief-makers tell her, rather than the evidence of her own senses, that she was going to be overworked (!) with only an untrained girl instead of a fine lady housemaid for fellow-servant, and in making herself so charming and caressing for Elizabeth that her former tyrannies were forgotten; and Elizabeth, who had looked quite happy at the idea of Maria's going 'and a girl under her,' turned suddenly round into wearing a sullen look of victimhood, and declining silently to give me the least help in training the girl! All the better for the girl; and perhaps also all the better for me!
But it is a disappointment to find that my Scotch blockhead is no brighter for having her 'Bubbly Jock' taken off her! Such a woman to have had sent four hundred miles to one! Mr. C. always speaks of her as 'that horse,' 'that cow,' 'that mooncalf!' But upon my honour, it is an injustice to the horse, the cow, and even the mooncalf! For
[Page 139] sample of her procedure: there is a glass door into the back court consisting of two immense panes of glass; the cow has three several times smashed one of these sheets of glass, through the same carelessness, neglecting to latch it up! three times, in the six months she has been here! and nobody before her ever smashed that door! Another thing that nobody before her ever did, in all the twenty-eight or nine years I have lived in the house, was to upset the kitchen table! and smash, at one stroke, nearly all the tumblers and glasses we had, all the china breakfast things, a crystal butter-glass (my mother's), a crystal flower vase, and ever so many jugs and bowls! There was a whole washing-tub full of broken things! Surely honesty, sobriety, and steadiness must have grown dreadfully scarce qualities, that one puts up with such a cook; especially as her cooking is as careless as the rest of her doings. No variety is required of her, and she has been taught how to do the few things Mr. C. needs. She can do them when she cares to take pains; but every third day or so there comes up something that provokes him into declaring, 'That brute will be the death of me! It is really too bad to have wholesome food turned to poison.' But I suppose she understands herself engaged by the half-year, though I never had any explanation with her, as to the second half year. And so, Heaven grant me patience!
What a pack of complaints! but, my dear, there is nobody but you that I would think of making them to! and it is a certain easing of nature to utter them; so forgive the mean details.
Love to the Doctor.
Your ever affectionate
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Nov. 1862.
Dearest Mary, - The box of eggs came yesterday, Another perfect success; not a single egg broken or cracked! The barrel arrived to-day; and Mr. C. has already eaten a quarter of one of the fowls, and found less fault with his dinner than he is in the habit of doing now. In fact, I look forward to his dinner-time with a sort of panic, which the event for most part justifies. How I wish this long, weary book were done, for his own sake and for everybody's near him. It is like living in a madhouse on the days when he gets ill on with his writing.
I have a new woman coming as cook next Tuesday, and intense as has been Mr. C.'s abhorrence of the present 'mooncalf,' 'cow,' 'brute-beast,' I look forward with trepidation to having to teach the newcomer all Mr. C.'s things, which every woman who comes has to be taught, whether she can cook in a
[Page 141] general way or not. If the kitchen were only on the same floor with the room! but I have to go down three pairs of stairs to it, past a garden-door kept constantly open in all weathers; and at this season of the year, with my dreadful tendency to catch interminable colds, running up and down these stairs teaching bread-making, and Mr. C.'s sort of soup, and Mr. C.'s sort of puddings, cutlets, &c., &c., is no joke. My one constant terror is lest I should fall ill and be unable to go down to the kitchen at all. I dream about that at nights. Really
If I were dead,
And a stone at my head,
I think I should be be-tter.
There is the anxiety about dear Lord Ashburton too; that has been going on now some five weeks; sometimes relieved a little, then again worse than ever. I have a note in my pocket at this moment which Mr. C. does not know of, leaving scarce a hope of his recovery. As it was not from the doctor, but from Lady A.'s niece, who expresses herself very confusedly, and might have made the case worse than it is, I decided not to unsettle Mr. C. at his writing with a sight of it; and it has felt burning in my pocket all day; and every knock at the door
[Page 142] makes my heart jump into my throat, for it may be news of his death.
As this letter won't reach you any sooner for being posted to-night, I will keep it open till tomorrow in case of another from Paris. And if I have more to say I had better keep that till to-morrow too. I write with such a weight on my spirits tonight.
Most affectionately yours,
A note has just come from Lady Ashburton's sister in London, forwarding a telegram just received:
'My Lord has passed a better night. Dr. Quain thinks him no worse.' So there is still hope - for those who have a talent for hoping.
To Mrs. Russell.
5 Cheyne Row: December 15, 1862.
I should not be at all afraid that after a few weeks my new maid would do well enough if it weren't for Mr. C.'s frightful impatience with any new servant untrained to his ways, which would drive a woman out of the house with her hair on end if allowed to act directly upon her! So that I have to stand between them, and imitate in a small, humble
[Page 143] way the Roman soldier who gathered his arms full of the enemy's spears, and received them all into his own breast. It is this which makes a change of servants, even when for the better, a terror to me in prospect, and an agony in realisation - for a time.
Mrs. Braid, Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Christmas Day, 1862.
Dearest Betty, - Here we are, you and I, again at the end of a year. Still alive, you and I, and those belonging to us still alive, while so many younger, healthier, more life-like people, who began the year with us, have been struck down by death. Can we do better, after thanking God that we are still spared, than embrace one another across the four hundred miles that lie between, in the only fashion possible, that is on paper.
'Merry Christmases,' and 'Happy New Years,' are words that produce melancholy ideas rather than cheerful ones to people of our age and experience. So I don't wish you a 'mirth,' and a 'happiness,' which I know to have passed out of Christmas and New Year for such as us for evermore; passed out of them along with so much else; our gay spirits, our bright hopes, living hearts that loved us, and the fresh, trusting life of our own hearts. It is a
[Page 144] thing too sad for tears, the thought how much is past and gone, even while there is much to be cared for. And that is all the dismals I am going to indulge in at this writing.
For the rest, we have been in great anxiety about Lord Ashburton. It is six weeks past on Monday that he has been hanging betwixt life and death, at an hotel in Paris, where he was taken ill of inflammation of the lungs, on his way to Nice; and all the time I have been receiving a letter from Lady A.'s sister by her directions, or from their travelling physician, Dr. Christison (son of that Robert Christison, who used to visit at my uncle Benjamin's in your time), every day almost, sometimes two letters in one day; such constant changes there have been in the aspect of his illness! The morning letter would declare him 'past all human help,' and in the evening would come news of decided 'improvement,' so that we couldn't have been kept in greater suspense if we had been in the same house with him. The last three days there has been again talk of 'a faint hope,' 'a bare possibility of recovery.' And their London physician, who has been five times telegraphed for to Paris, called here to-day immediately on his return, directed by Lady A., to go and tell us of his new hopes. When I was told Dr. Quain was in the drawing-room, I went in to him with my heart in my mouth, persuaded he had been sent to break
[Page 145] the news of Lord A.'s death. My first words to him (he had never been in the house before) were, 'Oh, Dr. Quain, what has brought you here?' - a reception so extraordinary that he stood struck speechless, which confirmed me in my idea, and I said, violently, 'Tell me at once! you are come to tell me he is dead?' 'My dear lady, I am come to tell you no such thing, but quite the contrary! I am come by Lady Ashburton's desire to explain to you the changes which again have raised us into hope that he may recover.' Then, in the reaction of my fright, I began to cry. What a fool that man must have thought me! Poor Lady A., who is devotedly attached to her husband, has nursed him day and night, till she is so worn out that one could hardly recognise her (her sister writes). Next to her and their child, it is to us, I believe, that he would be the greatest loss. He is the only intimate friend that my husband has left in the world - his dearest, most intimate friend through twenty years now.
I told you in my last - did I not? - that I had got a little girl of fifteen in place of my fine-lady housemaid; and that the East Lothian woman, instead of coming out in a better light when left to her own inspirations, was driving Mr. C. out of his senses with her blockheadisms and carelessness; and that, much as I disliked changes in the dead of winter, there was no help for it, but to send that woman back to a part
[Page 146] of God's earth where she had been 'well thought of' (Jackie Welsh had said), and where she 'could get plenty of good places' (the Goose herself said). A sorry account of the style of service now going in East Lothian, I can only say.
I hope I shall be more comfortable now - for a while, at least. The little girl is extremely intelligent, and active, and willing; is a great favourite with her master, thank Heaven! and has never required a cross word from me during the six weeks or so that she has been in the house. The other is a girl of twenty-four, with an excellent three years' character, whom I confess I chose out of some dozen that offered, more by character than outward appearance; she is only on a month's trial as yet. I rather hope she will do; but it is too soon to make up my mind in the four days she has been with me.
I inclose a post-office order for a sovereign to buy what you need most, and wear it for the sake of your loving
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Best regards to your husband and dear George.
Dr. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Jan. 6, 1863.
My dear Dr. Russell, - At last I send you the promised photograph. It goes along with this note.
[Page 147] You were meant to have it on New Year's Day; but I needed to go out for the sheet of millboard, and then to cut it to the proper size; and all that, strange to say, took more time than I had at my disposal. You wonder, perhaps, what a woman like me has to take up her time with. Here, for example, is one full day's work, not to say two. On the New Year's morning itself, Mr. C. 'got up off his wrong side,' a by no means uncommon way of getting up for him in these overworked times! And he suddenly discovered that his salvation, here and hereafter, depended on having, 'immediately, without a moment's delay,' a beggarly pair of old cloth boots, that the street-sweeper would hardly have thanked him for, 'lined with flannel, and new bound, and repaired generally!' and 'one of my women' - that is, my one woman and a half - was to be set upon the job! Alas! a regular shoemaker would have taken a whole day to it, and wouldn't have undertaken such a piece of work besides! and Mr. C. scouted the idea of employing a shoemaker, as subversive of his authority as master of the house. So, neither my one woman, nor my half one, having any more capability of repairing 'generally' these boots than of repairing the Great Eastern, there was no help for me but to sit down on the New Year's morning, with a great ugly beast of a man's boot in my lap, and scheme, and stitch, and worry over it till night;
[Page 148] and next morning begin on the other! There, you see, were my two days eaten up very completely, and unexpectedly; and so it goes on, 'always a something' (as my dear mother used to say).
The accounts from Paris continue more favourable. But they sound hollow to me somehow.
Love to Mary.
Your ever affectionate
The following letter has been forwarded to me by a gentleman who modestly desires that his name may not be mentioned. - J. A. F.
To J. T.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Feb. 11, 1863.
I wish, dear sir, you could have seen how your letter brightened up the breakfast-time for my husband and me yesterday morning, scattering the misanthropy we are both given to at the beginning of the day, like other nervous people who have 'bad nights! I wish you could have heard our lyrical recognition of your letter - its 'beautiful modesty,' its 'gentleness,' and 'genuineness;' above all I wish you could have heard the tone of real feeling in which my husband said, at last, 'I do think, my dear, that is the very nicest little bit of good cheer that has come
[Page 149] our way for seven years!' It might have been thought Mr. C. was quite unused to expressions of appreciation from strangers, instead of (as is the fact) receiving such almost every day in the year - except Sundays, when there is no post. But, oh, the difference between that gracious, graceful little act of faith of yours, and the intrusive, impertinent, presumptuous letters my husband is continually receiving, demanding, in return for so much 'admiration,' an autograph perhaps! or to read and give an opinion on some long, cramped MS. of the writer's; or to - find a publisher for it even! or to read some idiotic new book of the writer's [that is a very common form of letter from lady admirers] - say a translation from the German (!) and 'write a review of it in one of the quarterlies!' 'It would be a favour never to be forgotten!' I should think so indeed.
Were I to show you the 'tributes of admiration' to Mr. C.'s genius, received through the post during one month, you, who have consideration for the time of a man struggling, as for life, with a gigantic task - you, who, as my husband says, are 'beautifully modest,' would feel your hair rise on end at such assaults on a man under pretence of admiring him; and would be enabled perhaps, better than I can express it in words, to imagine the pleasure it must have been to us when an approving reader of my
[Page 150] husband's books came softly in, and wrapped his wife in a warm, beautiful shawl, saying simply - 'There! I don't want to interrupt you, but I want to show you my good-will; and that is how I show it.'
We are both equally gratified, and thank you heartily. When the shawl came, as it did at night, Mr. C. himself wrapped it about me, and walked round me admiring it. And what think you he said? He said, 'I am very glad of that for you, my dear. I think it is the only bit of real good my celebrity ever brought you!'
JANE W. CARLYLE.
The letter which called out so many praises was this: -
'Mrs. Thomas Carlyle. Madam, - Unwilling to interrupt your husband in his stern task, I take the liberty of addressing you, and hope you will accept from me a woollen long shawl, which I have sent by the Parcel Delivery Co., carriage paid, to your address. If it does not reach you, please let me know, and I shall make inquiries here, so that it be traced and delivered. I hope the pattern will please you, and also that it may be of use to you in a cold day.
'I will also name to you my reason for sending you such a thing. My obligations to your husband are many and unnameably great, and I just wish to acknowledge them. All men will come to acknowledge this, when your husband's power and purpose shall become visible to them.
'If high respect, love, and good wishes could comfort him and you, none living command more or deserve more.
'You can take a fit moment to communicate to your
[Page 151] husband my humble admiration of his goodness, attainments, and great gifts to the world; which I wish much he may be spared to see the world begin to appreciate.
'I remain, &c.,
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row: Thursday, Feb. 26, 1863.
I promised you a voluntary letter, Mary dear; and after all the waiting you are going to get a begging letter, which is nothing like so pleasant for either the writer or the receiver. But those London hens! they are creatures without rule or reason. I had just made an arrangement with a grocer, who keeps a lot of them, to let me have at least seven new-laid eggs a week; and the very day the bargain was concluded the creatures all struck work again, 'except one bantam!' So we are eating away at yours, without any hope of reinforcement from this neighbourhood. Jane, in a letter to Mr. C., kindly offered to send a second supply from Dumfries! but, as she does not lay them 'within herself' (as an old lady at Haddington used to say), it seems more natural that I should apply to you who do! We have still enough to last about a week. There! I have done my begging at the beginning of my letter, instead of reserving it for a postscript, the common
[Page 152] dodge, which deceives nobody. And now my mind is free to tell any news I may have.
You would hear of my incomparable small housemaid having turned out an incomparable small demon. People say these wonderfully clever servants, whether old or young, are always to be suspected. Perhaps; still a little cleverness is much nicer than stupidity to start with. Anyhow I don't need to live in vague apprehensions about either of my present servants on the ground of cleverness.
But I am well enough content with them as servants go. I have arranged things on a new footing, which I am in hopes ('hope springing eternal in the human mind') may work better than the old one; I have made the cook, who came in place of the Scotch one, a general or upper servant; she does all the work upstairs, the valeting, &c., besides the cooking; and the new girl is a sort of kitchenmaid under her. On this plan there cannot be the same room for jealousies and squabbles for power, which have tormented me ever since I kept two.
I had a visit the other day which turned me upside down with the surprise of it! I was putting on my bonnet to go out early in the day, when Mary came to say there was 'a lady at the door, who would like if I would see her for a few minutes.' The hour being unusual for making calls, and the message being over-modest for a caller, I thought it
[Page 153] might be some 'good lady' with a petition, a sort of people I cannot abide, so I asked 'Is she a lady, do you think?' 'Well - no, ma'm - I think hardly;' said Mary. 'She wouldn't give her name; but she said she came from fishshire, or something like that!' 'Fishshire? - could it be Dumfriesshire?' I said with a veritable inspiration of genius. 'Show her up,' and I heard a heavy body passed into the drawing-room. I hastened in and saw, standing in the middle of the floor, a figure like a haystack, with the reddest of large fat faces, the eyes of which were straining towards the door. The woman was dressed in decent country clothes and bore no resemblance to any 'lady' 'in the created world,' but looked well-to-do. I stared; I didn't know the woman from Adam (as the people here say)!
But she spoke - 'Eh!!' she said; 'Lord keep me! Is that you?' - and there was something strangely familiar in the voice. I stared again and said - 'Nancy?' - 'Atweel and it's just Nancy,' answered the haystack! and then followed such shaking of hands, as if we had been the dearest friends. Do you know who it was? Not the little Nancy we used to call 'piggy' at Craigenputtock, but the great coarse Nancy with the beard. She who said she 'never kenned folk mak sic a wark aboot a bit lee as we did!' She left Craigenputtock to marry an old drunken butcher at Thornhill, who, happily for
[Page 154] her, died in a few years, and then (as she phrased it) she 'had another chance,' and she just took it, as she 'thocht it might be her last,' that is, she married again a very respectable man of her own age, who is something in the Duke's mines at Sanquhar. She bore him one son, who is well educated, and clerk in the Sanquhar bank. He had been at Holm Hill on some bank business just before I was there last year, and Mrs. Russell had him to tea, and said he was a 'nice gentlemanly lad.' Well done, Nancy, beard and all the rest of it! Her man had been married before, as well as herself, and had a son, who is a haberdasher 'on his own account' in this neighbourhood, and he had married, and his wife was being confined; and Nancy had been sent for up to 'take care of her.' She met one of the Miss W-----s on the road before leaving home, and made her 'put down my address on a bit of paper;' and so there she was - the first day she crossed the threshold after being in London five weeks! I was really glad to see the creature! she looked so glad to see me; except for the shock my personal appearance manifestly was to her! I gave her wine and cake, and a little present, and she went away in a transport.
I slept away from home last night. I had gone to a place called Ealing, some seven miles out of London, to visit Mrs. Oliphant - she who wrote the 'Life of Edward Irving' - and it was too far to come
[Page 155] back at night; indeed I never go out after sunset at this season. She is a dear little homely woman, who speaks the broadest East Lothian Scotch, though she has lived in England since she was ten years old! and never was in East Lothian in her life, except passing through it in a railway carriage!!! But her mother was an East Lothian woman. I wish to heaven I had any place out of London, near hand, that I could go to when I liked; I am always so much the better for a little change. Life is too monotonous, and too dreary in the valley of the shadow of Frederick the Great! I wonder how we shall live, what we shall do, where we shall go, when that terrible task is ended.
Kindest regards to Jamie and the bonnie lassies.
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
To Miss Grace Welsh, Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Monday, March 2, 1863.
My dear Grace, - You say you have sent me 'them,' and you have only sent me it; and you say 'the head' is thought a good likeness, and I have got only a standing figure. Was it an involuntary omission on your part, or did you fall away from your good intention to send 'them'? Revise it if you did, for I want very much to see the likeness of
[Page 156] the young man which is considered the best. I should like much to see the young man himself; for me as for you, a certain melancholy interest attaches to the last, of so large and so brave a family. Don't wait till you have time and heart to write me another nice long letter; but put 'the head' in an envelope, and send it at once.
Mr. C. was again laid hold of by Mr. A----- the other day, in the King's Road, and escorted by him all the way to Regent Street. 'Really a good, innocent-hearted man! very vulgar, but he can't help that, poor fellow!' I have never once met him in the street since I made up my mind to speak to him, and invite him to call for me, which Mr. C. hadn't the grace to do. I used never to walk out without meeting him; but this winter I have taken my walk early in the forenoon - when he is busy, I suppose; just once I saw him pass the butcher's door when I was giving him directions about a piece of beef. He had a pretty young lady with him, on whom he was 'beaming' benevolence and all sorts of things.
I was away a day and night last week at Ealing, visiting Mrs. Oliphant. Even that short 'change of air and scene' did me good. On the strength I got by it I afterwards went to a dinner party at the
[Page 157] Rectory, and am to dine out again to meet Dickens, and nobody else. The people send their carriage for me, and send me home; so in this mild weather the enterprise looks safe enough.
Such a noise about that 'Royal marriage!' I wish it were over. People are so woefully like sheep - all running where they see others run, and doing what they see others do. Have you heard of that wonderful Bishop Colenso? Such a talk about him too. And he isn't worth talking about for five minutes, except for the absurdity of a man making arithmetical onslaughts on the Pentateuch, with a bishop's little black silk apron on!
Dear love to you all.
JEANNIE W. CARLYLE.
Miss Grace Welsh, Craigenvilla, Morningside, Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: March 17, 1863.
My dear Grace, - I am wanting to know if your pains keep off. I hardly dare to hope it in these trying east winds, which are the worst sort of weather for that sort of ailment. The last ten days have been horrid with us; all the worse for coming after such a summery February. My own head has been in a very disorganised state indeed. The cold
[Page 158] first came into my tongue, swelling it, and making it raw on one side, so that for days I had to live on slops, and restrict my speech to monosyllables; then it got into my jaws and every tooth in my mouth; and that is the present state of me. I am writing with my pocket-handkerchief tied over my lower face, and my imagination much overclouded by weary gnawing pain there. Decidedly a case for trying your remedy, and I mean to; have been thinking of realising some chlorodyne all the week. But either it has been too cold for me to venture up to the druggist's in Sloane Square, or I have had to go somewhere else.
It is a comfort to reflect, anyhow, that I have not brought these aches on myself by rushing 'out for to see' the new Princess, as the rest of the world did, or to see the illuminations. I had an order sent me from Paris for seats for myself and 'a friend' in the balcony erected at Bath House - the best for seeing in the whole line of the procession. But, first, I have no taste for crowds; and, secondly, I felt it would be so sad, sitting there, when the host and hostess were away in such sickness and sorrow; and, thirdly, I was somewhat of Mr. C.'s opinion: That this marriage, the whole nation was running mad after, was really less interesting to every individual of them than setting a hen of one's own on a nest of sound eggs would be!
The only interest I take in the little new Princess is founded on her previous poverty and previous humble, homely life. I have heard some touching things about that from people connected with the Court. When she was on her visit to the Queen after her engagement, she always wore a jacket. The Queen said, 'I think you always wear a jacket; how is that?' 'Oh,' said little Alexandra, 'I wear it because it is so economical. You can wear it with any sort of gown; and you know I have always had to make my own gowns. I have never had a lady's-maid, and my sisters and I all made our own clothes; I even made my bonnet.' Two or three days after the marriage she wrote to her mother: 'I am so happy! I have just breakfasted with Bertie' (Albert, her husband); 'and I have on a white muslin dressing-gown, beautifully trimmed with pink ribbon.' Her parents were not so rich as most London shopkeepers; had from seven hundred to a thousand a year. That interests me; and I also feel a sympathy with her in the prospect of the bother she will have by-and-by.
You have never found the missing photograph? I am so sorry about it. Please write, ever so little; but I want to know if you keep free of pain. I am not up to a long letter. I am glad you are going to the Bridge of Allan. It will do Ann good for certain, and you probably; and you will be able to judge of
[Page 160] Grace's health with your own eyes, which are better than other people's reports.
I have seen nothing of Mrs. George lately, though, of course, she would be in at the show. Love to you all.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Friday, March 21, 1863.
Yes, my dear, the Doctor was right; the cold in my mouth was symptomatic of nothing but just cold in the mouth! I was afraid myself, for some days, it might turn to a regular influenza; the only time I ever had the same sort of thing as bad before being in the course of that dangerous influenza I had a good many years ago, when I had first to call in Mr. Barnes. But I have got off with the ten days of sore tongue and faceache, which is almost cured by the west wind we have had for the last two days.
My aunt Grace has 'suffered martyrs' (as a French friend of mind used to express it) from faceache, and pains of the head, during this last winter; and cured herself (she believes) in a day by the new pet medicine chlorodyne. She was in an agony that could no longer be borne, and invested half-a-crown in a
[Page 161] small bottle of chlorodyne; and took ten drops every two hours, till she had taken as many as fifty; and then fell into a refreshing sleep, and (when she wrote) had had no return of the pain for three weeks. I haven't much faith in medicines that work as by miracle; and am inclined to believe that her pain, having reached its height, had been ready to subside of itself when the chlorodyne was taken. Still, as there might be some temporary relief, more or less, in the thing, I, too, invested in a small phial, and took ten drops when I was going to bed one night; and the only effect traceable in my case was a very dry dirty mouth next morning. To the best of my taste, it was composed of chloroform, strong peppermint, and some other carminatives. Has the Doctor used it? The apothecary here told me it was not sold much by itself, but that a great deal was used in the doctors' prescriptions.
Did I tell you that Mr. C.'s horse came down with him one day, and cut its knees to the bone, and had been sold for nine pounds! It cost fifty, and was cheap at that. My aunt Grace writes, that 'Mrs. Fergusson is still praying diligently for Mr. C., and that perhaps it was due to her prayers that Mr. C. was not hurt on that occasion!!'
Your ever affectionate
J. W. CARLYLE.
Mrs. Braid, Green End, Edinburgh.
Cheyne Row, Chelsea: May 22, 1863.
My own Betty, - I am wearying for some news of you. I never could lay that proverb 'No news is good news' sufficiently to heart. Whenever I am feeling poorly myself (and I should be almost ashamed to say how often that is the case), I fall to fancying that you are perhaps ill, and nobody to tell me of it, and I so far away! It is so stupid of Ann and Grace, who take so much fatigue on themselves, in visiting about in their 'district,' and attending all sorts of meetings, that they don't take a walk out of their district now and then to see how you are going on, and tell me when they write. Some news of Betty would make a letter from them infinitely more gratifying than anything they can say about Dr. Candlish, and this and the other preacher and pray-er; and would certainly inspire me with more Christian feelings. But, once for all, it is their way, and there is no help for it.
When I came in from a drive one day lately, I was told 'a person' was waiting for me; and, on opening the dining-room door, where the 'person' had been put to wait, I saw, sitting facing me, Helen D-----, the Sunny Bank housemaid. It was such a surprise! I never liked Helen so well as Marion, the cook; but
[Page 163] anyone from dear old Sunny Bank was a welcome sight to me now. She has been for some years in charge of some children at a clergyman's in Hampshire, and was passing through London with the children and their father, who was returned from India, on their way to an aunt's near Peebles. She would go on to Haddington, she said, 'just to look in on them all, but she wouldn't like to stay there now - oh, no!' She was grown very stout and consequential. I took her into my bedroom to show her my picture of Sunny Bank, which hangs there, and another of the Nungate Bridge; and, while looking about, she suddenly exclaimed, 'I declare there is Mrs. Braid!' You, too, are framed in a gilt frame, and hung on the wall. The likeness must be very good that she knew you at once, for she had only seen you twice, she said, 'when you came to breakfast.' Her fine talk will astonish the Haddington people when she 'looks in upon them.' She spoke very respectfully of Miss Donaldson; 'Miss Jess,' she said, 'hadn't the same balance of mind that Miss Donaldson had!' But she was no favourite with Miss Jess, and knew it.
Poor Jackie Welsh has lost her aunt, who had been more than a mother to her all her life; and she seems quite crushed to the earth with her grief. No wonder; she is so much in need of some one to sympathise with her and nurse her in her frequent
[Page 164] illnesses; and that one aunt was the only person on earth that she felt to belong to, and that belonged to her. Her mother is still alive; but her mother has never done anything for her but what she had better have left alone - brought her into being! And now she (the mother) is past being any good to anybody - quite frail and stupefied.
Oh, Betty! do you remember the little green thing that I left in your care once while I was over in Fife? And when I returned you had transplanted it into a yellow glass, which I have on my toilet-table to this hour, keeping my rings, &c., in it. Well! I must surely have told you long ago that the little thing, with two tiny leaves, from my father's grave, had, after twelve months in the garden at Chelsea, declared itself a gooseberry-bush! It has gone on flourishing, in spite of want of air and of soil, and is now the prettiest round bush, quite full of leaves. I had several times asked our old gardener if there was nothing one could do to get the bush to bear, if it were only one gooseberry; but he treated the case as hopeless. 'A poor wild thing. No; if you want to have gooseberries, ma'am, better get a proper gooseberry-bush in its place.' The old Goth! He can't be made to understand that things can have any value but just their garden value. He once, in
[Page 165] spite of all I could beg and direct, rooted out a nettle I had brought from Crawford Churchyard, and with infinite pains got to take root and flourish. But, I was going to tell you, one day Lizzy, my youngest maid, came running in from the garden to ask me had I seen the three little gooseberries on the gooseberry-bush? I rushed out, as excited as a child, to look at them. And there they were - three little gooseberries, sure enough! And immediately I had settled it in my mind to send you one of them in a letter when full grown. But, alas! whether it was through too much staring at them, or too much east wind, or through mere delicacy in 'the poor wild thing,' I can't tell; only the result, that the three bits of gooseberries, instead of growing larger, grew every day less, till they reached the smallness of pin-heads, and then dropped on the ground! I could have cried when the last one went.
You remember my little Charlotte? I had a visit from her yesterday; and she looks much more sedate and proper than when I had to put her away. She is 'third housemaid at the Marquis of Camden's,' and lives in the country, which is good for her. She sent her compliments to 'Betty.'
My present pair of girls go on very peaceably. They are neither of them particularly bright; but they are attentive, and willing, and well behaved. I often look back with a shudder over the six
[Page 166] months of that East Lothian Elizabeth! Her dinners blackened to cinders! her constant crashes of glass and china! her brutal manners! her lumpish insensibility and ingratitude! And to think that that woman must have been considered above the average of East Lothian servants, or Jackie Welsh wouldn't have sent her to me. What an idea it gives one of the state of things in East Lothian!
And now good-bye, Betty, dear. There is a long letter for you; which will, I hope, soon draw me a few lines from you in return. I am anxious to know how yourself, and your husband, and George have stood these cold spring weeks. My kind regards to them.
Your ever affectionate
JANE WELSH CARLYLE.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: June 3, 1863.
I had something to tell you which did not find room in my last letter. The name of Mrs. Oliphant's publisher is Blackett; and he has a smart wife, who came with him to dinner at Mrs. Oliphant's when I was there. They were very (what we call in Scotland) 'up-making' to me, and pressed me to visit them at Ealing, which I hadn't the least thought of doing. Well, some weeks ago, Mr. C. was just come
[Page 167] in from his ride, very tired, and, to do him justice, very ill-humoured, when Mary put her head in at the drawing-room door and said, 'Mrs. Blackett wished to know if she could see me for a few minutes?' I went out hurriedly, knowing Mr. C.'s temper wouldn't be improved by hearing of people he didn't want coming after me. I told Mary to take the lady into the dining-room (where was no fire), and before going down myself put a shawl about me, chiefly to show her she mustn't stay. On entering the room, the lady's back was to me; and she was standing looking out into the (so-called) garden; but I saw at once it wasn't the Mrs. Blackett I had seen. This one was very tall, dressed in deep black, and when she turned round, she showed me a pale beautiful face, that was perfectly strange to me! But I was no stranger to her seemingly, for she glided swiftly up to me like a dream, and took my head softly between her hands and kissed my brow again and again, saying in a low dreamlike voice, 'Oh, you dear! you dear! you dear! Don't you know me?' I looked into her eyes in supreme bewilderment. At last light dawned on me, and I said one word - 'Bessy?' 'Yes, it is Bessy!' And then the kissing wasn't all on one side, you may fancy. It was at last Bessy - not Mrs. Blackett, but Mrs. B-----, - who stood there, having left her husband in a cab at the door, till she had seen me first. They were just arrived from Cheshire,
[Page 168] where they had gone to see one of his sons, who had been dangerously ill, and were to start by the next train for St. Leonards. They had only a quarter of an hour to stay. He is a good, intelligent-looking man; and while he was talking all the time with Mr. C., Bessy said beautiful things about him to me, enough to show that if he wasn't her first love, he was at least a very superior being in her estimation. They pressed me to come to them at St. Leonards, and I promised indefinitely that I would.
About a fortnight ago, Bessy walked in one morning after breakfast. She 'had had no peace for thinking about me; I looked so ill, she was sure I had some disease! Had I?' I told her 'None that I could specify, except the disease of old age, general weakness, and discomfort.' Reassured on that head, she confided to me that 'I looked just as Mrs. B---- had looked when she was dying of cancer!!' And she had come up, certain that I had a cancer, to try and get me away to be nursed by her, and attended by her husband. Besides she had heard there was so much small-pox in London; 'and if I took it, and died before she had seen me again, she thought she would never have an hour's happiness in the world again!' Oh, Bessy, Bessy! just the same old woman - an imagination morbid almost to insanity! 'Would I go back with her that night anyhow?' 'Impossible!' 'Then when would I come?
[Page 169] and she would come up again to fetch me!' That I would not hear of; but I engaged to go so soon as it was a little warmer. And to-day I have written that I will come for two or three days on Monday next. She is wearing mourning for the mother and eldest brother of her husband, who have both died since her marriage.
And now I mustn't begin another sheet.
Your ever affectionate
J. W. CARLYLE.
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Sunday, July 5, 1863.
My dear little woman, - Every day, since I got your letter, I have put off answering it till the morrow, in hope always that the morrow would find me more up to writing an answer both long and pleasant. But, alas! I had best not wait any longer for 'a more convenient season,' but just write a stupid little note, according to my present disability; as a time when my head will be clearer, and my heart lighter, and my stomach less sick, is not to be calculated on.
I went some three weeks ago to St. Leonards, the pleasantest place I know; and stayed from Monday to Saturday, in circumstances the most favourable to health that could be desired. The finest sea air in the world - a large, airy, quiet house close on the
[Page 170] shore; a carriage to drive out in twice a day; a clever physician for host, who dieted me on champagne and the most nourishing delicacies; and for hostess, a gentle, graceful, loving woman, who, besides being full of interest for me as a heroine of romance, has the more personal interest for me of having been my - servant, about thirty years ago; and of having been sincerely mourned by me as - dead!
Well, I returned from that visit quite set up; and the improvement lasted some two or three days. Then I turned as sick as a dog one evening, and had to take to bed; and the sickness not abating after two days, during which time, to Mr. C.'s great dismay, I could eat nothing at all (nothing in the shape of illness ever alarms Mr. C. but that of not eating one's regular meals), Mr. Barnes was sent for, who ordered mustard blisters to my stomach, and unlimited soda-water 'with a little brandy in it.' In about a week I was on foot again - but weak as a dishclout! And that is my condition to the present hour. I don't see much chance of bettering it here - and Mr. C. seems determined to stick to his 'work' all this summer and autumn, as he did the last. It is very bad for him, and very bad for the work. He would get on twice as fast if he would give himself a holiday. But there is no persuading him, as you know; 'vara obstinate in his own wae!' And as
[Page 171] I was away last autumn a whole month by myself, I cannot have the face to leave him again this year, unless for a few days at a time, when I am hardly missed till I am back again. Besides, the present servants are not adapted to being left to their own devices. They do very well with overlooking and direction; and the week I was at St. Leonards nothing went wrong; but, for that long, they could have their orders for every day; and as I did not tell them for certain what day I should be back, there was a constant wholesome expectation of my return.
Mr. Carlyle has got his tent up in the back area, and writes away there without much inconvenience, as yet, from the heat. He has changed his dinner hour to half-past three instead of seven; then he sleeps for an hour, and then goes for his ride in the cool of the evening.
The horse Lady Ashburton sent him is a pretty, swift little creature, and very sure-footed, which is the first quality for a horse whose rider always goes at a gallop. But Mr. C. draws many plaintive comparisons between this horse and poor old Fritz, as to moral qualities. This one 'shows no desire to please him whatever; only goes at its best pace when its head is turned towards its own stable! Fritz was always endeavouring to ascertain his wishes and to gain his approbation; it was a horse of very superior
[Page 172] sense and sensibility, and had a profound regard for him.'
Kindest love to you all.
Your ever affectionate
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Wednesday night, Sept. 16, 1863.
How absurd of you, my dearest Mary, to make so many apologies about a trifling request like that! Why, if you had asked for twenty autographs, Mr. C. would have written them in twenty minutes, and would have written them for you with pleasure. Certainly, my dear, as I have often said before, faith is not your strong point!
Well, we have done our 'outing,' as the people here call going into the country; and it is all the 'outing we are likely to do till next summer (if we live to see next summer), unless Lord Ashburton should be well enough, and myself well enough, to make another expedition to the Grange during the winter.
I had some idea of going to Folkestone, where Miss Davenport Bromley has a house at present, and pressed me to come and take some tepid sea-water baths. But my experience of the wretchedness of being from home, with this devilry in my arm, has
[Page 173] decided me to remain stationary for the present. In spite of the fine air and beauty of the Grange, and Lady Ashburton's superhuman kindness, I had no enjoyment of anything all the three weeks we stayed: being in constant pain, day and night, and not able to comb my own hair, or do anything in which a left arm is needed as well as a right one! I think I told you I had had pain more or less in my left arm for two months before I left London. It was trifling in the beginning; indeed, nothing to speak of, when I did not move it backwards or upwards. I did not think it worth sending for Mr. Barnes about it at first, and latterly he was away at the sea-side for some weeks, having been ill himself. There was nobody else I liked to consult; besides, I always flatter myself that anything that ails me more than usual is sure to be removed by change of scene, so I bore on, in hope that so soon as I got to the Grange the arm would come all right. It did quite the reverse, however; for it became worse and worse, and I was driven at last to consult Dr. Quain, when he came down to see Lord A. He told me, before I had spoken a dozen words, that it wasn't rheumatism I had got, but neuralgia (if any good Christian would explain to me the difference between these two things I should feel edified and grateful). It had been produced, he said, by extreme weakness, and that I must be stronger before any impression could be
[Page 174] made on it. Could I take quinine? I didn't know; I would try; so he sent me quinine pills from London, to be taken twice a day if they gave me no headache, which they don't do, and an embrocation of opium, aconite, camphor, and chloroform (I tell you all this that you may ask your Doctor if he thinks it right, or can suggest anything else); moreover, I was to take castor oil every two or three days. I have been following these directions for a fortnight, and there is certainly an improvement in my general health. I feel less cowardly and less fanciful, and feel less disgust at human food; but although the embrocation relieves the pain while I am applying it, and for a few minutes after, it is as stiff and painful as ever when left to itself.
Yours ever affectionately,
Of all these dreary sufferings and miseries, which had been steadily increasing for years past, I perceive now, with pain and remorse, I had never had the least of a clear notion; such her invincible spirit in bearing them, such her constant effort to hide them from me altogether. My own poor existence, as she also well knew, was laden to the utmost pitch of strength, and sunk in perpetual muddy darkness, by a task too heavy for me - task which seemed impossible, and as if it would end me instead of I it. I saw no company, had no companion but my horse (fourteen miles a day, winter time, mainly in the dark), rode in all, as I have sometimes counted, above 30,000 miles for health's sake, while writing that unutterable book. The one bright point in my day
[Page 175] was from half an hour to twenty minutes' talking with her, after my return from those thrice dismal rides, while I sat smoking (on the hearthrug, with my back to the jamb, puffing firewards - a rare invention!) and sipping a spoonful of brandy in water, preparatory to the hour of sleep I had before dinner. She, too, the dear and noble soul, seemed to feel that this was the eye of her day, the flower of all her daily endeavour in the world. I found her oftenest stretched on the sofa (close at my right hand, I between her and the fire), her drawing-room and self all in the gracefullest and most perfect order, and waiting with such a welcome; ah, me! ah, me! She was weak, weak, far weaker than I understood; but to me was bright always as stars and diamonds; nay, I should say a kind of cheery sunshine in those otherwise Egyptian days. She had always something cheerful to tell me of (especially if she had been out, or had had visitors); generally something quite pretty to report (in her sprightly, quiet, and ever-genial way). At lowest, nothing of unpleasant was ever heard from her; all that was gloomy she was silent upon, and had strictly hidden away. Once, I remember, years before this, while she suffered under one of her bad influenzas (little known to me how bad), I came in for three successive evenings, full of the 'Battle of Molwitz' (which I had at last got to understand, much to my inward triumph), and talked to her all my half-hour about nothing else. She answered little - ('speaking not good for me,' perhaps); but gave no sign of want of interest - nay, perhaps did not quite want it, and yet confessed to me, several years afterwards, her principal thought was, 'Alas, I shall never see this come to print; I am hastening towards death instead!' These were, indeed, dark days for us both, and still darker unknown to us were at hand. One evening, probably the 1st or 2nd of October, 1863 - but for long years I had ceased writing in my note-books, and find nothing
[Page 176] marked on that to me most memorable of dates - on my return from riding, I learned rather with satisfaction for her sake that she had ventured on a drive to the General Post Office to see her cousin, Mrs. Godby, 'matron' of that establishment; and would take tea there. After sleep and dinner, I was still without her; 'Well, well, I thought, what a nice little story will she have to tell me soon!' and lay quietly down on the sofa, and comfortably waited - still comfortably, though the time (an hour or more) was longer than I had expected. At length came the welcome sound of her wheels; I started up - she rather lingered in appearing, - I rang, got no clear answer, rushed down, and, oh, what a sight awaited me! She was still in the cab, Larkin speaking to her (Larkin lived next door, and for him she had sent, carefully saving me!) Oh, Heavens! and, alas! both Larkin and I were needed. She had had a frightful street-accident in St. Martin's, and was now lamed and in agony! This was the account I got by degrees.
Mrs. Godby sent a maid-servant out with her to catch an omnibus; maid was stupid, unhelpful, and there happened to be some excavation on the street which did not permit the omnibus to come close. Just as my poor little darling was stepping from the kerbstone to run over (maid merely looking on), a furious cab rushed through the interval; she had to stop spasmodically, then still more spasmodically try to keep from falling flat on the other side, and ruining her poor neuralgic arm. In vain, this latter effort; she did fall, lame arm useless for help, and in the desperate effort she had torn the sinews of the thigh-bone, and was powerless to move or stand, and in pain unspeakable. Larkin and I lifted her into a chair, carried her with all our steadiness (for every shake was misery) up to her bed, where, in a few minutes, the good Barnes, luckily found at home, made
[Page 177] appearance with what help there was. Three weeks later, this letter gives account in her own words.
The torment of those first three days was naturally horrible; but it was right bravely borne, and directly thereupon all things looked up, she herself, bright centre of them, throwing light into all things. It was wonderful to see how in a few days she seemed to be almost happy, contented with immunity from pain, and proud to have made (as she soon did) her little bedroom into a boudoir, all in her own likeness. She sent for the carpenter, directed him in everything, had cords and appliances put up for grasping with and getting good of her hand, the one useful limb now left. It was wonderful what she had made of that room, by carpenter and housemaid, in a few hours - all done in her own image, as I said. On a little table at her right hand, among books and other useful furniture, she gaily pointed out to me a dainty little bottle of champagne, from which, by some leaden article screwed through the cork, and needing only a touch, she could take a spoonful or teaspoonful at any time, without injuring the rest: 'Is not that pretty? Excellent champagne (Miss Bromley's kind gift), and does me good, I can tell you.' I remember this scene well, and that, in the love of gentle and assiduous friends, and their kind little interviews and ministrations, added to the hope she had, her sick room had comparatively an almost happy air, so elegant and beautiful it all was, and her own behaviour in it always was. Not many evenings after the last of these two letters, I was sitting solitary over my dreary Prussian books, as usual, in the drawing-room, perhaps about 10 P.M., room perhaps (without my knowledge) made trimmer than usual, when suddenly, without warning given, the double door from her bedroom went wide open, and my little darling, all radiant in graceful evening dress, followed by a maid with new lights, came gliding in to me, gently
[Page 178] stooping, leaning on a fine Malacca cane, saying silently but so eloquently, 'Here am I come back to you, dear!' It was among the bright moments of my life - the picture of it still vivid with me, and will always be. Till now I had not seen her in the drawing-room, had only heard of those tentative pilgrimings thither with her maid for support. But now I considered the victory as good as won, and everything fallen into its old course again or a better. Blind that we were! This was but a gleam of sunlight, and ended swiftly in a far blacker storm of miseries than ever before.
That 'bright evening' of her re-entrance to me in the drawing-room must have been about the end of October or beginning of November, shortly following these two letters, 'Monday evening, November 23' (as I laboriously make out the date); 'the F----s,' F----- and his wife, the pleasantest, indeed almost the only pleasant evening company we now used to have; intelligent, cheerful, kindly, courteous, sincere (they had come to live near us, and we hoped for a larger share of such evenings, of which probably this was the first? Alas, to me, too surely it was in effect the last!) Cheerful enough this evening was; my darling sat latterly on the sofa, talking chiefly to Mrs. F----; the F----s gone, she silently at once withdrew to her bed, saying nothing to me of the state she was in, which I found next morning to have been alarmingly miserable, the prophecy of one of the worst of nights, wholly without sleep and full of strange and horrible pain. And the nights and days that followed continued steadily to worsen, day after day, and month after month, no end visible. It was some ten months now before I saw her sit with me again in this drawing-room - in body weak as a child, but again composed into quiet, and in soul beautiful as ever, or more beautiful than ever, for the rest of her appointed time with me, which indeed was brief, but is now blessed to look back upon, and an unspeakable
[Page 179] favour of Heaven. I often think of that last evening with the F-----s, which we hoped to be the first of a marked increase of such, but which to me was essentially the last of all; the F-----s have been here since, but with her as hostess (in my presence) never more, and the reflex of that bright evening, now all pale and sad, shines, privately incessant, into every meeting we have.
Barnes, for some time, said the disease was 'influenza, merely accidental cold, kindling up all the old injuries and maladies,' and promised speedy amendment; but week after week gave dismally contrary evidence. 'Neuralgia!' the doctors then all said, by which they mean they know not in the least what; in this case, such a deluge of intolerable pain, indescribable, unaidable pain, as I had never seen or dreamt of, and which drowned six or eight months of my poor darling's life as in the blackness of very death; her recovery at last, and the manner of it, an unexpected miracle to me. There seemed to be pain in every muscle, misery in every nerve, no sleep by night or day, no rest from struggle and desperate suffering. Nobody ever known to me could more nobly and silently endure pain; but here for the first time I saw her vanquished, driven hopeless, as it were looking into a wild chaotic universe of boundless woe - on the horizon, only death or worse. Oh, I have seen such expressions in those dear and beautiful eyes as exceeded all tragedy! (one night in particular, when she rushed desperately out to me, without speech; got laid and wrapped by me on the sofa, and gazed silently on all the old familiar objects and me). Her pain she would seldom speak of, but, when she did, it was in terms as if there were no language for it; 'any honest pain, mere pain, if it were of cutting my flesh with knives, or sawing my bones, I could hail that as a luxury in comparison!'
And the doctors, so far as I could privately judge, effected
[Page 180] approximately to double the disease. We had many doctors, skilful men of their sort, and some of them (Dr. Quain, especially, who absolutely would accept no pay, and was unwearied in attendance and invention) were surely among the friendliest possible; but each of them - most of all each new one - was sure to effect only harm, tried some new form of his opiums and narcotic poisons without effect; on the whole I computed, 'Had there been no doctors, it had been only about half as miserable.' Honest Barnes admitted in the end, 'We have been able to do nothing.' We had sick-nurses, a varying miscellany, Catholic 'Sisters of Mercy' (ignominiously dismissed by her third or fourth night, the instant she found they were in real substance Papist propagandists. Oh, that '3 A.M.,' when her bell awoke me too, as well as Maggie Welsh, and the French nun had to disappear at once, under rugs on a sofa elsewhere, and vanish altogether when daylight came!) Maggie Welsh had come in the second week of December, and continued, I think, at St. Leonards latterly, till April ended. December was hardly out till there began to be speech among the doctors of sea-side and change of air: the one hope they continued more and more to say; and we also thinking of St. Leonards and our Dr. B----- and bountiful resources there, waited only for spring weather, and the possibility of flight thither. How, in all this tearing whirlpool of miseries, anxieties, and sorrows, I contrived to go on with my work is still an astonishment to me. For one thing, I did not believe in these doctors, nor that she (if let alone of them) had not yet strength left. Secondly, I always counted 'Frederick' itself to be the prime source of all her sorrows as well as my own; that to end it was the condition of new life to us both, of which there was a strange dull hope in me. Not above thrice can I recollect when, on stepping out in the morning, the thought struck me, cold and sharp, 'She will
[Page 181] die, and leave thee here!' and always, before next day I had got it cast out of me again. And indeed, in all points except one I was as if stupefied more or less, and flying on like those migrative swallows of Professor Owen, after my strength was done and coma or dream had supervened, till the Mediterranean Sea was crossed! But the time altogether looks to me like a dim nightmare, on which it is still miserable to dwell, and of which I will after this endeavour only to give the dates. - T. C.
To Miss Grace Welsh, Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Tuesday, Oct. 20, 1863.
Thank you a thousand times, dearest Grace, for your long, most moving letter. It is not because of it that I write to-day, for I was meaning to write to-day at any rate; indeed, it rather makes writing more difficult to me: I have cried so over it, that I have given myself a bad headache in addition to my other lamings. But a little letter I will write by to-day's post, and a bigger one when I am more able.
I wrote a few lines to Mrs. Craven in answer to her announcement of that dear girl's angel death. I told her of my accident, and was trusting to her telling you; but as I told her I had kept you in ignorance of it in the beginning, lest Elizabeth and you and Ann, with your terrible experience of such
[Page 182] an accident, might be alarmed and distressed for me more than (I hoped) there would prove cause for; she thought, perhaps, I wished you to remain unaware of it, even when I reported myself progressing more favourably than could have been predicted. I need not go into the how of the fall; I will tell you all 'particulars' when I gain more facility in writing; enough to say that exactly this day three weeks I was plashed down on the pavement of St. Martin-le-Grand (five miles from home) on my left side (the arm of which couldn't break the fall), and hurt all down from the hip-joint so fearfully, and on the already lamed shoulder besides, that I couldn't stir; but had to be lifted up by people who gathered round me (a policeman among them) and put into a cab. Elizabeth can fancy my drive home (five miles), and the getting of me out of the cab and upstairs to bed! Wasn't I often thinking of her all the time?
'My' doctor came immediately, and found neither breakage of the leg nor dislocation; but the agony of pain, he said, would have been less had the bone broken: I thought of Elizabeth, and doubted that! Still, for three days and three sleepless nights it was such agony as I had never known before; after that, the pain went gradually out of the leg, unless when I moved it, for some bed operations, &c., &c. But the arm, with its complication of sprain and
[Page 183] neuralgia, has given me a sad time, till these last two days that it has returned almost to the state it was in before the fall. A week ago Mr. Barnes made me get out of bed for fear of 'a bad back,' and sit on end on a sofa in my bedroom, like Miss Biffin (the little egg-shaped woman that used to be shown); and two days ago he compelled me to walk a few steps, supported with his arms, and to do the same thing at least twice a day. It has been a case of 'lacerated sinews;' and he said the tendency of the muscles was to contract themselves after such a thing, and if I did not force myself to put down my foot now and then, I should never be able to walk at all! Such a threat, and his determined manner, enable me to make the effort, which costs, I can tell you. But, at whatever cost of pain and nervousness, I have to-day passed through the door of my bedroom (which opens into the drawing-room luckily), using one of the maids as a crutch; so you see I am already a good way towards recovery, for which I feel, every moment, deep thankfulness to God. To have experienced such agony, and to be delivered from it comparatively, makes one feel one's dependence as nothing else does.
For the rest, as dear Betty is always saying, 'I have mony mercies.' My servants have been most kind and unwearied in their attentions; my friends more like sisters or mothers than commonplace
[Page 184] friends. Oh, I shall have such wonderful kindnesses to tell you of when I can write freely! My third cousin, Mrs. Godby, and several others, wished to stay with me; but the 'nursing' I needed was of quite a menial sort; I should still have sought it from my servants, and a lady-nurse would only have given them more to do, and been dreadfully in the way of Mr. C. My great object, after getting what waiting on I absolutely needed, has been that the usual quiet routine of the house should not be disturbed around Mr. C., who thinks, I am sure, that he has been victimised enough in having to answer occasional letters of inquiry about me. And now I must conclude for the present. I am so sorry for poor Robert's fingers. Be sure to send me the copy of Grace's words to her mother. Oh, poor souls! what woe, and what mercy!
Your loving niece,
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Monday, Oct. 26, 1863.
Dearest Mary, - Though I still write to you in pencil I have progressed. I walk daily from my bedroom to the drawing-room, after a fashion; my sound arm round Mary's neck, and her arm round my waist.
[Page 185] I think there is more nervousness than pain in the difficulty with which I make this little journey. For the rest, I don't lie much on my sofa, but sit on end. I cannot, however, sit up at table to write with pen and ink; I must write with cushions at my back, and with the paper on my knees; in which circumstances a pencil is less fatiguing than pen and ink, as well as less destructive to my clothes.
The unlucky leg will in a week or two, I hope, be all right. I have no pain whatever in it now, except when I try to use it; and then the pain is not great, and gets daily a trifle less. But my arm is still a bad business; especially at night I suffer much from it. It spoils my sleep, and that again reacts upon it and makes it worse. I cannot satisfy myself how much of the pain I am now suffering is the effect of the fall - how much that of the old neuralgia; and Mr. Barnes can throw no light on that for me, or suggest any remedy: at least he doesn't. It seems to me he regards my leg as his patient, and my arm as Dr. Quain's patient, which he has nothing to do with; and he is rather glad to be irresponsible for it, seeing nothing to be done! He did once say in a careless way that plain bark and soda, 'one of the most nauseous mixtures he knew of in this world,' was better than 'my quinine;' but when I asked, would it have as good an effect on my spirits as the quinine had had, he said, 'Oh, I can't promise
[Page 186] you that; it would probably make you sick and low; better keep to your ladylike quinine!'
Ask the Doctor if he sees any superiority in plain bark and soda? I don't care how nauseous a medicine is if it do me good.
Another of my uncle Robert's daughters has died of consumption. Grace (my aunt) has written me a long, minute account of her death-bed - one of the saddest things I ever read in my life. It quite crushed down the heart in one for days. The poor young woman's sufferings, and the deaf mother's, and, oh, such a heap of misery is set before one so vividly; and then the consolation! It is a comfort to know that the dying girl was supported through her terrible trial by her religious faith and hope; a comfort, and the only comfort possible, conceivable - if it had stopped there. But you know my feelings about religious excitement - ecstatics; I cannot regard that as a genuine element of religion. Was not Christ Himself, on the cross, calm, simple? Did He not even pray that, if it were possible, the cup might pass from Him? Was there ever in the whole history of His life a trace of excitement? The fuss and excitement that seem to have gone on about this poor young deathbed, then, jars on my mind; the working up of the sufferer herself, and the working up of themselves (the onlookers) into a sort of hysterical ecstasy is almost as painful to me as the rest of the
[Page 187] sad business; I feel it to be a getting-up of a death-bed scene to be put into a tract! And in the heart of it all such an amount of real terrible anguish; and the grand solemn faith that could bear all, and triumph over all, harassed by earthly interference and excitations! I will send the letter; perhaps you will find all this wrong in me; we could never agree about the 'revivals.' Never mind; we love one another all the same.
My kindest regards to the Doctor.
Send back Grace's letter.
To Miss Margaret Welsh, Liverpool.
Chelsea: November 2, 1863.
Dearest Maggie, - The very sight of your letter was a relief to me, for I knew that unless dear Jackie had been a little better you couldn't have written as much! Next time do write a mere bulletin, or I can't press you to 'be quick!' From the account you give, I draw far better hope about him than, I dare say, you meant to give in writing it. But there seems to be so much vitality in the poor little fellow; his caring to be read to, his little speech, all that sounds as if there were a good basis of life at the bottom of all
[Page 188] this illness. God grant he may soon be pronounced convalescent!
I am very convalescent! I can move about the room with a stick, and the pain in my arm has been considerably less for the last few days, when I make no attempt to move it more than it likes. I attribute the improvement to a new medicine, recommended to me by Carlyle's friend, Mr. Foxton, who had been cured by it. Before taking it I asked the advice of Dr. B----- at St. Leonards (a man of real ability), and he sent me a proper prescription, and directions about using it. It is called Iodide of Potash, and is taken with quantities of fluid; and along with it have to be taken pills of Valeriate or Quinine. If it cures me, and you ever need curing, you shall have the prescription.
In the beginning of the arm-business, some four months ago now, I fancied I had given my arm an unconscious sprain, as the pain in attempting to move it preceded any aching or shooting, independent of attempting to move it. The Doctor persuaded me 'it was all neuralgia.' Since my accident that sprained feeling has been dreadful, till within the last few days. And though Mr. Barnes always declared 'it was all rheumatism,' it has been impossible to persuade me that the same blow received on my shoulder and hip-joint at the same time, and damaging the sinews in my thigh, would not damage the sinews
[Page 189] in my arm also. 'That stands to reason' (as old Helen used to say).
Of course, if rheumatism is about in one, it will gather to any strained part; and so there has been plenty of rheumatic pain, besides the pain from the hurt. But I am certain it is more than rheumatism that hinders me from lifting my arm. And having a faculty of remembering things long after date, I remembered the other day that I took to using the dumb-bells for two or three days, to make myself stronger par vive force, when I was feeling so weak and ill early in summer (it must have been just before I noticed the stiffness of my arm), and that I left them off because my arms felt too weak to use them, and ached after. It would be a comfort to my weak mind to be assured that I, then and there, sprained some sinew in my arm, and all the rest would have followed in the course of nature; and I might give up vague terrors about angina pectoris, paralysis, disease of the spine, &c. &c. Best stop.
J. W. C.
Mrs. Simmonds, Oakley Street, Chelsea.
5 Cheyne Row: Nov. 8, 1863.
My darling, - I am so thankful that you are all right. And to think of your writing on the third day after your confinement the most legible - indeed,
[Page 190] the only legible - note I ever had from you in my life!
Now about this compliment offered me, which you are pleased to call a 'favour' (to you), I don't know what to say. I wish I could go and talk it over; but, even if I could go in a cab one of these next dry days, I couldn't drive up your stairs in a cab! I should be greatly pleased that your baby bore a name of mine. But the Godmotherhood? There seems to me one objection to that, which is a fatal one - I don't belong to the English Church; and the Scotch Church, which I do belong to, recognises no Godfathers and Godmothers. The father takes all the obligations on himself (serves him right!) I was present at a Church of England christening for the first time, when the Blunts took me to see their baby christened, and it looked to me a very solemn piece of work; and that Mr. Maurice and Julia Blunt (the Godfather and Godmother) had to take upon themselves, before God and man, very solemn engagements, which it was to be hoped they meant to fulfil! I should not have liked to bow and murmur, and undertake all they did, without meaning to fulfil it according to my best ability. Now, my darling, how could I dream of binding myself to look after the spiritual welfare of any earthly baby? I, who have no confidence in my own spiritual welfare! I am not wanted to, it may perhaps be answered - you
[Page 191] mean to look after that yourself without interference. What are these spoken engagements then? A mere form; that is, a piece of humbug. How could I, in cold blood, go through with a ceremony in a church, to which neither the others nor myself attach a grain of veracity? If you can say anything to the purpose, I am very willing to be proved mistaken; and in that case very willing to stand Godmother to a baby that on the third day is not at all red!
Mrs. Simmonds, 82 Oakley Street, Chelsea.
5 Cheyne Row: Friday, Nov. 27, 1863.
Dear Pet, - I am not the least well, and should just about as soon walk overhead into the Thames as into a roomful of people! At the same time, I wish to pay my respects to the baby on this her next grand performance after getting herself born, and to place in her small hands a talisman worthy of the occasion, and suitable to a baby born on 'All Saints' Day' (whatever sort of day that may be). As I shouldn't at all recommend running a long pin into the creature, I advise you to wear the brooch in its present form till the baby is sufficiently hardened, from its present pulpy condition, to bear something tied round its throat, without fear of strangulation!
[Page 192] And then you may remove the pin, and attach the talisman to a string in form of a locket. But what is it? 'What does it do?' (as a servant of mine once asked me in respect of 'a lord.') What it is, my dear, is an emblematic mosaic, made from bits of some tomb of the early Christians, and representing an early Christian device: the Greek cross, the palm leaves, and all the rest of it. Worn by the like of me, I daresay it would have no virtue to speak of; but worn by a baby born on All Saints' Day! it must be a potent charm against the devil and all his works one would think, for it is a perfectly authentic memorial of the early Christians.
I hope you didn't go and drop the 'Jane' after all! Bless you and it.
JANE BAILLIE WELSH CARLYLE.
FOUR SHORT LETTERS.
About the beginning of January (1864) there were thought to be perceptible some faint symptoms of improvement or abatement; which she herself never durst believe in; and indeed to us eager on-lookers they were faint and uncertain - nothing of real hope, except in getting to St. Leonards so soon as the season would permit.
Early in March, weather mild though dim and wettish, this sad transit was accomplished by railway; I escorting,
[Page 193] and visiting at every stage; Maggie Welsh and our poor patient in what they called a 'sick carriage,' which indeed took her up at this door, and after delays and haggles at St. Leonards, put her down at Dr. B-----'s; but was found otherwise inferior to the common arrangement for a sick person (two window-seats, with board and cushion put between), though about five or six times dearer, and was never employed again. She was carried downstairs here in the bed of this dreary vehicle (which I saw well would remind her, as it did, of a hearse, with its window for letting in the coffin); she herself, weak but clear, directed the men. So pathetic a face as then glided past me at this lower door I never saw nor shall see! And the journey - and the arrival. But of all this, which passed without accident, and which remains to myself unforgetable enough, and sad as the realms of Hades, I undertook to say nothing.
Her reception was of the very kindest; her adjustment, with Maggie and one of our maids (in fine, airy, quiet rooms, in the big house, with the loving and skilful hosts), I saw in a few hours completed to my satisfaction, far beyond expectation. She herself said little; but sat, in her pure, simple dress, &c., looking, though sorrowful, calm and thankful. At length I left the house (or indeed they almost pushed me out, 'not to miss the last train,' which I saved only by half a moment by hot speed and good luck), and got home in a more hopeful mood than I had come away, Solely, in my last cab (from Waterloo Station), I had stuck my cap (a fine black velvet thing of her making) too hurriedly into my pocket, and it had hustled out, and in the darkness been left. Loss irrecoverable, not noticed till next morning, and which I still regret. 'Oh, nothing!' said she, cheerily and yet mournfully, at our next meeting. 'I will make you a new cap when I am able to sew again.' But I think, in effect, she never sewed more.
Maggie's daily bulletin was indistinct and ambiguous, but strove always to be favourable, or really was so. I sat busy here; generally wrote to my poor darling some daily line; got from her now and then some word or two, but always on mere practical or household matters; seldom or never any confirmation of Maggie's reading of the omens. In the last week of March (as covenanted) I made my first visit (Friday till Monday, I think). Forster and Mrs. F. went with me, but did not see her. I stayed at Dr. B-----'s, they at a hotel, where was dining, &c. Whether this was my first visit to her there I strive to recollect distinctly, but cannot. I seem to have even seen but little of her, and certainly learned nothing intimate; as if she rather avoided much communication with me, unwilling to rob me of the doctor's confident prognostications, and much unable to confirm them. Her mood of fixed quiet sorrow, with no hope in it but of enduring well, was painfully visible. I had just got rid of my vol. v., deeply disappointed latterly on finding that there must be a sixth. Hades was not more lugubrious than that book too now was to me; and yet there was something in it of sacred, of Orpheus-like (though I did not think of 'Orpheus' at all, nor name my darling an 'Eurydice '!) and the stern course was to continue - what else?
In the end of April brother John came to me. Before this it had been decided (since the B-----s, who at first pretended that they would, now evidently would not, accept remuneration from us) that a small furnished house should be rented, and a shift made thither; which was done and over about the time John came. I was to remove thither with my work (so soon as liftable). He by himself made a preliminary visit thither; then perhaps another with me; and at his return I could notice (though he said nothing)
[Page 195] that he meant to try staying with us there; which he did, and surely was of use to me there.
Early in May this (Chelsea) house was left to Larkin's care (who at last came into it, letting his own); and all of us had reassembled in the poor new hospice ('117 Marina, St. Leonards'), studious to try our best and utmost there. Maggie Welsh had to return to Liverpool (to nurse a poor little child-nephew who was dying). I did not find Maggie at St. Leonards; but the good Mary Craik (Professor's Mary, from Belfast), by my Jeannie's own suggestion, was written to, came directly, and did as well; perhaps more quietly, and thus better.
In those seven or eight months of martyrdom (October 1863 - May 1864) there is naturally no record of the poor dear martyr's own discoverable; nothing but these small, most mournful notes written with the left hand, as if from the core of a broken heart, and worthy to survive as a voice de profundis. Maggie's part, which fills the last two pages, I omit. The address is gone, but still evident on inference.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
St. Leonards: Friday, April 8, 1864.
Oh, my own darling! God have pity on us! Ever since the day after you left, whatever flattering accounts may have been sent you, the truth is I have been wretched - perfectly wretched day and night with that horrible malady. Dr. B. knows nothing about it more than the other doctors. So, God help me, for on earth is no help!
Lady A. writes that Lord A. left you two thousand pounds - not in his will, to save duty - but to be given you as soon as possible. 'The wished for
[Page 196] come too late!' Money can do nothing for us now.
Your loving and sore suffering
JANE W. CARLYLE.
To-day I am a little less tortured - only a little; but a letter having been promised, I write.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
St. Leonards: April 19, 1864.
It is no 'morbid despondency;' it is a positive physical torment day and night - a burning, throbbing, maddening sensation in the most nervous part of me ever and ever. How be in good spirits or have any hope but to die! When I spoke of going home, it was to die there; here were the place for living, if one could! It was not my wish to leave here. It was the B-----s' own suggestion and wish that we should get a little house of our own.
Oh, have pity on me! I am worse than ever I was in that terrible malady.
Yours as ever,
T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.
St. Leonards-on-Sea: April 25, 1864.
Oh, my husband! I am suffering torments! each day I suffer more horribly. Oh, I would like you
[Page 197] beside me! I am terribly alone. But I don't want to interrupt your work. I will wait till we are in our own hired house; and then if am no better, you must come for a day.
Your own wretched
J. W. C.
To the Misses Welsh, Edinburgh.
St. Leonards-on-Sea: end of April, 1864.
My own dear Aunts, - I take you to my heart and kiss you fondly one after another. God knows if we shall ever meet again; and His will be done! My doctor has hopes of my recovery, but I myself am not hopeful; my sufferings are terrible.
The malady is in my womb - you may fancy. It is the consequence of that unlucky fall; no disease there, the doctors say, but some nervous derangement. Oh, what I have suffered, my aunts! what I may still have to suffer! Pray for me that I may be enabled to endure.
Don't write to myself; reading letters excites me too much. And Maggie tells me all I should hear. I commit you to the Lord's keeping, whether I live or die. Ah, my aunts, I shall die; that is my belief!
With a violent effort of packing and scheming (e.g., a box of books with cross-bars in it, and shelves which were to be put in, and make the box a press, &c. &c.), in all which Larkin and Maggie Welsh assisted diligently, I got down to Marina on one of the first days of May. Dreary and tragic was our actual situation there, but we strove to be of hope, and were all fixedly intent to do our best. The house was new, clean, light enough, and well aired; otherwise paltry in the extreme - small, misbuilt every inch of it; a despicable, cockney, scamped edifice; a rickety bandbox rather than a house. But that did not much concern us, tenants only for a month or two - nay, withal there were traces that the usual inhabitants (two old ladies, probably very poor) had been cleanly, neat persons, sensible, as we, of the sins and miseries of their scamped, despicable dwelling-place, poor, good souls!
In a small back closet, window opposite to door, and both always open, I had soon got a table wedged to fixity, had set on end my book-box, changing it to a book-press, and adjusted myself to work, quite tolerably all along, though feeling as if tied up in a rack. One good bedroom there was in the top story, looking out over the sea - this was naturally hers; mine below and to rearward was the next best, and, by cunning adjustments curtains improvised out of rugs and ropes were made to exclude the light in some degree and admit freely the air currents. We made with our knives about a dozen little wedges as the first thing to keep the doors open or ajar at our will, their own being various in that respect! To put up with the house was a right easy matter, almost a solacement, in sight of the deep misery of its poor mistress, spite of all her striving.
The first day she was dressed waiting my arrival, and
[Page 199] came painfully resolute down to dinner with us, but could hardly sit it out; and never could attempt again. With intellect clear and even inventive, her whole being was evidently plunged in continual woe, pain as if unbearable, and no hope left; in spite of our encouragements no steady hope at all. On the earth I have never seen so touching a sight! She drove out at lowest three or four times a day - ultimately long drives (which John took charge of to Battle, to Bexhill regions seeking new lodgings - alas, in vain!). Her last daily drive from four to half-past five was always with me, my day's work now done. She was evidently thankful, but spoke hardly at all; or, if she did for my sake, on some indifferent matter, naming to me some street oddity, locality, or the like; those poor efforts now in my memory are the saddest of all, beautiful to me, and sad and pathetic to me beyond all the rest. On setting her down at home I directly stepped across to the livery stable, and mounted for a rapid obligato ride of three hours: rides unlike any I have ever had in the world; more gloomy and mournful even than the London ones, though by no means so abominable even, one's company here being mainly God's sky and earth, not cockneydom with its slums, enchanted aperies and infernalries. I rode far and wide, saw strange old villages (a pair of storks in one), saw Battle by many routes (and even began to understand the Harold-William duel there. Strange that no English soldier, scholar, or mortal ever yet tried to do it). Battle, town and monastery, in the calm or in the windy summer gloaming, was a favourite sight of mine; only the roads were in parts distressing (new cuts, new cockney scamped edifices, and railways and much dust) Crowhirst and its yew, that has seen (probably) the days of Julius Cæsar as well as William the Conqueror's, and ours. But that is not my topic. In the green old lanes with their quaint old cottages, good old cottagers, valiant, frugal,
[Page 200] patient, I could have wept. In the disastrous, dust-covered, cockneyfying parts my own feeling had something of rage in it, rage and disgust. It was usually after nightfall when I got home. Tea was waiting for me; and silently my Jeannie (as I at length observed) to preside over it (ah, me! ah, me!), directly after which she went up to bed. Hastings, St. Leonards, Battle, Rye, Winchelsea, Beachy Head, intrinsically all a beautiful region (when not cockneyfied, and turned to cheap and nasty chaos and the mortar tubs), and yet in the world is no place I should so much shudder to see again.
We had various visitors - Forster, Twisleton, Woolner - and none of these could she see; not even Miss Bromley, who came twice for a day or more, but in vain - except the last time, just one hurried glimpse. Nothing could so indicate to what a depth of despair the ever-gnawing pain and boundless misery had sunk this once brightest and openest of human souls. The B-----s continued with unwearied kindness doing, and hoping, and endeavouring; but that also, even on the Doctor's part, much more on her own, began to seem futile, unsuccessful; good old Barnes came once (fast falling into imbecility and finis, poor man), said: 'Hah! intrinsically just the same; however, the disease will burn itself out!'
About the middle of June (lease was to end with that month, and her own house, especially her own room there, had grown horrible to her thoughts) she moved that we should engage the house till end of July; which was done. But, alas! before June ended things had grown still more intolerable; sleep more and more impossible, and she wished to be off from the July bargain - would the people have consented? (which they would not) - so that the question what to do became darker and darker. 'If your room at Chelsea had a new paper?' somebody suggested; and Miss
[Page 201] Bromley had undertaken to get it done. This of the 'new paper' went into my heart as nothing else had done, 'so small, so helpless, faint;' and to the present hour it could almost make me weep! It was done, however, by-and-by; and under changed omens. Thank God.
But in the meanwhile, hour by hour, things were growing more intolerable. Twelve successive nights of burning summer, totally without sleep; morning after the eleventh of them she announced a fixed resolution of her own, and the next morning executed it. Set off by express train, with John for escort, to London; would try Mrs. Forster's instead of her own horrible room; but would go (we could all see) or else die. Miss Bromley, who had again come, she consented to see in passing into the train; one moment only, a squeeze of the hand, and adieu. With a stately, almost proud step, my poor martyred darling took her place, John opposite her, and shot away.
At the Forsters' she had some disturbed sleep, not much; and next morning ordered John to make ready for the evening train to Dumfries (to sister Mary's, at the Gill), and rushed along all night, 330 miles at once - a truly heroic remedy of nature's own prescribing, which did by quick steps and struggles bring relief.
The Gill, sister Mary's poor but ever kind and generous human habitation, is a small farmhouse, seven miles beyond Annan, twenty-seven beyond Carlisle, eight or ten miles short of Dumfries, and, therefore, twenty-two or twenty-four short of Thornhill, through both of which the S.W. Railway passes. Scotsbrig lies some ten miles northward of the Gill (road at right angles to the Carlisle and Dumfries Railway): passes by Hoddam Hill, even as of old - and at Ecelefechan, two miles from Scotsbrig, crosses the Carlisle, Moffat, or Caledonian Railway - enough for the topography of these tragic things. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., 117 Marina, St. Leonards-on-Sea.
The Gill: July 15, 1864.
Oh, my dear, I am quite as amazed as you to find myself here, so promiscuous! I had given up all idea of Scotland when I left St. Leonards; felt neither strength nor courage for it; but postponed projects till I saw what lay for me at Palace-Gate House. I found there much kindness, and much state, and a firm expectation that I was merely passing through! And if they had wanted me ever so much to stay, there was not a bed in the house fit to be slept in from the noise point of view! Cheyne Row full of Larkins; and my old room in the same state: horrible was the idea to me! The Blunts perhaps out of town; London very hot! I did sleep some human sleep in my luxurious bedroom, all crashing with wheels; but only the having had no sleep the night before made me so clever! I could not have slept a second night. No, there was nothing to be done but what I did - turn that second night to use, travel through it, and not try for any sleep until there was some chance of getting it; that night on the road was nothing like so wretched as those nights at Marina. I drank four glasses of champagne in the night! and took a good breakfast at Carlisle. John was dreadfully ill-tempered: we quarrelled incessantly, but he had the grace to be ashamed of
[Page 203] himself after, and apologise. On the whole, it was a birthday of good omen. My horrible ailment kept off as by enchantment.
Mary is all that one could wish as hostess, nurse, and sister. She has had something of the sort herself, and her sympathy is intelligent.
I am gone in for milk diet: took porridge and buttermilk in quantity last night, and slept, with few awakenings, all night; had a tumbler of new milk at eight, and got up to breakfast at nine. I am very shaky, you will see, but, oh, so thankful for my sleep and ease - would it but last! John went to Dumfries yesterday afternoon; and all who had been about me being gone, I felt like a child set down out of arms, but am contriving to totter pretty well so far. John was to he here to-day some time.
I am very sorry for you with those idiot servants. Mary proved herself of no earthly use to me, besides being sulky and conceited. Mary Craik is your only present stay; kiss her for me, dear, kind, good girl. I will write to her next. I am so sorry at having had to leave her in such a mess.
James Austin had already got a nice carriage for Mary to drive me about in. Oh, they are so kind, and so polite!
J. W. C.
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS.
Mrs. Carlyle's letters, during the remainder of the summer, are a sad record of perpetually recurring suffering. The carriage broke down in her second drive with her sister-in-law, and she was violently shaken. Mrs. Austin gave her all the care that love had to bestow; but in a farmhouse there was not the accommodation which her condition required, and her friend Mrs. Russell carried her off to Holm Hill, where she would be under Dr. Russell's immediate charge. A series of short extracts from the letters to her husband will convey a sufficient picture of her condition in body and mind. The most touching feature in them is the affection with which she now clung to him. Carlyle's anxiety, at last awake, had convinced her that his strange humours had not risen from real indifference. John Carlyle, the doctor, with whom she had travelled, had been rough and unfeeling. - J. A. F.
To T. Carlyle.
Holm Hill, July 23, 1864. - I have arrived safe. They met me at the station, and are kind, as so many are. John offered to accompany here, but I declined. Fancy him telling me in my agony yesterday that if I had ever done anything in my life this would not have been; that no poor woman with work to mind had ever such an ailment as this of mine since the world began! Oh, my dear, I think how near my mother I am! How still I should be
[Page 205] laid beside her. But I wish to live for you, if only I could live out of torment.
July 25. - Mary Craik will go to-day, and you will be alone with town maids; and if I were there I could but add to your troubles. We are sorely tried, and God alone knows what the end will be. It is no wonder if my stock of hope and courage is quite worn out.
July 27. - I could not write yesterday; I was too ill and desperate. Again, without assignable cause, I had got no wink of sleep. I am terribly weak. If I had not such kind people beside me I should be wretched indeed. I do not feel so agitated by the sights about here as I used to do. I seem already to belong to the passed-away as much as to the present; nay, more.
God bless you on your solitary way.
July 28. - When will I be back? Ah, my God! when? for it is no good going back to be a trouble to you and a torment to myself. I must not look forward, but try to bear my life from day to day, thankful that for the present I am so well cared for.
August 2. - I am cared for here as I have never been since I lost my mother's nursing; and everything is good for me: the quiet airy bedroom, the new milk, the beautiful drives; and when all this fails to bring me human sleep or endurable nervousness,
[Page 206] can you wonder that I am in the lowest spirits about myself. So long as I had a noisy bedroom or food miscooked even, I had something to attribute my sleeplessness to; now I can only lay it to my diseased nerves, and at my age such illness does not right itself.
August 5. - Except for this wakefulness I am better than when I left Marina, and it is unaccountable that I should be so well in spite of getting less sleep than I ever heard of anyone, out of a medical book, getting and living with. I was weighed yesterday, and found a gain of five pounds since April. If sleep would come I think I should recover - the first time I have had this hope seriously; but if it won't come I must break down sooner or later, being no Dutchman nor Jeffrey; and I fear not for my life, but for my reason. It is almost sinfully ungrateful, when God has borne me through such prolonged agonies with my senses intact, to have so little confidence in the future; but courage and hope have been ground out of me. Submission! Acknowledgment that my sufferings have been no greater than I deserved is just the most that I am up to.
Oh, my dear, I am very weary! My agony has lasted long! I am tempted to take a long cry over myself - and no good will come of that.
August 22. - I have no wholly sleepless nights to report now. I don't sleep well, by any means; but to sleep at all is such an improvement. I continue to gain flesh. A----- declares that in the last ten days I have gained four pounds! But that must be nonsense.
August 26. - Walking is hardly possible for me at present, the change of the weather having produced rheumatic pains and stiffness in my knees. I did the best I could for myself in buying a good supply of woollen under-garments - not new dresses, not a single new dress, nor anything for the outside. The mercury of my mental thermometer has not risen to care for appearances, only to the hope of living long enough to need new flannels. I did once turn over the idea of a new bonnet, the one I have having lasted me three years! But I sent it to the daughter of your old admirer, Shankland the tailor, and she took out the 'clures' and put in a clean cap for tenpence!
August 29. - The thought of how I am ever to make that long journey back which I made here in the strength of desperation, troubles me night and day; and what is to become of me when I am back, with my warm milk and my nursing and my doctoring taken away? Oh, I am frightened - frightened! a perfect coward am I become - I, who was surely once brave! But I cannot, must not, stay on here
[Page 208] through the winter. Besides the unreasonableness of inflicting such a burden on others, it would be too cold and damp for me here in the valley of the Nith. So, dear, though I would fain spare you this and all troubles with me, I must go to the subject of the papering [of her room in Cheyne Row], and you must forgive what may strike you as weakly fanciful in my desire to have 'a new colour about me.' You must consider that I was carried out of those rooms to be shoved into a sort of hearse, and (to my own feelings) buried out of that house for ever; and that I have not had time yet, nor got strength enough yet, to shake off the associations that make those rooms terrible for me. To give them somewhat of a different appearance is the most soothing thing that can be done for me.
August 30. - No sleep at all last night; had no chance of sleep, for the neuralgic pains piercing me from shoulder to breast like a sword. I am profoundly disheartened. Every way I turn it looks dark, dark to me. I had dared to hope, to look forward to some years of health - no worse, at least, than I had before. I cannot write cheerfully. I am not cheerful.
September 6. - Oh, that it was as easy to put tormenting thoughts out of one's own head as it is for
[Page 209] others to bid one do that! I wish to heaven you were delivered from those paper-hangers. I did not think it would have been so long in the wind. I, the unlucky cause, am quite as sorry for the botheration to you as ----- expresses herself, though I have more appreciation of the terrible half-insane sensitiveness which drove me on to bothering you. Oh, if God would only lift my trouble off me so far that I could bear it all in silence, and not add to the troubles of others
September 7. - I cannot write. I have passed a terrible night. Sleeplessness and restlessness and the old pain (worse than it has ever been since I came here); and, in addition to all that, an inward blackness of darkness. Am I going to have another winter like the last? I cannot live through another such time: my reason, at least, cannot live through it. Oh, God bless you and help me!
September 9. - I am very stupid and low. God can raise me up again; but will He? Oh, I am weary, weary! My dear, when I have been giving directions about the house then a feeling like a great black wave will roll over my breast, and I say to myself, whatever pains be taken to gratify me, shall I ever more have a day of ease, of painlessness, or a night of sweet rest, in that house, or in any house but the dark narrow one where I shall arrive at last.
September 16. - Oh, if there was any sleep to be got in that bed wherever it stands! [alluding to a change in the position of her bed at Chelsea.] But it looks to my excited imagination, that bed I was born in, like a sort of instrument of red-hot torture after all those nights that I lay meditating on self-destruction as my only escape from insanity. Oh, the terribiest part of my suffering has not been what was seen, has not been what could be put into human language!
September 26, 1864. - Oh, my dear! I thank God I got some little sleep last night! for I had been going from bad to worse, till I had reached a point that seemed to take me back to the time just before I left Marina, and to give to that time additional poignancy. I had the quite recent remembrance of some weeks of such comparative ease and well-ness! Oh, this relapse is a severe disappointment to me, and, God knows, not altogether a selfish disappointment! I had looked forward to going back to you so much improved, as to be, if not of any use and comfort to you, at least no trouble to you, and no burden on your spirits! And now God knows how it will be! Sometimes I feel a deadly assurance that I am progressing towards just such another winter as the last! only what little courage and hope supported me in the beginning, worn out now, and ground into dust, under long fiery suffering!
Dr. Russell says, as Dr. B----- said, that the special misery will certainly wear itself out in time; if I can only eat and keep up my strength, that it may not wear out me! But how keep up my strength without sleep?
Oh, dear! you cannot help me, though you would! Nobody can help me! Only God: and can I wonder if God take no heed of me when I have all my life taken so little heed of Him?
John is coming to-day to settle about the journey. When I spoke so bravely about going alone, I was much better than I am at present. I am up to nothing of the sort now, and must be thankful for his escort, the best that offers. He says Saturday is the best day. But I don't incline to arriving on a Sunday morning, so I shall vote for Friday night. But you will hear from me again and again before then.
Your ever affectionate
J. W. CARLYLE.
Thomas Carlyle, Chelsea, London.
Holm Hill: Wednesday, Sept. 28, 1864.
Again a night absolutely sleepless, except for a little dozing between six and seven. There were no shooting pains to keep me awake last night, although I felt terribly chill, in spite of a heap of blankets that kept me in a sweat; but it was a cold sweat.
[Page 212] I am very wretched to-day. Dr. Russell handed me the other night a medical book he was reading, open at the chapter on 'Neuralgia' that I might read, for my practical information, a list of 'counter-irritants.'
I read a sentence or two more than was meant, ending with 'this lady was bent on self-destruction.' You may think it a strange comfort, but it was a sort of comfort to me to find that my dreadful wretchedness was a not uncommon feature of my disease, and not merely an expression of individual cowardice.
Another strange comfort I take to myself under the present pressure of horrible nights. If I had continued up till now to feel as much better as I did in the first weeks of my stay here, I should have dreaded the return to London as a sort of suicide. Now I again want a change - even that change! There lies a possibility, at least, of benefit in it; which I could not have admitted to myself had all gone on here as in the beginning.
I am very sorry for Lady Ashburton, am afraid her health is irretrievably ruined. Pray do write her a few lines.
It has been a chill mist from the water all the morning, but the sun is trying to break through.
God send me safe back to you, such as I am.
J. W. C.
Thomas Carlyle, Chelsea, London.
Holm Hill: Thursday, Sept. 29, 1864.
This, then, is to be my last letter from here. Where will the next letter be from, or will there be a next? Blind moles! with our pride of insight too! we can't tell even that much beforehand.
If I had trusted my power of divination yesterday I should have renounced all hope of seeing you this week. I had to go to bed at five in the afternoon, in a sort of nervous fever from want of sleep. The irritation, too, unbearable! That clammy, deathly sweat, in which I had passed the previous night, as if I had been dipped in ice-water, then placed under a crushing weight of frozen blankets, seemed to have taken all warm life out of me. So I gave up and went to bed. At night I took one of Dr. B-----'s blue pills (the larger dose had ceased to be beneficial) and about twelve I fell asleep, thank God! and went on sleeping and waking till half-past seven. It was healing sleep, besides being a good deal of it. My first reflection this morning was: 'And there are beggars - nay, there are blackguards, or both in one - who get every night of their lives far better sleep than even this, which is such an unspeakable mercy to me. Ach! it is no discovery that much in this world quite surpasses one's human comprehension.
I have been thrown out of my reckoning. I had calculated that on the principle of a bad night, and a less bad, the less bad would fall to-night; and that I should have some sleep in me to start with. But two waking nights coming together changes the order; and to-night, in the course of nature (second nature), no rest is to be expected.
Tell Mary I now take coffee to breakfast (John takes tea); and to have a little cream in the house that one may fall soft.
And now good-bye till we meet. Oh, that I had been a day and night (and the night a good one) in the house! No mortal can imagine the thoughts of my heart in returning there, where I was buried from! and my life still unrenewed! only the hope, often overcast, that it is in the way of being renewed.
Your ever affectionate
My little maid asked me this morning, when about to draw on my stockings: 'What d'ye think? wouldn't it be a good thing to hae the taes (toes) clippet again, afore ye gang away?' I shall so miss that kind, thoughtful girl!
Saturday, October 1, 1864, a mild, clear (not sunny) day. John brought her home to me again to this door - by far the gladdest sight I shall ever see there, if gladness were
[Page 215] the name of any sight now in store for me. A faint, kind, timid smile was on her face, as if afraid to believe fully; but the despair had vanished from her looks altogether, and she was brought back to me, my own again as before.
During all this black interval I had been continuing my 'comatose flight' without intermission, and was not yet by four months got to land. To extraneous events my attention was momentary, if not extinct altogether; for months and years I had not written the smallest letter or note except on absolute compulsion. But here was an event extraneous to 'Frederick,' which could not be extraneous to 'Frederick's' biographer, never so worn out and crushed into stupefaction. This again awoke me into life and hope, into vivid and grateful recognition, and was again a light, or the sure promise of a light from above on my nigh desperate course. (Oh, what miserable inapplicable phrasing is this! or why speak of myself at all?)
My poor martyred darling continued to prosper here beyond my hopes - far beyond her own; and in spite of utter weakness (which I never rightly saw) and of many fits of trouble, her life to the very end continued beautiful and hopeful to both of us - to me more beautiful than I had ever seen it in her best days. Strange and precious to look back upon, those last eighteen months, as of a second youth (almost a second childhood with the wisdom and graces of old age), which by Heaven's great mercy were conceded her and me. In essentials never had she been so beautiful to me; never in my time been so happy. But I am unfit to speak of these things, to-day most unfit (August 12, 1869), and will leave the little series of letters (which were revised several days ago) to tell their own beautiful and tragical story.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Monday, Oct. 8, 1864.
Oh, my darling! my darling! God for ever bless you - you and dear Dr. Russell, for your goodness to me, your patience with me, and all the good you have done me! I am better aware now how much I have gained than I was before this journey; how much stronger I am, both body and mind, than I was on my journey to Scotland. I felt no fatigue on the journey down, but I made up for it in nervous excitement! On the journey up, all my nervousness was over when I had parted with you two. Even when arrived at my own door (which I had always looked forward to as a most terrible moment, remembering the hearse-like fashion in which I was carried away from it) I could possess my soul in quiet, and meet the excited people who rushed out to me, as gladly as if I had been returned from any ordinary pleasure excursion!
Very excited people they were. Dr. C. had stupidly told his brother he might look for us about ten, and, as we did not arrive till half after eleven, Mr. C. had settled it in his own mind that I had been taken ill somewhere on the road, and was momentarily expecting a telegram to say I was dead. So he rushed out in his dressing-gown, and kissed me, and wept over me as I was in the act of getting
[Page 217] down out of the cab (much to the edification of the neighbours at their windows, I have no doubt); and then the maids appeared behind him, looking timidly, with flushed faces and tears in their eyes; and the little one (the cook) threw her arms round my neck and fell to kissing me in the open street; and the big one (the housemaid) I had to kiss, that she might not be made jealous the first thing!
They were all astonished at the improvement in my appearance. Mr. C. has said again and again that he would not have believed anyone who had sworn it to him that I should return so changed for the better. Breakfast was presented to me, but though I had still Holm Hill things to eat, I had not my Holm Hill appetite to eat them with. All Saturday there was nothing I cared to swallow but champagne (Lady Ashburton had sent me two dozen, first-rate, in the winter); so I took the B----- blue pill that first night, as Dr. Russell had advised. And, oh, such a heavenly sleep I had! awoke only twice the whole night! It is worth while passing a whole night on the railway to get such blessed sleep the night after. Last night, again, I slept; not so well as the first night, of course, but wonderfully well for me; and this morning my breakfast was not contemptible. But it is a great hardship to have lost my warm milk in the morning. I thought by paying an exorbitant price it might have been obtained; but
[Page 218] no; the stuff offered me yesterday at eight o'clock it was impossible to swallow. And my poor 'interiors,' perfectly bewildered by all the sudden changes put on them, don't seem to have any clear ideas left; so I am driven back into the valley of the shadow of pills
I had a two-hours' drive yesterday in Battersea Park and Clapham Common. When one hasn't the beauties of nature, one must content one's self with the beauties of art. To-day my drive must be townward; so many things wanted at the shops! There is hardly a kitchen utensil left unbroken; all broken by 'I can't imagine who did it!' Still, it might have been worse; there seems to have been no serious mischief done.
Wasn't it curious to have your eternal 'Simpson' given me for fellow-traveller?
Oh, my darling, if I might continue just as well as I am now! But that is not to be hoped. Anyhow, I shall always feel as if I owed my life chiefly to your husband and you, who procured me such rest as I could have had nowhere else in the world.
JANE W. C.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday, Oct. 6, 1864.
Dearest, - At Holm Hill, at this hour, I should have just drunk my glass of wine, and been sitting down at the dining-room table to write the daily letter to Mr. C. The likest thing I can do here is to sit down at the drawing-room table and write to you. I feel the same sort of responsibility for myself to you, as to him, and to you only, of all people alive! and feel, too, the same certainty of being read with anxious interest. Oh, my dear Mary, it is an unspeakable blessing to have such a friend as you are to me! Often, when I have felt unusually free from my misery of late, it has seemed to me that I could not be grateful enough to God for the mercy; unless He inspired me with a spiritual gratitude, far above the mere tepid human gratitude I offered Him! And just so with you: I feel as if I needed God's help to make me humanly capable of the sort of sacred thankfulness I ought to feel for such a friend as yourself! I wanted to say to you and your dear husband something like this when I came away, but words choked themselves in my throat at parting.
I have been wonderfully well since I came home; have slept pretty well - not as on the first night
[Page 220] (that was sleep for only the angels, and for the mortal who had travelled from three to four hundred miles through the night!), but quite tolerably for me, every night till the last. The last was very bad. But I had the comfort of being able to blame something for it, and that was my own imprudence.
I wearied myself putting pictures to rights, which were hung up all crooked (Dr. Russell will sympathise with me), and then worried myself with the shortcomings of my large beautiful housemaid, who justifies (and more) all Mr. C.'s tirades against her! This creature, with her goosishness, and her selfconceit, is unendurable after little Mary.
Only think! I get my new milk again, at eight, as usual!! Our Rector's wife keeps a cow for her children, and I have a key to her grounds; and, going through that way, it is not three minutes' walk for my cook to take a warm tumbler and fetch it back full of real milk, milked into it there and then. I get plenty of cream, quite good, paying for it exorbitantly; but no matter, so that I get it. My eight stones eleven-and-a-half would soon have had a hole made into it without the milk and cream.
I go out in a nice brougham, with a safe swift horse, whom I know, every day from one till three. And, when I come in, I have added your little tumbler full of excellent champagne to the already
[Page 221] liberal allowance of drink!!! It is to make up for the difference in the purity of the air!!
The letters Dr. Russell forwarded were from Dr. B----- and Maria (the maid). I send them back, the doctor's for Dr. Russell, and Maria's for you, to amuse you with the girl's presumption! My 'eternal good.' Help us! if Maria is to preach to me! Here is a letter from Grace Welsh, too. Everybody 'praying for me.' Burn them all - I mean the letters - when you have done with them.
God bless my darling.
JANE W CARLYLE.
'Curiosities and niceties of a civilised house.' - Old phrase of my father's.
'Elise's.' - Madame Elise, she often told me, was an artist and woman of genius in her profession; and of late years there had sprung up a mutual recognition, which was often pleasant to my dear one. - T. C.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Monday, Oct. 10, 1864.
Dearest, - Nature prompts me to begin the week with writing to you, though I have such a pressure of work ahead as I can't see daylight through, with no help in putting to rights; for my large, beautiful housemaid is like a cow in a flower-garden amongst
[Page 222] the 'curiosities and niceties' of a civilised house! Oh, thank God, for the precious layer of impassivity which that stone weight of flesh has put over my nerves! I am not like the same woman who trembled from head to foot, and panted like a duck in a thunderstorm, at St. Leonards whenever a human face showed itself from without, or anything worried from within. Indeed, my nerves are stronger than they have been for years. Just for instance, yesterday, what I went through without having the irritation increased, or my sleep worsened! As soon as I was in the drawing-room George Cooke came - the same who wrote to tell you of my accident. Now this George Cooke is a man between thirty and forty; tall, strong, silent, sincere; has been a sailor, a soldier, a New Zealand settler, a 'man about town,' and a stockbroker! The last man on earth one would have expected to make one 'a scene.' But, lo! what happened? I stood up to welcome him, and he took me in his arms, and kissed me two or three times, and then he sank into a chair and - burst into tears! and sobbed and cried for a minute or two like any schoolboy. Mercifully I was not infected by his agitation; but it was I who spoke calmly, and brought him out of it! He accompanied me in my drive after, and when I had come home, and was going to have my dinner, a carriage drove up. Being nothing like so polite and self-sacrificing as you, I told Helen to say I was tired,
[Page 223] and dining, and would see no one. She returned with a card. 'Please, ma'm, the gentleman says he thinks you will see him.' The name on the card was Lord Houghton, a very old friend whom you may have heard me speak of as Richard Milnes. 'Oh, yes! he might come up.' Nobody could have predicted sentiment out of Lord Houghton! but, good gracious! it was the same thing over again. He clasped me in his arms, and kissed me, and dropped on a chair - not crying, but quite pale, and gasping, without being able to say a word.
When the emotional stage was over, and we were talking of my stay at Holm Hill, I mentioned the horrid thing that befell just when I was leaving - the death of Mrs.----- 'Where?' said Lord Houghton. 'At ----- Hall.' He sprang to his feet as if shot, and repeated, 'Dead? dead? dead?' till I was quite frightened. 'Oh, did you know her?' I asked. I am sorry to have shocked you.' 'Know her? I have known her intimately since she was a little girl! I was to have gone to visit her this month.'
He told me she had had a romantic history. She was granddaughter to a brother of the ----- who was Secretary of State at Naples. The family got reduced, but struggled bravely to keep up their rank in Naples; chiefly helped by this girl, who was 'most brave and generous.' They afterwards came to England, and here, too, it was a struggle. 'The
[Page 224] girl' went on a visit, and at her friend's house Mr. ----- saw her, fell in love with her, and proposed to her. 'The girl' shuddered at him. He was a coarse, uncultivated man, perfectly unlike her, and she would not hear of such a marriage; but the father and mother gathered round her, and implored, and reasoned, and impressed on her that with so rich a husband she would be able to lift them out of all their difficulties, and make their old age comfortable and happy, till at length she gave in. Having once married the man, Lord H. said, she made him a good wife and he was a good husband.
After these two enthusiastic meetings, I was sure I should get no sleep. But I slept much as usual during the last week; not at all as I slept the first night, but better than my fraction of sleep during the last weeks with you.
My bedroom is extremely quiet; my comfort well attended to by - myself. I miss little Mary for more things than 'the clipping o' the taes,' bless her! I was at Elise's, to get the velvet bonnet she made me last year, stripped of its finery. White lace and red roses don't become a woman who has been looking both death and insanity in the face for a year. I told her (Elise) that I had seen two of her bonnets on a Mrs. H----- in Scotland. 'Oh, yes, she has every article she wears from here!' 'You made her court dress, didn't you, that was noticed in the "Morning
[Page 225] Post"?' 'Yes, yes, I dressed the whole three. Mrs. H-----'s dress cost three hundred pounds! but she doesn't mind cost.'
Dear love to the Doctor.
John Forster, Esq., Palace-Gate House, Kensington.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: October 1864.
Dearest Mr. Forster, - Now that Mr. C. has me here before his eyes, in an upright posture, he considers it not only my business, but my wifely duty to answer all inquiries about me, myself. I have then the melancholy pleasure of informing you and dear 'Small Individual' that I am returned to this foggy scene of things with no intentions of further travels for the present. I not only 'stood' the long night journey (they always bid me travel by night) very well, but, as on the journey down, it procured me one night of heavenly sleep; and, as nervous illness is more benefited by change than anything else, I felt, for the first week after my return, even better than in the first weeks of my stay in Scotland. The almost miraculous improvement is now wearing off. I have again miserable nights, and plenty of pain intermittently. Still I am a stone heavier (!); and,
[Page 226] in every way, an improved woman from what I was when you did not see me at Marina. But you will soon be here to take a look at me, and judge for yourself. I hope you won't be so shocked as my carpenter, who told me yesterday: 'I am very sorry indeed, ma'am, to see you fallen so suddenly into infirmity! There is a sad change since I saw you last!' And me a stone heavier!
Best love to her.
Yours ever affectionately,
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row: Tuesday, Oct. 18, 1864.
Oh, little woman! you will come to our aid, if possible; but if impossible, what on earth are we to do for eggs? At this present Mr. C. is breakfasting on shop-eggs, and doesn't know it; and I am every morning expecting to hear in my bed an explosion over some one too far gone for his making himself an illusion about it. All the people who kept fowls round about have, the maids say, during my absence ceased to keep them, and the two eggs from Addiscombe three times a week are not enough for us both; I, 'as one solitary individual,' needing three
[Page 227] in the day - one for breakfast, one in hot milk for luncheon, and one in my small pudding at dinner. When I left Holm Hill, Mrs. Russell was in despair over her hens; thirty of them yielded but three eggs a day. Yours, too, may have struck work; and in that case never mind. Only if you could send us some, it would be a mercy.
Only think of my getting here every morning a tumbler of milk warm from the cow, and all frothed up, just as at the Gill and at Holm Hill, to my infinite benefit. The stable-fed cow does not give such delicious milk as those living on grass in the open air; but still it is milk without a drop of water or anything in it, and milked out five minutes before I drink it. Mr. C. says it is a daily recurring miracle. The miracle is worked by our Rector's wife, who keeps two cows for her children, and she has kindly included me as 'the biggest and best child;' and with a key into their garden my cook can run to their stable with a tumbler and be back at my bedside in ten minutes. Indeed, it is impossible to tell who is kindest to me; my fear is always that I shall be stifled with roses. They make so much of me, and I am so weak. The Countess of Airlie was kneeling beside my sofa yesterday embracing my feet, and kissing my hands! A German girl said the other day, 'I
[Page 228] think, Mrs. Carlyle, a many many peoples love you very dear!' It is true, and what I have done to deserve all that love I haven't the remotest conception. All this time I have been keeping better - getting some sleep, not much nor good; but some, better or worse, every night, and the irritation has been much subsided. Yesterday afternoon and this afternoon it is troubling me more than usual. Perhaps the damp in the air has brought it on, or perhaps I have been overdone with people and things; I must be more careful. I have always a terrible consciousness at the bottom of my mind that at any moment, if God will, I may be thrown back into the old agonies. I can never feel confident of life and of ease in life again, and it is best so.
I cannot tell you how gentle and good Mr. Carlyle is! He is busy as ever, but he studies my comfort and peace as he never did before. I have engaged a new housemaid, and given warning to the big beautiful blockhead who has filled that function here for the last nine months; this has been a worry too.
God bless you all.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Ever so few eggs will be worth carriage.
For years before this there had been talk from me of a brougham for her; to which she listened with a pleased look, but always in perfect silence. Latterly I had been more stringent and immediate upon it; and had not I been so smothered under 'Frederick,' the poor little enterprise (finance now clearly permitting) would surely have been achieved. Alas, why was not it? That terrible street accident, for instance, might have been avoided. But she continued silent when I spoke or proposed, with a noble delicacy all her own; forbore to take the least step; would not even by a shake of the head, or the least twinkle of satire in her eyes, provoke me to take a step. Those 'hired flys,' so many per week, which were my lazy succedaneum, had to be almost forced upon her, and needed argument. It was in vain that I said (what was the exact truth), 'No wife in England deserves better to have a brougham from her husband, or is worthier to drive in it. Why won't you go and buy one at once?' After her return to me the propriety and necessity was still more evident; but her answer still was (and I perceived would always be) that fine, childlike silence, grateful, pleased look, and no word spoken.
Whereupon at length - what I ever since reckon among the chosen mercies of Heaven to me - I did at last myself stir in the matter, and in a week or little more (she also, on sight of this, skilfully co-operating, advising me, as she well could) the long talked of was got done. God be for ever thanked that I did not loiter longer! She had infinite satisfaction in this poor gift; was boundlessly proud of it, as her husband's testimony to her; believed it to be the very saving of her, and the source of all the health she had, &c. &c.
[Page 230] The noble little soul! So pitiful a bit of tribute from me, and to her it was richer than kingdoms.
Oh, when she was taken from me, and I used in my gloomy walks to pass that door where the carriage-maker first brought it out for her approval, the feeling in me was (and at times still is) deeper than tears; and my heart wept tragically loving tears, though my gloomy eyes were dry! And her mare, named 'Bellona!' There is a bitter-sweet in all that, and a pious wealth of woe and love that will abide with me till I die. No more of it here (August 14, 1869). - T. C.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Monday, Oct. 31, 1864.
Dearest, - I am not tied to two hours now for my drive, which was long enough to stay out in a 'fly,' costing, as it did, six shillings! I have now set up a nice little Brougham, or Clarence (as you call it), all to myself, with a smart grey horse and an elderly driver (in Mr. C.'s old brown surtout)! I was at half-a-dozen coachmakers' yards seeking that carriage, examining with my own eyes, on my own legs! Of course, I took advice as to the outside quality. Mr. Farie and the livery-stable man, who has kept Mr. C.'s horse these dozen years, both approved my choice, and considered it a great bargain. Sixty pounds, and perfectly new, and handsome in a plain way.
It needs no unbleached linen to protect it, being dark blue morocco and cloth inside, which won't dirty in a hurry; and it is all glass in front like Mrs. Ewart's, so you will see finely about you when I drive you to see the lions here. That prospect is one of my pleasures in the new equipage. I have nothing to show you like the drive to Sanquhar; but the parks here are very beautiful, and I never drive through them now without fancying you at my side and seeing them with your fresh eyes. Mr. C. expects to actually finish his book about New Year, and then - please God that I keep well enough for it - we go to Lady Ashburton's, at a new place she has got in Devonshire, where it will be warmer than here, and evidently I can't have too much change! When we come back, and the weather is fit for the journey, the Doctor and you must come.
It has been moist, even rainy, of late; and damp seems to suit me worst of anything. My appetite defies quinine to bring it back, and the irritation has been more distressing. Still, I am no worse, on the whole, than when I left you; and I force myself to take always the new milk and the custard at twelve. There is a weighing-machine at our greengrocer's, at the bottom of the street, but I dare not get myself weighed.
I don't like that photograph of Mary at all. The crinoline quite changes her character and makes
[Page 232] her a stranger for me. I want the one that is, as I have always seen her, a sensible girl with no crinoline. I would like her, if she would get herself done for me, as she is on washing mornings - in the little pink bed-gown and blue petticoat. I send a shilling in stamps for the purpose, but don't force her inclinations in the matter.
My friend Mr. Forster was at Müller's trial the last day - saw him receive his sentence, and said he behaved very well. When the sentence was pronounced he bowed to the judge, and walked away with the turnkey. But at the little door leading down from the court he stopped, and said to the turnkey that he wished to say a few words to the judge; and the turnkey led him back; and he said something which could not be heard, on account of his keeping his hand at his mouth to steady it. Forster said the only sign of emotion he had given, all through the business, was a quivering of his lips. When told to speak out he removed his hand, and said courteously to the judge: 'I have had a most fair trial! but I cannot help saying some of the worst things said by the witnesses against me are gross falsehoods.' Then he seemed to break down, and hurried out. I am certain, had it not been that every juryman felt his personal safety on the railway compromised by the acquittal of this man, he would not have been condemned to death on the evidence. It
[Page 233] is clear to everybody he had no premeditation of murder, and that Mr. Briggs threw himself out of the carriage, and probably caused his own death thereby. The poor wretch, returning from his visit to his 'unfortunate,' having taken a second-class ticket, had seen Mr. Briggs with his glittering watch-chain get into the first-class carriage, and jumped in after him, thinking the chain would take him to America. It was to take him to a far other land! Curious that he got off, that night, without the discovery of his ticket being second-class. The train had been very late, and, contrary to all use and wont, the tickets were not asked for in the carriages.
I send you a nice letter from Thomas Erskine, the author of many religious books - which I never read, except the first ('Evidences of Christianity'). He is a fine old Scotch gentleman, such as are hardly to be found extant now. Also one from Lady A.
Love to the Doctor. Has the 'young man' from Laich been to call for you?
Tell me about the poor woman in Thornhill who was to have the operation. Mrs. Beck, was that the name?
Kind regards to Mrs. Ewart, and compliments to - Mrs. Macgowan.
Dr. Carlyle left for Lancashire this morning. He will be back in Dumfries shortly, and said he would go up to tell you about me.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Saturday, Nov. 12, 1864.
Dearest Mary, - At the beginning of this cold, during the time I was constantly retching, and could swallow nothing, I got a moral shock which would, I think, have killed me at St. Leonards; and all it did to me, I think, was to astonish and disgust me. I told you I was parting with my big beautiful housemaid because she was an incorrigible goose, and destructive and wasteful beyond all human endurance. As a specimen of the waste, figure three pounds of fresh butter at twenty pence a pound regularly consumed in the kitchen, and half a pound of tea at four shillings made away with in four days! Then, as a specimen of the destruction - figure all, every one of my beautiful, fine, and some of them quite new, table napkins actually 'worn out' of existence! Not a rag of them to be found; and good sheets all in rags; besides a boiler burst, a pump-well gone irrecoverably dry, a clock made to strike fourteen every hour, and all the china or crockery in the house either disappeared or cracked! To be sure, the housemaid was not alone
[Page 235] to bear the blame of all the mischief, and the cook was to be held responsible for the waste of victuals at least. But Mary - the one who attended me at St. Leonards - though the slowest and stupidest of servants, had so impressed me with the idea of her trustworthiness, and her devotion to me, that I could accuse her of nothing but stupidity and culpable weakness in allowing the other girl, seven years her junior, to rule even in the larder! Accordingly I engaged an elderly woman to be cook and housekeeper, and Mary was to be housemaid, and wait on me as usual. Helen (the housemaid) meanwhile took no steps about seeking a place, and when I urged her to do so, declared she couldn't conceive why I wanted to part with her. When I told her she was too destructive for my means, she answered excitedly: 'Well! when I am out of the house, and can't bear the blame of everything any longer, you will then find out who it is that makes away with the tea, and the butter, and all the things!' As there was nobody else to bear the blame but Mary, and as I trusted her implicitly, I thought no better of the girl for this attempt to clear herself at the expense of nobody knew who; especially as she would not explain when questioned. When I told slow, innocent Mary, she looked quite amazed, and said: 'I don't think Helen knows what she is saying sometimes; she is very strange!'
Well, Mary asked leave to go and see her family in Cambridgeshire before the new servant came home, and got it, though very inconvenient to me. When she took leave of me the night before starting, she said in her half-articulate way: 'I shall be always wondering how you are till I get back.' She was to be away nearly a week. Mrs. Southam, who sat up at night with me last winter, my Charlotte's mother, came part of the day to help Helen. She is a silent woman, never meddling; so I was surprised when she said to me, while lighting my bedroom fire, the day my cold was so bad: 'Helen tells me, ma'am, you are parting with her?' 'Full time,' said I; 'she is a perfect goose.' 'You know best, ma'am,' said the woman; 'but I always like ill to see the innocent suffering for the guilty!' 'What do you mean?' I asked; 'who is the innocent and who is the guilty?' 'Well, ma'am,' said the woman, 'it is known to all the neighbours round here; you will be told some day, and if I don't tell you now, you will blame me for having let you be so deceived. Mary is the worst of girls! ... and all the things you have been missing have been spent on her man and her friends. There has been constant company kept in your kitchen since there was no fear of your seeing it; and whenever Helen threatened to tell you, she frightened her into
[Page 237] silence by threats of poisoning her and cutting her own throat!'
Now, my dear, if you had seen the creature Mary you would just as soon have suspected the Virgin Mary of such things! But I have investigated, and found it all true. For two years I have been cheated and made a fool of and laughed at for my softness, by this, half-idiotic-looking woman; and while she was crying up in my bedroom - moaning out, 'What would become of her if I died?' and witnessing in me as sad a spectacle of human agony as could have been anywhere seen; she was giving suppers to men and women downstairs; laughing and swearing - oh, it is too disgusting!
God bless you, dearest.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Monday, Dec. 20, 1864.
Dearest Friend, - If it is as cold, and snows as hard, there as here, you will be fancying me broken down if I don't write and tell you I am taking all that very easily; driving out every day from two to three hours, as usual. The cold is not so trying for me as the damp, I find. My horse has not stood it
[Page 238] nearly so well! I had him roughened the first day of the frost and snow, but nevertheless he managed to get a strain in one of his hind legs, and is now in great trouble, poor beast, with a farrier attending him, and his leg 'swollen awful!' He is a beautiful grey horse, given me, whether I would or no, by Lady Ashburton; but young, and, I am afraid, too sensitive for this world! 'Whenever he is the least put out of his way, he goes off his food,' the groom says. Nobody can say when he will be fit for work again - if ever. Meanwhile I get a horse from the livery stables.
The most spirited thing I have done since you last heard of me was driving to Acton with - Madame Elise! to see her beautiful place there, and take a dinner-tea with her, and back with her, arriving at home as late as six o'clock! It was a pleasant little excursion. Elise, as a woman, with a house and children, is charming. It is a magnificent house, with a dining-room about three times the size of the Wallace Hall dining-room, and a drawing-room to match; both rooms fitted up with the same artist-genius she displays in her dresses! It is an old manor house, with endless passages; and at every turn of the passage there is a bust - Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, Pope, Milton, Locke.
The drawing-room opens into a conservatory that
[Page 239] would take Mrs. Pringle's into a small corner of it. There is an immense garden round the house, with greenhouses, and a great green field beyond the garden, with sheep in it - clean sheep! A middle-aged, ladylike governess took charge of the three children: perfect little beauties! and the nurse and other maids had the air of a 'great family' about them. They all treated 'Madame' as if she had been a princess! A triumph of genius!
The only drawback to my satisfaction was a dread of catching cold. The immense rooms had immense fires in them. But their size, and the knowledge that they were only lived in from Saturday till Monday in a general way, gave me a sense of chill; and then being abroad so late at this season was very imprudent. I went to bed with a pain in my shoulder and much self-upbraiding; but got some sleep, and no harm was done.
Do you know that bottle of whisky you gave me has been of the greatest use! Things affect one so differently at different times? Whisky seemed to fever me at Holm Hill. Here it calms me, and helps me to sleep. I take a tablespoonful raw when I get desperate about sleeping, and invariably, hitherto, with good effect. I take no quinine, nor other medicine, at present, except the aperient pills. Half a one I have to take every night. The potash-water
[Page 240] I like very much with my wine and my milk, and take from one to two bottles of it every day.
I have not been weighed again; but I don't think I can have lost any more, as I eat better since the new cook took me in hand. She continues to be a most comfortable servant: such courtesy! such equability of temper! such obligingness! and all that so cheap! for the weekly bills are less than when I had ignorant servants. The housemaid is also a good servant, but not so agreeable a one. The droop at the corners of her mouth, indicating a plaintive, even peevish, nature, does not belie her I think. When Mr. C. finds fault, instead of going to do what he wants, she cries and sulks. When are you going to give me little Mary? My compliments to her and to Lady Macbeth.
My grateful and warm love to your husband. To yourself a hundred kisses. I will write soon again.
Your true friend,
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Dec. 27, 1864.
Oh, darling, I have been wanting to write to you every day for a week, but the interruptions have
[Page 241] been endless, and the unavoidable letters many. On Christmas Day I thought I should have a quiet day for writing, Mr. C. being to dine at Forster's. But a young German lady of whom I am very fond 'could not let me be left alone,' and came at eleven in the morning and stayed till nine at night; and then our Rector - bless him! - came when he left church and sat with me till eleven.
I wonder how you would have taken a thing that befell me last Wednesday? I was waiting before a shop in Regent Street for some items of stationery and a young woman, black-eyed, rosy-cheeked, with a child in her arms, thrust herself up to the carriage window and broke forth in a paroxysm of begging: refusing to stand aside even when the shopman was showing me envelopes. Provoked at her noise and pertinacity, I said: 'No, I will give you not a single penny as an encouragement to annoy others as you are annoying me.' If there be still such a thing as the evil eye, that beggar-woman fixed the evil eye on me, and said slowly, and hissing out the words: 'This is Wednesday, lady; perhaps you will be dead by Christmas Day, and have to leave all behind you! Better to have given me a little of it now!' and she scuttled away, leaving me with the novel sensation of being under a curse.
Would you have minded that after the moment? I can't say I took it to heart. At the same time, I
[Page 242] was rather glad when, Christmas Day being over, I found myself alive and just as well as before.
Dr. B----- writes that his wife had been dreaming about me again. Bessy is a most portentous dreamer. If I had been told this between the Wednesday and Christmas Day, it would really have frightened me, I think.
My dear, I have got five drops of my heart's blood congealed and fastened together to encircle your wrist, as a memorial of my last visit and as a New Year's blessing. I am hesitating whether to send it by post or by railway. I never lost, or knew personally of anything being lost by post except the Whigham butterfly, so I had best risk it; there is such confusion of parcels by rail at this time of year. Only I will not register it, as I always think that just points out to the covetous postman what is worth stealing.
Please to send a single line or an old newspaper by return of post, that I may be sure the thing has not misgone.
Ever your affectionate
Sunday night, January 5, 1865, went out to post-office with my last leaf of 'Frederick' MS. Evening still vivid to me. I was not joyful of mood; sad rather, mournfully thankful, but indeed half killed, and utterly wearing out and sinking
[Page 243] into stupefied collapse after my 'comatose' efforts to continue the long flight of thirteen years to finis. On her face, too, when I went out, there was a silent, faint, and pathetic smile, which I well felt at the moment, and better now! Often enough had it cut me to the heart to think what she was suffering by this book, in which she had no share, no interest, nor any word at all; and with what noble and perfect constancy of silence she bore it all. My own heroic little woman! For long months after this I sank and sank into ever new depths of stupefaction and dull misery of body and mind; nay, once or twice into momentary spurts of impatience even with her, which now often burn me with vain remorse: Madame Elise, e.g. - I sulkily refused to alight at the shop there, though I saw and knew she gently wished it (and right well deserved it); Brompton Museum (which she took me to, always so glad to get me with her, and so seldom could). Oh, cruel, cruel! I have remembered Johnson and Uttoxeter, on thought of that Elise cruelty more than once; and if any clear energy ever returned to me, might some day imitate it. - T. C.
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Feb. 1865.
My dear, - The box is come, and this time the eggs have been a great success, not a single one broken! Neither were the cakes broken to any inconvenient degree. Already they are half eaten, by myself. Mr. C. wouldn't take a morsel because 'there was butter in them - a fatal mistake on the part of poor Mary!' I told him I believed it was not butter but cream, and no 'mistake' at all; as the cakes you made for me in that way at the Gill
[Page 244] agreed with me quite well. It was so kind of you to take immediate note of my longing! My dear little woman, you not only do kind things, but you do them in such a kind way! Many a kind action misses the grateful feelings it should win by the want of graciousness in the doing.
I continue improving; but a week of terrible pain has given me a good shake, and I don't feel in such good heart about the Devonshire visit as I did. Still it stands settled at present that we go on the 20th, God willing. For how long will depend on how Mr. C. gets on with his sleep, &c.
I shall take my housemaid with me as lady's-maid; for I shudder at the notion of being at the mercy of other people's servants when I am so weak and easily knocked down. She is a very respectable woman, the new housemaid, and both she and Mrs. Warren (the cook) were as kind to me as kind could be when I was laid up. I never was so well cared for before, and with so little fuss, since I left my mother's house. It is a real blessing to have got good, efficient, comfortable servants at last, and I may say I have earned it by the amount of bad servants I have endured.
I have a great deal to do to-day, and little strength; so good-bye. I will write soon again.
1 Crawford, where her mother's grave is.
1 Some foolish letter to me.
1 Flowers of the Forest.
1 Went October 1.
2 Miss Davenport Bromley; her great-grandfather at 'Wooton,' in Staffordshire, was the 'Mr. Davenport' who gave shelter to Rousseau.
1 See note, p. 123.
1 Old beggar's rhyme on entering:
'I'm a poor helpless craiture,
If I were &c better (baiture!)'
1 Oh heavens, the comparison! it was too true.
1 Robert Welsh's second son: he too is dead; died shortly before her own departure out of vale of sorrow.
1 One of Robert Welsh's daughters who also died.
2 Welsh (of Richmond).
1 It still stands there, green and leafy and with berries; how strange and memorable to me now!
1 Cumberland man's account of the Scotch.
1 Poor Elizabeth had slipped and fallen on the street; dislocated her thigh-bone; got it wrong set; then, after long months of misery, undergone a setting of it 'right' - but is lame to this day.
1 The poor niece's.
1 Probably still in Dr. B-----'s house there. The next letter is expressly dated from the new hired house. Maggie still there, but just about to leave.
1 Servant now (privately) in a bad way, as turned out!
1 Poor John! well-intending, but with hand unconsciously rough, even cruel, as in this last instance, which she never could forget again.
1 Oh, Heaven!
1 In Cabanis, case of a Dutch gentleman who lived twenty years without sleep! which I often remembered for my own sake and hers. Jeffrey is Lord Jeffrey; sad trait of insomnia reported by himself.
1 Poor, forlorn darling! All this was managed to her mind - all this yet stands mournfully here, and shall stand.
1 'Oh, my poor martyr darling!
1 Is again in vigorous health.
1 Reichenbach's daughter, probably.