Mrs. Braid, Green End, Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Feb. 14, 1865.
My own dear Betty! Oh, I am sorry for you! sorrier than I can say in words! I know what a crushing sorrow this will be for you. I, who know your affectionate, unselfish heart, know that the consolations, which some would see for you in poor suffering George's death, will be rather aggravations of the misery! That you should have found at last rest from the incessant, anxious, wearing cares, that have been your lot for years and years - oh, so many years - will be no relief, no consolation to you! This rest will be to you, at first and for long, more irksome, more terrible than the strain on body and mind that went before. He that is taken from you was not merely your own only son, but he was too the occupation of your life, and that is the hardest of all losses to bear up under! Oh, Betty darling, I wish I were near you! If I had my arm about your neck, and your hand in mine, I think I might say things that would comfort you a little, and make you feel that, so long as I am in life, you are not without a child to love you. Indeed, indeed, it is the sort of love one has for one's own mother that I have for you, my dearest Betty! But here I am, four hundred miles away; and with so
[Page 246] little power of locomotion compared with what I once had! And the words fall so cold and flat on paper!
I have been dangerously ill; about three weeks ago I got a chill, at least so the doctor said, and the result was inflammation of the bowels. I was in terrible agony for some days, and confined to bed for a week. I am still very feeble even for me; but there is no return of the miserable nervous illness, which kept me so ruined for more than a year. I cannot write much.
Give my thanks to Mrs. Duncan, who seems a most kind, nice woman. I will write to her when I am a little more able. My kind regards to your husband.
Your own bairn,
JEANNIE WELSH CARLYLE.
Seaforth (near Seaton, Devonshire) is the Dowager Lady Ashburton's pretty cottage, who waited for us at the station that Wednesday evening, and was kindness itself. It was Wednesday, March 8, 1865, when we made the journey. The day was dry and temperate; we had a carriage to ourselves, and she (though far weaker than I had the least idea of - stupid I!) made no complaint, nor, indeed, took any harm; though at the end (Lady Ashburton having brought an open carriage)
[Page 247] unfit for the coldish evening of a day so bright, we had to wrap our invalid in quite a heap of rugs and shawls, covering her very face and head; in which she patiently acquiesced, nor did she suffer by it afterwards.
I think we stayed above a month; and in spite of the noise, the exposure, &c., she did really well, slept wonderfully, and was charming in her cheerful weakness. She drove out almost or altogether daily. Sir Walter and Lady Trevelyan were close neighbours, often fellow-guests. Sir Walter and I rode almost daily, on ponies; talk innocent, quasi-scientific even, but dull, dull! My days were heavy laden, but had in them something of hope. My darling's well-being helped much. Ah, me! ah, me! We drove to Exeter one day (Lady A., a Miss Dempster, and we two); how pretty and cheery her ways that day! Lady A. came up to London with us. From a newspaper we learned the death of Cobden (which may serve to date if needed). - T. C.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
Seaforth Lodge, Seaton, Devonshire: March 10, 1865.
Dearest, - I was to have written before I went on my travels, but adverse circumstances were too powerful. First, the nausea, which I think I complained of in my last letter, kept increasing, so that I had no heart to do anything that could be let alone till the last possible moment; and my last days were crammed full of shopping, and packing, and leavetaking, and settling with workmen about repairs, and white-washing to be done in my absence; so that any moment left me to bless myself in was devoted
[Page 248] to lying quite done on the sofa, rather than letter-writing.
When we started on Wednesday morning, with, on my part, no sleep 'to speak of,' and five hours of railway before us, besides a carriage drive after, my mood was of the blackest. But George Cooke was at the station to look after our luggage; and, halfway, the sun broke out, and it was new country for me part of the way, and very beautiful. And the sheep, bless them, were not only white as milk, but had dear wee lambs skipping beside them! And the river, that falls into the sea near here, was not muddy and sluggish, like all the rivers (very few indeed) I had seen since I left dear Nith - but clear as crystal, and bright blue. And, at the end, such a lovely house, on a high cliff overlooking the bluest sea. And such a lovely and loveable hostess! So truly 'the latter end of that woman was better than the beginning.' I am glad to find the insane horror I conceived of the sea, all in one night at St. Leonards, has quite passed away. I love it again as I had always done till then; and rather regret that no sound of it reaches over the cliff.
But there is something I want to say to you, more interesting to me than the picturesque - something that my heart is set on - about your coming to see London, I know you would make no difficulty
[Page 249] for my sake, if for nothing else. It is that calmly obstinate husband of yours, who carries his love of home to such excess, that is the 'lion in the way' for my imagination. Yet, if he knew how much good I expect to get of having you in London with me, and what efforts I will make to repay him for his efforts, he, who is so kind, so obliging to the poorest old women of the country-side, will surely not resist my entreaties. You are to understand that, besides the pleasure of the thing to me, your coming at the time I ask would be doing me a real service; Mr. C. is going on his travels shortly after our return to London from this place - some two or three weeks hence, if all goes right here, and I am to be left alone at Chelsea. Accompanying him would not suit me at all; indeed, several of the houses he is going to could not receive us both at a time, as we need two bedrooms. And then I should prefer doing my outing (as the Londoners call it) in autumn. So I shall be alone, needing company; and of all company, I should like best the Doctor's and yours. Then, when he is away, I have plenty of house-room, which is not the case when he is at home, seeing that he occupies two floors of the house 'all to himself!' And I have my time all to myself to show you about London, and my carriage to take you wherever you liked. Oh, my dear, it would be so nice! I have heard
[Page 250] you say the Doctor could leave the bank for a fortnight whenever he liked. Well! if he could not stay longer than a fortnight, he might bring you up and see and do all that could be seen and done in one fortnight, and then leave you for a good while longer. You would have no difficulty in going back along the road you had come; or I might find someone going that direction to take charge of you; or, if you were very good, and stayed long enough, I would go and take charge of you myself, and stay, not three months next time (!) but a week or two. Oh, my darling, it would make me so glad! Surely, surely, you and the Doctor will not refuse me. Mr. Carlyle spoke of writing to you himself to press your staying with us till he returns.
[Not signed] J. W. C.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row: May 4, 1865.
Darling, - When I came in to-day, and saw a letter from you on the table, I felt myself make as near an approximation to a blush as my sallow complexion is capable of. It was a little 'coal of
[Page 251] fire' heaped on my head! For days back I had been thinking how neglectful I must seem to you, making no answer to that kindest of letters and of invitations, written, too, when you were ailing, and 'looking at the dark of things!' You had still managed to look at the bright of me, since you could believe that my presence would 'cheer you' instead of boring you. But it was not that I was really not caring to write, nor yet that I was giving way to physical languor (though that has been considerable). It was that for the last week or two I have been kept in a whirl of things which made it out of the question for me to sit down quietly, and make up my mind what to say.
Mr. C. has been sitting to Woolner for his bust; and it seems he 'is as difficult to catch a likeness of as a flash of lightning' is; so that it is a trying business for both sitter and sculptor. I have had to drive up to Woolner's every two or three days, and climb steep endless stairs to tell what faults I see. And in connection with this bust, there has been such a sitting to photographers as never was heard of! Woolner wants a variety of photographs to work from, and the photographer wants a variety to sell! and Mr. Carlyle yields to their mutual entreaties. And then, when they have had their will of him, they insist on doing me (for my name's sake). And Mr. C. insists too, thinking always the new one may be
[Page 252] more successful than former ones; so that, with one thing and another, I have been worried from morning till night, and postponed writing till I should have got leisure to think what was to be written. But I must not put off any longer, since you are getting uneasy about me.
I am not worse - indeed, as to the sickness and the sleeplessness I am rather better in both respects - but I am weak and languid, have little appetite, and am getting thinner. The best thing for me would be to get away; and away to you, rather than anywhere else! I know that well enough in both my heart and my head; but one cannot do just what one likes best, and even what is best for one. I could not go with Mr. C. for several reasons. First, having made up his mind to go off 'at his own sweet will,' and having understood that I was to stay behind, he would now find it a great incumbrance to take me with him. Second, I have invited Dr. B----- and Bessy to pay me a visit so soon as I have a bedroom for them; and they have promised to come for a few days. About the end of May is the doctor's leisurest time at St. Leonards. Third, Mr. C. wants the dining-room papered, and fitted up with bookcases from the study at the top of the house; which is too long a climb for him now that 'Frederick' is done. That he expects me to 'see to'
[Page 253] in his absence. And how long it will take me to 'see to it' will depend on the workmen.
For the rest, I am uncertain how long he will be away; if 'months' (as he speaks of), there might still be time for me, after I had finished my business here, to rush off to Holm Hill, and stay as many weeks with you as I stayed months last year. I should so like it! And Mr. C. wouldn't object, though he would find it very absurd to be taking such a long journey so soon again. I put out a feeler the other night; Miss Dempster was pressing him to visit her when he should be in Forfarshire (he is going to Linlathen amongst other places), and I said: 'I shall perhaps be nearer you than he will be! Lady Airlie was pressing me so hard to-day to come to Cortachy Castle, that there is no saying but I will follow him north.' 'Indeed!' he said, not with a frown, but a smile. And I added, 'If he stays away long I may at least get the length of Dumfriesshire.' But till I get my workmen out of the house, and know something definite of Mr. C.'s plans, I can determine nothing. Will you let me leave it open? I like so ill to say positively, and absolutely, 'No, I cannot come this year!' Because, you see, having a character for standing by my word to keep up, I could not, after an absolute 'no' said now, avail myself of any facilities for going to you which may turn up later. So may I leave the question open?
How absurd! In telling you on the other sheet how I was bodily, I quite forgot to mention my most serious ailment for the last six weeks. My right arm has gone the way that my left went two years ago, gives me considerable pain, so that I cannot lie upon it, or make any effort (such as ringing a bell, opening a window, &c. &c.) with it; and if anyone shakes my hand heartily, I - shriek! Geraldine Jewsbury is always asking, 'Have you written to Dr. Russell yet about your arm?' But what could anyone do before for the other arm? All that was tried was useless except quinine; and quinine destroys my sleep. I must just hope it will mend of itself as the other did.
Your ever-attached friend,
JANE W. CARLYLE.
To-day (August 9, 1866) I have discovered in drawers of pedestal these mournful letters of my darling in 1865. They had lain torn in my writing-case, till their covers were all lost, and there is now no correct dating of them. I have tried to save the sequence and be as correct as I could. Here are the cardinal dates. About May 20 I went to Dumfries, thence to the Gill; and she, here at home (courageous little soul!), began doing this room (the very beauty of which now pains and amazes me).
Beginning of May her right arm took ill, as her left had done last year, and she painfully went and came between
[Page 255] Streatham and here for some time (perhaps near a fortnight), writing with her left hand. June 17, she passed me (little guessing of her in the rail) and went to Holm Hill; very ill then too, still left hand; and thence in July to Nithbank, and after about ten or twelve days (middle or farther of July) went home somewhat better; got her room done, recovered her right hand, and went to Folkestone to Miss Bromley's for a few days (which proved her last visit, little as I then anticipated). Her beautiful figure and presence welcoming me home (end of August) will never leave my memory more. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Hill, Dumfries.
5 Cheyne Row, Wednesday, May 24, 1865.
I wonder if you will get this letter to-morrow, should it be put in the pillar to-night? Dear! dear! should no word reach you till Friday morning, you will be 'vaixed,' and perhaps frightened besides.
The figure I cut on Monday morning was not encouraging. When I had cried a very little at being left by myself, I lay on the sofa till mid-day, not sleeping, but considering what to do for the best with this arm, which had got to a pitch, and was reducing me to the state of last year in point of sleep. And the result of my considerations was, first, a note to Dr. B-----, urging him and Bessy to keep their promise of spending a couple of days with me as soon as possible; and next, in the meantime, a call at Quilter's to order the old quinine pills and a bottle
[Page 256] of castor oil. If I am to be kept awake all night at any rate by the pain, I may as well have recourse to the only prescription which did any good to the other arm - even at the cost of sleep. That first day I also called at the carpenter's, to lever himself, for he 'had great things to do.' Then on to luncheon at the Gomms'. Do you remember I was engaged to luncheon there? They have a beautiful, large, old-fashioned, cool house. And the luncheon was a sonnet done into dainties. I brought away Lord Lothian's book on America, but have not yet read a word of it, nor of anything else - not even of Mrs. Paulet's novel, nor my own 'Daily Telegraph.' On my return, I came upon Geraldine in Cheyne Row; and she 'could not leave me' till ten at night, I 'looked such a ghost.'
On Tuesday I had to take Mrs. Blunt to make calls at Fulham; and then I 'did the civil thing' to Mrs. F-----. F----- was in, and talked much of your 'gentleness and tenderness of late,' and the 'much greater patience you had in speaking of everybody and everything.' And I thought to myself, 'If he had only heard you a few hours after that walk with him, in which you had made such a lamb-like impression!' He expressed a wish to read Mrs. Paulet's novel, and I have sent it to him. A very curious, clever, 'excessively ridiculous, and perfectly unnecessary' book is Mrs. Paulet's novel, so far as I
[Page 257] have read in the first volume. And Mrs. Paulet herself I don't know what to make of, for I have seen her. In my saintly forgiveness and beautiful pity I left a card for her yesterday; and she came a few hours after; and Geraldine, too, came; and I was not left alone till half-past ten, when it was too late to write.
This morning (I don't know by what right) I expected a letter from you, which did not come till the afternoon. And positively I was almost well pleased there was no letter - to answer, for I had 'indulged in a cup' of castor oil, and was - oh, so sick; and besides, that matter had unexpectedly taken to 'culminating' again. Last night there had come from Jessie Hiddlestone a very nice letter, not accepting my rejection on the score of the 'situation' being 'too dull for her,' but assuring me that she would not 'be the least dull and discontented,' and 'altogether' throwing a quite different and rosier colour on the project. I will inclose the letter, and you will read it, and tell me if you think I was right in being moved thereby to engage her; for that is what I have done this forenoon, in the middle of my sorrows of castor oil!
For the rest I have no doubt you will get better, and do well there for a time. Perhaps I shall take flight myself if my terrible nights continue too long for endurance and this wearing pain lasts. It is pulling
[Page 258] me down sadly; and neuralgia has such an effect on the spirits.
One thing I have to say, that I beg you will give ear to. I have not recovered yet the shock it was to me to find, after six months, all those weak, wretched letters I wrote you from Holm Hill 'dadding about' in the dining-room; and should you use my letters in that way again I shall know it by instinct, and not write to you at all! There!
Please return Jessie Hiddlestone's letter.
Your ever affectionate
JANE W. CARLYLE.
To T. Carlyle, Esq., The Hill, Dumfries.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Saturday, May 27, 1865.
I think, dear, you must have lost a day this week - must have - stop! No! I should have said - gained a day! You bid me 'not bother myself writing to-morrow, but send a word on Saturday.' And the to-morrow is Saturday. This day on which I am not to 'bother myself writing' is Saturday. I posted a letter to you yesterday at the right time. That night post is later than you think. It was past nine when Fanny put in the pillar the letter you received the following evening at eight.
My quinine and castor oil have quite failed of
[Page 259] doing the good to my right arm which they formerly did to my left. The pain gets more severe and more continuous from day to day. Last night it kept me almost entirely awake. I often wonder that I am able to keep on foot during the day, and take my three hours' drives, and talk to the people who come to relieve my loneliness, with that arm always in pain, as if a dog were gnawing and tearing at it! But anything rather than the old nervous misery, which was not to be called pain at all! positive natural pain I can bear as well as most people. But I wish Dr. B----- would come! Perhaps he can deal with a reality like this, though he could 'do nothing against hysterical mania!' I got the thing he mentioned, Veratrine lineament, yesterday, from Quiller; and Geraldine rubbed it in for an hour last night. But, as I said, last night was the worst!
George Cooke said you desired him to 'come often, and look after me!' 'Perfectly unnecessary;' I mean the desiring! Couldn't you fetch up Noggs to Dumfries? So much walking in such hot weather must be tiring.
All good be with you,
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Thursday, June 1, 1865.
Dearest, - 'You must excuse us the day.' I really cannot use my hand without extreme pain; and Geraldine has not come in to write for me.
I am just going off to Dr. Quain; since Dr. B----- is postponed into the vague. I have been quite wild with the pain, the last two nights and days. To-morrow I will go to these good Macmillans whom you sneered at as my 'distinguished visitors.' None of the more 'distinguished' have come to me with such practical help and sympathy. They are just the right distance off. I can have my carriage come and take me home any day to look after the house; and for a drive as usual.
I think you will be better at the Gill than the Hill, in spite of the grand house, if you can only sleep through the railway; and do not indulge too far in curds and cream for dinner.
God bless you.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Streatham Lane: Saturday, June 3. 1865.
Dearest, - You are so good about writing that you deserve to be goodly done by; so I write a few lines to-day 'under difficulties,' though you gave me an excuse for putting off, in saying you could not hear till Tuesday. But I must study brevity, the soul of wit, for the cost of physical pain at which I write is something you can hardly conceive!
When I got your letter telling me to hold my hand, it was too late! I had set my heart on doing one more stroke of work (my sort of work), fitting up one more room before I died! It was all very well to say 'give the room a good cleaning.' But no amount of mere cleaning could give that room a clean look, with that oory, dingy paint and paper. To put clean paper without fresh paint would only have made the dirtiness of the paint more flagrant. And if the painting was not done whilst you were away, when was there a chance of doing it? I knew I couldn't sleep in wet paint; but I looked to finding a bed somewhere: and the offer of one here came most opportunely.
The day before leaving home I went to Dr. Quain,
[Page 262] who did me at least the good of being extremely kind, and eager to help me. He said I had 'much fever;' and gave me a prescription for that, and two other prescriptions. And when I returned from here, I was to tell him, and he would 'run over.' I said to him that Dr. B----- had declared I had no organic disease, but only a strong predisposition to gout? 'Quite right,' he said, 'that is the fact.' 'Then,' I asked, 'perhaps this affair in my arm, so much more painful than what I had in the left arm, is gout?' 'I have not the least doubt that it is!!' was his answer. Pleasant!
Well! I came here about five yesterday; and the good simple people welcomed me most honestly; and Mr. Macmillan sang Scotch songs, which would have charmed you, all the evening, the governess playing an accompaniment. At eleven I retired to my beautiful bedroom, the largest, prettiest, freshest bedroom I ever was put to sleep in! And then they left me to the society of a watchdog, chained under my window!!! It barked and growled and howled in the maddest manner till they set it loose at seven in the morning. Of course I never closed my eyes for one minute all the night! and I got up in the morning a sadder and a wiser woman! How to get away without hurting feelings? I was the wretchedest woman till I got it settled softly, that when the carriage comes for me to-day to take me
[Page 263] home for an inspection of the work, it should not bring me back, but leave me to sleep or wake in my own quiet bed; and to come out to-morrow to spend the day, and sleep here or there after, as I liked best. The dog to be 'removed to a greater distance.' So address to Cheyne Row.
Dr. Quain said I must go as soon as possible to Scotland, 'as it had agreed so well with me last year.' I said I shuddered at the length of the journey; he reminded me that I had done it with impunity last year when I was weaker than now. I suppose it will come to that before long! I need have no doubt about my welcome.
Since you are not disturbed by that railway which drove me mad, you will do well at Mary's; she is so kind and unfussing. But you must not exceed in milk diet &c.! You must have mutton!
And oh, take care with Noggs on these hilly roads! Oh, my dear, I am not up to more; my arm is just as if a dog had got it in its teeth, and were gnawing at it, and shaking at it furiously.
Love to Mary.
Your ever affectionate
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Wednesday, June 7, 1865.
Dear Mr. Carlyle, - You will be disappointed to see my handwriting, instead of Jane's; but to-day it is not a matter of choice, but of necessity; for the pain and swelling in her hand and fingers make them entirely helpless; and she has to feed herself with the left hand. She has just come in from Mrs. Macmillan's; and has been selecting a paper for the dining-room. She incloses the three patterns, which we all think the prettiest of those submitted to us; and she says, Will you please to say which of the three you like the best? I think Jane is a shade better than when she went last Friday; but still to-day she is very poorly, and pulled down by the pain, which seems to increase. She would sleep if it were not for that; she does manage to sleep a little. Everything, she says, is most charmingly comfortable; and the dog has been reduced to silence.
My great hope is in Scotland; and she seems to look forward to going, which in itself is a good thing. Please to address your next letter to Streatham Lane, as they are delayed by coming here first.
I am, dear Mr. Carlyle,
Yours very respectfully,
GERALDINE E. JEWSBURY.
In pencil, with the left hand, and already well done. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Streatham: Monday, June 12, 1865.
Dearest, - I will write before returning home. There will be neither peace nor time there. Thanks! I never needed more to he made much of. I must tell you about my hand: you think the swelling more important than it is; the two middle fingers were much as now for some weeks before you left, but with the thumb and forefinger I could still do much; now the forefinger is as powerless and pained as the other two; that is all the difference, but a conclusive one, for one can do nothing with only a thumb! I could sometimes sit down and cry. The pain - the chief pain - that which wakes me from my sleep is in the shoulder and forearm. Even hopeful Dr. Quain does not tell me I shall soon get back my hand, only tells me blandly I must learn to write with my left; and it was he who told me to take a black-lead pencil. I went to him on Friday by appointment when I had finished the antifebrile powders. I think they have quieted me. He gave me a bumper of champagne; was kind as kind could be; desired me to try the quinine once more; said Dr. B-----'s prescription was an 'admirable suggestion, and well worth my trying, but, as it would cause me a good deal of pain and feverishness,
[Page 266] I had better wait till after my journey to Scotland.' He does me real good by his kindness.
My visit here has been a great success, so far as depended on my host and hostess; and I am certainly better in my general health for all the nourishing things they have put into me by day and by night. It is a place you might fly to in a bilious crisis. Quiet as heaven, when the dog is in the wash-house.
Bellona (my mare) has given me a fine fright. You would never believe she was not safe to be left. It has been the nearest miss of herself and the carriage being all smashed to pieces! She has escaped miraculously without scratch. The carriage has not been so fortunate. I am not up to writing the narrative to-day.
Love to my dear kind Mary.
Your loving but unfortunate
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Railway Hotel, Carlisle: Saturday, June 17, 1865.
Here I am! as well as could be expected, after travelling all night, choked in dust - an unprotected female with one arm! It is no sudden thought striking me! My mind has been made up to 'try a change,' ever since my last interview with Dr. Quain, and to try it with as little delay as possible. But I
[Page 267] would not tell you I was coming; because it was important that I should travel by night; and for you to meet me at Carlisle would have necessitated your sleeping there (an impossibility!) or else your starting from the Gill at an unearthly hour. Kindest not to place you in the dilemma!
Up to the last moment, I schemed about taking the Gill on my road to Dumfries and appointing you to meet me. But I was sure to be awfully tired, just every atom of strength needed to carry me on to Thornhill without increasing my fatigues by the smallest demand, or by any avoidable 'emotion of the mind.' To stay here a couple of hours, and have breakfast and rest; and then on past Cummertrees, with shut eyes, to the place of my destination, seemed the wisest course. To this, since my arrival here, has been added the sublime idea to throw out a note for you, and a sixpence at Cummertrees; as it had suddenly flashed on me that no letter from me could reach you by post till Tuesday. So soon as I am rested, I will make an appointment with you to meet at Dumfries, if you would rather not come on to Holm Hill.
To think that I shall fly past within a quarter of a mile of you presently; and you will have no perception of my nearness!
A kiss to Mary.
J. W. C.
The 'Saturday' in this letter must refer to the visit she proposed making us at the Gill. Jamie of Scotsbrig particularly invited. Mournfully I ever recollect the day: bright and sunny; Jamie punctually there; I confidently expecting. Fool! I had not the least conception of her utter feebleness, and that she was never to visit 'The Gill' more! Train passed. I hung about impatiently till the gig should return from Cummertrees Station - with her, I never doubted. It came with John instead, to say she had been obliged to stop at Dumfries, and I must come thither by the next train: 'be exact; there will be a two and a half or three hours for us there still.' I went (with John, Jamie regretfully turning home). She was so pleasant, beautifully cheerful, and quiet, I enjoyed my three hours without misgiving. Fool! fool! - and yet there was a strange infinitude of sorrow and pity encircling all things and persons for me - her beyond all others, though being really myself as if crushed flat after such a 'flight' of twelve or thirteen years, latterly on the Owen 'comatose' terms. I was stupefied into blindness! The time till her train should come was beautiful to me and everybody. Cab came for her, I escorting (the rest walked, for it was hardly five minutes off). Train was considerably too late. An old and good dumb 'Mr. Turner,' whom she recognised and remembered kindly after forty years, was brought forward at her desire by brother John. Her talk with Turner (by slate and pencil, I writing for her) - ah me! ah me! It was on the platform-seat, under an awning; she sat by me; the great, red, sinking sun flooding everything: day's last radiance, night's first silence. Grand, dumb, and unspeakable is that scene now to me. I sat by her in the railway carriage (empty otherwise) till the train gave its third signal. and she vanished from my eyes. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill.
Holm Hill, Wednesday, June 28, 1865.
I cannot make it Friday, dear - at least, could not without rudeness to a nice woman who has always been kind to me. I am engaged to dine with my sort of a cousin, Mrs. Hunter, on Friday, having been invited for Thursday, and asked to have the day changed to Friday. And last year, when she had got up a dinner for me, I had to send an excuse at the last hour, being too ill. To-morrow you will now be hardly expecting me. So let us say Saturday; if that does not suit there will be time to tell me. 'The wine I drink?' Oh, my! That it should be come to that. But surely you ought not to be without wine, setting aside me.
Don't be bothering, making plans embracing me. The chief good of a holiday for a man is just that he should have shaken off home cares - the foremost of these a wife. Consider that, for the present summer, you have nothing to do with me, but write me nice daily letters, and pay my bills. I came on my own hook, and so will I continue, and so will I go! To be living in family in some country place is just like no holiday at all, but like living at home 'under difficulties.' Shall I ever forget 'the cares of meat' at Auchtertool House? ever forget the maggots generated by the sun in loins of mutton on the road from
[Page 270] Kirkcaldy, and all the other squalid miseries of that time, for which I, as housewife, was held responsible, and had my heart broken twenty times a day? Well, my worried arm is pain enough for the present, without recalling past griefs. To-day, however, I feel rather easier. And I had more and better sleep last night. Thanks to exhaustion! for the preceding night I had not closed my eyes at all.
It is such a pity but I could have a little bodily ease. For I was never more disposed to be content with 'things in general.' I could really feel 'happy,' if it were not for my arm, and the perfectly horrid nights it causes me.
Jessie Hiddlestone is in Thornhill, awaiting my orders - the most promising-looking servant we have had since her mother. I am greatly pleased with her, and so glad I had faith in breed and engaged her. Many were eager to have her. But she was 'prood to go back to the family!' 'The family?' Where are they?
My dear, your observation of handwritings is perfectly amazing. You take Geraldine's writing for mine, Mr. Macmillan's for Geraldine's. And now I send you a charming, witty, grateful little letter of Madame Venturi's, with vignette of Venturi sawing; and you seem to have taken it for Mrs. Paulet's. You could not possibly have read the letter, or you
[Page 271] could not have made such a mistake; so I advise you to read it now, with a key: 'The Gorilla' means George Cooke, 'M.' stands for Mazzini, the sawer Venturi.
Since you wish to know, I have gone back to sherry. And now good-bye till Saturday, unless I hear to the contrary. My left hand had taken the cramp, so this is the writing of the housemaid, who takes the opportunity to assure you that she means to be a very good girl, and try to please you, for the sake of her mother, who liked you so well.
[Madame Venturi had been Miss Ashurst, of a well-known London parentage. She had (and has) fine faculties, a decidedly artistic turn, which led her much to Italy, &c. Venturi was a Tyrolese Venetian (ex-Austrian military cadet, and also Garibaldist to the bone, consequently in a bad Italian position), who had fallen in love at first sight, &c., &c.; and was now fitting up a modest English house for wife and self. Within a year he died tragically - as will be seen. - T. C.]
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Gill, Annan.
Nith Bank, Thornhill: Tuesday.
Dearest, - A regular wet day. No drive possible. Well, the image of driving you have just set before my imagination - you driving me with Noggs in London - is quite enough for one day. It melts the marrow in my bones! Nor is there much relief in
[Page 272] turning to that other picture - little Mary flying through the air in one of his 'explosions' and breaking her skull! If you were to put an advertisement in the newspapers that the horse of Thomas Carlyle was for sale, there would be competition for the possession of it.
The housemaid, while combing my hair this morning, fell to telling me of 'ever so many young drapers, an 'the like,' that of her knowledge had 'run frae Thornhill to the station to get a bare look o' Mr. Carlyle! And when Mr. Morrison' (the minister of Durrisdeer) 'cam' to his dinner yesterday, the first word oot o' his heed, on the very door-steps, was: "Is Mrs. Carlyle still here?" He never asket for Mrs. Ewart or the ither ladies, but only for you, mem!' I endeavoured to inform her mind by telling her, 'Yes; people liked to see any lady much spoken of, whether for good or ill. If Dr. Pritchard had been at the station, all Thornhill together would, have run to see him.' 'Oddsake!' said the girl, 'I daresay they would; I daresay ye're richt; but I never thocht o' that afore.'
Geraldine writes that never was such 'emotion' excited by a speech as by this of Mill's. 'Public Opinion' came addressed to you at Nith Bank in Mrs. Warren's hand. How she came to know the name Nith Bank I am puzzled to know.
I took the quinine and iron yesterday twice, and slept rather sounder than otherwise. But I had a badish headache all morning. Nevertheless I took another dose before breakfast, as Dr. Russell had ordered, and the headache is wearing off.
I adhere to the intention of Dumfries for Friday, if it suit you and Mary.
Monday, July 24. - Early in the forenoon I was waiting at Dumfries for her train Londonward; got into her carriage (empty otherwise), and sate talking and encouraging as I could to Annan (which would hardly be an hour). Servant Jessie was in the same train; also Jamie Aitken, junior, for Liverpool. I felt in secret extremely miserable; agitated she, no doubt, and even terrified, but resolute - and the lid shut down. I little thought it would be her last railway journey. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday, July 27, 1865.
All goes well still, dearest, and this time nothing serious is manquing. The second night, as I expected, I slept 'beautiful.' Three hours without a break, to begin with. When I woke from that, I not only didn't know where I was, but didn't know who I was! As I got out of bed (by force of habit) to look at my watch, I was saying to myself, 'It can't be me that
[Page 274] has made this fine sleep. It must be somebody else.' It was a full minute, I am sure, before I could satisfy myself that I hadn't been changed into somebody else. Then I slept piecemeal till seven o'clock, when I was startled erect by what seemed the house falling. Jessie came at my call, looking very guilty, and explained that it was she, who had been coming downstairs very softly, for fear of waking me, and, having new shoes on, had 'slid and sossed down on her back,' just opposite my bed-head. Luckily she was none the worse for the fall. A greater contrast than that young woman is to Fanny cannot be figured. So quick, so willing, so intelligent; never needs to be told a thing twice; and so warmly human! My only fear about her is that she will be married-up away from me. Mrs. Warren calls her 'my dear,' and they get on charmingly together.
The person who addressed the newspaper to you at 'Coming Trees' was Fanny, who had called to ask if I would 'see a lady' for her, and Mrs. Warren being busy asked her to address the newspaper.
On Tuesday Bellona, who had been warned a week before, came round at one; and after some shopping I called at Grosvenor Street, and found Miss Bromley at home - a satisfaction which I owed to the youngest of the three pugs, 'Jocky,' who was 'suffering from the heat.' She was delighted to see me; most anxious I should come to her at
[Page 275] Folkestone; and told me, to my great joy, that Lady A. had not started on the 21st; wasn't going till Thursday (to-day); was staying at Bath House, but gone that morning to Bath for one day. I left a card and message at Bath House on the road home. Yesterday (Wednesday) I drove to Bath House, the first thing when I went out at one, and found the lady looking lovely in a spruce little half-mourning bonnet; and she would, 'if it was within the bounds of possibility,' come to me in the evening 'between ten and eleven;' and I went in her carriage with her (my own following) to Norfolk Street (Mrs. Anstruther's) to see baby, who is going with her mother to Germany after all. I left her there, and got into my own carriage, and went and bought my birthday present with the sovereign - at least, I paid out fifteen shillings of it. On what? My dear, the thing I bought was most appropriate, and rather touching. I drove to the great shop in Conduit Street, where the world is supplied with 'trusses,' 'laced stockings,' and mechanical appliances for every species of human derangement, and bought a dainty little sling for my arm. The mere ribbon round my neck hurt my neck, and drew my head down. This fastens across the back, and is altogether a superior contrivance. I don't believe in Dr. Russell's prediction any more than you do. At all rates, there was no
[Page 276] call on him to state so hopeless a view of the question when I was not asking his opinion at all. It could do no harm to leave me the consolation of hope. But I will hope in spite of him. Indeed, it seems to me that ever since he said I should never get the use of my hand, nor get rid of the pain there, that a spirit of protest and opposition has animated the poor hand, and set it on trying to do things it had for some time ceased from doing.
Lady A. did come last night - came at half after eleven, and stayed till near one! Mrs. Anstruther was left sitting in the carriage, and sent up to say 'it was on the stroke of twelve;' and then, with Lady A.'s permission, I invited her up; and if it hadn't been for her I don't think Lady A. would have gone till daylight! She said in going, 'My regards - my - what shall I send to him?' (you). 'Oh,' I said, 'send him a kiss!' 'That is just what I should like,' she said; 'but would he not think it forward?' 'Oh, dear, not at all!' I said. So you are to consider yourself kissed. I am going up to Bath House now. She goes at night.
Lady Stanley writes to ask how I am, and to beg that you will come that way.
What a long letter! I ought to have said that all this did not give me a bad night. Of course I did not sleep as on the preceding night, but better than
[Page 277] I ever did at Holm Hill; and the pain in my arm is really less since I came home.
T. Carlyle, Esq.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Sunday, July 30, 1865.
I will write to-night, dearest, while the way is open to me. To-morrow I shall be busy from the time I get up till Bellona comes for me; and after driving there is no time, as I take the three hours at least every day. It is such 'a privilege' (as Maria's mother would say) to have a carriage and a Bellona 'all to oneself,' independent of all agricultural operations. I don't feel it too warm a bit when I haven't to walk on the hot pavement, though they are celebrating the thermometer at 85° in the shade. But anyhow Miss Bromley is irresistibly pressing; and I have promised to go to her about the twelfth, whether my work here is done or not. She will write to you, to urge your joining me, which you will do - won't you? - if I, on surveying the premises, can promise you a tolerably quiet bedroom. Of course I shall take Jessie, as I can't put my clothes off and on yet without help. I think of staying about a fortnight.
I am sorry you gave up the sailing and Thurso.
[Page 278] Sailing agrees with you, and you had good sleep at Thurso. 'The good, the beautiful, and the true' came last evening, to inquire how I was after my journey, and to tell me who knew nothing and cared less, how he had written letters of introduction for Dr. Carlyle, and sent them to the captain of some steamer, &c. &c., and how his wife had set her heart on having a lock of your hair and mine set in a brooch, and he had promised her to try and complete her wishes. And it ended - for happily everything does end - in his begging and receiving the last pen you used, to be kept under a glass case. I have seldom seen a foolisher hero-worshipper. But the greatest testimony to your fame seems to me to be the fact of my photograph - the whole three, two of them very ugly (Watkin's) - stuck up in Macmichael's shop-window. Did you ever hear anything so preposterous in your life? And what impertinence on the part of Watkins! He must have sent my three along with your nine to the wholesale man in Soho Square, without leave asked. But it proves the interest or curiosity you excite; for being neither a 'distinguished authoress,' nor 'a celebrated murderess,' nor an actress, nor a 'Skittles' (the four classes of women promoted to the shop windows), it can only be as Mrs. Carlyle that they offer me for sale.
I continue to sleep on the improved principle,
[Page 279] and my arm continues less painful, and my hand, if not more capable, is at least more venturesome.
I saw Dr. Quail on Saturday, and he 'approved highly of my present course of treatment - that is, taking neither quinine nor anything else.' I told him what Dr. Russell had said, and his answer was, 'How could he know? That is what nobody could say but God Almighty.'
I drove to Streatham Lane to-day, and saw the Macmillans; also Mr. and Mrs. George Craik. Mr. Macmillan is greatly delighted with him as a junior partner. They did not look at all ill-matched. His physical sufferings have made up in looks the ten years of difference. He has got an excellent imitation leg, and walks on it much better than American James.
God keep you.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row: Aug. 7, 1865.
Dearest, - Just a line to say that all goes well with my health. I continue to sleep better - almost to sleep well; and the pain is greatly gone out of my
[Page 280] arm, and I use my hand a little; this charming penmanship is from my right hand.
But I have no time for elaborate writing. I was never busier in my life; about three thousand volumes have had to pass through my hands, and be arranged on the shelves by myself; nobody else could help me. The new room is getting finished, and will strike Mr. C. dumb with admiration when he comes.
Brother John and I, as I now recollect, were in and about Edinburgh, Stowe, Newbattle (I solus for a call); then Linlathen both, for some days; whence to Stirling of Keir (dreary rail journey, dreary all, though in itself beautiful and kind); thence to Edinburgh (John's bad lodging there, &c.), after which back to Dumfriesshire - to Scotsbrig, I suppose. Before this I had been three days at Keswick with my valued old friend, T. Spedding; walked to Bassenthwaite Ha's. (Seen five-and-forty years ago and not recognisable!) Nothing could exceed my private weariness, sadness, misery, and depression. Little thought it was, within few months, to be all sharpened into poignancy and tenderest woe, and remain with me in that far exceeding if somewhat nobler form. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq.
Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Friday, Aug. 12, 1865.
Dearest, - It all came of you being moving, and me sitting still! I didn't know exactly when and where a letter would find you, and was occupied
[Page 281] enough to avail myself of the shabby excuse for spending no time in writing. Besides, the time is always much longer for the person on his travels than for the one at home. And your right address did not reach me in time for that day's post. It came to hand at tea-time, as did yesterday's newspaper. So I could only answer at night to be ready for the post of yesterday. To-day I send a line or two, remembering that Sunday you can get nothing.
Jessie and I are alone just now, Mrs. Warren having petitioned for 'her holiday.' No age exempts people here from the appetite for holidays. She left on Wednesday afternoon, and does not return till Sunday, in time to see me off on Monday. As that new journey comes near, I shudder at it considerably. 'Stava bene!'
If you cannot be at the trouble to go out to Betty's, do send her a line, telling where and when she can come to you. She will read in the newspapers that you are in Edinburgh, and break her poor old heart over it if she gets no sight of you. She has already had one bad disappointment in not seeing me when I was so near.
We had a great thunderstorm last evening, and the air to-day is delightfully fresh. I had poor little Madame Reichenbach at tea with me, and her husband came late to take her home; and the thunder
[Page 282] burst, and the rain fell; and the lamp was burning dim; and the dingy little countess from time to time made little moaning speeches in English - unintelligible, 'upon my honour!' - and Reichenbach, as usual, sat with crossed arms, and knitted brows, silent as the tombs! And to let them walk home in such pouring wet seemed too cruel; and they had no shilling to take a cab; and I would gladly have paid a cab for them, but, of course, dared not! And, 'altogether, the situation was rather exquisite!'
And now I must conclude, and prepare for Bellona. That poor beast behaves quite well at present. Of course, old Silvester never quits the box. I couldn't have the heart to complain about his having grown old.
I will send my address - or stop! 'Tuesday next!' - perhaps better send it now:
'Care of Miss Davenport Bromley,
'4 Langhorne Gardens, West Cliff, Folkestone.'
T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
Folkestone: Saturday, Aug. 19, 1865.
Dearest, - It will be surest to direct to Scotsbrig; one might easily fail of hitting you on the wing at
[Page 283] Edinburgh! But I wish you could have brought yourself to go for a few days to the Lothians; their patience and perseverance in asking you deserved a visit! And it is rather perverse, this sudden haste to get home while I am not there to receive you! Don't you think it is? For your own sake, however, I do entreat you to break the long journey by either stopping at Alderley, or making out that visit to Foxton. Alderley, which you know, and are sure of a fine quiet bedroom at, would be best. It is such a pity to arrive at home entirely fevered, and knocked up with that journey, as always happens; and then you take it to be 'London' that is making you ill!
Then, if you stayed a few days at Alderley, I could stay out the fortnight I undertook for here, and be home in time to give you welcome. I should go home on Monday week (Monday, 28th) in the course of nature. I suppose this place is good for me; I have slept so much - more than in any other week for the last three years! But I don't feel stronger for all this sleep, nor more able to eat, or to walk. One day that I tried walking, about as far as from Cheyne Row to the hospital, I had to come home ignominiously in a donkey-cart. But the drives don't tire me, especially since Miss Bromley has had her own carriage and horses sent down.
[Page 284] Nor need there be any reflections for want of 'simmering stagnation!' There is not a human creature to speak to out of our own house; and in it, the pugs have the greatest share of the conversation to themselves
I cannot forgive Thomas Erskine for taking up and keeping up with such a woman as that Mrs. -----. Letting you be driven out by Mrs. -----!
I am so glad you went to see dear Betty; it will be something good for her to think of for a year to come!
Do write distinctly the when, and the how, of your home-coming. What do you think? I have exactly two sovereigns in the world! enough to pay the servants here, and my railway fare home, and no more!! Yet I have not been extravagant that I am aware of. I had to pay Silvester before I went to Scotland sixteen pounds eleven shillings and four pence; and to ditto after my return five pounds seventeen shillings. And Freure couldn't get on without 'something towards the work;' and I paid him ten pounds.
making up in all one half of my house-money. Then
[Page 285] your being away makes no difference in the rent, taxes, servants' wages, keep, &c. And for my being away myself, I certainly have to pay to other people's servants more than it would cost me for individual 'living's cares!'
I had indeed, besides the house-money, my own fifteen pounds, of which the two sovereigns above mentioned are the sad remains. But, when these pounds came to hand, I owed for my summer bonnet and cloak; and I had some little presents to buy, to take with me to Scotland, besides a gown for myself. The only part of my own money I can be said to have spent needlessly was a guinea and a half for you would never guess what! - for a miniature of you!! Such a beauty! Everyone who sees it screams with rapture over it - even Ruskin!
But my hand will do no more.
Miss Bromley bids me say, 'that fourfooted animal sends his respects' ('and put that in inverted commas, please!'). She is good as possible to me.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
4 Langhorne Gardens, Folkestone: Aug. 23, 1865.
I am going to make an attempt at putting on paper the letter that has been in my head for you,
[Page 286] dear, ever since I came to this place. I had even begun to write it two or three days ago, when at the first words my conscience gave me a smart box on the ear, reminding me that I hadn't written one word to Mrs. Ewart since I left her, after all her kindness to me, whereas to you I had written once and again; so my pen formed, quite unexpectedly for myself, the words 'Dear Mrs. Ewart,' instead of 'Dearest Mary.' To be sure there have been leisure hours enough since. Life here is made up of 'leisure hours'; but just the less one does, as I long ago observed, the less one can find time to do. I get up at nine, and it takes me a whole mortal hour to dress, without assistance. At ten we sit down to breakfast, and talk over it till eleven. Then I have to write my letter to Mr. Carlyle; then I make a feeble attempt at walking on the cliff by the shore, which never fails to weary me dreadfully, so that I can do nothing after, till the first dinner (called luncheon), which comes off at two o'clock; then between three and four we go out for a drive in an open barouche, with a pair of swift horses, and explore the country for three or four hours. On coming home we have a cup of tea, then rest, and dress for the second dinner at eight (nominally, but in reality half-past eight). At eleven we go to bed, very sleepy generally with so much open air. There is not a soul to speak to from without. But Miss Bromley and I never bore
[Page 287] one another: when we find nothing of mutual interest to talk about, we have the gift, both of us, of being able to sit silent together without the least embarrassment. She is adorably kind to me, that 'fine lady!' and in such an unconscious way, always looking and talking as if it were I that was kind to her, and she the one benefited by our intimacy. And then she has something in her face, and movements, and ways, that always reminds me of my mother at her age.
I am sorry that Mr. Carlyle, after all his objections to my returning to London in August, should have taken it in his head to return to London in August himself. I find it so pleasant here; and am sleeping so wonderfully, that I feel no disposition to go back to Chelsea already; Miss Bromley having taken her house for five weeks, and being heartily desirous I should stay and keep her company. But a demon of impatience seems to have taken possession of Mr. C., and he has been rushing through his promised visits as if the furies were chasing him. Everything right, seemingly, wherever he went; the people all kindness for him; the bedrooms quiet and airy; horses and carriages at his command; and, behold, it was impossible to persuade him to stay longer than three days with Mr. Erskine, of Linlathen; ditto with Stirling, of Keir; and just three hours (for luncheon) at Newbattle with the Lothians; and by this time he is back at Scotsbrig (if all have gone right), to
[Page 288] stay 'one day or at most two,' preparatory for starting for Chelsea. It is really so unreasonable, this sudden haste - after so much dawdling - that I do not feel it my duty to rush home 'promiscuously' to receive him. I promised to stay here a fortnight at the least, and the fortnight does not complete itself till Monday next; so I have written to him that I will be home on Monday - not sooner - and begging him to break the journey, and amuse himself for a couple of days at Alderley Park, and then he would find me at home to receive him; since he won't do as Miss Bromley and I wish - come here for a little seabathing to finish off with.
It really is miraculous how soundly I have slept here, though I take two glasses of champagne, besides Manzanilla, every day at the late dinner. It couldn't have been sound, that champagne of poor, kind Mrs. -----'s, or it wouldn't have so disagreed with me. Here it always does me good. And the pain is entirely gone out of my arm; I can't move it any better yet, but that is small matter in comparison. I can do many things with my hand: write (as you see) - knit - I have knitted myself a pair of garters - I can play on the piano a little, and do a few stitches with a very coarse needle.
Kindest love to the Doctor.
Your ever affectionate
To Miss Welsh, Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Monday: Oct. 1865.
My dear Elizabeth, - I am very glad indeed of the photograph, and grateful to you for having had it done at last, knowing how all such little operations bore you. It is very satisfactory as a portrait too - very like and a pleasant likeness - 'handsome and ladylike' (the epithets that used to be bestowed on you in old times). Photography is apt to be cruel on women out of their teens; but this one is neither old-looking nor cross-looking. So thank you again with all my heart.
We have had a severe time of it with heat since our return to London. Plenty of people found it 'delicious,' but Mr. C. and I - and, indeed, the whole household, not excepting the cat - suffered in our stomachs, and even more in our tempers. It was quite curious to hear the cat squabbling with her cat companions in the garden - just as the cook and housemaid squabbled in the kitchen, or Mr. C. and I in the 'up stairs;' a general overflow of bile producing the usual results of irritability and disagreement. Now the weather is again favourable to the growth of the domestic virtues, and also, sad to say, to the development of rheumatism.
I paid a visit the other day, which interested me,
[Page 290] to 'Queen Emma.' She is still in the house of Lady Franklin (the widow of that 'Sir John' that everybody used to sail away to 'seek'). When Lady Franklin made a journey to the Sandwich Islands, amongst other out-of-the-way places, she was received with great kindness by the 'royal family,' and is now repaying it by having 'the Queen' and her retinue to live with her; though our Queen has placed her apartments at Clarges' Hotel at the Sandwich Island Queen's disposition. We (Geraldine Jewsbury and I) were taken by Lady Franklin into the garden where the Queen was sitting writing, and 'much scandalised to receive us in a little hat, instead of her widow's cap,' which she offered to go in and put on. She is a charming young woman, in spite of the tinge of black - or rather green. Large black, beautiful eyes, a lovely smile, great intelligence, both of face and manner, a musical, true voice, a perfect English accent. Lady Franklin introduced me as 'the wife of Mr. Carlyle, a celebrated author of our country.' 'I know him, I have read all about him, and read things he has written,' answered the Queen of the Sandwich Islands! In fact, the young woman seemed remarkably informed on 'things in general.' The funniest part of the interview, for me, was to hear Geraldine addressing Queen Emma always as 'Your Majesty,' in a tone as free and easy as one would have adopted to one's cat.
Do you remember Joseph Turner who was deaf and dumb? I saw him on the platform at Dumfries and spoke to him, and he has written to me - such a nice letter. I will send it when I have answered it. I cannot conceive how he should have known my father, he was too young.
I hope Ann has gone or is going to Dumfriesshire. It always does her good, that trip; and many people are glad of her coming. I saw her old friend Mrs. Gilchrist at Thornhill. How changed from the time she helped me to make woollen mattresses at Craigenputtock! The history she gave me of her accidents was most pitiful. I didn't like the daughter's looks much; but she had the room as clean as a pin, and spoke kindly enough, though roughly, to her mother.
Good-bye, dear Elizabeth!
JANE W. CARLYLE.
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
Cheyne Row: Wednesday, Oct. 11, 1865.
My dear little woman, - It is 'a black and a burning shame' that I should not have told you before now that the butter is good, very good! And Mr. C. eats it to his oat-cakes in preference to the Addiscombe fresh butter, which is the best in the
[Page 292] world. The girl - or I should say young woman (her age being thirty) - whom I brought from Thornhill is an admirable hand at oat-cakes, and is fond of being praised, as most of us are when we can get it! so is willing to do the cake-making of the family, though it isn't 'in her work.' And I seldom eat loaf-bread now, having taken it into my head that the oat-cakes do instead of rhubarb pills. She is a capital servant, that Jessie; and pleases Mr. Carlyle supremely, attending to all his little 'fykes and manoeuvres' (as she calls it in her private mind) with a zeal and punctuality that leaves him nothing to wish. But to me she leaves a good deal to wish. Not in her work: she is clever and active, and has an excellent memory; but, as a woman, I might wish her different in some respects. With a face that captivates everyone by its 'brightness and sweetness,' she is, I find, what the clergyman at Morton, who had known her from a child, told me she was, and I would not believe him till I tried, 'a - vixen.' And when Mrs. Russell told me she was - 'Oh, well, about that, I should say she was as truthful as the generality of servants nowadays!' even that mild account was stretching a point in her favour. But as long as Mr. C. finds her all right, the rest don't signify. He has been off his sleep again, listening for 'railway whistles,' which have been just audible - nothing more - for years back; but he never discovered them till
[Page 293] his experiences at Dumfries made him morbidly sensitive to that sound. The last week he has slept better; and in other respects he is better, I think, than before he went to Scotland; can walk further, and looks stronger.
For me, my neuralgia continues in abeyance - no pain in my arm, or hand, or anywhere. And though a certain stiffness remains, I can do myself, without help, almost everything I need to do, and some things not needed. For example, I made myself yesterday a lovely bonnet! My sleep has been greatly improved ever since my return from Scotland; for the bad nights I have had lately were not my own fault, but produced by listening to Mr. C. jumping up to smoke, to thump at his bed, and so on.
God bless you, dear. Kind regards to them all.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Some wretched people who had settled next door had brought poultry and other base disturbances; against which, for my sake, the noble soul heroically started up (not to be forbidden), and with all her old skill and energy gained victory, complete once more. For me - for me! and it was her last. The thought is cuttingly painful while I live.
The omnibus at Charing Cross. Oh, shocking! How well do I remember all this, and how easily might I have avoided it! - T. C.
To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.
5 Cheyne Row: Wednesday, Dec. 1865.
Oh, my dear! I am so vexed that you should not have had your kind sending acknowledged sooner. It arrived when I was under a cloud, last Saturday, confined to bed in a perfect agony of sick headache!
I had had nothing of that sort for many years, and it was really strange to me, the thought, how many such days I had passed formerly without being killed by them! But I am sure I couldn't live through many such at the present date. The headache and sickness lasted only one day and night, but the effects of it have not yet passed. I am as weak and nervous as if I had just come through a course of mercury! And that is why I have let several posts pass without returning you our thanks; but expressing them meanwhile in an approving consumption of the eggs and fowls. One was boiled on Monday (excellent!), the other is to be roasted to-day, according to my views about variety of food being requisite to the welfare of the human stomach - a consideration which Mr. C. makes light of but exemplifies in his own person very convincingly the truth of.
I could very well account for that crisis the other day; several things had conspired to throw me on my
[Page 295] back. First, my black mare, who enjoys the most perfect health generally, got her foot hurt by a runaway cart, and has had to remain in the stable for more than a week, in a state of continual poultices! Not choosing to pay for another horse, I agreed to go for exercise in an omnibus with Mr. C. - the first time I had entered an omnibus since the evening I had my fall - the beginning of all my woes! I felt very nervous at the notion, but I was to go to the end of the line and sit still while the horses were changed, and then come back again, so as to avoid any walking or hanging about in the streets. But Mr. C., as usual, dawdled till we found ourselves too late for going the whole way, and I had to get down at Charing Cross in a busy thoroughfare - and Mr. C. had to run after omnibuses to stop them - and I was like to cry with nervousness to find myself left alone in an open street - and couldn't run after him as he kept calling to me to do - couldn't run at all! and was besides paralysed at the sight of carriages so near me, so that I was terribly flurried, and felt quite ill when I had to go out to dinner with Mr. C. the same evening. Then I am sure the champagne they gave us was bad - that is, poisonous; and for two nights before, I had had next to no sleep, owing to a terrible secret on my mind. One morning, when I looked out of my dressing-room window to see what sort of day it was, imagine the spectacle that met my
[Page 296] eyes: a rubbishy hen-hutch, erected over night, in the garden next to ours - next! think of that! - and nine large hens and one very large cock sauntering under our windows!!! I should have fainted where I stood had I been in the habit of fainting; but that I never was. As Mr. C. said nothing, I could not guess whether he had made the discovery or not. The crowing which occurred several times during the night, as well as abundantly in the morning, certainly did not awake him, his mind being, at present, intent on 'railway whistles.' But when he should have once opened his eyes to the thing, and as the days should lengthen, the crowing would increase. Ah! my heaven, what then? - no wonder that I lay awake thinking 'What then?' I have not time to give a detailed account of all that followed. Enough to say the poultry is all to evacuate the premises at Christmas, and meanwhile the cock is shut up in a dark cellar from darkening till after our breakfast. And Mr. C. clasped me in his arms and called me his 'guardian angel;' and all I have to pay for this restoration of peace and quietness is giving a lesson three times a week, in syllables of two letters, to a small Irish boy! Rhyme that if you can!
Excuse this ill-written letter. I am not quite recovered from the crush of that poultry affair on my mind, although the secret load is removed.
I will write soon when more up to writing. This
[Page 297] is merely thanks and a kiss for the fowls and eggs. Oh, if one never saw a fowl but like these - dead!
Love to them all.
Your ever affectionate
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Jessie, the Thornhill girl, is going on quite satisfactorily, since I ceased treating her too kindly - snubbing, and riding with a curb-bridle, is what she needs. All her former mistresses warned me of that, but I wouldn't believe them, the girl looked so sweet and affectionate - the humbug! Mercifully, Mr. C. sees no fault in her.
[Remainder, a small fragment, is lost.]
Nothing nobler was ever done to me in my life than the unseen nobleness recorded in this letter. When I look out on that garden, all so trim and quiet now (old rubbish tenants gone for ever), and think what she looked out on, and resolved to do - oh, these are facts that go beyond words! Praise to thee, darling! praise in my heart at least, so long as I continue to exist. - T. C.
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row: Dec. 25, 1865.
Dearest Mary, - I was unwilling to leave your husband's letter unanswered for a single day, or I wouldn't have chosen Friday morning for writing to
[Page 298] him, when I was busy packing your box, and had besides to write a business letter to the Haddington lawyer, and to give a lesson in syllables of two letters to a small boy, all before one o'clock, when I should go for my drive. After my return, between four and five, there is no time to catch the general post, which closes for Chelsea at half-past four. So, having so much to do in haste, I could only do it all badly.
Then you may be perplexed by the four pieces of cork. My dear, Mr. Carlyle has admirers of all sorts and trades; and one of them, a very ardent admirer, is by trade a cork-cutter, and he sent me, as a tribute of admiration, a box containing some dozens of bottle-corks, large and small, and half-a-dozen pairs of cork soles, to put into my shoes, when shaped with a sharp knife. It is not by many, or any, chances that I have to wet my feet; so there is small generosity in bestowing two pairs on you or the Doctor.
I hope you read that tale going on in the 'Fortnightly' - 'The Belton Estate' (by Anthony Trollope). It is charming, like all he writes; I quite weary for the next number, for the sake of that one thing; the rest is wonderfully stupid.
When I wrote to the Doctor, 'my interior' (as
[Page 299] Mr. C. would say) was in wild agitation, not severe but annoying, and reminding me of the inflammatory attack I had last winter. Nevertheless, I took my daily three hours' drive, and some tea after, and put on my black velvet gown, and went to 'Lady William's' eight o'clock dinner. I hadn't dined with her for some three weeks, so I must be getting better when I could muster spirit for such a thing. Rolled up in fur, and both windows up, and warm water to my feet, I caught no cold, and it is always pleasant there, and I always sleep well after. I met the man who is said to have made the Crimean war, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and found him a most just-looking, courteous, agreeable, white-headed, old gentleman.
When I told you I had been off my sleep, I told you - did I not? - that I had been worried off it. Better when one can put one's finger on the cause of one's sleeplessness. The cause this time, or rather the causes, were: first, a bilious fit on the part of Mr. Carlyle, who was for some days 'neither to hold nor to bind' - a condition which keeps my heart jumping into my mouth when it should be composing itself to rest. Then it happened that in these nervous days I had Agnes Veitch, my old Haddington playmate (Mrs. Grahame) coming to dinner, and seeing that he had made up his mind to find her dreadfully in his
[Page 300] way, I ordered my brougham at eight o'clock to take her home to St. John's Wood, and that she mightn't think it was sending her off too early, I went along with her, to give her another hour of my company. Prettily imagined, you will allow. Having deposited her safely at her own door, I was on my way back, crossing Oxford Street, when I saw a mad or drunk cart bearing down upon me at a furious rate, and swerving from side to side, so that there was no escaping. My old coachman is a most cautious, as well as skilful driver; but this was too much. I shut my eyes, and crossed my arms tight, and awaited the collision. Instead of, as I expected, running into the carriage, the wild thing ran into the black mare, threw her round with a jerk that broke part of the harness, and then rushed on. Men gathered round, and Silvester descended from his box, to knot up the broken straps; my beautiful Bellona (so named for her imputed warlike disposition) standing the while as quiet as a lamb. Then we went on our way again, thanking God it was no worse. But it was found, on reaching the stables, that poor Bellona had got her foot badly hurt. The mad wheel seemed to have bruised it and snipped out a piece of skin. She was not at all lame, and was quite willing to go out with me next day; but the next again, her leg was much swelled, and for more than a fortnight she had to be attended by the
[Page 301] veterinary surgeon, who forbade her going out, and said if the bruise had been an inch nearer the hoof she would have been a ruined Bellona. Also, he said, 'a more sweet-natured horse he had never handled! ' After much poulticing, the inward suppuration came outward; and she is now all right, being of an admirable constitution, this one; never, even through the poulticing time, losing her excellent appetite and excellent spirits. But it was worrying to not know when she could be taken out, and meanwhile to be putting Mr. C. to the cost of a livery-horse as well.
But the grand worry of all, that which perfected my sleeplessness, was an importation of nine hens, and a magnificent cock, into the adjoining garden! For years back there has reigned over all these gardens a heavenly quiet - thanks to my heroic exertions in exterminating nuisances of every description. But I no longer felt the hope or the energy in me requisite for such achievements. Figure then my horror, my despair, on being waked one dark morning with the crowing of a cock, that seemed to issue from under my bed! I leapt up, and rushed up to my dressing-room window, but it was still all darkness. I lay with my heart in my mouth, listening to the cock crowing hoarsely from time to time, and listening for Mr. C.'s foot stamping frantically, as of old, on the floor above. But,
[Page 302] strangely enough, he gave no sign of having heard his enemy, his whole attentions having been, ever since his visit to Mrs. Aitken, morbidly devoted to - railway whistles. So soon as it was daylight I looked out again, and there was a sight to see - a ragged, Irish-looking hen-house, run up over night, and sauntering to and fro nine goodly hens, and a stunning cock! I didn't know whether Mr. C. remained really deaf as well as blind to these new neighbours, or whether he was only magnanimously resolved to observe silence about them; but it is a fact, that for a whole week he said no word to enlighten me, while I expected and expected the crisis which would surely come, and shuddered at every cock-crow, and counted the number of times he crowed in a night - at two! at three! at four! at five! at six! at seven! Oh, terribly at seven!
For a whole week I bore my hideous secret in my breast, and slept 'none to speak of.' At the week's end I fell into one of my old sick headaches. I used always to find a sick headache had a fine effect in clearing the wits. So, even this time, I rose from a day's agony with a scheme of operation in my head, and a sense of ability to 'carry it out.' It would be too long to go into details - enough to say my negotiations with 'next door' ended in an agreement that the cock should be shut up in a cellar, inside the owner's own house, from three in
[Page 303] the afternoon till ten in the morning; and, in return, I give the small boy of the house a lesson every morning in his 'Reading made Easy,' the small boy being 'too excitable' for being sent to school! It is a house full of mysteries - No. 6! I have thoughts of writing a novel about it. Meanwhile, Mr. C. declares me to be his 'guardian angel.' No sinecure, I can tell him. So I might fall to sleeping again if I could. But I couldn't all at once. Getting back to even that much sleep I had been having must be gradual, like the building of Rome.
Jessie is going on quite well since I decided to take the upper hand with her, and keep it. I don't think Mrs. Warren likes her any better, but I ask no questions. Best 'let sleeping dogs lie.' She (Jessie) is much more attentive to me since I showed myself quite indifferent to her attentions, and particular only as to the performance of her work. She is even kindly and sensitive with me occasionally. But she can't come over me ever again with that dodge. She let me see too clearly into her hard, vain nature that I should place reliance or affection on her again. I do not regret having taken her - not at all. As a servant, she is better than the average; as a woman, I do not think ill of her; but I mistook her entirely at the first, and see less good in her than perhaps there is, because I began by seeing far more good in her than she had the least pretension to. At my age,
[Page 304] and with my experience, it would have well beseemed me to be less romantic. I have paid for it in the disappointment of the heartfelt hopes I had invested in my hereditary housemaid.
Your ever affectionate
Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Saturday, Dec. 30, 1865.
Just a line, dearest, to inclose the poor little money-order. I have no time for a letter - indeed, my hurry is indescribable, for I have been fit for nothing this week, and all my New Year writing is choked into the last day of it.
Wrap up five shillings, please, and address it to John Hiddlestone, and give it or transmit it to Margaret, who will save you the trouble of seeking out himself. And you remember there was to be five shillings to that unlucky Mrs. Gilchrist - into her own hand. The other ten shillings please give where you see it most needed.
A woman who had had something from me through you (an old post-woman, Jessie said) came to Jessie, when she was coming away, and begged her to tell me that 'she had been sometimes at Templand, and had once taken tea with Mrs. Welsh in her
[Page 305] own parlour, and if I would do something more for her, that being the case!' Jessie had properly told her that it was no business of hers to interfere, and that she could tell myself. No; I do not recognise the claim. Let her have what she has been used to have, and no more. She ought to have appealed to me through you, not through my prospective servant.
My sickness and my sleeplessness have culminated in a violent cold or influenza. Blue pill, castor oil, morphia - I have not been idle, I assure you; and now the evil thing is blowing over, and I expect to be able to keep my engagement to dine with Dr. Quain on the 3rd of January!
I hope you got my long letter - that it was not confiscated for the sake of the buttons! Will you tell me how you manage to get baskets all the way to our door without a farthing to pay? Nobody else can manage it. Even when the carriage is paid, there is still porterage from the station to the place of delivery, which cannot be prepaid - sixpence, or eightpence, or a shilling, according to the bulk. I really want to understand. Had you any porterage, from the station to Holm Hill, to pay for my box? A good New Year to the Doctor. I would be his 'first foot' if I had a 'wishing carpet.'
Tell me how poor little Mrs. Ewart is.
Your ever affectionate
To Miss Grace Welsh, Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Jan. 23, 1866.
My dear Grace, - Have you any more news of Robert? I weary to hear how he is, though without hope of hearing he is better. From the first mention of his illness, I have felt that it was all over with the poor lad for this life!
One thinks it so sad that one's family should die out! And yet, perhaps, it is best (nay, of course it is best, since God has so ordered it!) that a family lying under the doom of a hereditary, deadly malady should die out, and leave its room in the universe to healthier and happier people! But, again, hereditary maladies are not the only maladies that kill; and plenty of mothers have, like Mrs. George and Mrs. Robert, seen their children, one after another, swept from the earth without consumption having anything to do with it. It is hard, hard to tell by what death, slow or swift, one would prefer to lose one's dearest ones, when lose them one must!
Figure what has just befallen that dear, kind Dr. B-----, who saved my life (I shall always consider) by taking me under his care at St. Leonards. Of all his sons, the most promising was Captain P-----
[Page 307] B-----, risen to be naval captain while still very young. Oh, such a handsome, kindly, gallant fellow! He had married a beautiful girl with a little fortune, and they were the happiest pair! A year ago he was made 'Commander' - a signal honour for so young a man! and just three weeks ago his wife was confined of her second baby, in her mother's house at St. Leonards, the captain being away to bring home a ship from somewhere in the West Indies. Well! four days ago, in reading his morning newspaper, Dr. B----- read the 'Death of that distinguished officer, Captain P----- B-----, from fever, after three days' illness!' It is too terrible to try to conceive the feelings of a warm-hearted, proud father under a shock like that! Not a word of warning!
I think that going down of the 'London' has sent all the blood from my heart! Ever since I read its touching details I have felt in a maze of sadness, have had no affinity for any but sorrowful things, and can find in my whole mind no morsel of cheerful news to tell you! Perhaps I am even more stupid than sad; and no shame to me, with a cold in my head, dating from before Christmas! It is the only illness I have had to complain of this winter, and is no illness 'to speak of;' but, none the less, it makes me very sodden and abject and, instead of having thoughts in my head, it (my head) feels to be filled with wool! Fuzzly is the word for how I
[Page 308] feel, all through! But I continue to take my three hours' drive daily, all the same. Since I returned from Folkestone in September, I have only missed two days! the days of the snowstorm a fortnight ago; when it was so dangerous for horses to travel, that the very omnibuses struck work. And besides the forenoon drive, I occasionally, with this wool in my head, go out to dinner!!! With a hot bottle at my feet, and wrapt in fur, I take no hurt, and the talk stirs me up. Dr. Quain told me I 'couldn't take a better remedy, if only I drank plenty of champagne' - a condition which I, for one, never find any difficulty in complying with!
My chief intimates have been away all this winter, which has made my life less pleasant - Lady Ashburton on the Continent, and Miss Davenport Bromley waiting in the country till the new paint smell should have gone out of her house. But there are always nice people to take the place of those absent. It made me laugh, dear, that Edinburgh notion, that because Mr. C. had been made Rector of the University, an office purely honorary, we should immediately proceed to tear ourselves up by the roots, and transplant ourselves there!
After thirty years of London, and with such society as we have in London, to bundle ourselves off to Edinburgh, to live out the poor remnant of our lives in a new and perfectly uncongenial sphere,
[Page 309] with no consolations that I know of but your three selves, and dear old Betty! Ach! 'A wishing carpet' on which I could sit down, and be transported to Craigenvilla, for an hour's talk with you all, two or three times a week, and - back again! - would be a most welcome fairy gift to me! But no villa at Morningside tempts me, except your villa! And for Edinburgh people - those I knew are mostly dead and, gone; and the new ones would astonish me much if they afforded any shadow of compensation for the people I should leave here! No, my dear, we shall certainly not go 'to live in Edinburgh;' I only wish Mr. C. hadn't to go to deliver a speech in it, for it will tear him to tatters.
Love to you all.
J. W. C.
To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.
5 Cheyne Row: January 29, 1866.
The town is no longer 'empty.' All my most intimate friends are come back, except Lady Ashburton, who, alas! will still remain on the Continent, and give no certain promise of return. Her rheumatism is better; but there are family reasons for her avoiding England at present, which she considers imperative, though her friends find them chimerical enough.
[Page 310] Miss Davenport Bromley is back; the Alderley Stanleys, the Airlies, the Froudes, &c. &c. We were much surprised by the Lothians coming to London some two or three weeks ago. They had not stirred from Newbattle Abbey for two years! The poor young Marquis came the whole journey in one day. Some hope of electricity had been put into his head, and they have been trying it on him. He said he 'did not think it had done him any harm as yet; but that was the most he could say.' He is the saddest spectacle I have seen for long. His body more than half dead, his face so worn with suffering, and the soul looking out of him as bright as in his best days. I had not seen him since before my own illness; and I was shocked with the change, especially in his voice, which, from being most musical, had become harsh and husky. She, poor soul, bears up wonderfully; but is so white and sad, that I cannot look at her without dreading for her the fate of her mother.
The house (ours) goes on peaceably enough on the whole; not without crises of ill temper, of course. But I have got Jessie pretty well in hand now. It is mortifying, after all my romantic hopes of her, to find that kindness goes for nothing with her, and that she is only amenable to good sharp snubbing. Well, she shall have it! At the same time, I make a point of being just to her and being kind to her, as a mistress to a servant. So she got
[Page 311] the 'nice dress' at Christmas, along with Mrs. Warren; but I put no affection into anything I do for her, and let her see that I don't. It was a lucky Christmas for her. Mr. Ruskin always gives my servants a sovereign apiece at that season. 'The like had never happened to her before,' she was obliged to confess. She went to the theatre one night with some Fergussons, and has acquaintances enough. So I hope she is happy, though I don't like her.
Has the Doctor seen young Corson, who had to leave Swan and Edgar's with a bad knee? He came here several times to see Jessie. Love to the Doctor.
How is Mrs. Ewart?
Miss Ann Welsh, Edinburgh.
Cheyne Row: Monday, March 27, 1866
My dear Aunts, - It is long since I have written, and I have not leisure for a satisfactory letter even now; but I want you to have these two admissions in good time, in case you desire to hear poor Mr. C.'s address, and don't know how to manage it. If you don't care about it, or can't for any other reason use the admissions, or either of them, please return them to me forthwith; for the thing comes off this day week and there is a great demand for them.
Mr. C. was too modest, when asked by the University people how many admissions he wished reserved for himself, and required only twenty for men and six for women, or, as I suppose they would say in Edinburgh, 'ladies.' Four have been given away to ladies who have shown him great kindness at one time or other; and the two left he sends to you, in preference to some dozen other ladies who have applied for them directly or indirectly. So you see the propriety of my request to have one or both returned if you are prevented from using them yourselves.
I am afraid, and he himself is certain, his address will be a sad break-down to human expectation. He has had no practice in public speaking - hating it with all his heart. And then he does speak; does not merely read or repeat from memory a composition elaborately prepared - in fact, as in the case of his predecessors, printed before it was 'delivered'!
I wish him well through it, for I am very fearful the worry and flurry of the thing will make him ill. After speculating all winter about going myself, my heart failed me as the time drew near, and I realised more clearly the nervousness and pain in my back that so much fuss was sure to bring on. I did not dread the bodily fatigue, but the mental. We were to have broken the journey by stopping a few days at Lord Houghton's, in Yorkshire; and after giving
[Page 313] up Edinburgh, I thought for a while I would still go as far as the Houghtons, and wait there till Mr. C. returned. But that part of the business I also decided against, only two days since, preferring to reserve Yorkshire till summer, and till I was in a more tranquil frame of mind.
Mr. C. is going to stay while in Edinburgh at Thomas Erskine's, our dear old friend; not, however, because of liking him better than anyone else there, but because of his being most out of the way of - railway whistles! It was worth while, however, to have talked of accompanying Mr. C., to have given so much enthusiastic hospitality an opportunity for displaying itself.
One of the letters of invitation I had quite surprised me by its warmth and eagerness, being from a quarter where I hardly believed myself remembered - David Aitken and Eliza Stoddart! They had both grown into sticks, I was thinking. But I have no time to gossip.
Do send me soon some word of Robert, though I know too well there can no good news come.
J. W. CARLYLE.
T. Carlyle, Esq., T. Erskine, Esq., Edinburqh.
Cheyne Row: Good Friday, March 30, 1866.
Dearest, - What with your being on the road, and what with the regulations of Good Friday, I don't know when this will reach you. Indeed I don't know anything about anything. I feel quite stupefied. I should have liked to have seen your handwriting this morning, though none the less obliged to Mr. Tyndall, who makes the best of your having had a bad night. What a dear, warm-hearted darling he is! I should like to kiss him! I did sleep some last night - the first wink since the night before you left. Last evening I felt quite smashed, so willingly availed myself of the feeble pen of Maggie, who had walked in 'quite promiscuous.' She was back at Agnes Baird's, and had fixed to leave for Liverpool on Saturday. For decency's sake I asked her to come here instead and stay over Sunday, which she agreed to do. She will be company to James. He didn't come back to sleep last night, having accepted an invitation from somebody (McGeorge?) at Islington, with whom he was going to spend Good Friday out of town somewhere. He had 'not quite' concluded about his office - 'all
[Page 315] but;' had failed in all attempts to find a lodging, but this McGeorge 'would help him in looking,' he thought. I pressed him to keep his bed here till he was suited, but he 'would be nearer his office at McGeorge's.' He is to come on Sunday morning, however, to spend the day; and I promised to take him to Richmond Park or somewhere before dinner. At parting, for the present, he tried to make a good little speech about 'my kindness to him.' Pity he is so dreadfuliy inarticulate, for his meaning is modest and affectionate, poor fellow.
The sudden intimation of Venturi's death, sleepless as I was at the time, stunned me for the rest of the day like a blow on the head. He was taken ill in the night at the house of Herbert Taylor, but would not allow his wife to raise anyone, or to make any disturbance, and at five in the morning he was dead. There was an examination, that satisfied the doctors he had died of heart disease, and that he must have been suffering a great deal, while De Musset and other doctors of his acquaintance had treated any complaint of illness he made as 'imaginary, the result of his unsatisfactory life.' Poor Emilie is, as you may imagine, 'like death.' Mr. Ashurst was trying to prevent a coroner's inquest, but he feared it would have to be - to-day.
Good-bye! Keep up your heart the first three minutes, and after that it will be all plain sailing.
T. Carlyle, Esq., T. Erskine's, Esq., Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: April 2, 1866.
Dearest, - By the time you get this you will be out of your trouble, better or worse, but out of it, please God. And if ever you let yourself be led or driven into such a horrid thing again, I will never forgive you - never!
What I have been suffering, vicariously, of late days is not to be told. If you had been to be hanged I don't see that I could have taken it more to heart. This morning, after about two hours of off-and-on sleep, I awoke, long before daylight, to sleep no more. While drinking a glass of wine and eating a biscuit at five in the morning, it came into my mind, 'What is he doing, I wonder, at this moment?' and then, instead of picturing you sitting smoking up the stranger-chimney, or anything else that was likely to be, I found myself always dropping off into details of a regular execution! - Now they will be telling him it is time! now they will be pinioning his arms and saying last words! Oh, mercy! was I dreaming or waking? was I mad or sane? Upon my word, I
[Page 317] hardly know now. Only that I have been having next to no sleep all the week, and that at the best of times I have a too 'fertile imagination,' like 'oor David.' When the thing is over I shall be content, however it have gone as to making a good 'appearance' or a bad one. That you have made your 'address,' and are alive, that is what I long to hear, and, please God! shall hear in a few hours. My 'imagination' has gone the length of representing you getting up to speak before an awful crowd of people, and, what with fuss, and 'bad air,' and confusion, dropping down dead.
Why on earth did you ever get into this galley?
J. W. C.
T Carlyle, Esq., Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Tuesday, April 3, 1866.
I made so sure of a letter this morning from some of you - and 'nothing but a double letter for Miss Welsh.' Perhaps I should - that is, ought - to have contented myself with Tyndall's adorable telegram, which reached me at Cheyne Row five minutes after six last evening, considering the sensation it made.
Mrs. Warren and Maggie were helping to dress me for Forster's birthday, when the telegraph boy gave his double-knock. 'There it is!' I said. 'I am
[Page 318] afraid, cousin, it is only the postman,' said Maggie. Jessie rushed up with the telegram. I tore it open and read, 'From John Tyndall' (Oh, God bless John Tyndall in this world and the next!) 'to Mrs. Carlyle.' 'A perfect triumph!' I read it to myself, and then read it aloud to the gaping chorus. And chorus all began to dance and clap their hands. 'Eh, Mrs. Carlyle! Eh, hear to that!' cried Jessie. 'I told you, ma'am,' cried Mrs. Warren, 'I told you how it would be.' 'I'm so glad, cousin! you'll be all right now, cousin,' twittered Maggie, executing a sort of leap-frog round me. And they went on clapping their hands, till there arose among them a sudden cry for brandy! 'Get her some brandy!' 'Do, ma'am, swallow this spoonful of brandy; just a spoonful! For, you see, the sudden solution of the nervous tension with which I had been holding in my anxieties for days - nay, weeks, past - threw me into as pretty a little fit of hysterics as you ever saw.
I went to Forster's nevertheless, with my telegram in my hand, and 'John Tyndall' in the core of my heart ! And it was pleasant to see with what hearty good-will all there - Dickens and Wilkie Collins as well as Fuz - received the news; and we drank your health with great glee. Maggie came in the evening; and Fuz, in his joy over you, sent out a glass of brandy to Silvester! Poor Silvester, by-the-by,
[Page 319] showed as much glad emotion as anybody on my telling him you had got well through it.
Did you remember Craik's paper? I am going to take Maggie to the railway for Liverpool. I suppose I shall now calm down and get sleep again by degrees. I am smashed for the present.
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Wednesday, April 4, 1866.
Well! I do think you might have sent me a 'Scotsman' this morning, or ordered one to be sent! I was up and dressed at seven; and it seemed such an interminable time till a quarter after nine, when the postman came, bringing only a note about - Cheltenham, from Geraldine! The letter I had from Tyndall yesterday might have satisfied any ordinary man or woman, you would have said. But I don't pretend to be an ordinary man or woman; I am perfectly extraordinary, especially in the power I possess of fretting and worrying myself into one fever after another, without any cause to speak of!
What do you suppose I am worrying about now? - because of the 'Scotsman' not having come! That there may be in it something about your having fallen ill, which you wished me not to see! this I am capable of fancying at moments; though last evening
[Page 320] I saw a man who had seen you 'smoking very quietly at Masson's;' and had heard your speech, and - what was more to the purpose (his semi-articulateness taken into account) - brought me, what he said was as good an account of it as any he could give, already in 'The Pall Mall Gazette,' written by a hearty admirer of long standing evidently. It was so kind of Macmillan to come to me before he had slept. He had gone in the morning straight from the railway to his shop and work. He seemed still under the emotion of the thing; - tears starting to his black eyes every time he mentioned any moving part!!
Now just look at that! If here isn't, at half after eleven, when nobody looks for the Edinburgh post, your letter, two newspapers, and letters from my aunt Anne, Thomas Erskine, and David Aitken besides. I have only as yet read your letter. The rest will keep now. I had a nice letter from Henry Davidson yesterday, as good as a newspaper critic. What pleases me most in this business - I mean the business of your success - is the hearty personal affection towards you that comes out on all hands. These men at Forster's with their cheering - our own people - even old Silvester turning as white as a sheet, and his lips quivering when he tried to express his gladness over the telegraph: all that is positively delightful, and makes the success 'a good joy' to me.
[Page 321] No appearance of envy or grudging in anybody; but one general, loving, heartfelt throwing up of caps with young and old, male and female! If we could only sleep, dear, and what you call digest wouldn't it be nice?
Now I must go; I promised to try and get Madame Venturi out with me for a little air. She has been at her brother's, quite near Forster's, since the funeral. The history she herself gave me of the night of his death was quite excruciating. He took these spasms which killed him, soon after they went to bed; and till five in the morning the two poor souls were struggling on, he positively forbidding her to give an alarm. Mrs. Taylor had a child just recovering from scarlet fever, and sent from home for fear of infecting the others. When Emilie would have gone to the Taylors' bedroom to tell them, he said, 'Consider the poor mother! If you rouse her suddenly, she will think there has come bad news of her child! It might do her great harm.' 'And I thought, dear, there was no danger,' she said to me. 'The doctors had so constantly said he had no ailment but indigestion.' It was soon after this that he 'threw up his arms as if he had been shot; and fixed his eyes with a strange wondering look, as if he saw something beautiful and surprising; and then fell to the floor dead!' I am so glad she likes me to come to her, for it shows she is not desperate.
Oh, dear, I wish you had been coming straight back! for it would be so quiet for you here just now: there isn't a soul left in London but Lady William, whom I haven't seen since the day you left. I am afraid she is unwell.
Good-bye! We have the sweeps to-day in the drawing-room, and elsewhere.
JANE W. CARLYLE.
Read near Cleughbrae, on the road to Scotsbrig. Came thither, Saturday, April 7.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row: Friday, April 6, 1866.
Dearest, - Scotsbrig, I fancy, will be the direction now.
I am just getting ready to start for Windsor, to stay a day and night, or two nights if the first be successful, with Mrs. Oliphant. Even that much 'change of air' and 'schane' may, perhaps, break the spell of sleeplessness that has overtaken me. It is easier to go off one's sleep than to go on to it. I did rather better last night, however, after an eight o'clock dinner with the Lothians. The American,
[Page 323] Mason, was there - a queer, fine old fellow, with a touch of my grandfather Walter in him. Both Lord and Lady, and the beauty, Lady Adelaide, were so kind to me. It made me like to 'go off' to hear the young Marquis declaring 'how much he wished he could have heard your speech.' He looked perfectly lovely yesterday, much more cheerful and bright than I have seen him since he came to London. They seemed to take the most affectionate interest in the business.
Lady William, too, charged me with a long message I haven't time for here. I found her in bed in the middle of newspapers, which she had been 'reading and comparing all the morning; and had discovered certain variations in!' I am to dine with her on Sunday, after my return from Windsor. Miss Bromley is come back; she came yesterday, and I am to dine with her on Tuesday. I needn't be dull, you see, unless I like!
Will you tell Jamie the astonishing fact that I have eaten up all the meal he sent me, and cannot live without cakes. Ergo! Also take good care of Betty's tablecloth! She writes me it was her mother's spening. She was awfully pleased at your visit. 'What am i, O der me, to be so vesated!' Here is an exuberant letter from Charles Kingsley. Exuberant letters, more of them than I can ever
[Page 324] hope to answer. Lady Airlie offers to come and drink tea with me on Sunday night. 'Can't be done' - must write in this hurry to put her off. Even I have my hurries, you see. Kind love to Jamie and the rest.
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq.. Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row: Tuesday, April 10, 1866.
Alas, I missed Tyndall's call! and was 'vaixed!' He left word with Jessie that you were 'looking well; and everybody worshipping you!' and I thought to myself, 'A pity if he have taken the habit of being worshipped, for he may find some difficulty in keeping it up here!'
Finding the first night at Windsor (Friday night) a great success, I gladly stayed a second night; and only arrived at Cheyne Row in time for Lady William's Sunday dinner. It couldn't be 'quiet' that helped me to sleep so well at Mrs. Oliphant's for all day long I was in the presence of fellow-creatures. The first evening, besides two Miss Tullochs living in the house, there arrived to tea and supper (!) a family of Hawtreys, to the number of seven! - seven grown-up brothers and sisters! The eldest, 'Mr. Stephen,' with very white hair and
[Page 325] beard, is Master of Mathematics at Eton; and has a pet school of his own - tradesmen's sons, and the like - on which he lays out three hundred a year of his own money. He complimented me on your 'excellent address,' which he said 'We read aloud to our boys.' I asked Mrs. Oliphant after, what boys he meant? She said it would be the boys of his hobby school; they were the only boys in the world for Mr. Stephen! On the following day arrived Principal Tulloch, and wife, on a long visit. Mrs. Oliphant seems to me to be eaten up with long visitors. He (the Principal) had been at the 'Address,' and seen you walking in your wideawake with your brother, just as himself was leaving Edinburgh.
Frederick Elliot and Hayward (!) were at Lady William's. Hayward was raging against the Jamaica business - would have had Eyre cut into small pieces, and eaten raw. He told me women might patronise Eyre - that women were naturally cruel, and rather liked to look on while horrors were perpetrated. But no man living could stand up for Eyre now! 'I hope Mr. Carlyle does,' I said. 'I haven't had an opportunity of asking him; but I should be surprised and grieved if I found him sentimentalising over a pack of black brutes!' After staring at me a moment: 'Mr. Carlyle!' said Hayward. 'Oh, yes! Mr. Carlyle! one cannot indeed swear what he will not
[Page 326] say! His great aim and philosophy of life being "The smallest happiness of the fewest number!"'
I slept very ill again, that night of my return; but last night was better, having gone to bed dead weary of such a tea-party as you will say could have entered into no human head but mine! Sartosina, Count Reichenbach, and James Aitken!! there was to have been also Lady Airlie!!! You have no idea how well Reichenbach and James suit each other! They make each other quite animated, by the delight each seems to feel in finding a man more inarticulate than himself! They got towards the end into little outbursts of laughter, of a very peculiar kind!
Send me a proof as soon as you can.
I still in Edinburgh on that fated visit. I called on Mrs. Stirling; the last time I have seen her. This letter was dated only ten days before the utter finis.
The sudden death mentioned here, minutely and sympathetically described in a letter to me, was that of Madame Venturi's (born Ashurst's) Italian husband, with both of whom she was familiar. - T. C.
To Mrs. Stirling, Hill Street, Edinburgh.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Wednesday, April 11, 1866.
My dear Susan Hunter, - No change of modern times would have surprised me more disagreeably than your addressing me in any other style than the old one. The delight of you is just the faith one has - has always had - in your constancy. One mayn't see you for twenty years, but one would go to you at the end with perfect certainty of being kissed as warmly and made as much of as when we were together in the age of enthusiasm.
I was strongly tempted to accompany Mr. C. to Edinburgh and see you all once more. But, looked at near hand, my strength, or rather my courage, failed me in presence of the prospective demand on my 'finer sensibilities.' Since my long, terrible illness, I have had to quite leave off seeking emotions, and cultivating them. I had done a great deal too much of that sort of work in my time. Even at this distance I lost my sleep, and was tattered to fiddle-strings for a week by that flare-up of popularity in Edinburgh. To be sure the sudden death of an apparently healthy young man, husband of one of my most intimate friends, had shocked me into an unusually morbid mood; to say nothing of poor Craik struck down whilst opening his mouth to reprove a pupil. I had got it into my head that
[Page 328] the previous sleeplessness and fatigue, and the fuss and closeness of a crowded room, and the novelty of the whole thing, would take such effect on Mr. C. that when he stood up to speak he would probably drop down dead! When at six o'clock I got a telegram from Professor Tyndall to tell me it was over, and well over, the relief was so sudden and complete, that I (what my cook called) 'went off' - that is, took a violent fit of crying, and had brandy given me.
I am very busy and cannot write a long letter; but a short one, containing the old love and a kiss, will be better than 'silence,' however 'golden.'
Your very affectionate
J. W. CARLYLE.
T Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbriq.
5 Cheyne Row: Thursday, April 12, 1866.
Dearest, - I sent you better than a letter yesterday - a charming 'Punch,' which I hope you received in due course; but Geraldine undertook the posting of it, and, as Ann said of her long ago, 'Miss can write books, but I'm sure it's the only thing she's fit for.' Well, there only wanted to complete your celebrity that you should be in the chief place of 'Punch; and there you are, cape and wideawake,
[Page 329] making a really creditable appearance. I must repeat what I said before - that the best part of this success is the general feeling of personal goodwill that pervades all they say and write about you. Even 'Punch' cuddles you, and purrs over you, as if you were his favourite son. From 'Punch' to Terry the greengrocer is a good step, but, let me tell you, he (Terry) asked Mrs. Warren - 'Was Mr. Carlyle the person they wrote of as Lord Rector?' and Mrs. Warren having answered in her stage voice, 'The very same!' Terry shouted out ('Quite shouted it, ma'm!'), 'I never was so glad of anything! By George, I am glad!' Both Mrs. Warren and Jessie rushed out and bought 'Punches' to send to their families; and, in the fervour of their mutual enthusiasm, they have actually ceased hostilities - for the present. It seems to me that on every new compliment paid you these women run and fry something, such savoury smells reach me upstairs.
Lady Lothian was here the day before yesterday with a remarkably silly Mrs. L-----. I was to tell you that she (Lady L.) was very impatient for your return - 'missed you dreadfully.' I was to 'come some day before luncheon, and then we could go - somewhere.' To Miss Evans is where we should go still, if you would let us.
Don't forget my oatmeal.
There is a large sheet from the Pall Mall Bank, acknowledging the receipt of seventy pounds 'only.' I don't forward any nonsense letters come to you. This one inclosed has sex and youth to plead for it - so,
J. W. C.
My kindest regards to Mary, for whom I have made a cap, you may tell her, but couldn't get it finished before you left.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row: Friday, April 13, 1866.
Oh, what a pity, dear, and what a stupidity I must say! After coming safely through so many fatigues and dangers to go and sprain your ankle, off your own feet! And such treatment the sprain will get! Out you will go with it morning and night, along the roughest roads, and keep up the swelling Heaven knows how long! The only comfort is that 'Providence is kind to women, fools, and drunk people,' and in the matter of taking care of yourself you come under the category of 'fools,' if ever any wise man did.
There came a note for you last night that will surprise you at this date as much as it did me,
[Page 331] though I daresay it won't make you start and give a little scream as it did me. It - such a note! - is hardly more friendly than silence, but it is more polite. I wish I hadn't sent him that kind message. Virtue (forgiveness of wrong, 'milk of human kindness,' and all that sort of 'damned thing') being 'ever its own reward, unless something particular occurs to prevent,' which it almost invariably does.
There! I must get ready for that blessed carriage. I have been redding up all morning.
J. W. CARLYLE.
It would be good to send back Mill's letter, that Reichenbach might tell Löwe of it.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row: Tuesday, April 17, 1866.
Oh, my dear, these women are too tiresome! Time after time I have sworn to send on none of their nonsense, but to burn it or let it lie, as I do all about '-----,' and there is always 'a something' that touches me on their behalf. Here is this Trimnell! She was doomed, and should have been cast into outer darkness (of the cupboard) but for that poor
[Page 332] little phrase, 'as much as my weak brains will permit.' And the Caroline C----- (who the deuce is she that writes such a scratchy, illegible hand?) sends her love to Mrs. Carlyle, and proposes to 'talk to her about Amisfield and Haddington.' 'Encouraged by your brother to beg,' &c. &c., complicates the question still further. Yes, it is the mixing up of things that is 'the great bad.'
I called at the Royal Institution yesterday to ask if Tyndall had returned. He was there; and I sat some time with him in his room hearing the minutest details of your doings and sufferings on the journey. It is the event of Tyndall's life! Crossing the hall, I noticed for the first time that officials were hurrying about; and I asked the one nearest me, 'Is there to be lecturing here to-day?' The man gave me such a look, as if I was deeranged, and people going up the stairs turned and looked at me as if I was deeranged. Neuberg ran down to me and asked, 'Wouldn't I hear the lecture?' And by simply going out when everyone else was going in I made myself an object of general interest. As I looked back from the carriage window I saw all heads in the hall and on the stairs turned towards me.
I called at Miss Bromley's after. She had dined at Marochetti's on Saturday, being to go with them to some spectacle after. The spectacle which she
[Page 333] saw without any going was a great fire of Marochetti's studio - furnaces overheated in casting Landseer's 'great lion.'
How dreadful that poor woman's suicide! What a deal of misery it must take to drive a working-woman to make away with her life! What does Dr. Carlyle make of such a case as that? No idleness, nor luxury, nor novel-reading to make it all plain.
J. W. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday, April 19, 1866.
I read the Memoir 'first' yesterday morning, having indeed read the 'Address' the evening before, and read it some three times in different newspapers. If you call that 'laudatory,' you must be easily pleased. I never read such stupid, vulgar janners. The last of calumnies that I should ever have expected to hear uttered about you was this of your going about 'filling the laps of dirty children with comfits.' Idiot! My half-pound of barley-sugar made into such a legend! The wretch has even
[Page 334] failed to put the right number to the sketch of the house - 'No. 7!' A luck, since he was going to blunder, that he didn't call it No. 6, with its present traditions. It is prettily enough done, the house. I recollect looking over the blind one morning and seeing a young man doing it. 'What can he be doing?' I said to Jessie. 'Oh, counting the windows for the taxes,' she answered quite confidently; and I was satisfied.
I saw Frederick Chapman yesterday, and he was very angry. He had 'frightened the fellow out of advertising,' he said; and he had gone round all the booksellers who had subscribed largely for the spurious Address, and required them to withdraw their orders. By what right, I wonder? Difficulty of procuring it will only make it the more sought after, I should think. 'By making it felony, ma'am, yourselves have raised the price of getting your dogs back.'
I didn't write yesterday because, in the first place I was very sick, and in the second place I got a moral shock, that stunned me pro tempore. No time to tell you about that just now, but another day.
I have put the women to sleep in your bed to air it. It seems so long since you went away.
Imagine the tea party I am to have on Saturday
[Page 335] night. Mrs. Oliphant, Principal Tulloch and wife and two grown-up daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Froude, Mr. and Mrs. Spottiswoode!
Did you give Jane the things I sent? When one sends a thing one likes to know if it has been received safe.
J. W. C.
The last words her hand ever wrote. Why should I tear my heart by reading them so often? They reached me at Dumfries, Sunday, April 22, fifteen hours after the fatal telegram had come. Bright weather this, and the day before I was crippling out Terregles way, among the silent green meadows, at the moment when she left this earth.
Spottiswoodes, King's Printer people. I durst never see them since. Miss Wynne, I hear, is dead of cancer six months ago.
'Very equal,' a thrifty Annandale phrase.
'Scende da carrozza' (Degli Antoni).
'Picture of Frederick.' I sent for it on the Tuesday following, directly on getting to Chelsea. It still hangs there; a poor enough Potsdam print, but to me priceless.
I am at Addiscombe in the room that was long 'Lady Harriet's;' day and house altogether silent, Thursday, August 5, 1869, while I finish this unspeakable revisal (reperusal and study of all her letters left to me). Task of about eleven months, and sad and strange as a pilgrimage through Hades. - T. C.
T. Carlyle, Esq., The Hill, Dumfries.
5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Saturday, April 21, 1866.
Dearest, - It seems 'just a consuming of time' to write to-day, when you are coming the day after to-morrow. But 'if there were nothing else in it' (your phrase) such a piece of liberality as letting one have letters on Sunday, if called for, should be honoured at least by availing oneself of it! All long stories, however, may be postponed till next week. Indeed, I have neither long stories nor short ones to tell this morning. To-morrow, after the tea-party, I may have more to say, provided I survive it! Though how I am to entertain 'on my own basis,' eleven people in a hot night 'without refreshment' (to speak of) is more than I 'see my way' through! Even as to cups - there are only ten cups of company-china; and eleven are coming, myself making twelve! 'After all,' said Jessie, 'you had once eight at tea - three mair won't kill us!' I'm not so sure of that. Let us hope the motive will sanctify the end; being 'the welfare of others!' an unselfish desire to 'make two Ba-ings happy:' Principal Tulloch and Froude, who have a great liking for one another! The Spottiswoodes were added in the same philanthropic spirit. We met in a shop, and they begged permission to come again; so I thought it would be clever to get them over
[Page 337] (handsomely with Froude and Mrs. Oliphant) before you came. Miss Wynne offered herself, by accident, for that same night.
The Marchioness was here yesterday, twice; called at four when I hadn't returned, and called at five. She brought with her yesterday a charming old Miss Talbot, with a palsied head, but the most loveable babyish old face! She seemed to take to me, as I did to her; and Lady Lothian stayed behind a minute, to ask if I would go with her some day to see this Miss Talbot, who had a house full of the finest pictures. You should have sent the Address to Lord Lothian or Lady. I see several names on the list less worthy of such attention.
Chapman is furious at Hotten; no wonder! When he went round to the booksellers, he found that everywhere Hotten had got the start of him. Smith and Elder had bought five hundred copies from Hotten! And poor Frederick did not receive his copies from Edinburgh till he had 'telegraphed,' six-and-thirty hours after I had received mine!
I saw in an old furniture-shop window at Richmond a copy of the Frederick picture that was lent you - not bad; coarsely painted, but the likeness well preserved. Would you like to have it? I will, if so, make you a present of it, being to be had 'very equal.' I 'descended from the carriage,' and asked,
[Page 338] 'What was that?' (meaning what price was it). The broker told me impressively, 'That, ma'am, is Peter the Great.' 'Indeed! and what is the price?' 'Seven-and-sixpence.' I offered five shillings on the spot, but he would only come down to six shillings. I will go back for it if you like, and can find a place for it on my wall.
J. W. C.
On the afternoon of the day on which the preceding letter was written, Mrs. Carlyle died suddenly in her carriage in Hyde Park. A letter of Miss Jewsbury's relating the circumstances which attended and followed her death has been already published in the 'Reminiscences.' I reprint it here as a fit close to this book. - J. A. F.
To Thomas Carlyle.
43 Markham Square, Chelsea: May 26. 1866.
'Dear Mr. Carlyle, - I think it better to write than to speak on the miserable subject about which you told me to inquire of Mr. Silvester. I saw him to-day. He said that it would be about twenty minutes after three o'clock or thereabouts when they left Mr. Forster's house; that he then drove through the Queen's Gate, close by Kensington Gardens, that there, at the uppermost gate, she got out, and walked along the side of the Gardens very slowly, about two hundred paces, with the little dog running, until she came to the Serpentine Bridge, at the southern end of which
[Page 339] she got into the carriage again, and he drove on till they came to a quiet place on the Tyburnia side, near Victoria Gate, and then she put out the little dog to run along. When they came opposite to Albion Street, Stanhope Place (lowest thoroughfare of Park towards Marble Arch), a brougham coming along upset the dog, which lay on its back screaming for a while, and then she pulled the check-string; and he turned round and pulled up at the side of the footpath, and there the dog was (he had got up out of the road and gone there). Almost before the carriage stopped she was out of it. The lady whose brougham had caused the accident got out also, and several other ladies who were walking had stopped round the dog. The lady spoke to her; but he could not hear what she said, and the other ladies spoke. She then lifted the dog into the carriage, and got in herself. He asked if the little dog was hurt; but he thinks she did not hear him, as carriages were passing. He heard the dog squeak as if she had been feeling it (nothing but a toe was hurt); this was the last sound or sigh he ever heard from her place of fate. He went on towards Hyde Park Corner, turned there and drove past the Duke of Wellington's Achilles figure, up the drive to the Serpentine and past it, and came round by the road where the dog was hurt, past the Duke of Wellington's house and past the gate opposite St. George's. Getting no sign (noticing only the two hands laid on the lap, palm uppermost the right hand, reverse way the left, and all motionless), he turned into the Serpentine drive again; but after a few yards, feeling a little surprised, he looked back, and, seeing her in the same posture, became alarmed, made for the streetward entrance into the Park a few yards westward of gatekeeper's lodge, and asked a lady to look in; and she said what we know, and she addressed a gentleman who confirmed her fears. It was then fully a quarter past four;
[Page 340] going on to twenty minutes (but nearer the quarter); of this he is quite certain. She was leaning back in one corner of the carriage, rugs spread over her knees; her eyes were closed, and her upper lip slightly, slightly opened. Those who saw her at the hospital and when in the carriage speak of the beautiful expression upon her face.
'On that miserable night, when we were preparing to receive her, Mrs. Warren came to me and said, that one time, when she was very ill, she said to her, that when the last had come, she was to go upstairs into the closet of the spare room and there she would find two wax candles wrapt in paper, and that those were to be lighted and burned. She said that after she came to live in London she wanted to give a party; her mother wished everything to be very nice, and went out and bought candles and confectionery, and set out a table, and lighted the room quite splendidly, and called her to come and see it when all was prepared. She was angry; she said people would say she was extravagant, and would ruin her husband. She took away two of the candles and some of the cakes. Her mother was hurt and began to weep. She was pained at once at what she had done; she tried to comfort her, and was dreadfully sorry. She took the candles and wrapped them up, and put them where they could be easily found. We found them and lighted them, and did as she desired.
'G. E. J.'
What a strange, beautiful, sublime and almost terrible little action; silently resolved on, and kept silent from all the earth for perhaps twenty-four years! I never heard a whisper of it, and yet see it to be true. The visit must have been about 1837; I remember the soirée right well; the resolution, bright as with heavenly tears and lightning,
[Page 341] was probably formed on her mother's death, February 1842. - T. C.
Mrs. Carlyle was buried by the side of her father, in the choir of Haddington Church. These words follow on the tombstone after her father's name :-
HERE LIKEWISE NOW RESTS
JANE WELSH CARLYLE,
SPOUSE OF THOMAS CARLYLE, CHELSEA, LONDON.
SHE WAS BORN AT HADDINGTON, 14TH JULY, 1801, ONLY DAUGHTER
OF THE ABOVE JOHN WELSH, AND OF GRACE WELSH, CAPLEGILL,
DUMFRIESSHIRE, HIS WIFE. IN HER BRIGHT EXISTENCE SHE
HAD MORE SORROWS THAN ARE COMMON; BUT ALSO A SOFT
INVINCIBILITY, A CLEARNESS OF DISCERNMENT, AND A NOBLE
LOYALTY OF HEART, WHICH ARE RARE. FOR FORTY YEARS SHE
WAS THE TRUE AND EVER-LOVING HELPMATE OF HER HUSBAND,
AND BY ACT AND WORD UNWEARIEDLY FORWARDED HIM, AS NONE
ELSE COULD, IN ALL OF WORTHY, THAT HE DID OR ATTEMPTED.
SHE DIED AT LONDON, 21ST APRIL, 1866; SUDDENLY SNATCHED
AWAY FROM HIM, AND THE LIGHT OF HIS LIFE, AS IF GONE OUT.
LONDON: PRINTED BY
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
AND PARLIAMENT STREET
1 Not known to me.
1 Dr. Russell's special employment for years back was superintendence of a country bank; but his gratis practice of medicine, and of every helpful thing in that region, continued and continues (1869).
2 Alas! they never came.
1 They never came.
1 His phrase to me one day at St. Leonards - in that desperate time.
2 My saucy little Arab (gift of Lady Ashburton).
1 Mr. Macmillan's house (fine old-fashioned suburban villa there).
2 Alas, and this was it: often have I remembered that word.
1 In 1859: 'Cares of bread.' - Mazzini's phrase.
1 Maids writing begins.
1 Glasgow poisoner in those weeks.
2 Servant here.
1 Miss Mulock once, now a current authoress of John Halifax, &c. &c.
1 I did go.
1 'Pang which was exquisite.' Foolish phrase of Godwin's in his Life of Mary Wollstonecraft.
1 To Newbattle, where I spent a day.
2 Frederic, my old German fellow-tourist: his cottage 'near Rhayader' was of route too intricate for me.
1 The Chelsea carpenter.
1 Alas, alas; watchful for two! How sad, sad that now is to me!
1 About some trifle of legacy from poor 'Jackie Welsh,' I think (supra).
2 Part of her task with those new neighbours, and their noises and paltrinesses. Good Heaven!
1 Lady William Russell, who much liked and admired her.
1 Uncle Robert's only surviving son, who had returned from sea in a dangerous state of health.
1 Carlyle's address to the students as Lord Rector. - J. A. F.
1 Her dying cousin.
1 Maggie Welsh.
2 Aitken, now attempting business in the City.
1 John Mill's stepson-in-law
1 A lying boy at Haddington, whom his mother excused in that way.
1 Oh, that I had - alas, alas!
2 Old grandfather Walter's 'vaary the schane.'
1 A gift of poor Betty's - never to arrive.
1 A tailor's daughter, in the Kensington region, a modest yet ardent admirer, whom, liking the tone of her letter, she drove to see, and liked, and continued to like.
2 Correcting to the Edinburgh printer of the Address. A London pirate quite forestalled me and it.
3 See page 321.
1 It came to Scotsbrig, with this letter, late at night; how merry it made us all: oh, Heaven! 'merry!'
1 Famous 'George Eliot' (or some such pseudonym).
1 A note from John Mill - response about some trifle, after long delay.
2 Löwe (German, unknown to me) wanted to translate something of Mill's, and had applied, through Reichenbach, to me on the matter.
1 Reichenbach's phrase.
1 A poor neuralgic woman, near Scotsbrig - a daughter of old Betty Smail's (mentioned already? - 'head like a mall,' &c.).
2 Alas! that was a blind, hasty, and cruel speech of poor, good John's!
3 By London pirate.
4 Capital Scotch word.
1 London dog-stealers pleaded so, on the Act passed against them.
2 What I could never guess.
3 Oh, Heaven!
1 I did, and told her so in the letter she never received . Why should I ever read this again! (Note of 1866.)
1 Mrs. Carlyle's coachman.
1 The housekeeper in Cheyne Row.