A Celebration of Women Writers

"Vol. II (Section 2)."
From: New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle (London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1893) ed. Alexander Carlyle.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 121] 


To Mrs. Russell.

Kirkcaldy, Tuesday, '9 Sep., 1856.'

Dearest Mrs. Russell - I have waited till I could fix a time for my long intended visit; but my program having to adapt itself in some measure to my Husband's, it has been longer than I expected that I have myself been kept in uncertainty.

Now it is all right, however! Mr. Carlyle is off to the Highlands without my needing to accompany him part of the way, as was at first proposed; and I may dispose of my two or three remaining weeks in Scotland, according to my "own sweet will."

A great cold, which I caught in an over-heated church, just when I was thinking how wonderfully well I had been since my departure from London, has curtailed my travels; and curtailed my wishes too. ... I hope to be at Thornhill about Monday or Tuesday week. If there be any hindrance arisen on your side, send a line for me to Mr. James Carlyle, Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan, about the end of next week. If I hear of nothing to the contrary, I will write from there, fixing the particular day when, God willing, I shall give you a good kiss. I try not to think of anything but your own house, where all are still alive and have a welcome for me still, after so many, many years.

I hope in Heaven, I shall be better before the time come for setting out on my travels again. I could have gone to Dumfries this week but for that horrid cold which has kept me wretched this fortnight past. ... Oh, my Dear, whatever tempted me when I was so well, to go [Page 122]  and "hear" Dr. Guthrie, whose church is just like one of Soyer's patent stew-pans!

I wonder if my Aunt Anne be still in Thornhill. My love to her if she is.

Yours affectionately,



To T. Carlyle, The Lord Ashburton's, Dingwall.

Scotsbrig, Thursday, 18 Sep., 1856.

Well, I am safe here, tho' not without a struggle for it. In spite of Miss Jessie's continued celebration of the "wholesomeness" of their life, I was up to the last "ashamed to say I'se no better." On the Saturday I went to Auchtertool to see Alick, and bid them all farewell, and fetch away the blessed Birds. And I staid there lying on a sofa mostly, till the Sunday afternoon, when the Ferguses' carriage came for me. - On Monday morning I started to "cross," accompanied by Mr. Lyon (Sir Adam Ferguson's Stepson who married Phoebe Johnston of Cowhill); and first we were kept waiting for the train an hour and ten minutes ("run aground in Loch Tay" the telegraph informed us for our consolation). And then! Oh then! I was to solve that question, Was I still liable to seasickness? So as to leave no shadow of doubt, the boat went like a swing, and I became sick at once, - in the old, inward, inexplosive fashion! The Birdcage was caught out of my arms by a stranger lady, and Mr. Lyon half carried me out of the Saloon, and deposited me on a coil of dripping wet rope, the only vacant spot outside. And a horrible [Page 123]  hour I spent there! But all hours come to an end; and I was able to walk to the train, tho' the sickness continued for 24 hours, and I was all trembling from head to foot.

... All the visits and shopping I "did intend" to do, had to he thrown over; and I went straight to my Aunts' who received me most kindly - really looked waeer for me than could have been expected of them, gave me whisky, then tea, and hurried "Prayers," that I might be put to bed at eight o'clock.

As I had written to Jamie, I insisted on going on next day, tho' pressed most earnestly to stay till I had recovered myself; and I think the railway journey did me good rather than harm. I missed the forenoon train, however, having mistaken the hour of starting, and did not reach Ecclefechan till thirteen minutes after nine, - not at all sure that anybody would be there to meet me! and the night quite dark! But it was all right. Jamie had seen my mistake in the Letter I wrote, and calculated that I would come by that train.

Isabella had a bright fire and tea-things ready; but I "took a notion" of porridge. Yesterday I breakfasted in bed, but I got up at eleven, and am much better than could have been expected.[1]


To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, Friday, 'Oct., 1856.'

Darling - This isn't going to be much of a Letter; only a few lines to say you shall have the good long Letter [Page 124]  I owe you, so soon as I am up to writing; and that meantime I think of you every hour of the day, and wish you were sitting on the side of my bed to make of me! I do so want to be made of just now.

... Just this day week, I took what Lady Ashburton is always taking, "a chill," which developed itself into a violent cold "with tetanic complications" (I haven't read Palmer's Trial for nothing!). For five nights I couldn't get a wink of sleep, - only one night of the five I passed in as near an approach to the blessed state of Nirwana as any one not a worshipper of Buddha need aspire to: that was from a dose of morphia I had given myself, and to which I ascribe the "tetanic complications." Served me right for being so cowardly as to take it. I didn't mean to take any more morphia after what Dr. Russell said about it; and perhaps, too, morphia had nothing to do with the fearful pain in my left side, which threw myself and even the wooden Ann, - and Mr. C. too, - into a panic, two days after it was taken. Please ask the Doctor, if morphia could give me a cramp in my left side two days after taking it? Also please tell him that he said I "would have sent for a doctor if I had ever been very ill"; and that when Mr. C. said that day, "who shall I send for? what shall I do?," I said in the midst of my screaming, "nobody, nobody, only put me in hot water." And I can assure Dr. Russell I am "very ill" when I scream - not to say scream without intermission for half an hour together!! Don't let him fancy I make a practice of taking morphia whenever I can't sleep: I hadn't taken any for four months. [Page 125] 

Ann has been very attentive to me; and Mr. C. declares (tho' I can't believe it) that she "ran" the day I was so ill, and "cried," after a fashion!

Such odd freaks come into one's head when one is in critical situations! I remember once being galloped a quarter of a mile by a mad horse, with my head within two or three inches of the ground. I was sure I should be killed, and I thought, "How lucky that Macleay took a notion to do that Miniature of me, that my Mother may have it!!" The other day, in the midst of my spasms I thought, "If I die they won't know to send those pins to Mrs. Russell!" - It was two German brooches I had thought would just suit you to wear with that pretty open black-silk gown, and had brought down stairs the first day of my illness to put them in a Letter and hadn't been able to write it; and for all such a trifle as that was, it bothered me like a great thing! So to-day, now that I am really much better and can attend to my affairs a little, I send the brooches.

Thank you for the Paper. I wouldn't let it be sent away; I have it laid by, - if it were only for that compliment to you, Dear, and the Doctor's nice, clever, good-humoured answer to it. My love to him and to your Father. - I am writing lying on my back, in bed, with your plaid so soft (soft it feels morally as well as materially) on my shoulders, and my blot-book set against my drawn-up knees. That is why I write so badly. - I kiss you twenty times.

Your affectionate


[Page 126] 


To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, 28 November, 1856.

My Darling - You can't think what difficulty I have had to keep Geraldine [Jewsbury] from firing off Letters at you every two or three days, with the most alarming accounts of my bodily state! It is her besetting weakness by nature, and her trade of Novelist has aggravated it, - the desire of feeling and producing violent emotions. When I am well I can laugh down this sort of thing in her; but when I am ill it fatigues me dreadfully, and irritates my moral sense as well as my nerves. In illness, as in Madame Genlis' Castle of Truth, people and things are stript of all illusion for one, and one sees, thro' all affectations and exaggerations and got up feelings, to simple fact. - It seems as if disorder in one's nervous-system were needed to develop in the brain all the insight that lies in it inert. However that may be, when I am very ill I can't endure to be "made a phrase" over, and used up for purposes of emotion! And so in these weeks, my hard, practical Ann, who never utters a sympathising word, but does everything I need, punctually, has been a far more agreeable nurse for me than poor Geraldine, who, if I asked for a glass of water, would spill the half of it by the way, and in compensation would drop tears on my hand, and assure me that I was "sure to die!" and then fall to kissing me wildly (when I was perhaps in an interval of retching perfectly hating to be kissed!) and bursting out into passionate sobs! (which of course [Page 127]  did not prevent her from going out into company half an hour after, and being the life of it!). These scenes wore me out so, that I was obliged to restrict her visits to one half-hour in the day; and then, to be doing something, she would write Letters to you, to my Cousins, and any one she thought anxious about me. I said she might write to Maggie one day, on condition that I saw the Letter before it went. My Dear! they would have believed at Auchtertool I hadn't a week to live! I burnt the Letter, - and two other Letters, - and as I believed you really cared for me, and would be distressed at the thought of losing me, I prohibited her over and over again from writing to you at all.[1] At last I gave in to her fixed notion to write, only on the understanding that if there were any exaggeration in the Letter I should have the burning of it too! - I found it a nice Letter, and pretty near the truth.

I am much better: my cough is quite gone; and I am sleeping better, - get to sleep between two and three instead of at six or not at all, as was the case for a month. Great weakness is all that remains to be cured; and I do take the most nourishing things; and only the weather [Page 128]  has prevented me taking a drive every day this week. I have been out once in a Fly, besides into the Garden to see my poor little plants, who don't know whether to live or die. The canaries are well, but in spite of their expensive mahogany bath, they are as black with the fog as the sheep in Hyde Park. The other night I was alarmed by their having a bad dream, or one of them, I suppose, had the bad dream, and the other was frightened by its fright. They dashed about and flapped against the wires of the cage like mad canaries for a quarter of an hour.

Mr. Carlyle, after having several horses on trial, bought a beautiful one[1] ten days ago, and the first day he rode it, he brought it home some five miles with two shoes lost! Then the smith shod it, with a broken nail in its hoof under the new shoe! Of course it became dead lame, and had to be sent to a veterinary surgeon, where it is, and is likely to be for some fortnight yet. "No wonder," my Ann says, "there is nothing so bad for festering as a rancid (rusty?) nail!" Mr. Fairie goes and sees the horse daily, and sends bulletins of its health. Every time Mr. Fairie comes, he asks, have I heard from Mrs. Russell? and tells me how much his friends the Gladstones admire both you and your Husband. I bless the chance which sent him into your drawing-room that wet day; that gives me somebody who has seen you, to speak of you to.

Oh, such a fright I got last Friday morning! Thursday night was my second night of something like human sleep. I had fallen asleep about three, and was still sleeping off and on between six and seven, when I was startled wide [Page 129]  awake by a heavy fall in the room directly over mine (Mr. C.'s bedroom); I knew in the very act of waking, that it was no table or inanimate thing that made the sound, but a human body, - Mr. C.'s of course - the only human body there! What could I think but that he had got up ill, and fallen down in a fit? I threw myself out of bed, tore open my door and began to run upstairs. But my legs got paralysed; I leant against the wall and screamed. In answer to my scream, came Mr. C.'s voice, calling out quite jolly, "It's nothing, my Dear! Go back to your bed; it is a mistake: I will be there presently!" Back to bed I crept; and then if it had been in my constitution to take a fit of hysterics I should have taken it! As it was I lay and trembled and my teeth chattered, and when Mr. C. came and tried me with some water, I could no more swallow it than if I had taken hydrophobia. He had awoke too early, and got up to go down stairs and smoke;[1] his way of invoking sleep. His room being quite dark, and thinking to put on his stockings and shoes before getting himself a light, he had gone to sit down on a chair at the bottom of his bed, where these articles are kept; but mistaking the locality, he had sat down on nothing at all! and fell smack his whole length on the floor, - not hurting himself in the least, for a wonder. This adventure has pretty well taken the conceit out of me on the score of courage, presence of mind, and all that! Mercy! what would have become of Dr. Russell if he had had a Wife who stood still and screamed, that time when he was so dangerously ill? ... [Page 130] 

Do be so good as give Mr. Dobbie[1] an emphatic kiss for me; for if Mr. C. become unendurable with his eternal "Frederick," I intend running away with Mr. Dobbie! - to the backwoods, or wherever he likes. - God bless you, my dear, kind, true woman. Give my love to your Husband.

Yours ever affectionately,


Have you got the new little dog? I have a whistle for him.


To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, Monday, '7 Dec., 1856.'

"A feverish cold and headache," Oh, my Dear! I am sorry for you and angry at you for putting it on yourself to write in these conditions. Please don't ever "feel it your duty" to write to me. There are few greater pleasures for me in the world than getting a Letter from you: the place you write from, - more interesting to me than all other places on the great round globe except only Haddington, - the association with my Mother that always attaches to you in my mind; your own lovely, womanly character; and your affection for myself, for my Mother's sake, and for my own too I feel, since that week of such mixed suffering and blessing I passed beside you: - all that together makes a Letter from you like a drop of [Page 131]  manna in this wilderness of artificialities and trivialities, where my heart is not. Still I would have you write to me just when the spirit moves you - as I write to you when the spirit moves me, - when I feel to need to pay you a little visit, as it were, and give you a kiss, you dear kind woman!

I sent your Book on Friday. The Secretary packed it (Mr. C. is so enchanted when any use can be found for that Famulus of his!), so I hope it would go safe. Yesterday I sent the Book[1] to Dr. Russell.

A German friend of mine, to whom I had written of the phrenzy Mr. C. had been in at his Secretary's habit of "sniffing through his nose," answered that he hoped he (the Secretary) was going to prove of great use to me - as "a lightning conductor!" When I told Mr. C. this, he said "faith, Plattnauer is pretty right: I do think the poor little fellow keeps a good deal off you!" - The horse is back to his stable free of lameness, but mustn't be ridden for a week yet, till the hoof that had to be pared has grown.

We have suddenly passed from Winter to Summer - a difference of twenty degrees between one day and another. These sudden extreme changes make the climate here very trying to delicate people. First the cruel frost, and then an atmosphere only fit for fishes to live in, have kept me in the house ever since I wrote to you, till to-day, that I took a drive of ten miles, - my first reasonable exercise for seven weeks. Oh dear, one gets to feel so musty and moth-eaten, stuck up in a house so long! Of [Page 132]  course I went out in your Plaid: surely it was in the spirit of prophecy you gave me that Plaid! It never leaves me, more than my skin. ...

Your true friend,



To Mrs. Russell.

Chelsea, 'March, 1857.'

My dearest Mary - ... If only you could get back your sleep, Darling! It is dreadful when sorrow cannot have the relief which nature has appointed it in sleep, in forgetfulness, but must be endured by night as well as by day! and every sad image that presents itself is thrown out in such gigantic relief on the darkness, and made so haggard by bodily weariness! ... There is nothing I feel so much sympathy with as sleeplessness; for there is nothing I have suffered so much from myself. However kindly disposed one may be, it needs always that one should understand another's trouble before one can rightly sympathise with it. My comfort about you is, that your Husband, besides being a kind Husband, is a skilful Doctor; and whatever can be done to overcome your wakefulness will assuredly be done. Do you know he has helped me to get better sleep, by what he said when I was at Thornhill, about the injuriousness of Morphia, and such things. ... I have also abstained from something else Dr. Russell did not prohibit, nay rather by example inculcated; I take no tea, - only what they call [Page 133]  in Scotland "content" - not even that quite, for I take milk and water without sugar. For the rest, I am decidedly recovering now. And even while your mind must needs be full of your own sad loss,[1] I know you are unselfish enough and love me enough to be interested in what I write of myself, and glad that it is so favourable. I have been out four times in a carriage; and I feel stronger body and mind. The cough is not gone yet, but there is no pain connected with it now; and it will need warmer weather to break the habit of coughing. I was beginning to think with Dr. Russell that I had taken a too serious responsibility on myself in doctoring myself thro' this last illness; but now I am glad, for any of these slapdash medical eminences who had seen me a few weeks ago, not knowing how many of the same sort of seizures I had weathered, would for certain have ordered me to Madeira, or the south of Italy, - to the complete upsetting of one's domestic convenience, and the progress of Frederick the Great! It is seventeen years now, since a Doctor Morrah, who attended me here, in such another illness, told me I "should never live through another Winter in England!!" He was a man of high reputation, whom I shouldn't have disliked having again, but he died soon after. Well, I resolved when the next Winter came, to stay and take my chance! and I have lived 19 Winters in England; and ten of them I have walked about in the coldest frosts, at the rate of six or ten miles a day! To be sure the Pitcher goes often to the well and gets broken at last. This time again, however, the poor little brittle [Page 134]  Pitcher will come back from the well whole, I think; or with only a little crack in it. And cracked things often hold out as long as whole things, - one takes so much better care of them.

The last two or three days, I have been more anxious about my maid than about myself; she has excellent health; has not been an hour unable for her work since she came to us three and a half years ago! But the other day she cut her finger severely; did not come to tell me, but fussed on with it herself; and it bled half a pint, and was badly wrapped up; and kept her awake all the night after, with the pain of it. To which I impute the bilious attack she had next day. She is going about again now quite well, only a little weak; but for three days I had two strangers, - that is to say, new hands, in the house (I have one of them still), to fill her one place - and so inadequately! And I had to wait on her myself, instead of being waited on.

I must tell you an instance of Ann's gentility: It was in shaving a bath-brick that she cut her finger. To-day when she opened the door to the Lady Alice Hill (a lovely girl whom Ann respects very much as the Daughter of a real live Marchioness), Lady Alice, who is the most bewitching little monkey in the world, said, "Oh Ann, what ails your hand?" (the finger was wrapped in a bit of scarlet cloth!!) "I have cut it, my Lady." "How did you cut it?" "Well, I did it in cutting up a - fowl!!" She told me this substitution herself. "You know Ma'am," said she, in telling of Lady Alice's kind enquiries, "I couldn't go and say to a real young Lady that I did it [Page 135]  cutting a bath-brick! that sounded so common! I thought a fowl was more the thing!!"

... I will write soon again.

Your affectionate



To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, 'May, 1857.'

Dearest Mary - I have been long in answering your dear Letter. If you saw Lady Ashburton's death[1] in the Newspapers you would partly guess why; that I was shocked, and dispirited, and feeling silence best. But you could not guess the outward disturbance consequent on this event! The Letters and calls of inquiry and condolence that have been eating up my days for the last two weeks! distressingly and irritatingly. ... At no moment since the time she was first declared in danger could her death have come with more shock. Lord Ashburton had just been here for a week, making preparations for her immediate return to England; and he represented her as "progressing most favourably." Sir James Clarke, who had been to Paris to see her, said the same. Lord A. was to have gone back to Paris on the Sunday, but on Saturday he got a Letter from her, telling him to go to St. Leonards and take a House there; "that she might be at the seaside, if she liked, during September!" He went and took the House, and so did not go to Paris till [Page 136]  the Monday, when she had been dead two hours! I never heard of so easy a death. She was dressing about four o'clock; felt faint, and called for Dr. Rous (her private Doctor); he told her, in answer to her question, "what is this?" "you are going to faint, it is nothing; you mustn't mind these faintnesses!" He put his arm round her to support her; she clasped her hands over his other arm, leant her forehead on his shoulder, gave a sigh, and was dead!

Last Tuesday Mr. C. went to the Grange to be present at her funeral. It was conducted with a kind of royal state; and all the men, who used to compose a sort of Court for her, were there, in tears! I never heard of a gloomier funeral.

All this has kept me from getting the good I expected from the change of weather. My cough is entirely gone; but I am weak and nervous to a degree! And driving out thro' these stifling streets, puts no strength into me. I long to be far away. I feel as if one long breath of pure Scotch air would cure me! - The German scheme is fallen entirely into abeyance. Mr. C. has commenced printing the first two volumes of his Book; and it will be a year he says, before they are ready. "How was it then," I asked last night, "that you spoke of being done with them in two months, telling me I must make haste and get well to go to Germany?" "Oh," said he, "one talks all sorts of things!" "But," said I, "that was a talk that cost me three nights sleep, and ever so many days of anxious uneasy thought!" "Bless me!" said he, quite astonished, "I said all that chiefly by way of cheering you up!!!" [Page 137]  Oh, men! men! how stupid you are in your dealings with us poor egg-shell wretches! There is no great fear of Germany, then, for a year anyhow! He will be too busy for going from home at all, if he can possibly stand the heat in Town. So that I fancy I shall be at liberty to regulate my own goings according to my own will, which however is hampered enough by many considerations; chiefly that of his solitude and tendency to overwork himself when left in the house alone. For his material comforts, Ann can care as well as I, now; the only difference being in the scales of expenditure, - and even that is not exorbitant. It will be no hindrance to him however, in the long run, not to leave untried any feasible means of strengthening myself before the Winter returns to take me by the lungs; and certainly getting out of this and breathing fresh air awhile, under favourable moral circumstances, would be the most feasible means of all! Nowhere could I be so well and content, I think, as with you; and if I could go to you for a fortnight or so, without travelling farther and making more visits, I would say at once your kind invitation is believed in and accepted! But there are so many in Scotland who have always been kind to me, and whose kindness I would not for the world seem insensible to, who would be grieved and angered if I be in Scotland without going to see them; and that sort of brashing about which I experienced last year, is more than I have either strength or spirits for in my normal state. After this long illness and confinement to one spot and one circle of ideas, I shudder at the bare notion of going over the ground, both material [Page 138]  and emotional, that I went over last year! But it is time enough to be making up one's plans.

In the meantime I am going for a week to Easthampstead Park (the Marquis of Downshire's), almost immediately. But these great grand Country Houses are not the places Nature prompts me to take my sick nerves and bad spirits to! Especially when I am not going as a sort of animated, still wholly irresponsible carpet-bag, with Mr. Carlyle's name on it, but on my own basis! ...

I have not made a single call yet; but when I have finished this Letter, I am going off in a cab to call for the old Countess of Sandwich (Lady A.'s Mother). She said yesterday she would like to see me. ...

I send you some Poems, amongst which you will find some to like. - God bless you, my Darling! Kindest love to your Husband. I was so very thankful to hear of your improved sleep.

Affectionately yours,



To Mrs. Braid, Edinburgh.

Addiscombe, Saturday, 'May, 1857.'

Dearest Betty[1] - I have so many things to tell you, [Page 139]  and leisure just now for telling them, if I only were sure of your address. ...

I have been a week on a visit (at Lord Ashburton's), to try and pick up a little strength after my four months' confinement. It is the first visit I have made at any of Lord A.'s places since Lady Ashburton's death; and the first coming was very miserable; everything exactly as she had left it; and yet such a difference! But I am getting accustomed to missing her. And her Mother, who is here, and Lord A. himself, do all they can to make me comfortable in the house.

I can't say I feel much stronger, but the change of air and daily carriage exercise make me sleep better than I had done for many months; and that must benefit me surely in the long run, - besides being much pleasanter for the time than lying tossing about awake.

Mr. Erskine wrote me strong regrets about your going so far away from his rubber[1], who he thinks was certainly doing George good. Mr. Erskine has always seemed to me, for a clever man, surprisingly credulous about new cures! I should think the fresh country air more likely to mend George than the rubbing! What I am anxious about is how your Husband is going to employ his time [Page 140]  out there, and how you are to keep the pot boiling? Do you know, Dear? If you do, I wish you would tell me.

Your own Bairn,



To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Sunny Bank, Sunday, 12 July, 1857.

I had fairly torn myself out of the arms of Miss Jess yesterday, and was running up stairs "to write to him," when she called after me, "but, my dear, he won't get your Letter to-morrow, it's Sunday!" So I had just to come back "with my finger in my mouth." That night on the road has set my mental clock all wrong. Otherwise, it has had no bad consequence; and I am certainly better already for my change of air; am stronger, hungrier and sleepier. And it is not the sudden, miraculous betterness of last year, beginning and ending in the excitement of the thing! This time there has been no excitement to speak of. Repetition and the sobering effects of long illness have quite taken off the edge of my "feelings"; and I can look round me - in the church-yard itself - with the dead calm of a ghost.

I have not been in any house of the Town yet, except Miss Welsh's,[1] who, I was told by Miss Donaldson, was dangerously ill, proving the authenticity of her relationship by appearance of consumption. ...

I drive generally seaward; and yesterday I went to [Page 141]  Aberlady and investigated its capacities as a sea-bathing place, in case you should be on the lookout for one again. I have no hesitation in saying that it would suit you - suit us - better than any other seaside place I ever saw. ... I am sure I could make you comfortable there; and should feel heimlich myself. Together, I should not mind trying the cheap train again; and after a sound sleep, one feels no consequences. So we could have sea-bathing at Aberlady on as cheap terms as at Eastbourne, - and infinitely more agreeable ones. ...

My life here is as good for me as any life could be, tho' most people would wonder where the charm lay which makes me all day long as content as I can ever hope to be in this world. Every night I go to bed as hoarse as a crow with talking and reading at the top of my lungs to these dear, almost stone-deaf, old women. And I like that! They love me so very much, and are so happy over me.

I saw and knew your Letter thro' the window, on the diningroom table, when I was getting out of the carriage. I was very glad of it. Geraldine writes that Ann told her "Mr. Carlyle was quite happy and comfortable." - "Maybe's ye're nae great judge!" - A kiss to Nero, two chirps to the canaries.

Your affectionate



To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Sunny Bank, Saturday, 18 July, 1857.

Ach! My Dear! Let him, especially her, who standeth [Page 142]  on the housetop, etc., etc. Since writing to you how well I was, I have demonstrated the truth of Miss Jess' observation that I was "as easy as possible to overset." Returning from putting that Letter in the Post-office, I was caught in the rain, and rather damped, - that was all! for it was just a few drops to save the honour of St. Swithin. ... How "overset" I was all yesterday by the fierce pain I had suffered, and the want of sleep, and worst of all, I think, the chloroform I had swallowed, I cannot describe. I was not even up to my usual drive. Last night I was quite free from pain, and slept by snatches; but I am very weak in body and mind; - would rather be in my own bed at Chelsea! Not that I lack any comfort here I could have there; and certainly I am more made of here than I should be anywhere else in the world! but that very making of worries, when one has got disused to it. ...

Eliza [Donaldson] does not arrive till next Wednesday, which is certainly very good of her. And I don't think I shall leave here till the week following. At the least allusion to my departure, my dear old friends fall to fluttering on their chairs like birds frightened in their nests; and utter such plaintive, almost sobbing protests, that I haven't the heart to pursue the subject. So it still rests in the vague, the day of my departure.

While I was feeling to be gaining strength, I was easy in my mind about leaving you alone. It was more important to you to avoid a repetition of my last winter's illness, or worse, than to be a little solitary and even a little put about by my absence at present; but these two [Page 143]  last days I am always thinking, "If I have taken this long expensive journey, and left things at home to Providence, for no permanent benefit to my health, which would reflect itself on 'others!' If - !" and then I assure you I am tempted to "drop a tear over myself" like Peesweep.[1]

Yours affectionately,



To T. Carlyle, Chelsea

Craigenvilla, Wednesday, 29 July, 1857.

Oh, my Dear, my Dear! "Ye maun just excuse us the day"; for with all the good will in the world I cannot make you a "suitable return." Just "to let you know I am in being, This is intended for a sign."[2] ...

On arriving in Edinburgh, the first thing I did, before setting foot in any house, was to rush off in search of a pocket comb[3] for you (observe I had not then got your Letter); and you can't think how many shops I was in before I could find one that I thought you would like. I took it into a Bookshop, bought a slip of writing paper to entitle me to ask for pen and wax, and made it up (I couldn't write, I was all so shaky), then carried it to the general Post-office, where I met John Stodart, who walked with me to near Betty's. I took curds and cream at Betty's. Then on per cab to Morningside, where I was most warmly welcomed, and found your Letter. [Page 144]  I was so provoked that you there told me to get a comb! For my packet would then arrive as the mere fulfilment of a commission instead of a spontaneous "delicate attention," which it was.

I am exceedingly vexed about your "feverishness"; for I know it is just that you are taking the opportunity of being your own entire master to sit up at nights and work at odd hours and play the devil with yourself. I must come back if I don't get better accounts of you.

I am to start at half-past eleven to catch the midday boat to Burntisland; and the morning is already gone in breakfast, "prayers," etc. - I write this on a hard table in my bedroom, with my head in a whirl of anticipation of seasickness, etc.

The hedgehog[1] ran away! Oh please, do take care of yourself and write me another as long nice Letter. I will speak of the Proofs next time.

Yours in haste,



To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.[2]

Auchtertool, Monday, '3 August, 1857.'

... The Post Office arrangements are like all the other arrangements here, enough to make one stamp and foam at the mouth. ... One day I persuaded Mary to go as far as the post-office, when she was out on [Page 145]  her pony, and the result was a Punch! I could have thrown it at your head. Neither was I inordinately grateful for the Photographs. The Letter came yesterday (Sunday) at midday with the Precentor. I wrote to Lady Sandwich, and was going to write to you, when I was told the Precentor took back the Letters on Sunday as well as brought them, and was ready to start.

A thousand thanks for your attentions to these blessed animals. I had thought how disagreeable Tait must be making himself to the canaries, and was very pleased it had struck you also. My compliments to Ann, and thanks for the care of the "children." -

I have not announced myself to Fergusdom - don't intend to, until I am on the eve of departure. I had a kind Letter from Isabella[1] yesterday, expressing her regret that they could never have you and me there a Summer now. "We think it a great hardship" she says, "that we cannot ask you here; but the Doctor continues to do as he likes." And will as long as he is let, I reckon.

I have an invitation to a strawberry-play this evening at the James Prentices'; but I won't risk catching cold in the open dog-cart.

By all means send me the German Book. I was obliged to fall back on a stray volume of Shakespeare, during the night, and found it very - what shall I say? - dull upon my honour! Love's Labour Lost, it was.

A kiss to Nero.

Yours affectionately,

JANE W. Carlyle [Page 146] 

What would Varnhagen say to this penmanship? Heavens! a man who writes like that at his age doesn't deserve to live!


To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Auchtertool, Friday, 7 August, 1857.

Oh my Dear! I am going to put you off with another scrap; tho' besides my promise of a deliberate Letter to-day, there is come a nice good Letter from you to be answered. It is not physical inability, however, that hinders at present. I slept last night after my "dreadful gripe," and feel better for the moment. But just before your Letter came, Walter offered me a drive to Kirkcaldy, and as I can't take walking exercise just now, I thought a drive would be a "great advantage." Besides that it would give an opportunity to the Post-office after the London mail came in. So I welcomed the proposal "in my choicest mood," and went up stairs to write to you why I wasn't writing, in case you should fancy me worse; and to put my things on; when what should follow me but your Letter! Most unexpected blessing. For a girl who was sent to Kirkcaldy last night to bring "suet and plums" for an improvised dinner-party here to-day, was told by me to ask at the Post-office, and brought the parcel of photographs, etc.; but no Letter. How a Letter can have arrived since, I don't understand the least in the world. I was very glad of even the Photographs last night, tho' the Study is horrible to see! So black that it gives one the idea of a dungeon more than anything else; and Oh my! so disorderly that I felt a wild impatience [Page 147]  to be there redding it up a bit. Tait gives me the idea of a man going mad rather than gathering sense. The little figures under the awning however are charming; and one won't grudge him a little "fame" for these "a hundred years hence."

I am better situated in material respects than I was at first here; Maggie having seen with her eyes the bad effects produced on me by their distracted way of living, now makes a point of giving me my meals early and regularly, which is not hard to do, since I "want but little here below," - in the shape of food. Also I myself have been driven by pressure of circumstances, from my usual modesty, and actually express my likings and dislikings, with a certain Oliver Twist boldness. So I shall do very well till the "insipid offspring" with two nurses arrives on the scene, and then, having given it due lyrical recognition and congratulated the Mother on having done what England expected of her, and more, I may be off to Morningside, with at least no harm done. - I had been thinking of Portobello myself, - or rather Anne Welsh had suggested that expedient for combining comfort with seabathing. I shall see (as the blind man said). ...

God keep you. Excuse this hurried scrawl.

Yours affectionately,



To Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.

Morningside, Saturday, '22 Aug., 1857.'

My dear Jean - Thanks a thousand for your kind invitation. [Page 148]  Certainly if I could be persuaded into changing my mind, and doing what I had settled not to do, you would have persuaded me, by the warmth and urgency of your words. But I am, as you can hardly need to be told, "vera obstinate in my own way!" - might challenge the world, I think, to produce an instance of my ever doing a thing I had once positively refused to do! And, my Dear, I positively refused to go to Dumfriesshire this season, weeks ago. You may be sure it was not from want of asking that I have not been to Thornhill and am not meaning to go. ... Thornhill where I had never been till last year since my Mother's death, and then for only a few days, still looks too emotional by far for weak nerves and worn-out spirits. If I got strong and courageous and all that at Sunny Bank, I might perhaps go home by Thornhill, I thought; I would wait and see. So I waited and saw - that it was "no go." Not that I am not stronger since I left London. For the first week or two, I improved very decidedly; and tho' I have fallen back since, especially during my fortnight at Auchtertool (where I couldn't avoid going, being so near), still I have not fallen back to the London point of inability; and hope that my travels in search of health won't be trouble and money wasted after all.

But I am far from feeling up to any superfluous knocking about, or superfluous excitement; am, as dear Betty says, "ower wake for toiling myself." So I wrote to Mrs. Russell a fortnight ago, that I had quite decided to go back to London the way I came. (Rest of the Letter a-wanting)

[Page 149] 


To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Craigenvilla, Morningside, 25 Aug., 1857.

Perhaps a Letter from you may just be at hand, Dear. Indeed I am sure there is! But if I wait for its coming, there mayn't be leisure to write after, as I have engaged to make to-day a series of calls in this quarter. Mrs. Thomas Graham (Agnes Veitch), Major Davidson, the Miss Dunlops (Nieces of Mrs. Rennie of Phantasy), Augusta Stodart, - are all planted in "Willas" within sight of this one. Besides, Mrs. Paterson, for whom I will leave a card, if she is as is most likely at Linlathen; and poor Mrs. Samuel Brown whom I will call for, tho' I never saw her, because these Browns and Littlejohns have such a reverence for both you and my Father.

As I was driving out here the night of my arrival, my cab was met by an open carriage with two ladies in it; one of them had her face turned full on me, - a tiny face, sharp as a razor, with large dark eyes, set off by hair as white as snow, and plenty of it. The thought passed thro' my mind "can that possibly be Agnes Veitch? she lives hereabouts, and they said her hair was quite white." At the same instant the thought was passing through the other's mind, "can that possibly be Jeannie Welsh? there was luggage on the cab, and they said she was grown so thin." Next day she asked her Brother, Colonel Hamilton, to come with her to the address I had given him a fortnight before, to see if I was come, and if that was me. Both of us at meeting exclaimed the same [Page 150]  words: "and it really was you I saw!" "I can't understand it," she said, "you seem to me grown so tall!" It was she who was crined into a little fairy! Dear, dear! "Forty years makes a great odds on a girl!" I observe the only people who recognise one readily, are the men who were in love with one. John Stodart looks always as if he not only knew me at any distance, but was meeting me by appointment! Yesterday James Seaton, who had not seen me since I was Miss Welsh, after one hesitating glance, came up to me in Princes Street and spoke. He seemed so pleased that I on my side recognised him; and I did not tell him it was because he had grown into his own Father! whom I knew to be dead.[1]

I had a Letter from Geraldine [Jewsbury] yesterday morning, doing her best to undo your considerate kindness, and make me uncomfortable. Ann was "still so weak and far from well!" Even "Nero, poor dear, was looking so thin!" You, indeed, she represented as well, and in the best humour and spirits, - dwelling on it, as if she wished to "make me sensible" how much happier you were for having me out of your way! Her Letter rasped me all over like a file; and I told her so, and begged her not to write about my home affairs in future. She said she had prescribed camomile tea for Ann; will you tell Ann, with my kind regards, that I particularly desire she will not take anything Miss Jewsbury prescribes; for she knows nothing whatever of Medicine, and would

[Image fp150: DR WELSH AND MRS WELSH.]

[Page 151]  poison a cat if she had her way. But I daresay Ann's good sense will make this caution needless.

I mean to go to Sunny Bank on Saturday. Not that I am not doing better here; but I begin to weary of seeing "how they ak in the various places"; and to long for home; - if only I could do any good when there! I never thought of staying longer here than into next week, and my experience of last Sunday shows me it will be better to escape another. They did not urge, or indeed ask, me to go to Church; for I was evidently weakly, and it was a wet day (by good luck). But on Sundays it is the rule of the house to have no dinner! only tea two hours earlier than usual; along with which I, as a stranger still in the bonds of the flesh, was permitted to have one egg. Then, to compensate to the soul for the exigence of the body, five sermons were read to me in the course of the day! No evading them without getting into hostile discussion. And the quantity of sermons with the no dinner gave me an indigestion during the night. My other nights here have been pretty fairish. - So I think it will be best not to incur all that again, when I was meaning to go in another day or two in any case.

No Letter come yet; - only one by the first delivery, from poor little Mary at Auchtertool, deploring my absence as "the only charitable individual who did not worry and bother her about making efforts, etc." Yes, "fellow-feeling makes us wond'rous kind." No more Proofs for me yet? I should like the Novel sent to Sunny Bank; I could read it aloud to them.

Yours ever,      JANE W. CARLYLE.

[Page 152] 

Just as I had put my Letter in the envelope, yours is come. Many thanks. For Godsake, when lightning comes, don't take shelter under trees!!


To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Sunny Bank, Sunday, 30 Aug., 1857.

Thanks! You are really a good correspondent, - considering. Wherever I have been, praises have been showered on your "punctuality in writing"; your "attention to me," etc., etc. But it isn't "with the reciprocity all on one side!" tho' nobody praises my punctuality in writing; my attention to you!

Oh, my Dear! I was prettily frightened in finishing up my last Letter. I had reason to believe I was taking a "cold" (in my emphatic sense of the word!) and what was to become of me? How was I to get home? Worse and worse I grew all the evening; my skin burning, and violent pains in my face and back! By a decided inspiration of Nature, I asked Miss Jess to give me a stiff little tumbler of Hollands Toddy! I drank it and retired to bed while the intoxication lasted; fell into the soundest, longest sleep I have had for some years; and got up next morning as well as ever!

But how I wish now I had my long journey safely over! If I could only, like the "Princess of China" (in the Arabian Nights), be carried thro' the air, asleep in my bed, and set down on the roof of my own house! I fear far more the journey back than I did the journey hither. I seemed [Page 153]  then to have nothing to lose; now I am so desirous (God knows for your sake as well as my own) to take back my little gains of strength and sleep, and cheerfulness, unbroken upon by exposure or fatigue. Oh dear! that one should ever live to have to bother so much about oneself! I had been considering about making two days of the journey; and would do it, if I could find a travelling companion, or had any known house to put up at on the road. But all alone in a Railway Hotel, no amount of Hollands, I fancy, could put me to sleep in that circumstance!

Well, no more about it just now; for I haven't yet fixed my day; haven't been up to speaking of it; It takes more courage than I have always at hand nowadays, to answer the pleadings of these dear old women with "I must," "I will."

Meanwhile I am reading the sheets to them. ...

[The greater part of the remainder of this Letter is printed in Letters and Memorials, ii., 338-9 (Letter 185).]


To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Sunny Bank, Friday, '4 Sep., 1857.'

Oh, my Dear! When one is living for one's body as I have been during this Summer, - exercising it, feeding it, changing its air, keeping it "always happy and tranquil" (as old Dr. Morrah ordered), - to the best of one's human knowledge and ability; and then lies down some night in the most perfect of beds, in the profoundest silence, and [Page 154]  can't get one wink of sleep, no how, - then you see, "one is vaixed!"

This morning especially, I have got up very "vaixed" indeed. I can ill afford a whole night's sleep, with that long, dubious journey so near! You would have pitied me, had you seen me, between four and five this morning, "sitting cocking up in bed" (as you call it), my candle lighted, my spectacles on, and studying Brydone's Railway Directory, a sort of Bradshaw-made-easy!! As hour after hour of the night dragged on, my thoughts had become more and more fluttery and locomotive, till they seemed like young swallows, sweeping circles "in my own inside," preparatory to taking flight thro' infinite space! Pleasant!

"Send your Son to Ayr,
If he's a fool here,
He'll be a fool there!"

(I got that from Miss Donaldson last night.) Also, here is a Chinese proverb I found in last Quarterly, "The dog in the kennel barks at his fleas; the dog who hunts does not feel them."

What an example of noble patience I have before me here! I admire that old blind, deaf Miss Donaldson almost to tears; and go fretting on at everything that does not quite suit me! Just once in all the time I have been beside her, has a word of regret about herself escaped her lips. She had been speaking of the morning of my Father's death, when she came to us like a helpful angel. "Never shall I forget that morning," she said; her voice broke down, and she added, with tears rolling over her [Page 155]  dear wrinkled face: "Oh, when I recall the many sorrowful scenes I have passed through, and think of myself as I am, blind, deaf, useless to myself and others, I think I could just cry the whole night through; but we mustn't give way! No! as David said, 'be dumb!'" .

Along with the sheets[1] yesterday, came a disagreeable Letter from Geraldine; all her Letters since I came here have been most disagreeable. I think she is growing into what is called an "ill-natured old maid," only that so long as Mr. ----- is to the fore, she has no idea of old-maid-hood! In her last, she gives me to understand that Ann would much prefer me to stay away! In fact, all along she has been impressing on me in sly terms, that my absence was felt to be good company at Cheyne Row; and that if I ever came back it would be at the risk of spoiling everybody's good humour!!

Nevertheless, I may be looked for on Wednesday night, if you hear nothing to the contrary. ... I must to the Station here and ask questions.

In my next you will have the final decision.

Yours affectionately,



To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Sunny Bank, Sunday, 6 Sep, 1857.

A last brief Letter! Very brief it must be; for I have not free use of my right hand, for the moment, and never [Page 156]  could do anything with my left; and cannot, like Miss Biffin, manage the pen with my tongue.

I "happened a misfortune" yesterday morning; such an innocent, idyllic misfortune! I was stung by a wasp in the forefinger of my right hand. My sponge was in the basin of water, I took hold of it to squeeze it out, and sprang as if I had taken hold of a torpedo! Such a shock of pain shot up to the very roots of my hair. Gazing amazed at the dropt sponge as in the presence of the Infinite, I saw walking fiercely over it a discomposed wasp! Then I knew what had happened to me, and ran for honey. Of course my finger is all swelled up like a little black pudding; but the pain is abating; and I dare say it will be all right by Wednesday. The absurdest part of it is that just the night before, I happened another misfortune to my left hand! poured some fierce acid over it, under the name of aromatic vinegar, with which I was filling Miss Jess's Vinaigrette; and that hand had to be wrapped up in cotton wool for twelve hours! It is now merely red.[1]

Under these adverse circumstances, I will confine myself to the strictly practical. I keep to my purpose of going on Wednesday morning by the North British. I think I have discovered a system of trains by which I can get from here to London in the daytime without the long carriage drive at the outset. I expect to arrive at King's Cross at half-past nine; but don't come to meet me, as we should not find each other in the dark, and I always manage [Page 157]  well enough with my luggage. It will be best you wait for me at home.

The Book goes on like an old Romance without the fiction. What better kind of History could one wish? If there were plenty such, you would have the consolation of seeing me abjure Novels.

On Wednesday then, please God.

Yours affectionately,


Tell Nero.


To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, '15 September, 1857.'

Oh, Mary, Mary! Does it ever enter your head to calculate how long it is since you received my last Letter? What are you doing, my Dear, that justifies you in your own eyes for not writing to me? Don't you love me? and don't I love you - as a Sister? And are people to love, and be loved by, as plenty as blackberries, that nothing should be done with them but wishing them well, at a distance? If there were nothing else in it, have you no curiosity about my how and where? The date of this Letter will show you where I am; but I have a good mind not to tell you how I am, since you don't ask! Only this, I am home at Cheyne Row again, with my time more at my own disposal than when living in other people's houses; and if you expect to be "well let alone" in your silence, you will find yourself mistaken; for I will write you Letter on the back of Letter, till I shame you into being a better Correspondent. [Page 158] 

I repined a good deal at not seeing you, when within such a manageable distance. But if restricting myself to one part of the country deprived me of some pleasure, it spared me a good deal of a thing I cannot take too little of at present, viz., emotion; and was best for the end I had in view, - to get back some strength before Winter. Had my time in the Country been spent as the year before, in hurrying from place to place, I shouldn't have come back as well as I am. I went nowhere but to my Cousins and Aunts and my dear old Friends at Haddington. I was only a fortnight at Auchtertool, - the bustle of dinner-parties and all that did not suit me. With my Aunts I staid also a fortnight, and got on well there. They were as kind as possible, and could see what I needed, above all things not to be fussed! Then I returned to Haddington for another fortnight on my way to London, - coming home by Berwick and York, as I went. I had an old school-fellow (a man) to take care of me on the journey, and came to no harm.

Mr. C. says I look much better, and never ceases to pay me compliments on my - appetite! He seems to have got on better without me than my vanity led me to expect. Ann was very attentive to him, and I have no doubt would have liked me to take a great deal more "fresh air" than I thought enough. However, if she mourned in secret at having to abdicate the Mistress-ship, she had the grace to put a good face on it, and received me very affably! But Nero! I am shocked to have to confess that Nero was far from showing the enthusiasm "England expected" of him! He knew me quite well, but took me very coolly [Page 159]  indeed. Ann said he had just been sleeping. Let us hope he was in a state of indigestion, in which dogs are not capable of being amiable any more than their owners!

How are your servants going on? How do you sleep, poor Dear? How is your Husband, God bless him?

Tell me everything.

Your affectionate



To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, '2 October, 1857.'

Dearest Mary - I could not for shame write to you last week; for I couldn't in writing have withheld the fact that I had - got a shocking bad cold! (again). Really I found myself making apologies, and explaining the cause, to everybody who came in, as if it had been a punishable offence against society I was committing. Harriet Martineau used to say of me, with that show of accuracy never accurate, which distinguishes her, "Jane Carlyle has eight Influenzas annually; I wonder how she survives it!" Now it is getting to be one Influenza lasting all the year round. However, I must not lose heart; tho' it was disappointing to fall ill just when I had been taking all that trouble to strengthen myself, and with tolerable success, apparently. But really I should have needed the thick skin of a horse, instead of being "born without skin! as the Germans call those born, as I was, in the seventh [Page 160]  month, to resist the masked batteries of cold air Mr. C. brought to bear on me during the East wind ten days ago. He has a mania about "fresh air," this man, and is never happy unless all the doors and windows are open. ... However, I have had the weather in my favour and seem to be getting over the attack, which was sharp enough while it lasted. ...

Poor Mrs. Scott! what horrid anxiety she must be kept in! I thank God I have nobody belonging to me in India just now. It is miserable enough to think of the wretchedness of those who have. I fear it will be long enough before there is any safety for those who are there; or any peace for their friends at home. All the Indian Officers I have seen, who have any sense, and experience of India, think very badly of our chances of reducing it back to tranquility; and if Madras and Bombay join the Revolt, they think we shall lose India altogether. I wait anxiously to see what Sir Colin Campbell will do. The one sensible thing one has seen done by the Home Government was sending him.

My London friends are almost all gone into the Country, and the Town looks strangely dull - the more so from our having been used to spend this part of the year at the Grange. Lord Ashburton has been in the Highlands, deer-stalking as usual, and is going to Ireland with some friends, - not being able to face the Grange. He thought of going to India, for a resource, but was advised off that scheme. It is not so much sorrow that troubles him, one would say, as bewilderment. He looks like a child who had lost his nurse in a wood. ... [Page 161] 

Ann goes on well. I was afraid her temper might suffer under the loss of absolute Mistress-ship; but she has stood it pretty well, and her qualities and capabilities as a servant come out very strong in comparison with the servants at Auchtertool, where it is "toil and trouble" from morning till night, with three regular servants and two supernumeraries, and nothing able to go on without Maggie fussing and fuming like a little steam-engine! I wouldn't lead such a life; but Maggie seems to like it! and as Walter seems to think dinner-parties the chief end of life, it is well for her she does like it. But it made me both sad and angry to see such waste of everything, - time and strength and human faculty, as well as money. Mary was fast falling into her old bad way[1] when I was there, - which I did not wonder at, considering the late and perfectly irregular hours they kept, and the stew of hot, overcrowded rooms. But Dr. Dewar put her on milk diet again, and under orders; and I hear she is improving. But, Oh dear, it is a precarious life, hers, and its precariousness not sufficiently recognised, by either herself or others. As for Mrs. -----, with her infant and its two six-feet-high nurses attending her about thro' a series of visits; such an affected, bedizened, caricature of a fine-lady I never came across. I could hardly keep my hands off her. My Mother always predicted what she would grow to.

Yours affectionately,

J. W. C.

Love to the Doctor.

[Page 162] 

LETTER 179[1]

To Miss Agnes Howden, Maitlandfield, Haddington.

Chelsea, 24 Oct., 1857.

Simpleton! - Not you, my Dear; but me! - There was I all a-gog at having found quite a jewel of a correspondent! a correspondent, actually, who would go on with not exactly "all the reciprocity on one side" (as the dear Irish say) hut pretty nearly so! The very sort of correspondent I had been wishing for all my life. Ach! and "don't I wish I may get it?" - You, like the rest, it would seem, write only on the Letter-for-letter principle; and, bless your sweet face, no thanks to you then! - Plenty of men, women and children will write me Letters on the simple condition of my answering them. Nay plenty of men, to do them justice, will write me one, two, three Letters on condition of my answering the third. But even that does not suit my humour always. I like to be left to the free, spontaneous use of both my pen and my tongue; and any one who stands on "the three thousand punctualities" with me, doesn't know his or her own interest.

Well, in consideration of the ivy-leaf in your last, I forgive your silence this time. But look sharp! and don't disappoint the romantic faith I felt in you. At my age, and with my experience of the world, it costs one such a wild effort to believe in youthful enthusiasm, [Page 163]  that when one has believed and finds oneself cheated, the reaction is formidable.

What a mercy your Father has no crop on the ground to-day! if there is like here. It has rained what a Scotch servant of mine used to call "hale water," ever since I got out of bed; and to complete my discomfort, I am lamed in the two first fingers of my right hand: burnt them very bad - "with sealing-wax, of course?" a lady asked me. The "of course" was a piece of fine-lady logic, which I met by the startling avowal: "No, with the handle of a brass pan, in preserving cranberries." And now I shall be regarded by that lady with a sort of sacred horror, as a woman who has handled a brass pan. For, being Grandchild of a mechanic, she shudders "of course" at any one who has the use of his (or her) hands, or at least uses them. The cranberry jam has turned out excellent, anyhow; and for the rest, it was worth while almost, burning oneself, to ascertain the superiority of cotton-wool beyond all other applications for burns I ever tried before! - That reminds me to ask, does your Father prescribe Pepsien [sic] in stomach complaints? Has he ever seen the blessed thing? Ever heard of it? If he haven't, no more shame to him than had he missed to hear of the pretty little French Empress's very latest caprice in dress! This Pepsien (I don't know if I spell it right; but as the word is made out of dispepsia without the dis, I can't be very far wrong) is just the very latest caprice in Medicine; that's all! It is something scraped off the inside of people's stomachs (dead the people must be before one can conveniently scrape their stomachs!), [Page 164]  or the stomachs of beasts for that matter (the Bear-stomach is understood to supply most of this something), and being scraped off, it is boiled and distilled, and bottled and sold and taken in drops; and the patient thus furnished with a fictitious gastric juice, which enables him to eat and digest like a Bear! The Doctors here are prescribing it at no allowance; and the Druggists say they can't get enough for the demand. And one hears of emaciated wretches with one foot in the grave, plumped out like partridges on the strength of it, and taking a new lease of their lives! Pleasant, isn't it, the idea of swallowing the scrapings of, say, a malefactor's stomach, in drops! What next? - I have been wondering if the whole calf's-stomach I brought salted from Scotland to make rennet for curds (alas that the cream is not included!) mightn't serve all the purposes of Pepsien at a cheap rate? I shall try, some day. I should greatly prefer that to Palmer's, or Miss Madeleine Smith's (if she had been hanged), for my own use.

Your Sister-in-law told me a sad little bit of Haddington news; that Mrs. David Davidson's good old Mary was dangerously ill. I am very anxious to know the sequel. Many a Peeress could be better spared than that maid-of-all-work. I can see no life for her poor Mistress without her.

Has your Brother "seen the grave-digger" yet? and got little Ann Cameron's poor little Tombstone set up in his Garden, as he promised me? "Of course," not! And yet it would have been a pious deed to do!

My writing is such as a right hand minus its two [Page 165]  principal fingers can produce, - so pray be content with it. - Do you want any more autographs? - Remember me to everybody that cares for my remembrance. -

Yours affectionately,



To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, 20 November, 1857.

My dearest Mary - I had actually miscounted about whose turn it was to write; and am almost glad I did, since it has been the occasion for your writing to me such a dear kind Letter on the "voluntary principle!" Don't suppose, however, I should have kept silence much longer even in the mistaken idea you owed me a Letter. It had been in my head to write for many days back; but what Mr. Carlyle calls "a pressure of things" had made it difficult for me to carry out my own inclinations.

Thank God, I have not to enumerate among the things pressing a cold, - that being my bug-a-boo now. I have been ill with that thing which, for want of a better name, I call "my sickness," and for which I know only one cure, to "pack my carpet-bag" (as Dr. Russell advised) and rush out into space! But it does not confine me to the house, that sickness; and does not plague anyone but myself. I am used to it (as the pigs to killing). Neither does it prevent me writing Letters, - only makes my Letters, like everything else I do, spiritless. -

My chief impediment has been that weary Artist who [Page 166]  took the bright idea last Spring that he would make a Picture of our sittingroom[1], - to be "amazingly interesting to Posterity a hundred years hence." I little knew what I was committing myself to when I let him begin. - For the three months before I went to Scotland, he came and painted twice a week; while I was in Scotland he came four times a week; and for the last six weeks he has been over-standing me like a nightmare every day!! except when, please God, the fog is so black that he can't see. These lower rooms are where I have been always used to live at this season; and to keep up fire there, and in the drawing-room as well - besides in Mr. C.'s study at the top of the house, is a great expense, when coals are seven and twenty shillings a cart-load; and is also a great trouble to one servant. So I have kept my ground hitherto; always hoping he would get done. But, my Heavens! he will make this great "Work of Art" last him into 1860, I begin to think. A whole day painting at my portfolio! Another whole day over my workbox, and so on. Not the minutest object in these three rooms, opening into one another, but what is getting itself represented with Vandyke fidelity! And all the while the floor won't be flat for the life of him. I suspect he aims at more than posthumous fame from this Picture: hopes, perhaps, some admirer of Mr. C.'s, with more money than wit to guide it, may give him a thousand pounds for Mr. C.'s "Interior," - the Portrait of Mr. C. himself, and Mr. C.'s Wife, and Mrs. C.'s dog included! The dog is the only member of the family who has reason to be pleased with his likeness [Page 167]  as yet. - This will be the second time my dog has appeared in the Exhibition! - Meanwhile, I can't settle to write when that man is in the way. I rush out and ride in omnibuses; I go about the house sorting up, or as the American Ladies say, "reconciling things." A good deal of that has been needed, in prospect of my two Cousins Maggie and Mary coming to stay here on their road to the Isle of Wight, where they mean to pass the Winter, - Auchtertool being "too cold" (or too dull). I think with astonishment of Mary, who can never get up till midday, undertaking such a journey at this season and paying visits all the way, - at Glasgow, at Liverpool - and here!

I should have greatly preferred one at a time: Mr. C. is so dreadfully busy just now, and so easily disturbed that my life is spent in standing between him and the outer world; and how I am to breast this inundation of it into the very house, - how I am to make myself into a human partition between all the interruption and fuss that two young Ladies who have no comprehension of, or sympathy with hard work and love of quiet, is more than I know! Then it suddenly flashed on me that I had torn down the head and roof of the spare bed this Summer (which had been spoiled by a cistern overflowing above and pouring down into the bed in the room beneath). The room had stood vacant, and I had forgotten all about its desolate state. This flashed on me in the night and I couldn't sleep another wink, for haste to be on foot and out buying chintz; lest I should be caught, like a foolish housewife, with my spare bed standing naked! Then I [Page 168]  had to seek a seamstress - almost as difficult to get as the philosopher's stone, for all the "thirty-thousand distressed needle-women" who can't sew! - and then a carpenter who would not keep me waiting a month; and to shape and do a good deal of hammering myself after all! Finally, to-day, I have the pleasure of seeing the bed rehabilitated. But I am so tired! for the least fuss or hurry plays the deuce with me! I wouldn't go to bed however till I had thanked you for your Letter. - I hope to write to you to better purpose soon.

My best love to your Husband. Ask him if the fame of pepsine has reached him? If not, I will tell him about it.

Your affectionate


Every Letter I have forgotten to speak of the sweetbriar - I should like you to keep it over the Winter, and send it in Spring. - It will surely grow with me then.


To Miss Agnes Howden, Maitlandfield, Haddington.

Chelsea, 23 Nov., 1857.

There's a good Girl! And thank you! - I choose the present moment for answering, as it is the most improbable I am likely to find! For I have the same sort of defiant pleasure in going in the teeth of probability, that I used to have in going in the teeth of a high wind. I am pressed for time, having an appointment two miles off at one o'clock; my attention is distracted by a man painting [Page 169]  beside me, and talking; my nerves are all in a flurry from a recent fright; and Mr. Carlyle has just brought me an impossible glove to mend! What more would I have?

But the fright? Gracious Goodness, the fright is worth telling about! - I have a servant whom, during the five years that she has been with me, I had never seen in a hurry, or excited, or deprived of her presence of mind. What then, was my astonishment when she rushed into the drawing-room last night, with her head tumbled off (as at first it looked to me) and carrying it in her hands!! and crying wildly, "Oh Ma'am! I must go to a Doctor! (scream). My ear, my ear! (scream). An animal has run into my ear!!" She was holding down her head as low as her waist, her cap off, her hair flying, and her hand pressed to her right ear. I sprang forward and pulled her fingers from her ear which was full of blood. "What animal?" I gasped. "Oh, I think it is a black-beetle!!" - And the screams went on, and she declared the beetle was "running up into her brain." Her ignorance of anatomy was very unfortunate at the moment! I called up Mr. Carlyle; for I had lost all presence of mind, as well as herself. He took it coolly, as he takes most things. "Syringe it" he said; "syringing will bring out any amount of black-beetles." There is an Apothecary at the bottom of our street; I threw a table-cover about her, and told her to run to him; and I begged Mr. C. to go with her, as it was a dangerous thing for me to go out in the night air. "Go with her?" he said. "What good could it do my seeing the beetle taken out of her ear?" - But I had read in a newspaper, not long ago, of a man [Page 170]  killed by some insect creeping into his ear; and how did I know the Apothecary was not an ass, and might spoil her hearing for life, with probes and things, - if indeed she did not die of it, or go raving mad, as I should do in her place, I thought? - I paced up and down the room for some ten minutes like a wild animal in its cage; then put on a cloak and bonnet and rushed after her, Mr. C. running after me to pull me back.

When I arrived in the man's little surgery, I found poor Ann covered with soap-suds, and comparatively calm; and the beetle (it actually was a black-beetle) extracted piece-meal with a probe). - "There might be a leg or so left," he said; but he would syringe the ear again in the morning. She would not go back to him this morning however, - the rushing sound being gone, and the deafness remaining being owing she thinks to the ear being swelled from the rough treatment it got. I was better pleased that this man should not probe any more. If she does not hear with it to-morrow, I will send her to a regular Surgeon. Meanwhile I feel as if I had been pounded in a mortar, with the fright of the thing; and have narrowly missed a cold, for I coughed half the night. But that is passed off, thank God. I am so afraid of another seven months' confinement!

I liked to hear of your Halloween. My ideas of Halloween are all connected with Maitlandfield: I always spent it there as far back as I recollect. Have ducked for apples, and burnt nuts in that very kitchen of yours!

If Mrs. Skirving wants to escape money disaster and all sorts of disaster, she should replace little Ann Cameron's [Page 171]  poor little white marble tablet in the Churchyard! I could not have confidence in my Fortunes, with such a thing in my cellar. Could you? - I should like ill to be the Wife of a speculator just now! Mr. C. has or had some money in America. He doesn't recollect how much! and doesn't feel even a natural curiosity what is become of it!! - I have never heard a word out of his head about it, except to say once, "I suppose my money will have gone in the crash, and poor Butler (the gentleman who invested it for him) will be very sorry!" - Being a Philosopher's Wife has some advantages! - I never think about money myself; beyond what serves my daily needs; but if he weren't of the same mind, I might be made sufficiently uncomfortable about it.

And now, good luck to you. Remember me to them all. I owe your Sister-in-law a Letter, which she shall get some day.

Yours affectionately,



To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, Saturday night,
16 January, 1858.

Dearest Mary - There never was woman had better chance at writing (except that my head is far from clear) than I have this Winter evening. For I am alone in the house, - as utterly alone as I ever felt at Craigenputtock with Mr. C. gone over into Annandale! The difference is, that Mr. C. is gone not to Annandale, but [Page 172]  to the Grange; and that my servant instead of being too uncouth to talk with, is too ill-tempered. The very dog had a bilious attack overnight, and has lain all day in a stupor! I think I told you in my last, that both of us (I mean Mr. C. and I) were going to the Grange for a short time. And very little pleasure was I taking in the prospect. The same houseful of visitors; the same elaborate apparatus for living; and the life of the whole thing gone out of it! acting a sort of Play of the Past, with the principal Part suppressed, obliterated by the stern hand of Death![1] I didn't see at all how I was going to get through with the visit! when, lo! my Husband's friends "the Destinies" cut me out of all that difficulty, by laying me down in Influenza. When the day came, Mr. C. had to write that, not only I was unable to come, but that he could not leave me! ...

Geraldine [Jewsbury] is all but as good as gone out of my life! She went into Essex the day before I returned from Scotland. Thence, after two months, she went to Manchester, - seeing me for just half an hour in passing thro' London, and is not yet returned. So except for that one glimpse, I have not seen her since I left for Scotland in the beginning of July. Latterly she has quite ceased to write to me! - She has been making a considerable of a fool of herself, to speak plainly; and has got estranged from me utterly, for the time being; partly because her head has been pack-full of nonsense, and partly because I made no secret of that opinion. You have several [Page 173]  times asked about her, and I always forgot to tell you, or it was too unpleasant to tell. Geraldine has one besetting weakness: she is never happy unless she has a grande passion on hand; and, as unmarried men take fright at her impulsive, demonstrative ways, her grandes passions for these thirty years have been all expended on married men, who felt themselves safe. And she too, always went quite safe thro' these romantic affairs, meaning really nothing but whirlwinds of sentiment, and the men too, meaning as little, - or less! But when I was in Scotland with you, she made an intimacy with a Mr. ----- who had been ten years in Australia, unhappily not married, only engaged, or "as good as engaged," to a young Cousin of his own. For a long time, it was an intimacy "with the reciprocity all on one side." But she went on writing him Letters, inviting him to her House, flattering him (he is a proud shy man), doing him all sorts of kindnesses, till he declared to his friends "he couldn't help liking Miss Jewsbury, she was so extraordinarily kind to him!!" He relied, I suppose, on his being some ten or twelve years younger than herself for security in accepting her kindness. I could not see her committing herself, as she did, and hear all her acquaintances chattering about her "assiduities for Mr. -----," without testifying my displeasure; and in proportion as she attached herself to him, she drew away from me, got pettish, suspicious, and mysterious. ... But all that makes me so angry and what is worse disgusts me! It is making herself so small! openly making the craziest love to a man who, having £800 a year, may marry her at any [Page 174]  moment (unless he is going to marry another, which doesn't make the case better!), and doesn't give any sign of intending to marry her! Gracious! what a luck I had no Daughters to guide!

... Kind love to the Doctor. And, if you please, how came you to assume the Photographs were wholly yours? I addressed them to him. -

Your affectionate



To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, Friday night, 'Feb'y, 1858.'

"All right," my Darling! that is to say all wrong! but nothing new wrong. When I caught that cold, first thing I did in the new year, I accepted resignedly the prospect of being confined to my drawing-room till the March winds were over, and thus spared myself a deal of useless struggling against Providence. Since then, I have been feeling, up to the present time, too sensitive to the weather (which has continued to get colder and colder), for venturing out of doors. At the same time, by taking better care of myself than I used to do, I was longer in falling ill this Winter than last, and have never, except the first two days, needed to keep my bed. I have been up to breakfast (in the drawing-room, at the fire of which I dress myself!) all thro' the Winter; and that in itself, for a woman who has no natural turn for laziness, is an immense gain on last year!

If it hadn't been for that unblessed Ann, who has [Page 175]  caused me more irritation than she is all worth, I should positively have rather enjoyed my confinement. Our people came earlier to Town than usual on account of the early meeting of Parliament; and they make much less of the long drive to Chelsea when it is no longer on a chance of finding me "out." I have quite as much of the outer world as I want to keep me from stagnating. I have a great rug of raccoon fur to lie under on the sofa when I am "too cold for anything!" And my friends supply me with nice Novels, English and French! which I own to a weakness for, and make no conscience of indulging in, when I am not up to serious study. Wasn't it permitted me to read the Arabian Nights instead of Rollin's Ancient History when I had the measles? And so I rather liked having the measles, I remember!

My delay in writing has been owing chiefly to a fixed-idea in the head of a certain charming Mrs. Hawkes. This lady is an Artist. In her days of prosperity she painted pictures in oil for her pleasure; now ... she has taken seriously to painting as a profession, partly to escape from her vexations, partly to eke out her means. She has been recommended to send a Picture to the Exhibition this year, and my face, such as it is, being familiar to Ruskin, Tom Taylor and the other Exhibition critics, she has decided her Picture shall be a Portrait of me! who had already nearly left my life in Mr. Tait's "Interior," which also is for the next Exhibition. I "might sit in my usual corner of the sofa," or I "might lie," I "might read," or I "might go to sleep," but paint me she would, whether she could or not, and whether I liked [Page 176]  or not. And so, for the last fortnight, she has been coming every morning at eleven, and staying till two; - just the time I used to have all by myself to write in, or to do what other thing needed privacy, - darn Mr. C,'s socks, perhaps. I dine between two and three; and from three till six I am seldom without callers. Then comes Mr. C.'s dinner, at which I look on, and tell him the news of the day; and thus the only time I have had to write Letters in is at night, with Mr. C. sitting opposite me at the same table (as at this moment), - an arrangement which feels to rather tie my moral legs together! Accordingly, I have waited for a morning all to myself. And besides my affairs with Ann have become critical; and I waited to be delivered from the worry of that. We are at a clear understanding at last, Ann and I; and never was a relation of five-and-a-half years duration broken off more - what shall I say? - politely! The married woman who for many years has come in to help in any ceremony, or press of work, had "thought it but fair" I should know Ann was meaning to leave at the end of March, when her Niece was to go into business as a Milliner. Ann was going to stay three months with her to teach her housekeeping! and would then find "a situation with a single gentleman who kept an under servant to do all the rough work." Don't she wish she may get it? - "That is the reason," said Mrs. Newnham, "that she doesn't care a bit now whether she pleases you or not." - As this woman never said a word to me of any servant of mine before, I took her information as authentic, and thanked her for it. Ann was at her Mother's that Sunday night and came [Page 177]  home quite gracious and continued gracious for a week! Had the Niece's scheme been visited by the "pigs" which "run thro'?" I took no more notice of her good temper than I had done of her bad. One day Geraldine was here (she came back the very day I last wrote to you); she fell a-talking about Ann; how her face "looked less diabolic." "It may look as it likes," I said; "if she does not give me warning on the 29th of February, I shall give her warning and be done with it." Geraldine has a way, when amused, of raising her voice to a scream; and she screamed out "you cannot give her warning on the 29th, my Dear, for it isn't Leap-year!" I had just heard Ann sweeping in my bedroom and any loud speaking may be heard thro' the door between the two rooms. I said "speak low," but the shot had clearly told, I fancy. Ann came up so soon as Geraldine was gone, and while arranging the fireplace said carelessly, "The coals will not last out another week, Ma'am; I should say they will be done by Saturday." "Very well, more must be had in on Saturday"; and I went on reading. "And," continued Ann, "if you could by any means suit yourself, I should like to leave on -----" "The 29th of March," I interrupted her. "Yes, you will leave then whether I am suited or not; if I had not been so helpless these two months back, I should not have troubled you to stay even till then." Neither of us said another word and both had spoken in the most natural tone! I went on with my reading and she swept up the hearth, and I call that quite a dramatic ending, for all so quiet as it was!

Geraldine comes every day for longer or shorter time; [Page 178]  but she is no use to me in this matter or any other. She is so unsettled - "carried" as we call it. I won't hear a word about Mr. ----- out of her head; and there is nothing else she has care to talk about or think about.

Love to the Doctor. - Poor Mrs. Pringle indeed! I have not written to her yet.

Your ever affectionate



To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, 29 March, 1858.

Dearest Mary - Considering how often one makes experience that evils are worse in the expectation than in the reality, it is wonderful perverseness that one lets the expectation always do its worst, without drawing comfort from that well-known law of things. Here have I looked forward for weeks back to the 29th of March as a day of horrors! and now it is come, and I find myself preparing to pass my evening very composedly in writing a Letter to you! the most of the forenoon having gone in - "sitting" to Mr. Tait for the finishing touches to my Portrait in that immortal Picture of his!! And yet Ann left at midday, and I heard the new servant come in about half an hour ago! Had I "trusted in Providence" (as your dear Father would have advised) ever so much, I could not indeed have foreseen how Ann's exodus would be smoothed for me; but I might have foreseen that some way or other it would be smoothed, so as to try my sick nerves less than it threatened to do in prospect. [Page 179] 

But first I must tell you the adventure of my new servant; for it is of the nature of an adventure, my last choice of a servant! How it will turn out, Heaven only knows. Either it will he a grand success, or an absurd mistake. It cannot turn out in a medium way. Oh, my Dear, only fancy! I have hired a "Miss Cameron" (from Inverness), "Daughter of a half-pay Lieutenant" (swamped in numerous progeny, as in the case of the "wee Wifie that lived in a shoe, who had so many Bairnies she didn't know what to do!"). Miss Cameron is 31 years old; has an intelligent, affectionate face, a low, pleasant voice, a manner at once modest and self-possessed; and "has known enough of life" she says, "to desire above all things a quiet home." Imagine a servant coming to one in London for a quiet home! and knowing anything of life beyond "beer," "wages" and "holidays"! So far excellent; but now for the drawbacks. Miss Cameron, having never filled but one "situation," that of Lady's maid and Companion at General Osborne's for eight years, does not know, naturally, whether she can clean a house, and cook a dinner, till she have tried!! Hopes that she will soon learn, if I will "have patience" and tell her, or get her told how! And I hope so, too, most sincerely.[1] ...

Mr. C. was mercifully persuaded by Lord Ashburton to go this very day to Addiscombe, where I flatter myself he will remain till my "Lieutenant's Daughter" has learnt at least the elements of "All-work"! So had Providence [Page 180]  pre-arranged for me! They wanted me to go, too; and so great is my faith in this new woman's trustworthiness that I should have left her in charge of the house the same day she entered it, but that I dreaded risking myself in a house which has been all Winter uninhabited. I have only been twice out of doors, and only for a quarter of an hour each time. And the result of my last turn in the street was a new dose of cold which kept me thoroughly miserable most of last week, and has not yet quite passed over. Lady Sandwich will be three weeks at Addiscombe, however, and perhaps I may go by and by for a few days before she and Lord A. return to Town. I know a little change of air would do me good, if I could have it without exposing myself to a fresh attack.

... Love to your Husband.

Yours affectionately,



To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, Sunday, 27 June, 1858.

Oh, my! how slow! Only from Wednesday night till Sunday morning that I have been "let alone"! It looks three weeks at the least! Not that I have either done or seen much to lengthen out the time. The field of new-cut hay, the only thing I can be said to have seen, was nothing to speak of. And I have not done yet so much as the one thing wherewith I was privately minded to celebrate your departure, - have not gone yet to Stokes to get one of my few remaining back teeth wrenched out! It is the two [Page 181]  Letters from you, out of Scotland, I think, that, confounding the ideas of time and space, give such preternatural length to these three days!

Mrs. Welsh[1] called yesterday ... John [Welsh] came to take his Mother home, and bid me good-bye. His cough was worse than I ever heard it, and his spirits at the lowest. ... It is the same cough, the same haggard, exhausted look, that I never knew in any of the Family (and I have known it often enough!) end otherwise than fatally. Well, our Family is destined to vanish from the face of the earth, it would seem! And yet it was a Family with some high quality in it! Health superadded, it might have gone far! And what then?

... Mr. S----- called the night we were going to the Station; and called again yesterday for your address and Dr. Carlyle's. Something else wanted! They gave me tea at Hampstead, and strawberries without cream; the tea was like the washings with soda of a dirty old metal teapot; but the cups and saucers were of the finest French china; and the cake was served up on silver, and the butter was in a lordly dish. ...

Ever yours,



To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, Friday, 9 July, 1858.

Oh, my Dear, I am very sorry! But indeed I wrote on Wednesday, and I hope you have by this time got my [Page 182]  Letter. There is evidently some carelessness somewhere; for the Westminster and the Herald were sent off by the same post. Again, this morning, you will have been disappointed; for yesterday I failed to write, being in the valley of the shadow of castor, and too spiritless for anything! The cold had got into my chest "eventually"; I was coughing myself sick and sore; so I went and wildly took an ounce of castor at noon!

Mrs. Hawkes came to ask for me, - the only person let in. "Oh, I don't know what to make of myself to-day," I said to her. "Yes," said she, "I don't like the looks of you at all; I have seldom seen a more seedy party!"

I don't think it was Mrs. Forster who had made me worse. ... Nothing had made me worse, so far as I know; worse "by the visitation of God," that was all! What would make me better was the question; so I tried a dose of castor oil, as I said, and I think, with advantage. I slept last night some five hours; and tho' my cough is still tearing, my aches and pains are greatly abated. It is not weather at present to get rid of a cold in; to-day, for example, is sharp and blowy like October.

Meanwhile, I must not worry myself with projects! I believe to travel to Scotland just now or to take any long journey whatever would be as much as my life is worth. When I am out of this, we can "consider"! The objection to going to Scotland is the having to come back; one scatters all one's little gain of health in the long, rapid journey. Even if I felt equal to the journey, I should hardly like going to the Russells' at once. Mrs. Russell is "counting on me," but that is because Mrs. Aitken met her [Page 183]  in Dumfries and told her I was coming, - without knowing anything about it. Mrs. Russell then wrote to me expressing her gladness at the news; but I could see through her words that the depression of spirits and nervous trepidation still continuing since Mr. Dobbie's death, made the prospect of a visit from me as alarming as pleasing. Then, I confess, I myself am alarmed at the idea of Thornhill, in my present perfectly cowardly frame of mind; - the dreadful need I feel of my Mother would make it almost insupportable, all that! As for Dr. Russell, I would rather consult him than any Doctor here; but what good? What could any Doctor do, but tell me to take care of myself? My constitution is completely worn out; my nerves, my spirits worn out. Can all the Doctors on earth renew nerves and spirits? You are indeed sanguine if you imagine any "air," any Doctor, any anything, can ever make me into a healthy, or even approximately healthy woman again! You will have to just put up with me as I am; even as I put up with myself as I am, - for the rest of my appointed time.

I don't mean that, if this explosion of cold were over, I should be wholly disinclined to stir; but I should like to do it on very easy terms. Miss Baring[1] has invited me to Bay House, with leave to wear high dresses and caps. If she had said for how long, and the term of the visit made it worth the trouble of packing up, etc., I would have voted positively to go, as soon as I was up to travelling. As it is, the matter remains hanging in the air, like so much else with me! Perhaps I may get up a little fit of strength and [Page 184]  courage by the end of the month; and when Dr. Carlyle and his "poor boys" vacate Scotsbrig for that sacred fortnight, actually join you there, and go afterwards to Mrs. Pringle, and to Mrs. Russell in passing. Who can say what I may not do? It does not strike me as probable that I shall be strong enough for going all that way; still I have many a time outgone the probable.

I have a great many curious things to tell you, but my shoulders do ache so when I sit up! Have you heard of B----- putting his Wife into confinement? All the aristocracy are coming to - Cremorne (!) to-night, - public excluded.

Don't fret about my being alone here; Charlotte is a good, biddable, clever little creature. Even my food is much better than Ann made it. Nero is wonderfully well, tho' getting no exercise beyond what he gets in the Garden. The canary continues to tumble off its perch, and I to lift it up! What a blessing to have somebody to always lift one up when one falls off the perch! Good-bye, Dear! Don't let the Dromedary[1] shake you too much!

Yours ever,



To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, Thursday, 22 July, 1858.

... It was very kind of you to say, "Don't trouble yourself about B-----, I will pay him." But it is not in my nature to submit to imposition. Paying the [Page 185]  money, tho' £5 7 6 was "a great deal for a wee fallow like me," did not trouble me at all in comparison with letting myself be cheated. So while you were saying "never mind," I was "taking steps." The Letter which I wrote on receiving the Account[1] got suppressed on its way to the Post-office, as too angry for practical purposes. Instead, I sent for Hacking,[2] showed him the work done, and got him to estimate the cost. He said he should have considered himself well paid with 30s but B. being farther off and more expensive, he thought I might offer £2 15 0, - not more. I then sent Larkin to B.'s with three proposals, of which B. might take his choice: I would pay £2 15 0; or I would let the matter be settled by arbitration; or he might prosecute me for the whole amount in the County Court. After much discussion with the fat, winking old man, who always smells of beer, this much was wrung from him by Larkin: that "he would send the - Foreman (!) to look at the job!" So yesterday morning the Foreman came, prepared to threap that the one man was never drunk, never left the work, "and that the other was quite competent; and that the job required all the time that was charged on it!!"

To reduce such brazen impudence as this to go away content with £3 10 0 was no slight triumph of female eloquence; but "I did it, Sir!" However, the two hours' talking, the wrath I had to swallow down, not to put myself at a disadvantage, the force of will and of logic to be called up, left me not worth picking up after the man was [Page 186]  gone! For hours I seemed to have got St. Vitus's dance in all my veins, - and to fix my attention was impossible. Even my weekly Letter to Sunny Bank, that had not missed a single Wednesday since I came from there last year, could not get itself written yesterday! I was so sorry after!

£3 10 0 was 15s. more than I had decided to pay; but Hacking, whom I sent for in the course of the dispute, failed me in his apprehensions of Law, and proposed before the man that I should give that much.

... I have been and shall be in many humours about Bay House before I get there; but I have bound myself positively to go. I know I ought to give myself any chance there is of getting rid of this wearing cough and that a Doctor would order me "change of air." If I find myself the better for being in the Country, and that I can't properly stay there as long as I should be benefited by it, I should then be more disposed and perhaps a little fitter to take a longer journey. The worst is that I, too, must plunge a little into "the cares of cloth," preparatory to an aristocratic visit. My wardrobe has been the very least of my cares latterly. ...

I have such a life with that sparrow gape-gaping for crowdy[1] whenever I come within three yards of it! And it don't make the least progress in learning to feed itself; and it don't die, as was confidently predicted. ...

Ever yours,      J. W. C.

[Page 187] 


To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, Tuesday, 27 July, 1858.

Just a line to-day, Dear, for I have been interrupted by one thing after another till I have no time left. First there was a Letter from Macready to be answered, - one of those Letters that one cannot get off one's heart till the answer is written and sent. Then came the - sweeps! and tho' I was not needed to help them, I was needed to watch them that they mightn't put any of the Books into their sooty pockets. That job over, Lord Ashburton came and sat a long while. And then Mr. Larkin "to take my orders." Lord A. did not know I was here, till he got your Letter this morning; - would have come sooner if he had known, etc., etc. Would see all the Yacht men to-day, and find out something for you. Thought you should go with Lord Dufferin up the Mediterranean, and then be put out at Trieste. I vote for the Mediterranean, too. It is the only chance you will have of seeing what everybody has seen.

... Lord Ashburton said he would certainly send me the Friedrich Picture![1]

I took a notion of mince collops to-day, and described to Charlotte how to make it. She was to chop the meat very small. "Don't you think, Ma'am," said she, "if I scraped it, - made it for you as I used to do for my blackbird, it would be better than chopping?" [Page 188] 

The sparrow waxeth strong; - is likely to "take the hale yearth to itsel'!"

... Mrs. Pringle writes anew about my coming to Lann Hall. If I find myself better for being in the Country, and if I can't stay at Bay House, there is that to fall back on, if I get strong enough for the long journey.

Ever yours,

J. W. C.


To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, Friday, 30 July, 1858.

... Lann Hall would suit me well, I think. I should have no fear of being a trouble there, and no misgivings about my welcome. It is a beautiful place, with associations to make it more beautiful. I should have a close carriage to drive out in every day; and Mrs. Pringle is very quiet, and kind and sensible. I should like that better than Cressfield[1] under the present circumstances. At Cressfield I should have "cares of bread, under difficulties," and I am hardly up to them in their simplest, most familiar form. Besides, you should go to Germany, and Cressfield all to myself is not conceivable, - as good as non-extant! Mrs. Pringle says in her Letter (which I don't send because you would not dream of attempting to decipher its "angles"), "I don't want to plague [you] with suggestions; but do understand this, Mr. Carlyle may have a whole suite of rooms at Lann. And with no [Page 189]  master in the house, any other arrangement for his comfort would be painfully easy to make!"

I have written to her that I will send her a positive answer on the 6th. By that time I shall understand "what I wanted and what I want." The Bay House visit does not promise much as yet. ... If Miss Baring had wished a longer visit, I think she would have bid me lay my account with it in leaving home. Nero! Oh, dear, no! Nero must "keep up his dignity" like his Mistress - must not go where he is de trop. He will do very well at home; Charlotte is good to him; and Mr. Piper will take him out. The dog has really kept wonderfully well, in spite of your absence. About Charlotte? She will take care of the house, and go on with the chimney-sweeping, and "thorough-cleaning" that is begun. Not a carpet left on, but in the parlour and my bedroom; and these to be up, too, so soon as I am gone! Charlotte is more to be trusted with the house than Ann was; she has quite as much sense and infinitely more principle. I can depend on her that the thing I bid her do she will do, - when my back is turned, the same as before my face. Her Mother will come and sleep with her. I have no wish to change Charlotte for an older woman; as she has strength and sense enough for the place, I don't see what I should gain by changing her. She is a very good housemaid, and is already a better cook than Ann was. Above all, she is my servant, - does what I order, at the first word, - and not my Mistress! For the satisfaction of your imagination you will find her much bigger and older-looking when you return. A Scotch servant, - above all, one out of a large [Page 190]  house, - would be a risk I would only run in case of necessity. You would hardly find in Scotland a servant of good "character" who is not of the Free Church or some Church, and such persons judge us! and are ill to manage accordingly. Here, morality is not inseparable from religion (so-called). Mrs. Pringle offered me, some time ago, any one of her five women, "all good," that I liked to "come and take"; and I declined for the above and other reasons. Best to "let well alone." ... Why, our old Betty was just Charlotte's age[1] when she came to my Mother, and had not a third part of Charlotte's experience. Now this is a long Letter for my last day! I should not have had the time to spare if I had not done most of my packing in the middle of the night, for want of better to do.

Yours ever,



To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Bay House, Alverstoke, 4 Aug., 1858.

All right, Dear! I get along very nicely, only the Letter at breakfast is missing! 'What should have come, in London at 9 o'clock, comes here at 5 p. m., an hour, too, when one is generally out driving. But for the rest, I have not a single thing to complain of; and I agree with the place famously. I get a fair amount of sleep; am much less sensitive about the throat and breast; much [Page 191]  less shivery in mind; and unless the glass here is made to flatter, my face is much less haggard and ghastly. I could not but think this morning when I took a last look at myself in my new grey gown and smart lilac cap, that I looked a decidedly presentable woman, - for my years! Not at all the "seedy party" that Fairie was lyrically recognising only a week ago, as "the most decided case of needing-to-go-out-of-Town, that was ever seen!" To be sure, the Howell & James' Dressmaker, seeing the necessities of the case, had padded the new gown in a very artistic manner - "chiefly wadding, Mr. Carlyle!" But she it wasn't who added the touch of human colour to my face. Besides the benefit to my health, I am very well situated in moral respects; the only visitors besides myself, Mrs. Mildmay and her Son (whom she calls "Light of our Soul") are good-humoured, lively people. And the Miss Barings, without seeming to take any pains to be kind to me, contrive to make me feel quite at home. They are not at all dull in their own house, only rational, occupying themselves in some work or some reading, and expecting the visitors to do likewise. In fact, I feel as if I had sat down to rest a while in a little green clearing, after struggling till I was exhausted, thro' a tangled wood, getting myself scratched and torn!

As you did write to Miss Baring before (she has never spoken of that, nor have I), perhaps it might be well to send her now a few lines of thanks for making me so comfortable.

I went yesterday with the Mildmays on board the Urgent in Portsmouth Harbour. Mrs. M. wished to see the cabin in which "Light of our Soul" is about to sail to [Page 192]  Malta. The sky was so blue! and the sea was so green! and I was not sick; "and it was a good joy!" Only I got a touch or two of brown paint on the new gown!

Miss Baring is hoping that if you don't sail "beyond the sunset" in that "Yacht," you may come to Loch Luichart. One of the young Princes (Alfred) lives in Croker's House; where a white flag flies to tell when he is at home. And he has a little skiff in the bay, and a crew and a staff of Officers. The Queen comes sometimes to breakfast, or to take tea with him, - at Croker's!

Yours ever,



To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Bay House, Alverstoke, 8 Aug., 1858.

There then! I have gone and done it! And if you find it strange or unnatural of me, blame yourself, young woman! It is "all along" of your stinginess in writing to me, while I was so many weeks ill and alone, and your not seeming the least curious whether I was coming or not, - the Summer meantime passing away. All along of this unnaturalness on your part, that I had gone and been so unnatural as to tell Mrs. Pringle first, that I was coming, and to engage to go straight to her!! Now, what do you think, my Dear? I have no purpose, however, to be "off with the old love before I am on with the new." I don't see that the one need interfere with the other. So I seriously intend calling upon you, altho' upon my [Page 193]  honour, with your long silences when I was so needing to be written to, you have made me doubt whether you care for seeing me in reality or not! We shall see! I can swear to it that I care very much for seeing you, at all rates; and that I should be hard to persuade, and very sorry to be persuaded, that Mrs. Pringle's new friendship for me is warmer than your old friendship, altho' she has shown more interest about my coming, and indeed supplied the courage that was wanting to me, by all sorts of promises held out, - even the promise of "Dr. Russell to bring me round," if I should be knocked up by the journey.

I have been here with the Miss Barings (Lord Ashburton's Sisters) for the last ten days, and remain till the 24th. As soon as I can manage it, I mean to start for Dumfriesshire. I had no such thought, at least only in the form of a "devout imagination," when I came away. But the journey did me so much good, and I have been such an improved woman ever since, - so unrecognisable as the "seedy party" (so a lady described me) that I was, for a long time back, in London, that I think it would be stupid not to take more of the Country, and spend my time as pleasantly as I can while Mr. C. is still out of harness. I don't think he will be returning to London till the end of September. And September is often a fine month in Scotland. So, since I have got up my strength enough for a journey to Scotland (taking it at two halves), I see no reason why I should remain "like owl in desert" on the banks of that horrible Thames, waiting Mr. C.'s return. [Page 194] 

I had some idea of going from here on the 24th to Sherborne House in Dorsetshire, where I had a pressing invitation from Macready (the actor), a family I have long been much attached to. But in that case I should have made myself quite too late for Scotland; and while I was wavering between the two directions, exactly at the right moment, came Mrs. Pringle's last Letter, giving me the push I needed towards the North. So I shall go straight to London on the 24th, - and then!

Meanwhile I am in no haste to be gone from here. It is the place of all others to get strong at. Close by the sea, - nothing between me and the sea but a lawn, a terrace walk, and a little fringe of Scotch firs; then such a lofty airy House, with such beautiful grounds; long drives in an open carriage every day; sails too in the Bay when I like; quiet, kind clever people to live with! What more could one wish to have? But one likes and feels grateful to any place where one sleeps better and eats better, and feels less weak and miserable. I have not been so well for ten months as since I came here; and tho' I don't expect I have got over my tendency to catch cold, and to spend my life - nine-tenths of it - in having cold, I am unspeakably thankful for the present respite; and am as anxious to prolong it a few weeks as if it were a question of good health for all the rest of my life!

Mr. Carlyle is still at The Gill, - beginning to weary of it I think; for Lord Ashburton told me he had written to him to find "a man with a Yacht" to take him to the Baltic Sea, on his way to Germany! Perhaps [Page 195]  Lord A., who was to have a meeting with Mr. C. this morning at Dumfries, may persuade him, in default of the Yacht, to follow him to the Highlands.

I have written to tell him not to trammel himself in the least with me, and that is all I have to do with it. He tells me he saw my Aunt Anne in Dumfries. If she is at Thornhill by now, give her my love, and say I hope to come across her. -

Kindest regards to Dr. Russell. Yours, dearest Mary, ever most affectionately,



To T. Carlyle, Poste Restante, Dresden.
(Forwarded to Prag.)

Lann Hall, Tynron, Dumfriesshire,
Sunday, '29 August, 1858.'

I hope, Dear, that you have stood it as well as I have! and that I shall hear to that effect to-morrow. There may be a Letter now lying for me perhaps; but none are delivered here on Sundays.

I left London at nine on Friday morning, in a quiet and cheerful frame of mind, having arrived at the Station without hurry, a quarter of an hour before the time, accompanied by Charlotte and Nero (who would come and see me off); and met, on descending from my cab, by first George Cooke, and then Larkin with a fresh-gathered bouquet! The former had offered his services before I left Bay House; but Larkin was quite unexpected. Dr. [Page 196]  Carlyle, likewise, had offered to see me off, "if I had nobody"; but I was charmed to say I had somebody, for he was very much "detached."

Mrs. Pringle did not miss me at Carlisle Station: before I was well out of the carriage an arm was put quietly around my neck, and my face brought close to her kindly smiling one. A waiter stood behind her to take immediate charge of my luggage; and in two minutes I was in a beautiful quiet sitting-room of the County Hotel; and she was putting tea in the tea-pot. And when I had put off my bonnet and shawl in the adjoining bedroom, there was brandered chicken and ham, etc., etc., all ready for me. My bed had been so aired that the sheets were actually warm. I slept wonderfully, considering the squealing of trains, - hardly awoke with them! I had been sleeping very ill at Cheyne Row, and was very thankful I had made up my mind to be off again. Next morning, when I was thinking about getting up, a white child-looking figure glided in thro' the door opening into Mrs. Pringle's bedroom, and sat down on her knees at my bedside, in night clothes, and fell to kissing me! She is a very curious woman, this Mrs. Pringle; so enthusiastic and so calm, almost to outward chilliness; so cultivated in mind and so deficient in all accomplishment; so devout and so liberal. She will serve me to study for all the time I stay. We went after breakfast to see the Cathedral, and heard some beautiful music, - service being going on. It was Market-day, and I looked all about to see if Jamie [Carlyle] might perchance turn up; but without result. We then drove to a place in the neighbourhood, where a [Page 197]  Dr. Lonsdale lives, retired from Practice, having married a woman of "large fortune." He is a very old friend of Mrs. P.'s, and a most enthusiastic admirer of yours; but I think it is your early revolutionary phase that he has sworn himself to. He told me of a wealthy Paper-maker who had read two "Papers on you" at the Mechanics Institute, which were "really clever, and were extremely well received." They would have given us lunch there, but were restricted to wine and grapes, - Mrs. P. choosing to lunch at the Hotel rather. At 3, after a modest dinner, we took the train for Thornhill. (It goes without telling that I was not allowed to expend a sixpence in Carlisle.) I looked out with interest at Cummertrees;[1] but absolutely not a living being was to be seen. Again at Dumfries I looked out; but knew only Lauderdale Maitland, who came into our carriage. Every step of the road after was miserable to me; and in spite of having been there two years ago, I was like to choke when I got out at the Thornhill Station and drove off in another direction than Templand. Mrs. Pringle kindly refrained from speaking a word to me, till we got home, where a good fire in my beautiful bedroom and a comfortable "nip o' tea" cheered me up. I slept very well and feel not worse but better for my journey; tho' it is raining to-day, and cold enough to be glad of the fire in the Library. No bother about Church: Mrs. P. has not gone herself.

I must send this unpaid, as I am not sure of its reaching you, and don't know what stamps to put on it; and in fact have only a few penny ones. [Page 198] 

I sent to Chapman to send me the Book[1] so soon as he had the maps and index ready. John had got himself a copy without [maps, etc.]. Surely I shall get a Letter to-morrow. By the way it is not Land but Lann this place.

Yours affectionately,

J. W. C.


On my getting home from Germany in Autumn, 1858. - T. C.

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Thornhill, Wednesday, '22 Sep., 1858.'

Oh my Dear! I hope that Nero will know you and welcome you "in his choicest mood"; and I hope that Charlotte will "not fall but rise with the emergency" (as Miss Anderton says she does); and I hope that in practical things at least you will not miss me - much! for the few days you will be left to your own shifts. I shall be back to you in the early days of next week. Nothing can go materially wrong, one would say, till then. Nay, it is probable that for that long, you may even prefer being "well let alone." Still I am wae to think of your arriving from your long wanderings, in my absence; and when I got your Letter telling me you were positively not to return by Scotland, and not to be at Cheyne Row till to-morrow, I should have wound up my affairs here in a hurry and dashed off home in time to receive you, - had I been up to any dashing. But alack, my Dear, [Page 199]  your Letter found me just recovering from an attack of something extremely like - cholera! when any imprudence might have cost me my life. Besides Dr. Russell was here to take good care I committed none! Can you figure anything more fortunate than my taking this illness, - since it was to be taken, - in his house! Such a Doctor and such a nurse "all to myself" (as the children say)! Had these cramps taken me two days sooner, at Lann, I would have gone on bearing them as long as possible without sending for help; and I had no morphia with me to have taken at my own hand; and (as Basil Montagu says of the powder found wet when the battle should begin) "what then would not have been the consequences?" I declare it was almost worth while to fall ill here, just for the satisfaction of seeing once more a real live Doctor! What a blessing to society is such a phenomenon! It reminded me of the good old time when my childish mind could conceive of no higher mission than to "ride about and see the folk!" Not one useless question did that man bother me with, and not one necessary question did he omit to ask; his quiet clear decisive manner inspired me with such faith in him that I would have swallowed prussic acid or strychnine at his bidding. And so he gives me the character of "a perfectly excellent patient." C'est selon! As for Mrs. Russell's nursing, it was as anxious and devoted as my own Mother's.

The practical deduction from all which is that you must send Dr. Russell a copy of the Friedrich as soon as possible, and be sure to write his name on it with your own hand. God knows if you don't owe him my life! [Page 200] 

... I mean to leave here by the early train on Monday; stop at Dumfries to see Jean; get on to Mary's before dark; stay over Tuesday at the Gill (in expectation that Jamie can come there); and then straight to Chelsea next day (Wednesday). ... Meanwhile what are you to do about finding things? Charlotte is rather good at finding! Take her up gently, tell her what you want, in plain English, and I have no doubt you will find her very docile and "quick at the uptak." ...


To Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.

Chelsea, 16 January, 1859.

My dear Jean - To do Mr. C. justice, he didn't forget to give your message: ...

I asked him just now when he came to light his pipe at my fire (his own "declining to take up the tobacco smoke") if he had any message to you to-day. "Nothing, except that I am very happy with - my gloves and - all that!" His horse gives more satisfaction than I ever saw horse, or person or thing give him in the world before! Every time when he comes in from riding, he breaks out into lyrical recognition of its virtues and good sense. "Never did he see in all his life a more remarkable combination of courage and sensibility." I expect he will be much the better for his riding when the weather gets a little warmer and more settled. At present it is too cold at the late part of the day he goes out in, and he has to ride too fast to keep life in him, and that just immediately [Page 201]  before eating his dinner. And then he lies on the sofa after, and sleeps the sleep of the just for an hour and half, or two hours! and then he wonders that he wakes too early in the morning! I wish to Heaven this Book were off his hands, - in any way.[1] He has never taken heartily to the subject; ought never to have tried to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear; for it needs all possible love for the subject to carry him along thro' such severe labour as he puts into everything he writes. ...

Yours very truly,



To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, Jan. or Feb., 1859?

Dearest Mary - If I don't take care I shall be falling into the self-same evil course I warned you against in my last.[2] "Let him that standeth on the house-top take heed," etc. I don't think my brain is so active when I sleep (as I still continue to do with that whisky)! as it used to be when I spent the greater part of my nights in reading in my bed, to stave off insane thoughts! The fact is, anyhow, that my stupidity in these weeks approaches the sublime! and yet I don't get fat upon it; so I doubt if it be good, genuine, healthy stupidity, and not rather some physical torpor. Perhaps the explanation were comprised in the few frank words which Dr. Jeffson addressed [Page 202]  to the would-be Dandy who consulted him: "You are old - yes, damned old, that's all!!"

Did you ever see such a Winter? I suppose it is good for weak things, but the Doctors here say there never was more sickness, - only the Doctors say that, every Winter, whether it be mild or severe! My poor Cousin[1] at Falmouth fancies the climate there equal to that of Madeira. I question if it be Falmouth that makes the difference. Of course he is no better. His Mother writes such flourishing Letters about the comforts he has, and the attentions he receives at Falmouth, that it is difficult to not let oneself be distracted from the fact of the case, - that her only son is dying. Bence Jones forwarded to me a Letter from the Falmouth Doctor, to destroy every hope, had I still entertained any. I have never seen so unintelligible a woman as Mrs. George Welsh.

I have another sorrow in the constant expectation of hearing from Haddington that the eldest of my two dear old ladies is dead. She has continued to live and keep all her intellect and feelings as alive as ever, - nobody knows how, - for weeks back. For she has lost the faculty of taking nourishment, by which alone she was kept in life, the Doctor said. The other can't survive her long; and then Haddington will be turned all into a church-yard for me! What a strange reflection it must be for Miss Douglas (if she ever reflects), that she has outlived all she began life beside! Even a distant approximation to that state of being left behind all one's contemporaries, [Page 203]  makes one so wae and dreary at times! But also it makes the early friends we still possess doubly dear; every year they become more precious. Think of that, you, when you are tempted into faithless speculations about any Mrs. Pringle I may take up with!

I heard, curiously enough, of Mrs. Dunbar, the other day. She was visiting a Mrs. Borthwick (I don't know the lady), a friend of the Artist who did that Picture of our "Interior." Mrs. Borthwick was showing her some Italian views, and among them was a photograph of the Picture, which the Artist had given this Mrs. Borthwick. Mrs. Dunbar went into raptures over its distinctness, and suddenly, not knowing what Interior it was, exclaimed, "Good Gracious! there is Mrs. Carlyle sitting in it!" Tait was enchanted when Mrs. Borthwick repeated to him this tribute to his talent.

How are your maids going on? And the Bread? Have you put "sand in the oven," as Mrs. Blacklock advised?

My little Charlotte continues to behave like the good girl of a Fairy Tale! The only drawback to my satisfaction with her is, that it seems too great to last, - in a world of imperfections!

Do you still wake up your patient Husband two or three times a night to talk to you? You should have seen Mr. Carlyle's stare of astonishment and horror, when I told him you had that practice!

... My kindest regards to the Doctor. Did I tell you I had put Nipp[1] into a little frame, and hung [Page 204]  him in my Dressing-room? When Mr. C. first noticed it, he said, "May I ask, my Dear, who is the interesting quadruped you have been at the pains to frame there?"

Your affectionate

JANE W. Carlyle.


To Major Davidson, Edinburgh

Chelsea, 14th Feb., 1859.

My dear friend - It is not to you that I should write this evening, if I were animated with a due sense of "the duty nearest hand!" Putting aside all questions of a cap to be "done up" (alas that England should expect of one to wear caps at "a certain age" for all that one's hair don't turn gray!), and all questions about three pairs of socks in my workbasket in immediate need of darning; then Katie Macready in breathless expectation of a Letter from me to tell her what I think of a bulky MS., on which, after the fashion of young ladies of the present day, she has been employing her leisure, instead of on a sampler; and there is Miss Anderton (a young Actress and a good girl as can be) expecting "a few lines" about a sensible little "Article" of hers, entitled "Thoughts on Actresses," in the Englishwoman's Journal, which she sent me yesterday. (What a mercy you were married a good many years ago! You could hardly have succeeded in finding a Wife now who had not published a Book or contributed to a Journal, or at least had a MS. in progress!) And there is an [Page 205]  unknown Entity,[1] who is pleased to pass by the name of George Eliot, to whom I have owed acknowledgement a week back for the present of her new Novel Adam Bede, a really charming Book, which, Novel tho' it be, I advise you to read; and I engage that you will not find the time miss-spent, under penalty of reading the dreariest Book of Sermons you like to impose on me, if you do! All that I don't feel equal to breaking ground on to-night. ... That Little picture of your visit to Grant's Braes! How pretty, how dreamlike! awakening so many recollections of my own young visitings there: - the dinners of rice and milk, with currants - a very few currants - kind, thrifty Mrs. Gilbert Burns used to give me, with such a welcome! of play-fellows, boys and girls, - all I fancy dead now, - who made my Saturdays at Grant's Braes white days for me! - I went to see the dear old house, when I was last at Sunny Bank, and found the new prosaic farmhouse in its stead; and it was as if my heart had knocked up against it! A sort of (moral) blow in the breast is what I feel always at these sudden revelations of the new uncared-for thing usurping the place of the thing one knew as well as oneself, and had all sorts of associations with, and had hung the fondest memories on! When I first saw Mrs. Somerville (of mathematical celebrity), I was much struck with her exact likeness to Mrs. G. Burns - minus the geniality - and plus the feathers in her head! and I remember remarking to my Husband, that after all Mrs. Burns was far the cleverer woman of [Page 206]  the two, inasmuch as to bring up twelve children, as these young Burnses were brought up, and keep up such a comfortable house as Grant's Braes, all on eighty pounds a year, was a much more intricate problem than the Reconcilement of the Physical Sciences! and Mr. C. cordially agreed with me. I am glad however, the Centenary is over! for Mr. C. was pestered out of his wits with Letters from all the braying Jackasses in creation about it. If he had cut himself up into square inches, he could not have been present at all the "occasions" where he was summoned. He, Mr. C., is as busy as ever tearing away at his new Volumes. Meanwhile I am spending my life with the two Royal Children (of his Title page), as large as life! Lord Ashburton having made me a present of the Picture from which the engraving was made. It quite makes the fortune of my Drawing-room. For one thing, it serves the end our pretty little Shandy[1] used to serve at Haddington, and is something for the stupid callers to chatter about. ... Kind regards to your Wife.

Affectionately yours,



To Mrs. Braid, Green End, Edinburgh.

Chelsea, Friday, 'Spring, 1859.'

My dearest Betty - I shouldn't wonder if you were wearying to hear from me! I know that I am wearying to hear from you; and there isn't much hope of that till I have first put you in my debt. The fact is I have [Page 207]  a far wider correspondence on my hands than is either profitable or pleasant; and there are so few hours in the day that I can give to writing, being subject to continuous interruptions in the forenoons, and in the afternoons too wearied for anything but lying on a sofa, betwixt sleeping and waking. Ach! I remember "Tom Dodds" telling Mr. Brown[1] (you remember Mr. Brown?) that it was [Page 208]  impossible to learn the whole of some task he had marked out to us, that he "hadn't time for so much." "Then," said Mr. Brown, "make time, sir! Miss Welsh can always make time for as much as I like to give her!" He wouldn't compliment me on my talent for making time now, poor fellow! if he were alive to pay compliments, seeing how I go on! It isn't that I am grown idle or lazy at heart, but I am grown physically incapable of exertion. It's no good trying to "gar myself" do things now. If I overdo my strength one hour, I have to pay for it the next with utter impossibility to do anything! ... Besides this bodily languor and weariness, I really have now little to complain of. I keep free of colds; have not coughed since November; and I get some reasonably good sleep ever since I returned from Scotland and took to drinking - whisky-toddy! Don't be alarmed! I never increase my dose, and it is but one tablespoonful (of whisky, that is) before going to bed.

For the rest, Mr. Carlyle is hard at work as usual; and the house would be dull enough, if it were not for the plenty of people, - often more than enough, - who come to see me in the forenoons, and for Charlotte's dancing spirits and face radiant with good humour and kindliness all day long. And the strange little being has so much good sense and reflection in her, that she is quite as good to talk with as most of the fine ladies that come about me. Sometimes I go out for a drive, and stay to luncheon (which is my dinner) with some friend or other, to shake the cobwebs off my brain, which are apt to gather there when I sit too much at home! Last [Page 209]  Tuesday I spent two or three hours at George Rennie's! Oh! you can't fancy what an old worn-looking man he is grown! He has a grand house; and his Cousin Jane whom he married (instead of me) seems to make him a devoted Wife; but his life is not a happy one, I think. Great ambition and small perseverance have brought him a succession of disappointments and mortifications which have embittered a temper naturally none of the best! ... In spite of all this, I am always glad to meet George for the sake of dear old long ago; and if he is not glad to meet me, he is at least still very fond of me, I am sure. I saw at his house, the other day, for the first time, Marion Manderstone (Margaret's only Daughter). She is the image of what Margaret was when she went with me to the Ballincrief Ball, - my last Ball in East Lothian! I have been to Balls here, - very grand ones too, - but never with the same heart I carried to that one, before any shadow of death had fallen on my young life!

Who on Earth do you think I have coming to Two o'clock dinner with me? (Mr. C. dines at seven, which is too long for me to wait now-a-days). That tall Sir George Sinclair that went to see George [Welsh?], with some wonderful ointment or other, which of course did him no good! He is living in the vicinity of London, at present; and wants us to spend a month with him at Thurso Castle (in the very extreme North of Scotland), when Summer is come. If I could be conveyed there in my sleep, I should make no objections for my share; but it would be a terrible long journey to go, for the doubtful pleasure [Page 210]  of finding Sir George Sinclair and Lady Clementina at the end of it!

... Surely this mild Winter must have been good for George [Betty's Son] - as it has been for me. If I only knew him improving, tho' ever so slowly, I should think of you in your new home with pleasure. Have you any snowdrops or crocuses in bloom? My Cousin Walter sent me a dozen snowdrops from Auchtertool in a Letter. They arrived as flat as could be; but when I put them in water, I could positively see them drinking and their little bellies rounding themselves out, till they looked as fresh as if they had been just brought in from the garden.

My kind regards to your Husband and George.

Affectionately yours,


John Welsh is still at Falmouth, not worse he says. But the Dr. thinks his case perfectly hopeless.


To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, 12 May, 1859.

Dearest Mary - Had I been ever so well, I shouldn't have written till you wrote, - just to bring it home to your business and bosom how much easier it is to keep out of a long silence than to get out of it! For you couldn't but know very well, my Dear, that you were owing me a long Letter, in spite of your cool doubts as to whose turn it was! Indeed I was very cross with you, till I heard that [Page 211]  you had been ill with your stomach, and then I regretted that I had stood on my rights of woman, when I could so easily have written, on the voluntary principle. Especially as to answer your Letter at once on receiving it, was among the things forbidden to me. My dear, for weeks I have been forbidden to write, or read, or talk, or think! above all I was "on no account to think!" I might knit in my bed, if I liked, but nothing else. Besides swallowing tonics, wine, and "nourishing food" from morning till night, - and I might add, from night till morning, - and as I never had succeeded in learning to knit, and my Doctor "couldn't teach me" (which he excessively regretted), I had just to resign myself to be an idiot!

So, I have "had a Doctor after all!" Doctor Russell will say he had been right then, in telling me I "had never been very ill or I would have sent for a Doctor!" But let me tell him first why I sent for a Doctor on the present occasion. In the first place my head was getting light, which threatened to disable me from giving directions about myself; in the second place there was need of somebody who knew to explain to Mr. C. that if care were not taken, I should die of sheer weakness! - a thing which makes no show to inexperienced eyes, - especially to eyes blinded with incessant contemplation of Frederick the Great![1] [Page 212]  So I sent for the nearest General Practitioner[1] (whom I knew to bow to, and had often been struck with the human practical look of); and he came, and more than realized my most sanguine expectations; not only making the danger of my situation understood, so that I was delivered from petty worries, and all that, but helping me up with strength, by medicines, and especially by giving me to understand that, if I did not make myself [Page 213]  eat, I should certainly die. The violent illness which had preceded this state of weakness I had treated he said quite right, but my "audacity was not a thing he would recommend me to repeat." During the three weeks that I saw him every day and was allowed to see no one else, I indeed took quite a serious attachment to him; and he finds me the very oddest patient he ever had. He now sits with me half an hour instead of the official three minutes. Another thing, he is not unlike Dr. Russell; - certainly far liker him than any other Medical Man in London. - But I am writing too long. I am in the drawing-room now, after three weeks' confinement to bed, - part of the day at least; and may see one person daily. And I am improving in strength slowly but steadily. So soon as I am up to moving, and the weather is warm, I must go, my Dr. says, to the seaside. - God bless you.




To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Sunny Bank, Haddington,
Sunday, '27 June, 1859.'

My dearest Mary - You are not to fancy me indifferent to your kindness, writing so often when ill yourself. Such sympathy is not thrown away on me, tho' my long silence does not look like it. The fact is, I put off writing from day to day, that I might be able to tell you a conclusion was arrived at about our leaving home, - to tell you the where and the when of our going ... That Lodging [Page 214]  which I think I told you of, in a Farmhouse at Aberdour (Fife) was decided on, and immediately we must carry out the decision. I was in the midst of packing and preparing for the defects of a lodging, and for the possibilities of thieves at home, when your last dear Letter reached me; and I tried sincerely to find a leisure hour to write to you before starting; but what with the dreadful quantity to be done and the next to no strength to do it with, I had to rest in the intention.

Last Wednesday morning I saw my Husband and maid, and horse and dog, fairly off at eight in the morning to sail to their destination. Myself set out at eight in the evening, to travel all night! with a slight hope of reaching Sunny Bank next morning - alive! It was my Doctor's opinion, as well as my own, that doing the whole journey at one fell rush, in the dark, would be less hurtful to me than attempting to sleep at Inns on the road, and getting myself agitated by changes. I am sure it was; and that the best was made of a bad job that could be made!

I arrived here on Thursday morning, aching all over with fatigue, as I never ached before in all my life; but my mind quite calm; and that is the chief thing I have to attend to. To-day is Sunday, and I have done nothing since I arrived but rest! My dear old ladies do everything on earth that is possible to strengthen and soothe me; and I am beginning to contemplate the remainder of the journey with some assurance of being able to accomplish it. On Tuesday I proceed to Fife, if all go well. My family are already established there in the Farmhouse, [Page 215]  and write to me satisfactory accounts of it. You shall hear about it from myself ere long.

I had a Letter from Mrs. Pringle inviting us in a self-devoted sort of way to come and recruit at Lann Hall. ...

If I can get a glimpse of you and the Doctor I will have it. But for Lann Hall, it doesn't suit me. Good-bye, Darling. I can't get staying up-stairs long at a time: they send to ask if I am ill!

Your ever affectionate


Do tell me soon if you are better, poor Dear.


To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Humbie Farm, Aberdour, Fife, 11 July, 1859.

Dearest Mary - ... Our lodging here is all, and more than all, that could be expected of seaside quarters. The beaufifullest view in the created world! Rooms enough, well-sized, well-furnished, and quite clean; command of what Mr. C. calls "soft food," for both himself and horse. As for me, soft food is the last sort that I find useful. And as for air, there can be none purer than this, blowing from the Atlantic fresh on a hill-top! Decidedly there is everything here needed for happiness, but just one thing - the faculty of being happy! And that unfortunately, I had never much of in my best days; and in the days that are, it is lost to me altogether!

I have now been here a fortnight, and all that time have experienced no benefit from the change; indeed have felt weaker and more spiritless than before I left home. [Page 216]  At first I fancied myself suffering from the fatigues of the journey, but there has been time surely to recover from that; and I am not.

How are you? I daresay you suffer as much as I do; but you are more patient.

I have a dim recollection of having told you of a Letter I had from Mrs. Pringle inviting us in a grand manner to come and be done at Lann Hall. ... You know she is going to be married to a Mr. Potts, or some such thing, one of her Trustees? As I don't know his position in society, I can't say if she has justified your Husband's opinion of her cleverness.

Good-bye, Dear. Love to your Husband. You have now no excuse for not writing, as you have my address, - once if not twice.

Yours affectionately,



To J. George Cooke, London.

Auchtertool House, Friday, '9 Sep., 1859.'

My dear Friend - ...[1] I have had a piece of news on my mind for you these two weeks: little Miss Barnes (you remember her? Remember her? Will you ever forget her?) has found a Being she can love! and who - loves her!! And the marriage will take place soon! As odd as any other part of my news is that the little girl was moved in spirit to write and tell me of her happiness! I "had been so kind to her that evening," etc., etc. Indeed [Page 217]  the whole of her Letter, which is excessively sentimental, breathes a spirit of beautiful humility towards me, and of young-girl enthusiasm towards her lover and her Father and me and everybody! Now, will you ever judge from first impressions again? I could have taken my Bible oath that this little girl hadn't one spark of sentiment or humility (of all things) in her whole composition. I was as sure as if I had been "up thro' her and down thro' her with a lighted candle" (to use an Annandale expression).

Poor Geraldine! I wish, if a Doctor was needed, she would have consigned herself to Mr. Barnes. What do you think ails her? The Letter she wrote to me about her illness was so gay and amusing that I did not think it indicated much the matter; but I might have known by myself that the excitability of nerves which makes amusing Letters is very compatible with serious ailment.

I liked Mr. Mantell much when I saw him away out of the valley of the shadow of Geraldine. So did Mr. C. like him: "far too clever and substantial a man to be thrown away on a flimsy tatter of a creature like Geraldine Jewsbury,"[1] was his remark when he returned from "convoying" Mr. Mantell. [Page 218] 

I am coming [home] before long. Mr. C. goes to Annandale, he thinks, the end of next week; I shall then get Charlotte packed off home to make ready for me; and follow myself, so as to be there a week before Mr. C. It were best I had time to rest before "my duties" (as Mrs. Godby would say) begin.

I was to have gone with him to Alderley (the Stanleys') but I have no spirit for late dinners and dressing, and all that sort of thing. So I will cut myself loose here. A day or two with my Aunts in Edinburgh, and with my old ladies at Haddington, will fill up all the time I shall have to dispose of.

Yours affectionately,



To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

Chelsea, 24 September, 1859.

All right! I arrived soon after five last evening; having lost neither my head nor my luggage. But my tiredness! Heaven knows what it would have been had I come all the way at once! for each half of the journey was as much as I could bear.

I got little sleep at York, but no shame to Mrs. Scawin. For my bed proved most comfortable, not a "small being" molested me, of any sort; and the quietness was wonderful! Except that several times during the night the railway whistle seemed to fill my room, there wasn't a sound! It was merely the tumult of my own blood that kept me [Page 219]  waking. On the whole, this first experience of an Inn has been most encouraging; for I had every comfort, and the "cha-a-rge" was moderate. I had tea with plenty of warm muffins and eggs, a tumbler of white-wine negus and toast for supper, a breakfast quite sumptuous, whole roast fowl (cold), a tongue, eggs, etc. I had as many coals in my bedroom as kept the fire in all night; a pair of candles that I burnt down; and for all this, with beautiful rooms and a well-aired, clean bed, I was cha-a-rged just 9s. 2d.

I find the work here far advanced; all the floors scrubbed and the carpets down; Mrs. Southam having helped Charlotte, who was "dreadful tired," and afraid of your coming before she was ready. ...

Mr. Larkin went to the Station to meet me; but we failed to meet. However, I managed well enough. He has just been here and says the horse was well two days ago, and has a very good stable and every attention at Silvester's. Charlotte was very frightened that the Prince's horse[1] might have "some bad complaint," as the people said on board it was ill; and to see the Prince's groom giving our horse water and corn "out of the same dishes which the other horse had used" alarmed her so much that she went to Silvester's after her arrival, and begged him to "give the horse some physic in case of his catching anything!!!"

Mrs. Gilchrist and then Mrs. Royston and then Mr. Larkin have been here to ask for me. ... [Page 220] 

I don't feel to have got any cold; indeed the air is mild and warm here, - quite different from what I left at Haddington. ...

Yours ever,

J. W. C.

P. S. - I took henbane last night, and got hardly any sleep, nevertheless.


To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill,[1] Thornhill.

Chelsea, Friday, 'Autumn, 1859.'

Dearest Mary - ... Did you see in your newspaper that Mr. Carlyle was made a "Knight of the White Falcon"? Consequently I am a Lady of the White Falcon! Charlotte told our charwoman, with great glee, that the Master might call himself "Sir Thomas, if he liked." "My!" said the charwoman, "then the Mistress is Lady, now!" "Yes," said Charlotte, "but she says she won't go in for it! Such a shame!" - The Order, however, which Mr. C. immediately made over to me, is beautiful! A solid enamelled White Falcon, on a green star, attached to a broad red ribbon. If I live ever to visit you again, I shall wear it, when you have Mrs. Kennedy and Robert M'Turk!

My poor little Dog is become a source of great sorrow; his tendency to asthma having been dreadfully developed since the Butcher's cart went over his throat. I have [Page 221]  made him a little red cloak, and he keeps the house with me.

Love to the Doctor; remember me kindly to all my Thornhill friends. ...

Yours ever affectionately,



To Mrs. Austin, The Gill.

Chelsea, Monday, 'End of Jan'y, 1860.'

My dear Mary - ... The Gill fowls are always welcomed "in our choicest mood"; and the great currant-loaf has already received the compliment of having a good half slice of it swallowed down Mr. C.'s throat, to my immense surprise, for not only does he avoid all such "Dainties" as a general rule, but to-day in particular, his "interior" had been entirely "ruined" by a piece of pheasant he ate yesterday; and more than usual discretion was to have been expected of him! The fact is, he ate it out of affection for you, and as an expression of grateful feeling; not out of any real liking for currant-loaf, nor yet "as a melancholy distraction" (the motive he usually assigns for committing any extravagance in eating, - breaking into green pears, and such like!) Thank you much! You are the same dear, kind Mary always!

We are only subsiding still from the glories of the Grange and from the indigestions! Not that my individual digestion has been disturbed by the visit. I frankly confess that "French Cookery" agrees with me remarkably well! and that I can drink Champagne to dinner every [Page 222]  day, not only without hurt, but with benefit to my health. Then it is cheering to get out of the "valley of the shadow" of Frederick the Great for even eight days! And it is wonderfully pleasant to live in a house where, by means of hot-water pipes, there is the temperature of Summer in the dead of Winter! not to speak of the brilliant talk, and the brilliant diamonds, and the brilliant ever-so-many things! which, tho' "the flames o' Hell" may certainly "come and burn it a' up!" is very pretty and pleasant "in the meanwhile!" All the prettier for me, that I have lived more like "owl in desert" of late years, than like an unfeathered, articulate-speaking woman! haunted every day and all by the ghost of Frederick the Great! And so I was unusually well at the Grange; and came home in better case than I left it! and much pleased with the new Lady, who was kindness's self! A really amiable, loveable woman she seems to be; much more intent on making her visitors at their ease and happy, than on shewing off herself, and attracting admiration.

It was in sickening apprehension that I arrived at my own door, however. I had left my poor wee Dog so ill of old age, complicated with asthma, that I doubted that I should find him alive! It was the first time for eleven years that his welcoming bark had failed me! Was he really dead, then? No! strange to say, he was actually a little better and had run up the kitchen stairs to welcome me as usual; but there he had been arrested by a paroxysm of coughing, and the more he tried to shew his joy the more he could not do it!

Mr. C. keeps insisting on "a little prussic acid" for [Page 223]  him! At the same time he was overheard saying to him in the garden one day, "Poor little fellow! I declare I am heartily sorry for you! If I could make you young again, upon my soul I would!" And now, good-bye, dear Mary. ...

Affectionately yours,



To Mrs Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill.

Chelsea, 24 February, 1860.

Dearest Mary - If you are going to make a jacket the sooner you have the pattern the better; for the sooner you begin, as I know, you will be the sooner ended. So I won't put off more time, waiting for a day of leisure enough to write you a good long Letter; but take my chances of interruption, which are rather many just now.

I wish I was beside you to help you with the jacket, in the way of delivering a lecture on the paper illustration [enclosed]. You will need some directions, and I must give them, as well as I can at this distance. ...

For the rest: I am still not laid up, but going out for a drive twice a week, and sometimes, for a short walk. But if I am less ill than usual this Winter, I am more than usually sorrowful. For I have lost my dear little companion of eleven years' standing: my little Nero is dead! And the grief his death has caused me has been wonderful even to myself. His patience and gentleness, and loving struggle to do all his bits of duties under his painful illness, [Page 224]  up to the last hour of his life, was very strange and touching to see, and had so endeared him to everybody in the house, that I was happily spared all reproaches for wasting so much feeling on a dog. Mr. C. couldn't have reproached me, for he himself was in tears at the poor little thing's end! and his own heart was (as he phrased it) "unexpectedly and distractedly torn to pieces with it!" As for Charlotte, she went about for three days after with her face all swollen and red with weeping. But on the fourth day she got back her good looks and gay spirits; and much sooner, Mr. C. had got to speak of "poor Nero," composedly enough. Only to me, whom he belonged to and whom he preferred to all living, does my dear wee dog remain a constantly recurring blank, and a thought of strange sadness! What is become of that little, beautiful, graceful Life, so full of love and loyalty and sense of duty, up to the last moment that it animated the body of that little dog? Is it to be extinguished, abolished, annihilated in an instant, while the brutalized, two-legged, so-called human creature who dies in a ditch, after having outraged all duties, and caused nothing but pain and disgust to all concerned with him, - is he to live forever? It is impossible for me to believe that! I couldn't help saying so in writing to my Aunt Grace, and expected a terrible lecture for it. But not so! Grace, who had been fond of my little dog, couldn't find in her heart to speak unkindly on his subject, nay, actually gave me a reference to certain verses in Romans which seemed to warrant my belief in the immortality of animal life as well as human. One thing is sure, anyhow: my little dog is buried at the [Page 225]  top of our Garden; and I grieve for him as if he had been my little human child. Love to the Doctor, and a kiss to yourself.

Affectionately yours,



To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill.

Chelsea, Wednesday, '6 June, 1860.'

Dearest Mary - I am really terrified just now to hear the Postman's rap and to open a Letter! One death after another, in which I have an interest more or less deep, has followed, till it is borne in on me that every Letter I receive, especially in an unknown handwriting, must be either an "Intimation," or news of deadly illness! Two, within the last week, of my oldest friends gone! And one of these so unexpectedly; for I had heard quite recently of Robert M'Turk,[1] both from you and from Mrs. Pringle (Potts), and both reported him so well! Mrs. P. said, I remember, that he was "the one flourishing man in that quarter." Too flourishing! I take it for granted that he died of apoplexy. The other, my dear old Miss Jess Donaldson's death, was not unexpected for me. Since the older Sister went, hardly two months ago, I felt sure the other would soon follow, - the one interest and occupation and companionship in life that had kept her from sinking under a complication of ailments (the worst of them old age), being withdrawn, - what indeed remained for that poor old solitary life-long invalid but [Page 226]  to die? Those who loved her best could not wish her life prolonged in such suffering and desolation! But it was so sudden a death at the last, almost without any increase of illness, - a slight cold, that would not have killed a baby, killed her, worn to a shred as she was! And there were circumstances which made the suddenness a great shock to me, tho' both expecting and wishing she might not live long. ...

Will you write and tell me anything you know about Robert M'Turk's death; and how that poor little sweet invalid woman is bearing it? Surely it will be her death too! for he seemed to carry her thro' life in his arms. I would like to write to her, just to say how sorry I am. But I am afraid of her being too ill to find a line from me anything but intrusive. There are some griefs too cruel for being touched even with a word of sympathy; and it seems to me this of hers must be such! Love to your Husband.

Yours ever,

J. W. C.

My Husband is working himself to death; has no thought of going North this year! And I shall not dare to leave him in his present way. I cannot make him take care of himself: but I can put all sorts of hindrances in the way of his absolutely killing himself.


To Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.

Chelsea, Saturday, 11 Aug., 1860.

My dear Jean - ... I will inclose you a Note I [Page 227]  had from Sir George Sinclair, which will put you in heart about Mr. C.'s situation up there.[1] Even from the one Letter I have had from himself since his arrival, it appears that his circumstances are as favourable for the purposes he had in view as could have well been found in a conditional world.

I trust in God he will get calmed down, by a good long stay there; and come back with a thicker skin than he took away! This Book has been far too long a piece of work for him, - to say nothing of its difficulty.

I don't know what I am going to do with myself yet. His nervous state had acted upon me, till I was become more sleepless and agitated than himself! And I was on the verge of complete break-down into serious illness when Mr. C. left, and my Doctor took me in hands. To judge from the amount of "composing draughts" given me (three in a day!), I must have been very near boiling over and blowing my lid off! He (the Doctor) forbade my leaving home for the present; and I shall await his permission before going anywhere. He is both a skilful and honest man, and would not keep me here for the sake of running up a bill! - But I do feel a great longing to be on the top of a hill somewhere, to breathe more freely. - I will tell you my plans when I have any. What a nice little woman Mrs. Symington is! I liked her much better than him. James[2] might have called and reported himself at Cheyne Row. But I find him, socially speaking, a most impracticable youth! I wish he could fall in love! [Page 228]  That would be the making of him, if he did it wisely and not too well. - Kind regards to your Husband.

Yours, faithfully,



To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Alderley Park, 24 August, 1860.

Dearest Mary - You must be thinking me a little insane; and you won't be far from the truth! I have really been driven nearly beside myself by a complication of things, - a serious and most ill-timed illness included. My Dear, after one has gone for a week almost entirely without sleep, and almost entirely without other nourishment than brandy and water, one may be pardoned some omissions!

Besides, till I had really got myself started, and found myself thus far alive, and life-like, I couldn't have answered your dear kind Letter to any definite purpose. It depended altogether on how I stood the first half of the journey to Scotland, whether I undertook the other, or returned to Chelsea, where I should at least not trouble my friends with my ailments.

I came off so suddenly at the last, and had such a quantity of things to do in a hurry, with no strength to do them, that I did not get my Exodus announced to even my Husband![1] and absurd as I feel it, after demanding [Page 229]  an immediate answer from you, to let my own next communciation linger so long, I was obliged to just accept the absurdity! When you hear all my history of late weeks you will not wonder that I should have failed in writing, so much as that I should have failed in dying, or going out of my mind. [Page 230] 

But to the purpose: I am thus far safe; and tho' the journey tired me excessively, I have been improving every hour since. Lady Stanley and her Daughters are charming people, and as kind to me, and considerate, as it is possible to be. Last night I got the first human sleep that I have had these six weeks! And I expect to be quite in heart for proceeding to the Gill next week. Will you kindly address a line to me there, "Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Cummertrees, Annan," for next Wednesday, telling me when your friend's visit terminates. For one of us at a time, I should say, would be quite enough for you. And of course, I should rather be alone with you, than with you in the presence of a third person. -

I have to write to Mr. Carlyle; and my Doctor's last words to me were to "beware of overworking that excited brain of yours." So I will leave all the rest till we meet.

I feel very happy at the thought of seeing the Doctor and you again. - God bless you for your warm assurance of welcome.

Affectionately yours,



To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.

Alderley Park, 25 Aug., 1860.

Oh, my dear Mary! I am so very sorry! Instead of telling you the specific time of my arrival at the Gill, I have to tell you the unexpected, and to me very disappointing, news, that I cannot get there at all!

A Letter from Mr. C. this morning has knocked all my Scotch project on the head, remorselessly. He is [Page 231]  evidently coming back to Chelsea by the next Steamer! and the house is by no means left in a state fit to receive him! And there is no servant there at present who can make the necessary preparations. ...

I feel myself a very unfortunate and rather injured woman, for the moment.

Affectionately yours,



The following Letter from Sir George Sinclair (Carlyle's host at Thurso Castle) to Mrs. Carlyle, who had written to him also, in the mocking, satirical vein, is interesting enough for reproduction here.

Sir George Sinclair to Mrs. Carlyle.

Thurso Castle, 7 September, 1860.

My dear Mrs. Carlyle - My heart is very much saddened whilst I announce to you the termination of a visit by which I have been equally honoured and gratified. My very dear and valued friend sailed from Scrabster harbour this morning at 9, accompanied by my daughter and granddaughter and Mr. Stephens, a young acquaintance of theirs. He was in good spirits and assured me that, altho' "wearisome nights had been appointed him" for some time previous to his departure from the South, he had enjoyed an uninterrupted measure of repose and tranquility from the day on which he first "laid his head upon the pillow" beneath this roof.

He has rendered himself a universal favourite with all the inmates of this house, young and old, male and female, [Page 232]  high and low. For all he had a kind word, and a willing ear, and could accommodate his conversation with equal capacity and cheerfulness, to the habits, occupations and predilections of auditors the most widely differing from each other in all their elements of thought, action and experience. His absence will leave a blank in my daily arrangements and pursuits, which cannot be supplied, or cease to be felt and lamented. There never passed between us the most transient feeling of discord or impatience; and much as I admired his genius, I was even more fascinated by the strong undercurrent of tenderness and sympathy, which a superficial or commonplace observer might be unable to discover, appreciate or respond to. His allusions to yourself always indicated the strength of his affection, and his unwavering conviction that you have no object so much at heart as that of promoting his happiness, and consulting his wishes.

If I should live another year, I cherish an anxious hope that you may both devote the summer and autumnal months to a residence in this house, - unless you can find another where you will receive a heartier welcome, or where a more lively desire will be felt to render your sojourn agreeable and not unprofitable.

Allow me to express my best thanks for your gratifying Letter, which reached me yesterday, and which conveyed to me so graphic and interesting an account of your adventures and anxieties.

Believe me to remain, with sincere regard,

My dear Mrs. Carlyle, most faithfully yours,




[Page 123]

[1] The remainder of this Letter may be found in Letters and Memorials (ii., 298.) where it appears as a complete Letter.

[Page 127]

[1] This is the lady in whose stories about Mrs. Carlyle ("Mythic jottings" Carlyle rightly called what of them he had seen) Mr. Froude has placed such implicit faith. She appears to have been his Gloriana, as Lady Ashburton was Carlyle's (according to Mr. Froude). Whenever he finds a mystery or difficulty in the lives of Carlyle and his Wife, which appears to him insoluble, it is invariably to Geraldine Jewsbury that he flies for enlightenment, and her word is always accepted as true and final, notwithstanding that it is often - generally indeed - flatly contradicted by both Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle. One is not surprised that he suppressed the above Letter! Nevertheless it is only fair that it should be generally known how little credence Mrs. Carlyle herself would have placed in any of the Jewsbury Myths. See also Letter 201 post.

[Page 128]

[1] Fritz.

[Page 129]

[1] Carlyle was not permitted to smoke in his own bedroom.

[Page 130]

[1] The Rev. Mr. Dobbie (Mrs. Russell's Father), then in his 80th year.

[Page 131]

[1] Sir B. Brodie's Psychological Inquiries.

[Page 133]

[1] Her Father had lately died.

[Page 135]

[1] Lady Harriet Ashburton died on the 4th of May, 1857.

[Page 138]

[1] "Betty" (afterwards Mrs. Braid, - her maiden name is unknown to me) had been, at a very early age, the Welshes' general servant at Haddington. She entered their service at the May Term, 1815. Her name occurs, for the first time, in Dr. Welsh's "Book of Receipts and Expenditure," in the following entry:

"17th Nov., 1815. Paid Betty her wages £3 3 0."

Her wages (six guineas a year), were raised next year to £7; and the next again, to £8, but never beyond this sum, at least during Dr. Welsh's lifetime. She is last mentioned in Dr. Welsh's Book thus:

"29th May, 1818. Paid maid Betty's half-year's wage, £4 0 0."

Betty by and by became Mrs. Braid, and lived with her Husband in Edinburgh. Her only child was the "George" mentioned in the above Letter, who died of paralysis soon after this date. Mrs. Braid was an excellent woman, and was held in high esteem and affection by Mrs. Carlyle. Tho' only a year, or perhaps two, older than Mrs. Carlyle, she survived her several years. The unsigned note at the foot of p. 281, Letters and Memorials, ii. to the effect that Betty was "Old Haddington nurse," is a mistake. The note should have been initialed J. A. F.

[Page 139]

[1] Masseur.

[Page 140]

[1] "Jackie" Welsh, natural Daughter of Dr. Welsh's Brother William. See Letters and Mems. ii 315.

[Page 143]

[1] "Peesweep" (Peewit=Lapwing) appropriate nickname of my imbecile Clerk (now, 1866, a flourishing Literary character!) - T. C.

[2] See ante p. 17n.

[3] I have it still. - T. C. (1869.)

[Page 144]

[1] Which she had bought at Haddington from a boy. See Letters and Memorials, ii. 316.

[2] The first half of this Letter is in Letters and Memorials, ii., 322-5.

[Page 145]

[1] Mrs. James Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

[Page 150]

[1] Mrs. Carlyle, as she became older, grew more and more into the likeness of her Mother. In another unpublished Letter of about this date, I think, she tells Carlyle that more than one old friend exclaimed on meeting her after long absence: "Bless me, how like her Mother Jane has grown."

[Page 155]

[1] Proofsheets of Frederick.

[Page 156]

[1] This shows well the extraordinary sensitiveness of Mrs. Carlyle's nature; and also how she could make a thrilling story, almost a tragedy, out of a very trifling accident. How many of the "tragedies," of which she is the much pitied heroine, have a like slender basis of reality?

[Page 161]

[1] Of health.

[Page 162]

[1] I have to thank Mr. Geo. A. Lumsden, secretary of the Carlyle House Memorial Trust, for permission kindly given me to take a copy of Letters 179 and 181, the originals of which were generously presented to the Trust by Miss Agnes Howden.

[Page 166]

[1] "A Chelsea Interior," by R. Tait.

[Page 172]

[1] The "First Lady Ashburton" (Lady Harriet) had died on the 4th of May, 1857.

[Page 179]

[1] In a later letter Mrs. Carlyle says that "Miss Cameron" turned out to be an "Irish Imposter; was convicted of lying and theft"; and after "lasting just a fortnight and three days," ran away between 10 and 11 at night!

[Page 181]

[1] Mrs. George Welsh.

[Page 183]

[1] Lord Ashburton's sister.

[Page 184]

[1] A big awkward farm-horse Carlyle was riding.

[Page 185]

[1] For putting a new grate in the Study.

[2] Ironmonger, in the King's Road, Chelsea.

[Page 186]

[1] Crowdy (or crowdie) is meal and water stirred together.
Crowdie ance, crowdie twice,
Crowdie three times in a day!
An ye crowdie ony mair,
Ye'll crowdie a' my meal away!"

- Old Scotch Ballad.

[Page 187]

[1] A copy of "The Little Drummer" (Friedrich and Wilhelmina), by Antoine Pesne, an engraving of which forms the frontispiece to the First Vol. of Carlyle's Friedrich.

[Page 188]

[1] A large house near Ecclefechan.

[Page 190]

[1] In her fifteenth year, Mrs. Carlyle says in another Letter.

[Page 197]

[1] Station (on the Glasgow & S. W. Ry.) for the Gill.

[Page 198]

[1] First two volumes of Friedrich.

[Page 201]

[1] Friedrich, alas! - T. C.

[2] Letter 204, Letters and Memorials.

[Page 202]

[1] John Welsh, son of Dr. Welsh's Brother George.

[Page 203]

[1] Mrs. Russell's little dog.

[Page 205]

[1] Carlyle told his Wife that Adam Bede was written by a woman. He instantly came to this conclusion from the author's description of the making of a panelled door.

[Page 206]

[1] See ante, p. 94n.

[Page 207]

[1] James Brown, who in 1812, succeeded Edward Irving as Teacher of the Public School at Haddington. Miss Welsh had private tuition from both Irving and Brown, and also attended the School under each successively. The following excerpts from Dr. Welsh's Account Book ("Book of Receipts and Expenditure" he calls it) give the dates and other items of considerable interest:

21 Nov., 1811. Paid Mr. Irving up to the 16th £2 2 0
17 Dec., 1811. Paid Mr. Irving up to the 17th 2 2 0
20 Feb., 1812. Paid Mr. Irving up to the 17th for Private Teaching to Jeany 2 2 0
   "  " " Paid him also for School wages 1 6 1
17 March, 1812. Paid Mr. Irving for teaching Jeany one hour a-day from 17 ult. 1 11 6
17 June, 1812. Paid Mr. Irving to this date, for three months teaching of Latin, one hour a-day @ £1.11.6 4 14 6
27 Aug., 1812. Paid Mr. Irving to account of teaching Jeany from last payment to this date 2 10 6
(This is the last payment to Irving mentioned in the Account Book.)
9 Feb., 1813. Paid Mr. Brown for teaching Jeany from 9 Nov. last to 9 March next, 6 6 0
In April, 1813, Miss Welsh was sent to the Boarding School mentioned in the Reminiscenses, as the following entry shows:
19 April, 1813. Paid Mrs. Henning a quarter in advance, from the 14th inst., of Jeany's Board 15 15 0
27 Oct., 1813. Paid Mrs. Henning in part of another quarter's Board for Jeany 8 8 0
5 Jany., 1814. Paid Mr. James Brown, Teacher for Jeany, Latin and Geography, up to Dec., 28, 1813, when she went to his Public School 8 12 9

Presumably Edward Irving gave up the Haddington School at the beginning of the Summer-holidays, 1812. On the 14th of July of this year, Miss Welsh would be eleven years old; yet by this time she had fallen "passionately in love with Irving!" This would probably be her second case of "Child-love." See ante, p. 47.

[Page 211]

[1] Carlyle was more aware, now and at all times, of his Jane's weakness and ill health than she imagined. There is scarcely a Letter of his to any member of his Family (and he wrote to one or other of them almost every day) in which he does not refer specifically to her state of health; and when she is at all seriously ill he gives details of her symptoms with a minuteness which is quite pathetic. Especially is this the case when he is writing to Dr. Carlyle, - a Physician in whom he still had a lingering hope. This will become apparent when Carlyle's Letters are published; meantime I may give an example or two applicable to Mrs. Carlyle's present illness, which was not of a very serious nature, little more than the result of a bad cold, complicated by constitutional weakness and almost total loss of appetite.

On the 14th of April, a month before the date of the above Letter, he writes to Dr. Carlyle: "Poor Jane, I regret to say, as the worst item of all, has broken down at last: in the outburst of almost July heat last week but one, she stripped too suddenly, gradually got into a bad cold (accumulated peccancies, I have perceived, were there at any rate); and for the last four days, sleepless, foodless, coughing, tormented somewhere in the region of the heart, she has been as ill as I ever saw her. Not till this morning pretty late, could I flatter myself with the least sign of improvement; but now I do strive to believe we are round the corner again. She has eaten a particle of white fish (her own demand), and is lying quiet, with here and there a moment of sleep, which is better than none." He then goes on to ask Dr. Carlyle to look at Cressfield, a fine house in Dumfriesshire, then to let furnished. "I find," he writes, "I could for a certain part of my work, pack the necessary Books in something like compendious shape; and write in the country. At all events, to gather a little strength there would be very furthersome both for self and Partner."

Again on the 29th of April, he writes to Mrs. Aitken: "She (Jane) is close in her bed, with a Doctor watching over her, - a rather sensible kind of man, who comes daily, and gives little or no medicine, but prescribes food (or attempts at food), and above all things absolute silence and the steady endeavour to give a chance for rest. He does not seem alarmed about her general state; but says that of all the patients he has had she is the most excitable, and is so weak in bodily respects that she amazes him. As weak as an infant, poor little soul; and loaded daily (not in these days only) with such a burden of suffering, which she bears without quarrelling with it more! Yesterday I did not see her except once, so strict was her order for seclusion. She sleeps very little, but not absolutely none; it is the same with her eating - I flatter myself, and the medical man flatters me, with the hope of seeing her fairly on the mending hand (as indeed, we hope she already intrinsically is) in the course of a few days more."

[Page 212]

[1] Mr. Barnes.

[Page 216]

[1] A part of what is omitted here is printed in Letters and Memorials, iii., 4.

[Page 217]

[1] This is hard measure for poor Geraldine! But Mrs. Carlyle's own opinion of her as expressed in another Letter from Fife to Mr. J. G. Cooke is quite as uncomplimentary. Mr. Cooke and Geraldine Jewsbury saw Mrs. Carlyle off, from the Railway Station in London, on this trip to Scotland. Mrs. Carlyle writes to him soon after reaching Humbie Farm, "I wondered, as much as you could do, what demon inspired the tasteless jest with which I bade you goodbye! in presence, too, of the most gossiping and romancing of all our mutual acquaintance." - The whole Letter is printed in Letters and Memorials ii., 396-9; but Carlyle's note on the MS. of the Letter, to the effect that the person referred to is Geraldine, has been omitted by Mr. Froude. (The Scotticism, acquaintance for acquaintances, is of frequent occurrence in Mrs. Carlyle's Letters.)

[Page 219]

[1] Which came from Granton to London on the same steamer with Fritz and Charlotte.

[Page 220]

[1] Dr. Russell's new house a little way out of Thornhill.

[Page 225]

[1] An early lover of Miss Welsh, when she was "an extremely absurd little girl." See Letters and Memorials, ii. 392.

[Page 227]

[1] At Thurso Castle John o'Groat's.

[2] Mrs. Aitken's eldest son, then living in London.

[Page 228]

[1] This was an unlucky omission; for Carlyle, in ignorance of his Wife's departure from Chelsea, wrote her a Letter in which he said he was about to leave Thurso (where he was staying as [Page 229]  the guest of Sir George Sinclair), and "sail South." This Letter, addressed to Cheyne Row, did not reach Mrs. Carlyle till the 25th of August, by which time she was at Alderley Park in Cheshire on a visit to Lady Stanley. She seems to have jumped to the conclusion that "sailing South" meant sailing to London, instead of to Leith, as Carlyle intended. Had he dreamed of the possibility of her being from home, he would doubtless have been more specific. She hurried back to London; and on hearing that he was coming only as far as Dumfriesshire, for the present, she wrote him a series of angry Letters (printed with many important and unmarked omissions in Letters and Memorials, iii., 47-55), which are little to her credit. Carlyle took his scolding kindly and patiently; but he does venture to hint that she had been "precipitate," and had perhaps herself "lost heart for further travel." With some vehemence Jane resented and protested against the suggestion; but a careful study of all the Letters she wrote, about this time, and a consideration of the circumstances in which she was placed, show pretty clearly that Carlyle was quite right in his surmise: (1), She had left her house in charge of a servant whose honesty she suspected, and who did very soon become a convicted thief. She was uneasy at having left this person in such a responsible position; and she explains to Mrs. Russell (in Letter 213, post) that this "was one of the things" she "had to hurry home for." (2), She feared the Gill would be unattractive and dull; for in a passage omitted from Letter 221 (Letters and Memorials, iii., 35) she had written, "But decidedly, mooning about all by myself, at the Gill, and lapping milk, which doesn't agree with me, and being stared at by the Gill children as their 'Aunt!' is not the happy change for which I would go far, much as I like Mary Austin, and like to speak with her for a few hours [the italics are Mrs. Carlyle's]. Now if I had it in my power to go on to you for a week or so from the Gill, ... the pleasure of a week with you and the Doctor would counterbalance the tedium of a week at the Gill; and I could break the long journey by staying a few days at Alderley Park." (3), But after accepting Lady Stanley's invitation and after having made preparation for leaving London, she learnt that Mrs. Russell's "spare room" was occupied by another guest, - a lady, - who might stay for an indefinite time. Mrs. Carlyle expresses her dislike to being a second guest at Mrs. Russell's; and evidently feared that if she took the long journey to Scotland she might have to spend all her time at the Gill! - She was the unfortunate victim of circumstances. No one was to blame more than herself. The chief regret is that her impatient and angry Letters were ever published!


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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom