A Celebration of Women Writers

"Vol. II (Section 3)."
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 233] 

LETTER 211

To T. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

Chelsea, Wednesday, 12 Sep., 1860.

There! I am good you see! I don't wait till I have heard from Scotsbrig, but write on the voluntary principle to reassure your mind on that "blue paint,"[1] in case it have taken effect on it! I myself had some apprehension that so magical a cure of the sore throat would cost me something in shock to the stomach or system. But no such thing! I have been better than usual in every way.

To-day I am going for a drive in my neat Fly, and have undertaken to make out the failed appointment with Fuz [John Forster] on Friday. Mrs. Forster came over to arrange it the same day she got my Note of apology.

Mrs. Gilchrist is coming home, which I am rather glad of.

The new servant is a success, I think. I shall bring home the girl next week. I am sure that my sleep has been much improved by the substitution of Charlotte Secunda for "old Jane." The worry and Disgust that old humbug occasioned me just on the back of so much other worry, was dreadfully bad for my worn out nerves!

Geraldine has been very obliging and attentive, but Oh Heaven! what a fuss she does make with everything she does! and how wonderfully little sense she has! As a sample of her practical conduct: the unlucky day [Page 234]  we went to Norwood, she left behind her at the Hotel, a silk neckerchief and an aluminum brooch (a love token from Mr. Barlow!); on Monday she returned by herself to the Norwood Hotel to try and recover her lost goods, - which had been taken care of and were honestly restored. On the way home she left her new silk parasol in the Railway waitingroom!!! She bragged to me that she had gone Second Class. I asked her what the saving was. When she came to calculate, it was found the "cha-arge" First Class (with a return ticket) was eighteen pence, - the charge by Second Class was ninepence - but ninepence each way, there being no return-ticket for the Second Class. So she had paid precisely the same!!

Oh what dreadful pens I have to write with in your absence! Love to Jamie and Jenny.

Yours ever,

J. W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 212

To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, '20 Sep., 1860.'

I do hate, Dear, to tell about myself every day! as if I were "the crops," or something of that sort. When "I'se no better, I'se ashamed to say it"; and when I am better I'se equally ashamed to be cackling about my wellness; and so I shall be glad when you can see with your own eyes how I am, instead of my telling you in words. [Page 235] 

Meanwhile I have to-day to inform you that I am in what poor Hunt called a "very Irish state of health," "only middling!" I didn't sleep so well as the previous night; and got up with a headache, which is not gone yet. But I have had a good dinner of "sweetbread," and expect a sleep by and by.

Don't be afraid that I will go to Mrs. Godby; I am not in a condition to be of any use to them, and have no notion of going out of my way for the fuss of the thing, like Geraldine. At present I don't even know when I shall be let go out. Mr. Larkin went yesterday and brought me a Note from Mrs. Binnie. The Doctors think the poor soul still in great danger; but have hope (they had none at first) of her recovery.

Mr. Barlow has brought me a pretty gold brooch from Paris; and gave it to me as a "keepsake in the prospect of his death any day." He gets more and more palsied, and his mind too is much enfeebled; but the perfect gentleman still looks pathetically out thro' all his infirmities; and he will allow none of us to bother. He admits, if you question him, that "paralysis is gradually carrying him off," but you are not expected to look more grave for that; and for the rest, he seems as prepared as the most "professing Christians."

The Duke of ----- sent back your Books unpaid (carriage 1s. 9d.). I thought it was game, when that money was demanded, and was so provoked to see our own Books! - God be with you!

Ever yours,

J. W. CARLYLE.

[Page 236] 

LETTER 213

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, Monday, '22 Oct., 1860.'

Now, Dearest Mary, suppose you were to write me a Letter? It is your turn. But perhaps, and very likely, you think my Letters this good while back haven't deserved to be counted, - have been so hurried and unsatisfactory that you are only nominally in my debt. I am somewhat of that opinion myself! But what could I do, you see? A nice, long, comfortable Letter couldn't proceed out of a hurried and unsatisfactory state of mind. And what with illnesses - one on the back of another - and worries all in a heap, I should have been more than mortal to have preserved my equanimity thro' the last three or four months!

... And during this wretched time, a change of servants had to be transacted! Had I foreseen it at the time, I would have kept on with poor little Charlotte; for tho' she was needing to be put under some stricter superintendence than mine, still she was and is warmly attached to us; - and loving kindness at such a time was to have been kept near me, tho' accompanied with ever such muddle! But things were going on as usual when I gave her warning and engaged a so-called "Treasure"[1] in her stead. I had also a girl who was to come on Mr. C.'s return, - the Treasure being 71 years old, and requiring to be supplied with a pair of young legs. Well, my Dear, the [Page 237]  Treasure for whom I was remodelling my "establishment," turned out, - as Treasures are too apt to do, - an arrant old humbug! Couldn't speak a word of truth; couldn't even cook, and finished off by stealing eight bottles of ale! - a great comfort for poor Charlotte, who came and nursed me, and cooked all my food when I was too ill to take care of myself. I was weak enough to wish to take her (Charlotte) hack, but not weak enough to do it! She, who couldn't rule herself, would have made a sad mess of ruling a girl nearly her own age. So I had to engage a middleaged servant to be head to the girl. Both of whom were installed on my return from Alderley; and the old Treasure dismissed with not a blessing. That was one of the things I had to hurry home for.

So now I am mistress of two servants, - and ready to hang myself! Seriously, the change is nearly intolerable to me, tho' both these women are good servants, as servants go. But the two-ness! the "much ado about nothing!" I hate, and cannot use myself to it. With one servant, - especially with one Charlotte, we were one family in the House; one interest and one Power! Now it is as if I had taken in Lodgers for down-stairs: and had a flight of crows about me up-stairs! I ring my bell, this one answers, but it is the "other's business" to do what I want. Then the solemn consultations about "your dinner" and "our dinner," the everlasting smell of fresh turpentine, without anything looking cleaner than it used to be; the ever-recurring "we," which in little Charlotte's mouth meant Master and Mistress and self; but in the mouth of the new tall Charlotte means, - most decidedly "I and Sarah." [Page 238]  Although you have had two women yourself, you can't understand the abstract disagreeableness of two, - any two, - London servants in one's kitchen. A maid-of-all-work, even in London, will tolerate your looking after her, and directing her; but a "cook" and "housemaid" will stand no interference; you mustn't set foot in your own kitchen, unless you are prepared for their giving warning! Either of these servants by herself, provided she were up to the general work of the house (which neither of them is), I could be tolerably comfortable with. But together, O dear me! Shall I ever get used to it? In sleepless nights I almost resolve to clear the premises of them both, and take back little Charlotte, who has kept hanging on at her Mother's all these months in the wild hope that one or other of these women would break down, and she be taken in her stead. "What a fool that girl is," said tall Charlotte to me one day; "I told her she should look out for a place, that a nice-looking healthy girl like her would easily find one; and she answered, 'Oh, yes! I may get plenty of places, but never a home again, as I have had here,'" (meaning with us). Tall Charlotte could see only folly in such attachment. "She is very different from I am," said she; "if people hadn't been satisfied with me, it's little I should care about leaving them!" That I can well believe!

And now, surely I have given you enough of my household worry. I hear such charming accounts of the beauty of your new house, and the warmth of your old kindness! Do write me a nice long Letter, and mind to tell me about poor little Mrs. M'Turk, whom I often think of with deep [Page 239]  sympathy. - I sent Mrs. Grierson a Book of Poems the other day, which struck me as quite her style of thing.

Love to the Doctor.

Your ever affectionate

JANE W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 214

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, 'Jan. or Feb., 1861.'

Dearest Mary - I think it was I who wrote last; and in that belief, with the spirit proper to a native of a Commercial Country, I have been resting on my oars till I should get your answer. But to-day, while thinking of you and wondering why you didn't write, it suddenly came to my mind that in my last Letter I had engaged to write again from the Grange. Did I? I am not sure whether or no! I have the worst memory of all the women I know; for not only do I forget utterly particulars of quite recent date, but I remember particulars of no date at all! that is to say, imagine to remember minutely things that never happened, - never were! ! Since I became aware, by repeated experience, of this freak of memory in me, I have felt a toleration which I never felt before for - "white liars!" Perhaps they are merely unfortunate people with memories like mine! But no matter about that just now. I was going to say that whether I did or didn't engage to write again, the mere doubt is sufficient basis to write upon, instanter. And it was not much of a [Page 240]  forget in me not writing from the Grange, as you will admit when I tell you that we staid at the Grange only four days! ...

Oh, I got such a start followed by such a shock the other day! Sarah, throwing the door wide open, announced clear and loud, "Dr. Russell!" I sprang to my feet with an exclamation of joy, and all but rushed into the arms of a man, not very unlike your Husband, but a man whom I should never have been tempted to embrace in his own person! The disappointment was too marked for passing unobserved; and I didn't smooth it off much by saying, "Oh, I thought it was a Dr. Russell that is a very dear friend of mine!" "Which means that you don't consider me as such!" was the somewhat offended answer. And this was the second time the same disappointment had been caused by the same man!

Won't you soon get the photographing Barber (or Saddler?) at Thornhill to do Holm Hill for my Gallery of Sentiment?

Remember me kindly to all my friends.

Your ever affectionate

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 215

To Mrs. Cooke, Mount Street.

Chelsea, Thursday, 9 May, 1861 (?)

Goodness, no! Don't let that poor little girl [Margaret] take the long journey here again "under difficulties"! We have said to one another all that was to be said, except [Page 241]  just fixing the day for her coming; and she can tell me that, when she knows it, thro' you.

Miss Gooseberry [Geraldine Jewsbury] has been staying at Lady X-----'s, while her Ladyship was away at the races, "taking care of" Miss Something! What an idea of a destitute girl that gives one - Geraldine called in to take care of her!

Tell Margaret to take it all quietly; I am not in any violent hurry. It is but doing for a day or two what I used to do all the days of the year, and for years on years, viz., dusting about a little myself.

Yours ever,

J. W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 216

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Wellington Crescent, Ramsgate,
Thursday, '8 Aug., 1861.'

Just returned from Margate, tired, damp, cross! weak brandy-and-water "thrown into the system," and dinner in prospect, - nothing else in prospect! For to-day it rains by fits and starts, and having no change of clothes with us we may not risk being wet through. So we got down out of the Ramsgate omnibus at Margate only to go into another omnibus going straight back.

But I liked the appearance of Margate, - as seen from the omnibus, - better than this place, and will go again to-morrow to view it in detail, if the weather take up. I am solemnly invited to take dinner-tea with the Hepworth [Page 242]  Dixons at Margate on Saturday; but have held stiffly to my purpose of taking tea at Cheyne Row on that evening, - to Geraldine's marked displeasure, who delights in persuading people to alter their plans for the mere pleasure and pride of overpersuading them.

Good Heavens! who think you passed our windows this instant, with a profligate little pipe in his mouth? Your hump-back hairdresser, the beetle-destroyer! That is the sort of gentry that congregate here! I never saw so vulgar a place! Neither did I ever hear so noisy a place. But there need be no reflexions for want of sea air. The air is heavenly.

Our tea-party was of the dullest, - when the eating part of it was over! I was forcibly reminded of poor Plattnauer's temptations of long ago, to "take up the poker and knock out the brains of that man!"

However, my mouthful of "change" has answered the end. That horrid sickness has kept quite off since I have been here. Like the Parrot sent down into the kitchen "because it moped and wanted a change," I have "come round finely." For how long?

I see you are going all wrong; proofsheets till one! and to bed "shivery!" That is the way you bring yourself to ruin!

Have you perhaps heard of the American battle?[1] No?

Don't expect me to dinner on Saturday; and don't wait tea.

Yours,

J. W. C.

[Page 243] 

LETTER 217

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill, Thornhill.

Chelsea, Monday, '14 April, 1862.'

Dearest Mary - It has been in my head to write to you these three weeks. But I have put off and put off, waiting for a livelier mood, which has never come, and looks no nearer; so I write now in the mood that is, - a dismal one - rather!

You have probably seen in the Newspapers the death of Elizabeth Pepoli. To the best of my recollection, when I wrote to you last, I told you how sad it made me to go and find her always so evidently ill, and getting worse and worse; yet shutting herself up in her proud stoicism from even me, her friend of so many years, and, as I still felt sure, the most trusted friend she had in London. But her stoicism had to give way at last, poor Dear! When she was seized with violent pain and absolutely could not get out of bed. She then wrote to me a few blotted lines, the very handwriting of which showed how far gone she was, begging me to send her my doctor - the fine Physician from Town, whom she would only see rarely, having "done her no good." I went to her immediately, and my Doctor went; - and his first words to me when he left her room were, "The thing which ails this friend of yours is - old age! and you know whether there be any cure for that!"

Still he gave me hopes that she might rally a little, for a while. And she did seem slightly better for the new diet and medicines. But to see her all alone there in such a [Page 244]  critical state was very miserable for me. She was at last persuaded to let her Sister, Miss Jessie, come from Italy; - any of them would have been only too glad to come long before, had she not misled them to believe her nearly well! To Pepoli she had sent no such permission, not wishing him to "leave his affairs in Bologna to wait upon her." But he was telegraphed to by Mr. Fergus from another Italian City; and started half an hour after, and travelled without rest till he arrived at her bedside, which he hardly ever left for the next three days, when she died. Certainly he looked the most devoted of husbands. And although dreadfully displeased at his coming she seemed glad enough to have him, after a little while. Miss Fergus came two days after him. So she was surrounded by friends, as she ought to be, at the last.

After the Sister's coming, I went seldomer; for a fortnight before, I had been with her every day. But she did not feel my visits made superfluous by the presence of the others. The cook told my maid that "the Countess had been crying out for Mrs. Carlyle." And the last day I saw her, tho' her mind was wandering, she was so sweet and loving to me like her old self! That was a comfort! And tho' I am very sorrowful just now about her loss, - such an old and true friend, - still I know in my heart that her living on in infirmity was not to be wished for. For her of all people! with a Husband still in middle age, on whom she could never have reconciled herself to the idea of being a burden!

This business made me poorly, you may conceive; and I accepted an offer made providentially just then, to be [Page 245]  taken for three days to Hastings. The sea air did me the good it always does, and I took "penny-worths of it," like old Mrs. Kepburn of Thornhill, - with better success, however. The last two or three days of intense cold and East wind have undone the benefit for the present. But this sort of thing won't last, it is to be hoped.

Wasn't I enchanted to get a Note from your Husband. and yet if I had known he was to take the trouble of thanking me for that Book, I doubt if I should have ventured to address it to him. I have learnt from my own Husband, a perfectly sacred respect for the time of men!

The two numbers of the Story[1] I sent you the other day will be followed up to the end; and I am sure you will like it, and even the Doctor may read it with satisfaction. The Author is one of the best Novelists of the day.

Of course I had no photographs of Mr. C. or myself, or you should have received them by return of post. Plenty of Photographers have offered to bring their apparatus to the house, to do Mr. C. But he won't be done! that, like everything else with him, is postponed "till his Book is finished." As for me, my photograph has been waiting these two years, till I looked a little less haggard! But I put it to you, if at my age one is likely to improve by keeping! Good-night. I am feeling as if I were all made up of separate particles of glass; a nice state! so I will go to bed soon. Love to the Doctor.

Yours ever,

J. W. C.

[Page 246] 

LETTER 218

To John Forster.

Chelsea, 'Spring, 1862.'

Dear Friend - You were good-natured, upon my honour, to call at that woman's on your way to the Railway. I have got my skirt - and got my Note of apology.

Now, seeing how energetically you do commissions for one, I bethink me to countermand the half-dozen bottles of whisky. I shouldn't in any lifetime that can possibly remain for me, use up six bottles for the original purpose[1] I mentioned; the greater part would expect to get itself applied internally; and for whisky to drink I should like to be sure of its goodness, in the first instance! And upon my life, I believe I am a better judge of whisky than any Miss Stewart that ever was put together! So my revised idea is that you shall order the whisky "all to yourself," and then let me taste it, and if I like it, Mr. C. can send for some gallons! One manifest advantage in this course is that Mr. C. would pay for the whisky instead of my having to pay for it out of my housekeeping money. He orders and pays all the wine and spirits consumed in the house, - . a N. B. for his Biography!

I mean to leave your dozen pipes to-day with this Note at your lodgings.

Ever affectionately yours,

JANE B. W. CARLYLE.

[Page 247] 

LETTER 219

We were with the Ashburtons, she first for a week, or more, then both of us for perhaps a week longer. Ay de mi! 29 Oct., 1869). - T. C.

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

West-Cliff Hotel, Folkestone, 29th June, 1862.

My Dear - I don't know what would have become of me, if it hadn't been for Miss Davenport Bromley, whom I met on the platform at Folkestone Station! The heavens had chosen that particular moment to pour down a deluge! I had taken no umbrella, and no outer wrappage; no "carriage" was waiting, nor servant. But Miss Bromley was also bound for Lady Ashburton's; and her maid plunged about and procured a Fly, to which we had to walk some space as thro' a waterfall; and in which we were packed all too close for my wetted velvet cloak, - the wreck of which was total! It was a bad beginning; and I am very sorry about my poor cloak, which is not fit to be put on again! and which I got from dear Lady Sandwich. But I suppose I should be thankful that I didn't catch a great cold besides! - N. B. - Not to travel again without umbrella; not to have a cloak again which is spoilable by rain; and not to put any dependence on Lady A.'s memory.

I found Lord Ashburton on crutches; Baby[1] better; and the Lady improving. Miss Anstruther, the Niece, is here; and Miss D. Bromley, who is amiable and an acquisition. Lady A. asked. "Did I think you would [Page 248]  come?" and said she "almost expected to see you with me!" Still she didn't give me the idea of having expected you, or exactly meaning you to come just at this moment. Perhaps the party is as large as the premises admit of; but I shall watch and ascertain if possible her precise meaning. Perhaps she would like best that you came when I went home.

It is a wonderfully quiet house to be a hotel. My room was undisturbed till the servants came into the adjoining sittingrooms in the morning, except for Baby, who is located overhead, and who appeared to have more than one bad dream; when nurses tramped about to the rescue, and Baby's cries rose to a pitch!

The objection to the bedroom for you would be only the light; there is a white muslin blind, and white muslin window curtains over a rather large window. But you could pin up your railway rug, as you have done ere now.

The surrounding country, so far as I have seen yet, from the windows, is flat and prosaic; the sea not so near as one could wish; and the weather being dull, not clearly definable from the sky. It isn't to be compared to Hastings as a place! Still a day or two by the sea anywhere, would do you good. If Lady A. would only say frankly what she wishes as to both of us! instead of leaving one to guess! I haven't a notion whether she expects me to stay two days or two weeks or what! - And I shall have to find out before I can feel any pleasure in being here. What I should like to do is just to stay [Page 249]  half as long as she means me to stay. For the rest, she is as kind as kind can be; and the sea air always revives me, - at first. And Kate is very attentive, - brought me a cup of tea at eight o'clock, in my bed.

I do hope you will be properly fed! Elizabeth is very anxious to do right, and will attend to every wish you express, - if you will only give her brief and plain directions.

... And now I shall go and take a little walk before the rain comes, which I see in the wind.

Ever yours,

JANE WELSH CARLYLE.



LETTER 220

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Tuesday, 12 Aug., 1862

There, Dear! You would get a Letter "next morning" after all! From here it would have been impossible. But I told Jean to rush home and write to you. And she was sure to do it! She was to tell you that I had got to Dumfries, at least, without a turned feather! really not physically tired the least in the world, - only worried morally with the confusion of the business at Carlisle and with the longest Roman-nose I had ever seen in this world, and a pair of cruel close-together eyes over it, which fronted me from Rugby to Carlisle and magnetised me antipathetically!

It was very cheering to see the face of Mary, looking in thro' the glass dimmed with human breath, at Ruthwell! (I had been forced into the middle seat, and the wretches [Page 250]  would keep both windows shut to within an inch at the top, - so I hadn't been able to wave my pockethandkerchief opposite the Gill, as I had meant to do; and was not sure whether there was a figure on the knowe or not!) It was such an old wrinkled face, and was so full of disappointment for the moment! She had not recognised me under the spicy little black hat and white feather! But I flew at the window, and without even a "pardon me," dashed it down, and Mary clambered up like a cat, and we kissed with enthusiasm regardless of consequences! It was only a minute's interval; but if short it was sweet, and I went on the cheerier for it, tho' aware I couldn't reach Thornhill till nine, - exactly an hour late, "owing to the 12th of August" being next day.

At Dumfries I found Jean, and her Husband and eldest Daughter; and the carriage being then cleared of all but myself, and the time longer, we had plenty of talk: and I took tea with them!! It was the most practically kind thing I ever saw Jean do. She had actually brought a little jar of "warm tea - at least it had been warm when they left home an hour before,"[1] and a tumbler to drink it from, and some sweet biscuits which I pretended to eat, but stowed slyly into my bag. And then she would be in time to write to you; so "altogether" "it was a good joy." I was apparently the only soul in the train at Thornhill, - the whole apparatus stopping there! So Dr. Russell had no trouble in finding me and my box, which by the way, came by a horrid scratch on the top; and I wish now I had made a cover for it! It was better [Page 251]  it was so dark that I couldn't see anything, till I was put down at Holm Hill door, and received in the arms of Mrs. Russell! What a different welcome from the fashionable welcomes!

It is a lovely place and House they have made of old Holm Hill! The rooms are none of them very large, but there is a good and beautifully done up diningroom and drawingroom, and two handsome bedrooms, and a kitchen and larder and storeroom and the usual trimmings, "all on the ground floor." Above there are plenty of bedrooms - one fine one. - But Mrs. Russell put me into the ground-floor room, and I know why, - because the up-stairs windows must, some of them, look towards Templand. Oh how kind they are; and I feel that kindness, [which] is partly out of love for my Mother and Aunt Jeannie, so much more keenly than kindness I derive from Lion-worship, even tho' the Lion be you, my Dear!

I had a famous tea, and went to a most comfortable bed in deepest privacy; but of course, tho' feeling no tiredness, I couldn't go to sleep with my mind in such a tumult, and the idea of Templand half a mile off! But between four and five I at last fell into what you call a doze (is it s or z?), and to-day I am "better than I deserve." But it is pouring rain; so I must rest at home: the best thing I could do perhaps, in any case.

At Carlisle, when I was rushing madly after my box, which couldn't be found, but finally was perceived to have "come home with its tail behind it" into the Thornhill van, I noticed a dark gentleman turn in passing and look [Page 252]  after me; and then I saw him with the tail of my eye trying to look at my face, which (fancying this proceeding some delusion, on the gentleman's part, arising out of the spicy little hat) I turned resolutely away. When a voice said at my back, "surely it is Mrs. Carlyle that I see!" I wheeled round and found the dark gentleman's face quite familiar to me, but couldn't for my life identify him till he named himself, "Huxley!" He was going to Edinburgh; and we did a good deal of portmanteau-hunting together, amidst distracted pointer-dogs and more distracted sportsmen! I never saw such a lively representation of "confusion worse confounded." Every passenger had lost his luggage, and the porters their senses; and the dogs barked and yelled; and the gentlemen swore; and the women implored!

Since I began the last page your Letter has come. Oh thanks! But, don't you see, I shan't dare go away again, if you take the expense of it! Perhaps you mean that! Wretch and devil as I am, I have not read the Lady's Letter yet: it takes time to decipher; but I am very glad of your few lines; and the fact of there being a Letter from you already, has raised you to the stars in Mrs. Russell's opinion; "as attentive a Husband as mine," she says.

Now, "To t'Father, Son and t'Olly Gohast."

J. W. C.

Oh please forward the two Punches together, when the next comes, to Mrs. George Braid, Stenhouse, Greenend, Edinburgh. Recollect about my Letters.

[Page 253] 

LETTER 221

To Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries

Holm Hill, Thursday, 14 Aug., 1862.

My dear Jane - I have been meaning to "kill two birds with one stone" (an economy of action which never does succeed with me), meaning to repeat my thanks, still lying quite warm at the heart of me, for your and James's welcome to Dumfries, - so hearty and practically beneficent as it was! and at the same time to fix a time for seeing you "more in detail" as the Doctor would say. But I must have still a few days for arranging my further plans, which were best left in abeyance till I had looked about me here and rested the sprained foot I brought with me from home.

Hitherto it has rained pretty constantly, and I have only once crossed the threshold, for a short time between showers, yesterday. To-day it is fair as yet, and we are going to Keir.

In a few days I shall have subsided from the nervousness of finding myself here at the foot of Templand Hill! with so many houses within sight, once occupied by people who belonged to me or cared for me! And then I shall be up to forming plans. So far, I merely sit bewildered in presence of my own Past! How long I stay will depend chiefly on the accounts I get from Cheyne Row. I am in hopes Lady Ashburton will persuade Mr. C. to go off with them to the Grange, - where I could join him on my return. Whether I shall go back the road I came, or round by Edinburgh, will depend on answers to Letters which I have not yet written! [Page 254] 

In a few days, as I have said, I will "consider" (like the Piper's cow), and then tell you whether you will next see me on the way home, or on the way to Edinburgh, or merely from here to return here. However, to see you and Mary, being one of the greatest pleasures I promised myself in coming to this country, you are safe to have me plump down on you some day. I will write again "when I see my way" (to quote again from the Doctor).

It is the beautifullest house this that a reasonable mortal could desire! But Mrs. Russell cannot reconcile herself to it; is always regretting the tumble-down, old rambling house in Thornhill, where "Papa's room" is "the room he died in!" She is the dearest, gentlest-hearted woman!

Ever affectionately yours,

JANE WELSH CARLYLE.



LETTER 222

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Friday, '15 August, 1862.'

Yes, indeed, Dear! you may well be "afraid of my weather!" I have only twice got over the threshold since I came! and that hurriedly between showers. I begin to have more sympathy with Mrs. Russell's melancholy impressions of her beautiful new house! But I don't weary as yet: the situation has still novelty enough to keep me from wearying; and within doors it has not been so dull as you might think. The day before yesterday [Page 255]  "there plumped down" to us a little man on his way home from "the Exhibition" (can't get rid of the Exhibition even here, you see!), A----- B-----, the Sheriff of -----, whom you may remember. He was a round-faced, cherry-cheeked, black-eyed young man, of the entirely uninteresting sort, when last seen by me. Now he has got transformed into the most ridiculous yet touching likeness of Jeffrey! The little short grey head, and round brow, the arching of his eyebrows, the settling of his chin into his neckcloth, the jerking movements, the neither Scotch nor English speech, - bring Jeffrey before me as if he were alive again. I have been making searching inquiries into the character of Mrs. B-----; for I have not the slightest doubt in my own mind that A----- B----- is Jeffrey's Son (unofficially). ...

Yesterday we (Mrs. Russell, Mr. B----- and I) called at Bellevue, and drove up the Penfillan Avenue, and surveyed the remaining wing of the old house; and then drove away, to the open-mouthed astonishment of the servant girls; and then we called at Keir Manse (poor old Graham's Mr. Menzies). A sad Manse it has been this some time: the eldest Son met with an accident and died after long agony; the Mother went melancholy in consequence. ... His sorrows "have been blest to him" (as the phrase is), - such a changed expression of face I never saw.

I have ever so many Letters to write; so I must spend no more time on you! One of the Letters you forwarded was from Miss Dickens, apologizing for not inviting us (her Aunt's illness, etc.). I must assure her that we are [Page 256]  not too much disappointed. A Letter from Betty says: "O der me! you did not dreck (direct) the paper this wick and I can do nothing," etc., etc. ...

Yours ever,

J. W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 223

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Friday, 22 Aug., 1862.

There! That is something like a Letter! and I feel my good-humour restored.[1] Nothing in this Bessy Barnet romance surprises me so much as the cool manner in which you seem to have taken the fact of her being alive! I at this distance screamed to hear of her being alive! And you, having a Bessy announced to you, calmly ask was it Bessy Barnet! after she had been dead and buried (according to Tom Holcroft) for a quarter of a century! I do hope she won't be gone when I return. Mercy of Heaven, if I had met her at Folkestone, and she had spoken to me, what a fright I should have got!

We spent yesterday in an excursion to Burnfoot, dining with the Miss Wighams (formerly of Allington). I have not seen any such perfectly beautiful scenery as that between here and Sanquhar, since I used to ride there on a wee pony beside my Grandfather Walter, when he took me by new paths "to va-ary the schane Miss!" and I used to come home and mimic him to the others! little wretch! [Page 257] 

To-day we are to dine with Mrs. Hunter of Milton, going early, that we, that is I, might go up to the Glen to take a look at dear old Strathmilligan. These old roads where I have been both as a child and young lady, give me a feeling half charming, half terrible! The people all gone, or so changed! and the scenery so strangely the same! You remember that couplet you criticised so sharply and which I admired,

"And my youth was left behind
For some one else to find!"

That is what I feel in these places; that there "my youth was left behind," and that some one else had found it! at least that I in looking ever so wistfully about, can't find a trace of it!

It is raining to-day, however, and I shall have to make my little pilgrimage in a covered carriage. But I shall find some woodruff to bring back to Chelsea from the same place where I gathered it more than forty years ago!

Did you know anything of Mr. Rogerson, an Antiburgher Preacher here? He died a year or two ago; and, Mrs. Russell tells me, he talked so incessantly of your Works that his congregation, wishing to give him a testimonial, presented him with your Life of Cromwell.

You deserve a better Letter for once, but I have no more time to spare you.

Yours ever faithfully,

JANE WELSH CARLYLE.

[Page 258] 

LETTER 224

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Sunday, 24 Aug., 1862.

... Please tell Maria I was greatly obliged by her immediate attention to my request, and her excellent fulfilment of it; and that I will write to her "all to herself" when I have seen "Mrs. Braid." Dear old Betty; she has "nited" me "a pair of stockins"; and won't she be glad when I come and take them? I am afraid she goes for more in my purpose to take Edinburgh in my way - or rather out of my way - than my Aunts! At the same time, as they were going to be much hurt had I gone back without seeing them, and as Elizabeth has been "very frail indeed" of late, and as, after all, they are my Father's Sisters and my only near relatives in the world now, I should have oughted to go whether there had been a dear old Betty in the case or not. I shall not put off time there, however. ...

We dined at Capenoch yesterday, - a superb place the Gladstones have made it! And they are really nice people. It was quite a high-art style of dinner - even to the two separate kinds of ice. "By God, Sir, I believe it was (not) a woman!" (You know that speech of the Poodle's when he had dined to his dissatisfaction!)[1] The original old John Gladstone's Portrait was facing me, and a harder, cunninger [Page 259]  old baker I never saw. ... I write now (Sunday evening) because to-morrow we shall start early to spend the day with Mrs. Veitch of Eliock, home from London now. And you had better not expect to hear on Wednesday, as I shall go to Dumfries by the first train on Tuesday. My next will be written at the Gill most probably. I cannot get that Bessy Barnet rediviva out of my head!

Ever yours,

J. W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 225

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

The Gill, Annan, Wed., '27 Aug., 1862.'

Your Letter, written on Sunday night, reached me yesterday morning (Tuesday) just before I started; and was read "with the same relish,"[1] on my way to the Station. At Dumfries I read also a Letter from you (to Dr. C.). Then I had been still further favoured with a Note from Woolner, to tell me you "seemed to be thriving so remarkably well delivered from the cares of a Wife, that, if I were considerate, I would stay away a long time," etc., etc. So all is right on the Chelsea side.

It was a very confused and confusing day at Dumfries, - the chief ingredient being the Doctor! going back in the evening to poor Arbuckle's funeral. Many live camels and dromedaries were also parading the streets, preparatory to an Exhibition of Wombwell's Menagerie! I have a curious luck for falling in with wild beasts in retired places! Recollect my being kept awake the first night at Moffat by [Page 260]  the roaring of Lions and Hyænas. The only collected act of volition I accomplished was a call on poor Miss Willie Richardson, in spite of her being represented to me as "insane and a monster of fat, - the eyes invisible in her head!" Mad or not, over fat or not, I thought it was right to show her the respect of calling for her, considering the kindness of her Mother to you and me when we were less "celebrated!" So I made Jean come with me to Maxwelltown to find her out; and a very pleasant call it proved. She opened the door to us herself, - her one domestic, a small girl, being raising potatoes in the garden. She didn't recognise me at first; but received us nevertheless with all her Mother's hospitable politeness. And when I told her my name, the poor creature's delight over me ("Mrs. Carlyle, Jeannie Welsh! that my dear Mother was so fond of!") quite brought tears to my eyes. So far from being a "monster" she is a handsomer woman now than she was as a young lady. Very like her Mother both in appearance and manners, and in well-bred kindliness. She told me all about her Mother's death; and listening to her, with her clear truthful eyes looking straight into mine, I couldn't but admire at the cruelty of the Dumfries gossip about this poor lonely reduced gentlewoman, who I could "stake my head against a china orange" (as I have heard you say) is as free from "insanity" and from "drink" as any woman among them! I saw, too, Mr. Aird,[1] who you know never did interest me, and who interests me now less than [Page 261]  ever! Jean took me past the Station to see their new house,[1] which is ready for roofing. It looks a handsome villa sort of house, which I cannot help thinking will smoke!

Mary and Jamie Austin were waiting on the platform at Ruthwell, a gig outside. Mary said the evening was cold, and wrapped me in three plaids; but I could feel no cold thro' the welcome she gives one. I had taken tea at Dumfries, so declined tea; - "would take porridge by and by"; - so we sat by the fire in the parlour, talking. I went to my bag for something, and heard a pronounced sound like a screw in a cork! I looked round; she was in the press. "For God's sake what are you doing?" I asked. "I thocht ye'd maybe tak a wee soup wine till the porridge is ready!!" I had to wrench her out of the press in my arms!

The porridge was excellent; and such milk! "of two sorts!" How I wished you had had it! My "interior" felt so comforted by that supper that I felt I should probably sleep. To tell you a melancholy fact, I have been having horrible nights ever since I left home; only two nights out of the fortnight that I have closed my eyes before four in the morning, in spite of the quietest of bedrooms, the wholesomest of diet, and constant exercise in the open air! At first I imputed it to the excitement of finding myself there; but that subsided; still the bad habit taken root did not abate; and still Dr. Russell (very unlike Dr. Rous) would not let me have any morphia! In other respects I was better; felt less languid, and required [Page 262]  - "what shall I say?" - no pills! But I was content to try a new sleeping-place, - mere change being useful in these cases, and I was beginning to feel a little delirious! So having taken my nice supper last night, and read for an hour after, I lay down in the softest, most comfortable of beds, with a modest confidence that my luck was about to change. And so it was! The confusions of Dumfries, after whirling round in my brain a while like a dingle-doozie,[1] faster and faster, were going black out, and I was falling into a heavenly sleep, when "wouf! wouf! wouf! bow! wow! wow! wow!" commenced at my very ear. "The dogs" chasing some belated cat thro' the garden, galloping and barking over my prostrate body (it felt)! What a mercy it wasn't you that this had happened to, was my first thought! My next thought made me laugh, "like a cuddy eating thistles!" It was the recollection of those hyænas and lions at Moffat! Decidedly my search after a "quiet bed" was not so successful as Coelebs' search after a Wife! Well, the demons carried on for some half hour without an instant's cessation; then they seemed to gallop away to the distance, and were no more heard! - till the porridge and my good will for sleep had brought me again to the first stage of unconsciousness; and then outburst again under my window the same demoniacal charivari! This was repeated three times; and I had given up all idea of closing my eyes again, when, Heaven knows how, I did close them about 4 in the morning (as usual), and got two hours good sleep, without the dogs, or in spite of them. Mary will "shut them in the barn to-night"; had [Page 263]  thought "they never would have played wow," or she would have done it last night. For I am to sleep here again to-night, Scotsbrig being given up. Jamie is just arrived to tell me poor little Jenny is ill in bed; has been ill some days; so that they couldn't have me. So I shall go back to Thornhill on Friday morning, - staying here over to-morrow. I cannot change everything now, or I might have gone to Edinburgh on Friday, since I haven't to go to Scotsbrig. Your Letter, too, is arrived. ... Write to Thornhill.

Yours ever,

J. W. C.



LETTER 226

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Sunday, 31 Aug., 1862.

There will be no time for writing to-morrow, Dear; so I shall write a few lines now, and leave them to be put in before post-time to-morrow, - the very slit being closed for the better observance of Sunday.

... O, so long as I remember it, please send me an autograph that Mrs. Russell wants for a lady. It would come straighter addressed to herself; but if you don't like enclosing it in a blank cover, and at the same time don't like to write with it, just send it to me at Morningside.

I have been rather better at sleeping, since my return from the Gill; and the chill passed off without consequences.

Yesterday we drove to Morton Mains, and Castle. I couldn't get up a sentiment about it, tho' the Birthplace [Page 264]  of my Grandfather Walter and all his Brothers. It is so completely Ducalized now! Penfillan, which I can see at any moment I choose to lift my eyes, is more pathetic for me by far.

What a pity about that young scamp! Such wretches do so much harm to one's benevolent feelings towards "others!" You may read the page, in a shocking bad handwriting, torn from "his Wife's Letter" by that dreadful young Skirving you once saw,[1] and inclosed in some stuff of his own written on the Bank (Dr. Russell's Bank) Counter on his way to the train, which he all but missed in consequence, and actually did leave his purse on the Counter behind him! if you care to see how you are appreciated by an East Lothian Farmer's Wife! Madame Venturi you will certainly read, for the Letter is charming. Keep it safe for me. And now, God bless you.

Ever yours,

J. W. C.



LETTER 227

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Craigenvilla, Morningside, Edinburgh.
Tuesday, 2 Sep., 1862.

My Darling - Nature prompts me to write just a line, tho' I am not up to a Letter to-day, - at least to any other Letter than the daily one to Mr. C., which must be written, dead or alive!

Imagine! after such a tiring day, I never closed my eyes, till after five this morning! and was awake again, for [Page 265]  good, - or rather for bad, - before six struck! My eyes are almost out of my head this morning, and - tell the Doctor, or rather, don't tell him, - I will have a dose of morphia to-night![1] am just going in an omnibus to Duncan & Flockhart's for it! It will calm down my mind for me, - generally my mind needs no calming, being sunk in apathy. And this won't do to go on!

Mr. C. writes this morning that he had received a Letter in the handwriting of Dr. Russell(!!!), - my own handwriting slightly disguised, - and torn it open in a great fright, thinking that the Doctor was writing to tell I was ill, and found a photograph of me, "really very like indeed"; but not a word from the Dr., inside! He took it as a sign that I was off! (Why, in all the world, take it as that?) "but it would have been an additional favour had the Dr. written just a line!"

Grace was waiting at the Station for me, much to my [Page 266]  astonishment, and discovered me at once, under the hat and feather, actually, she said, by "a motion of my hand!" The drains are all torn up at Morningside, and she was afraid I would not get across the rubbish in my cab without a pilot. They are all looking well, I think, - even Elizabeth. Many friendly inquiries about you, and love to be sent.

Oh, my Dear, my Dear, my head is full of wool! Shall I ever forget those green hills and that lovely church-yard, and your dear, gentle face! Oh! how I wish I had a sleep!

Your own friend,

JANE CARLYLE.

The roots are all in the Garden.



LETTER 228

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, Monday, 15 September, 1862.

Here I am, Dearest Friend! Here I have been since Thursday night. I had fixed to arrive on Thursday morning; but I took a horror at the notion of the night journey, and staid in my bed at Morningside instead. ...

Mr. C. was very glad, of course, to see me back. As for Maria, she went into a sort of hysterics over me; seizing me in her arms, and kissing me all over, and laughing in a distracted manner; - a charming reception from one's housemaid, certainly, if it weren't that such emotional natures have always two sides: this loving and loveable [Page 267]  one, and another as quick to anger and jealousy and all unreasonableness! All this impetuous affection for me wouldn't prevail with her to make any sacrifices for my sake, or to exert herself in any manner which was not agreeable to her inclinations. It is just the emotionalness of the Wesleyan Methodist, - having its home in the senses rather than in the soul.

All Friday I was so busy unpacking, and putting things in their places, and (what the American housewives call) "reconciling things" that I put off writing to anybody, even to you, till Saturday; and then a horrid remembrance flashed on me that Thornhill kept the Sabbath in an all-too exemplary manner, and that I might spare my haste. ...

I send along with this Letter, but separately, a packet containing the neck-brooch which you were to "like better" than your "old thistle." Perhaps you wouldn't like it better or as well, singly; but the set, to my taste, is prettier; and I care more for the old thistle, - its oldness being its very charm to me! The brooches can be worn as clasps, down the front of the dress, also; and look very well on a dress of any colour. ...

Mr. C. thinks, as everybody does, that I am much improved in health; and I myself, who should know best, think so, too! "What could he do to show his gratitude to Mrs. Russell for taking such care of me? Well, he had read a really nice Book that would suit her; he would send her that!" I shall send the Book by Railway parcel, so soon as I hear that the other packet has reached its true destination. [Page 268] 

You can't think with what new interest my little Picture of Nipp looked out on me on my return! My kindest love to the Doctor.

Your ever-affectionate

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 229

To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

Chelsea, Wednesday, 'Sept., 1862.'

My darling Woman - I didn't forget your autograph.[1] I sent it in the first Letter I wrote you after my departure; that is a fact! I received it from Mr. C. in his first Letter to me at Morningside, the Tuesday morning, - the first morning with my Aunts; and I enclosed it in my Letter to you. I think I can tell how you missed noticing it: it was one line, - some short maxim (I forget what) with his signature; it was folded like a Note; and you had taken it for a bit of blank paper put round the Letter to keep the writing from showing through the envelope. However it was, I could stake my head against a china orange, that I sent it. But that you didn't notice it, is of no earthly consequence; except in the appearance of negligence the oversight gave me, - autographs can be supplied so readily! I send another this time. Also I send you photographs for your Book: one of Mr. C., two of myself, which ought to be better than the Hairdresser's, being done by the best photographer in London; one of Alfred Tennyson (with the wide-awake); and one of Mazzini, which you are to [Page 269]  substitute for the head I gave the Doctor, as giving a better notion of him, and besides having his autograph on it.

... My Husband having decided that last week was to be a holiday, he actually went with me to the best photographer in London, who had been for years soliciting him to come and be done, - for nothing! He (the Photographer) took a great many different ones, large and small; of which one of the large ones satisfied him, and is to be published, and I think it the finest photograph I ever saw. But we have got no copies of it yet except one for myself. Four or five different little ones will be published, and of these I like the one here sent the best. As Mr. Jeffray (the Photographer) will make a good thing of supplying the shops with Mr. C.'s, of course he was very obliging in insisting on doing me, who had not laid my account with being done, and so, was at the same loss for a headdress as you were at the Hairdresser's! But fortunately Mr. Jeffray's Aunt, who assists him, offered me a white lace thing, so like one of my own loose caps, that I put it on without reluctance; and the same helpful woman, seeing the black lace I wear round my neck lying on the table, snatched it up and suggested I should be done also in that headdress. To complete my luck, I had on, the day being cold, my last Winter's gown (from Madame Elise), so that I came out a better figure than at the Hairdresser's!! Still, I have a certain regard for the queer little Thornhill likeness of myself, - not as a likeness, but as a memorial of the three happiest weeks I have lived for a long time; so I will ask you to get me another from the Hairdresser, as the one I had sent to Mr. C. has been given [Page 270]  away to Sarah, the Housemaid, who went away ill some fourteen months ago, and who came last night to see me, before starting for Australia. I gave her Mrs. Pringle's (alias Pott's) scarlet Plaid, and my Photograph, and my blessing!

I was quite relieved to find the brooches had arrived safe. People always say it is so rash to send anything of consequence unregistered. And I, again, am so persuaded that registering a thing only puts it in the head of dishonest Postmen that the thing is worth stealing. So that if that packet had misgone, I should have had "both the skaith and the scorn."

My blessed Dear, what nonsense you talk about my "depriving myself" of this and that! Depend upon it, when I give away a thing, it is never with the slightest sense of depriving myself. Either the thing is a superfluity to myself, or I have more pleasure in giving it than in keeping it! I never give away anything which has what Lawyers call a pretium affectionis attached to it! At least I never did but once, - in the case of that same pebble brooch, which I took from you again!! Nor had I ever regretted giving you that (tho' my Mother was with me when I was allowed to choose it! and my Father paid for it!), - never till I saw it fastening your neck-velvet, that day at Mrs. Hunter's! Then I thought first, that does not answer the purpose; it should be more like a clasp to fasten the velvet; and only then I thought next, I shouldn't have parted with that old Edinburgh brooch! And then followed the bright idea of the exchange! Pray don't thank me for my brooches as if they had been a present, [Page 271]  or you place me in the odious position of having "given a thing and taken a thing," (as we used to say at School).

I sent by the railway Parcel Company yesterday (carriage paid) the Book Mr. Carlyle wished you to have and read and keep for his sake. He bade me tie up with it a Translation of Dante, which some one had sent him. If you don't happen to have a Dante in English, it might amuse you in Winter nights, he said.

I have never told you yet about Auchtertool, or Craigenvilla; and here are two sheets filled, - enough for one time!

Oh, do write often, Dear. Never mind a regular Letter, - just a few off-hand lines, - a how-d'ye-do? That keeps one from feeling the long distance between us; and long silences lead to silences still longer. My best love to the kind Doctor. The little pot I brought from Crawford was emptied without shaking into our Garden; and the plants seem to be taking root; also the Templand daisy, and the ivy; and the Strathmilligan woodruff.

Your loving friend,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 230

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, 21 October, '1862.'

Dearest Mary - I am not doing "what England expects of me," my duty! I ought to begin writing at least half a dozen Letters that are troubling my conscience; and here am I writing to you, from no sense of duty at all, but because I like it. [Page 272] 

Well, my wanderings for this year are over; and it must be owned they have been far and wide! The Grange visit was very successful. Every time I come away from there with increased affection for the Lady, and in a sort of amazement at her excessive kindness to me. That she is naturally a very kind woman, and also a very demonstrative woman, is not enough to account for the sort of passion she puts into her expressions of fondness and unwearied attention to me! I always wonder will it last? But it has lasted a good while now; and I begin to feel ashamed of myself for not accepting it all with absolute faith.

Mrs. Anstruther came for two days, and pressed me to spend my Christmas with her; as Lady A. would be away at Nice all the Winter. But the answer to that was simply, "impossible!" I told her about meeting Mr. S----- at your house, and she said in her soft, silky, rather drawly voice, "Oh, dear Mrs. Carlyle, did you ever in your life see so ugly a man?" - The Bishop of Oxford was there too, and Mr. C. set him right in two Scripture quotations!!! But the most interesting visitor was Mr. Storey, the American Sculptor, who sang like an angel! There was a Photographer down for three days, taking views of the place at the easy rate of five guineas a-day! and Lady A. made him photograph me sitting, with herself standing beside me; and he did another of Lord A. and Mr. C. sitting on the same bench, under the portico; and another of a whole party of us sitting about on the steps of one of the porticos. That one was half good, and the other half spoiled, Lord A., one of his Sisters, and Mrs. Anstruther [Page 273]  "had moved"; Mr. C. and Lady A., and myself, came out perfect; and so we "perfect ones" were all together, and were to be "cut out" from the failed ones. I have not seen the Photographs on paper yet; but hope to have them in a few days; and if they are worth anything, I will send you them - to look at, at least.

But the rose coloured petticoat, Oh my Dear! I must tell you about the first appearance of that! I put it on the second day, and the black silk tunic trimmed with half-a-yard-wide lace (imitation), with long falling sleeves lined with rose-colour; and a great bunch of rose-coloured ribbon on my breast, and smaller boughs at the wrists of my white under-sleeves. It was really, as Miss Baring said, "quite a costume!" And in spite of its prettiness, I couldn't help feeling nervous about appearing, for the first time, in a guise which would make me remarked by all the women, at least! So I dressed in good time, that I mightn't have to walk into the drawing-room when many people were down. There had been some uncertainty about the dinner hour that day, as people were coming from London by a late train. At all events, I should hear the gong sound for dressing, I thought, half an hour before dinner; and in the mean time I sat down, all ready, to read a novel. How long I had sat without hearing either bell or gong I can't say; but I was startled from my reading by a sharp knock at my bedroom door, and the voice of one of the man-servants informing me "everybody was gone in to dinner!" Upon my honour, I can believe some hardened wretches have gone out to be hanged with less emotion than I had in hurrying along [Page 274]  the corridor and down the great staircase, to have the two leaves of the diningroom door flung wide open before me by two footmen! and then to walk up the great room to my seat at the dinner-table, everybody's head turned to see who was so late! To put the finishing stroke to my agony, the rose-coloured petticoat was a trifle too long in front for the stooping way in which I walked, and was like to trip me at every step! - But bad moments and good moments and all moments pass over! I got into my seat, Lord knows how, and any one who had heard me complaining aloud to Lady A. up the table, that the gong had never been sounded, would have fancied me endowed with all the self-possession I could have wished.

Another ordeal was in store for me and my "costume" later. Being Sunday night, the Bishop was to read a Chapter and say Prayers in that same diningroom before all the servants, and such of the visitors as would attend. Eight-and-thirty servants were seated along two sides of the room; the men all in a line, and the women all in a line; and with these thirty-eight pairs of eyes on me (six pairs of them belonging to Ladies' maids!!) I had to sail up, in all that rose-colour, to the top of the room, on the opposite side, first! the other Ladies being members of the family pushed me into that horrid dignity. And the same in going out; I had to walk the length of the room, like to trip myself at every step, with the petticoat and the embarrassment! before one of that frightful line of servants budged. It took all the compliments paid me on the costume to give me courage to put it on a second [Page 275]  time! As an old Aunt of Mr. C.'s said, when she had become somehow possessed of a one-pound note and didn't know where on earth to hide it for safety," "They're troubled that hae the worl', and troubled that want it."

And now my Letter is long enough, and it is bedtime.

I was so glad of your dear Letter yesterday! If you were my Sister, I couldn't have you nearer my heart, or more in my thoughts.

Love to the Doctor, and a kiss to Nipp, whose likeness I have opposite my bed.

Your loving friend,

JANE W. CARLYLE.

P. S. - I did drive one day a great long road to the address of Mrs. Clark's "Bell," but she was "in the Country."



LETTER 231

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, Monday, 15 December, 1862.

You would see, dearest Mary, by my last Letter, that yours had not come before mine was sent to the post. It came some half hour after. Your Letters never do come till the afternoon, which is curious. The Letters from Jane at Dumfries arrive always by the morning post.

The news from Paris[1] continues a little more hopeful. But with the prospect of hard Winter weather setting in, before he (Lord Ashburton) can be got to Nice, one [Page 276]  dare not feel too elated about the present slight amendment.

At all rates I may be thankful that I was not taken at my word[1] given in a moment when my sympathy overcame my discretion; for I think now, I should most likely have been laid up at a Hotel at Calais, which would have helped nothing, and been precious bad for myself!

... I am very anxious to know how my prospective Cook will turn out. With such a character as I got of her from a mistress who seemed a sensible trustworthy woman, I[2] should not be at all afraid that after a few weeks she would do well enough, if it were not for Mr. C.'s frightful impatience with any new servant untrained to his ways, which would drive a new woman out of the house with her hair on end, if allowed to act directly upon her. So that I have to stand between them, and imitate in a small humble way the Roman soldier who gathered his arms full of the enemies' spears and received them all into his own breast![3] It is this which makes a change

[Image fp276: WILLIAM BINGHAM BARING, LORD ASHBURTON.]

[Page 277]  of servants, even when for the better, a terror to me in prospect, and an agony in realization - for a time! You say get a thorough good Cook at any wages! Yes, if the wages were all the difference! But when you have agreed to give sixteen guineas a year and two pounds more for extras (the price of a "good plain cook"), you find that she requires "a servants' Hall" and "a bedroom upstairs" and accommodations, which your house, not having been built on purpose for so dignified an individual, does not possess. And still worse, you find that she objects to making bread, and that with the power of cooking some hundreds of dishes which you don't want, she has to be taught to prepare Mr. C.'s little plain things just as an ignorant servant would; and that she thinks her gifts quite wasted on a household unworthy of them, - as indeed they would be. ... No; what would suit me [Page 278]  best, if good, is what is called "a General servant who is a plain cook"; the wages of these is from £12 to £14 and everything found. That is the sort of girl I have engaged. ...

God bless you, Dear.

Yours affectionately,

J. W. C.



LETTER 232

To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, '1 January, 1863.'

Dear little Woman - A Letter was to have preceded that box - a Letter of apology for its rubbishy contents, - only to be excused indeed by my knowledge from of old how you could make somethings out of nothings! a capital talent which, I daresay, is inherited by these remarkably "world-like" girls of yours. But I had been kept in such a constant bother with teaching the new cook how to make bread, and to make everything that was wanted of her, that I never could find time for writing; and now your kind acknowledgement of the said rubbish shows that my apology was not needed. ... But why not have taken a cook ready trained out of a gentleman's family? Simply, my dear, because cooks ready trained out of gentlemen's families have wages entirely disproportionate to any work they would have here, - £20 at the least; - and that is not the worst; all their accommodations are expected to be in keeping with their wages; and they would look down on people living so economically and quietly as we do! Now, I think it is [Page 279]  more pleasant, or rather less unpleasant, to look down on one's promoted "maid-of-all-work," than to be looked down upon by one's "professed cook."

The news from Paris continue more favourable; but it strikes me the Doctor never quite believes himself the hope he gives to others. There is always a hollow sound in his words about recovery. Mr. C. is angry at my hopelessness; he has so much more hope in him about everything than I have! Who would believe that to hear how he talks! - I am hoping to receive small contributions of new-laid eggs. I hope I may not need to trouble you for more; but will if the hens strike work again.

The best of New Year's wishes to you all.

Your affectionate,

JANE W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 233

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, 'January, 1863.'

Dearest Mary - You thought I must be ill that I did not write; and now that three days have brought no answer to your inquiry, I shouldn't wonder if you are thinking I must be dead!

... The illness I have had, and am still having, has been caused palpably enough by a mental shock which struck me deadly sick at stomach, and struck the pain into my back, in the first moment of it. And tho' my mind has recovered its balance, these consequences still remain. One expects to hear of something sentimental, [Page 280]  romantic, at least exciting, when anybody speaks of having had a great mental shock. My Dear, lower your expectations; bring them down to the level of the meanest prose! For what I have to tell you is again about my servants. But take up the servant as a human being, - a fellow-creature, - and read my paltry tale as a psychological illustration; and it is enough to throw one into a fit of misanthropy, besides making one sick at stomach and breaking one's spine in two!

When I wrote last, I was looking forward to better times below stairs. The new cook seemed a decent young woman; not bright or quick, but one who would, with a little teaching and a good deal of patience, be made to do. "Flo" was clever and assidious, and thoughtful and helpful; the only thing to be guarded against with her, was the tendency to praise and pet her overmuch, and so, spoil her, as I had spoilt Charlotte! But I was helped in that by the want of personal attraction for me in the child. There was something dry and hard, something very unyouthful in her manner and voice, which, coupled with her extraordinary cleverness and assiduity, sometimes reminded me of the "Changeling" in Fairy Legends.

Well, as the days went on, a change seemed to come over the spirit of the new cook's dream. She grew more and more gloomy and sullen and indifferent, till she grew exactly into her Scotch predecessor translated into English, - minus the utter blockheadism! I was careful to make no remarks on her before Flo; but Flo was constantly blurting out aggravating instances of negligence and disagreeableness on the part of the newcomer. At last [Page 281]  one day my dissatisfaction reached a climax; and I told this Mary that I perceived that she would not suit, and that I tho't it better to tell her so in the first month. And again my weary spirit was wandering thro' space in search of a cook, beset by far greater difficulties than "Coelebs in search of a Wife!" The only person that looked delighted was Flo, - as delighted as she looked when I gave Elizabeth warning. Next day I was just putting on my bonnet to go out on this miserable search, when the cook said to me, she thought it very strange to be going in this way; that she had "never gone out of any place before in less than a year at least." "Whose fault is it?" I said. "Do you consider it possible for me to keep a woman who shows no sort of interest in doing or learning the work she has undertaken to do here?" "Well," said the woman with a half sob, "I am aware I have made myself very disagreeable; but it wasn't easy to be good tempered and to try to please, with Flo every time she came down stairs, telling me the dreadfullest things that you had said of me and of everything I did!!" that "I was nothing but a stupid dirty maid-of-all-work, fit for nothing but a Tradesman's house, where I could get tumbling about among a lot of rough workmen! and Oh! far worse things than these!" Astonishment took away my speech for a moment: I had not said one word of the woman to the child, knowing that she carried everything to her Mother. I rang the bell for Flo. "What is this," I asked, "that you have been telling Mary, as said of her by me?" "Well, Ma'am," said Flo, very red, "I couldn't help it! Mary was always [Page 282]  asking me what you said about her - You know you were, Mary! (like a viper); and I was obliged to tell her something!" "You were obliged to invent horrible lies, were you?" "If I didn't tell her something, Ma'am, she wouldn't leave me alone!" "Oh, you wicked girl," burst in Mary! "what was I asking you when you tried to set me against the place and the Mistress from the first night I entered the house?" "I?" said Flo, "I only repeated what Elizabeth said!" "And the Mistress would be a little surprised," said Mary, "if I were to tell her what you told me!" "Oh, I will tell her myself," said Flo; "if you please, Ma'am, Elizabeth said a woman that was her fellow-servant in Scotland told her before she came here that you were a she-devil! and Elizabeth said that tall chair (pointing to a prie Dieu) was for strapping you to when you were mad!!!" It was at this point when the sickness came into my stomach, and the pain into my back! "Good God" I said when I could speak, "is it possible that you who have lived beside me these two months, who have never got a cross word from me, who have seen my behaviour to that very Elizabeth, could say the like of this?" "If you please Ma'am, it wasn't I that said it, it was Elizabeth!" "O, you lying bad girl," broke in Mary, "I see it all now; that you were set on driving me out of the place; and I shouldn't wonder if you did the same by Elizabeth." - The same tho't had just flashed on myself. It was from the day that Maria left and this child came, that Elizabeth began to grow, from a mere obedient blockhead, into a sullen, disobliging blockhead, seeming rather to take pleasure in poisoning Mr. C. than [Page 283]  not! In her case, there wasn't even invention needed. The imp had only to do what I was constantly warning her against, viz: to repeat the strong things Mr. C. said of her (Elizabeth's) cookery and self to drive the woman to fury, and make her the unbearable creature she became. Flo seeing herself unmasked, began to cry very hard, repeating again and again, "You will never be able to bear me again, I know! I have been so treacherous! You were so kind to me; and I was fond of you! and I have been so very treacherous, ooh - ooh - oo-oh." I didn't know what on earth to do. I didn't feel justified in turning Flo off on the spot; and to keep her was like keeping a poisonous viper at large in the house. The only thing I was clear about was to withdraw my warning to Mary, whose behaviour had been sufficiently excused by the influences acting on her. Flo's Mother hearing of the row, came over to try and shift the blame on Mary. I rung the bell and said to Mary, "Mrs. Morrison has accusations to make against you, Mary; you had better hear them yourself, and answer her - as I know nothing about it." And then ensued an altercation between the two women, while I sat with my feet on the fender and my back to them, in which Mrs. Morrison came by the worse; having only drawn out a fuller statement of Flo's horrid conduct. She went away imploring me to try her Flo a little longer; it would be a lesson she would never forget, etc., etc. And I said, "She can stay for the present, till I see what comes of her." But three days after, the child herself said, "I can never be happy here after having been so treacherous, and I had better go away." "I am [Page 284]  glad you think so," I said; "so the sooner you go the better, - to-day if you like"; and in one hour she was gone! My paragon little housemaid! Three days after, she came over, tears all dried, looking hard and cold, to ask me to "see a Lady" for her. "What sort of a character do you think I can give you?" I asked. "Well," said the little child, "I have told a few lies and I have been treacherous; but that is all you can say against me!" - The dreadful child!

I saw a girl that I thought would suit me, the same day Flo left; but she couldn't come for a month, and her Aunt who wished me to wait for her, offered to come and help Mary, till the girl was free. So I have a great, jolly, clever, elderly woman in the kitchen, - except for the two last days of the week, when she is engaged elsewhere. This woman is a capital cook; and I almost wish the present arrangement, tho' an expensive one, could last; - now that I have got used to the big woman, who "thoroughly understands her business." But she has a Husband and couldn't stay with me in permanence.

Now do you wonder I feel ill? ...

God bless you both,

Your ever-affectionate,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 234

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, '3 March, 1863.'

Dearest Mary - I should be glad to hear you were quite done with that cold. ...

I went to Ealing the other day, to visit Mrs. Oliphant, [Page 285]  and I staid all night. Even that short distance from Chelsea did me ever so much good! And on the strength of it, I went afterwards to a dinner-party at the Rectory; and to-morrow I am going to dine out again, at the Forsters', to meet Dickens and nobody else. They send their carriage for me, and send me home at night; so in this cold weather, I trust no harm will come of it.

I was in Swan & Edgar's shop the other day, and a nice-looking lad was serving me with tapes and things, whose speech, tho' doing its best to be Anglified, sounded homelike. "You are Scotch," I said, without consideration for the mortified vanity of a youth trying to speak fine. "Yes, I am," answered he tartly. "I should say you come from Dumfriesshire?" I went on with the same inquiring inhumanity. "Yes, I do," he answered, with an almost startled look. "Dumfriesshire is partly my country, too; you are from the Nithsdale, - from near Thornhill, are you not?" The young man stared, quite subdued, and answered meekly that "he did come from near Thornhill!" - from a place close to Dabton, if I knew where that was. "Oh, don't I?" Then I asked him if he knew Holm Hill; and so subdued was he that he answered, in the most unadulterated Scotch, "Oh, fine! Dr. Russell's - I know it fine!" I told him I had been there for three weeks last August; and then left him, thinking me, I have no doubt, a very odd woman! Do you know who it could be? He said they came there about the time of Mr. Crichton's death. ...

Good-bye, Darling. Love to the Doctor.

Your faithful friend,

JANE CARLYLE.

[Page 286] 

LETTER 235

To Miss Jane Austin, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, Friday, '20 March, 1863.'

My dear Jane - Thanks for your Letter. I shall be glad to have more and favourable news of the poor wee bairn. ...

We are very thankful in this house to have got done with "the Royal Marriage." Tho' neither Mr. C. nor I "went out for to see" any part of the business, we couldn't get out of the noise and fuss about it. ...

The most interesting part of the Princess Alexandra to me is not her present splendours, but her previous homely, rather poor life, which makes such a curious contrast! Her Parents, "Royal" tho' they be, have an income of just from seven hundred to a thousand a year! When she was visiting our Queen, after the engagement, she always came to breakfast in a jacket. "My Dear," said the Queen to her one day, "you seem very fond of jackets! How is it that you always wear a jacket?" "Well," said little Alexandra, "I like them; and then you see a jacket is so economical! You can wear different skirts with it, and I have very few gowns, - having to make them all myself! My Sisters and I have no Lady's maid, and have been brought up to make all our own clothes. I made my own bonnet!" Bless her!

Mr. C. goes on very contentedly without a horse. Did you hear that he sold his beautiful Fritz for £9? But the Apothecary who bought him was to ride him; and better he should have him for nothing than that he had been sold, [Page 287]  at ever so much, to be lashed into drawing in a waggon; I would rather he had been shot than that. Meanwhile Mr. C. walks, and - rides in omnibuses!! and finds the variety amusing. He "now meets human beings to speak to!" How long he will be able to enjoy his walking I cannot predict. Love to you all.

Yours affectionately,

JANE W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 236

To Miss Grace Welsh, Edinburgh.

Chelsea, First day of Spring, 1863.

My dear young woman! - I make you my compliments, and shall get to have some faith in you, as a correspondent, if this sort of thing goes on! But I wish you could have given me a better account of yourself. I know what a wearing misery that neuralgia is. I, too, have had it in my head and face till I have been nearly, indeed once altogether delirious. My long winter illnesses usually commence in that way; an intense toothache, as it were, all thro' my head and face, that leaves me no moment's ease, day or night. ... What my Doctor recommends is very nourishing diet, in the most concentrated form. No weak broths, or what we used to call "slaisters"; but soup strong enough to be called "essence of beef"; juicy mutton chops, and that sort of thing; and two glasses a day of good sherry. I daresay you are, as I used to be, unwilling and ashamed to be at such expense with yourself. But every consideration is to be postponed to the duty of keeping one's soul in a healthy body, if one can. Do feed yourself [Page 288]  up: if milk agrees with you, there is nothing more nourishing than a tumbler of new milk with a tablespoonful of rum in it, - twice a day.

I was meaning to give Elizabeth a lecture about her carelessness in feeding herself: with such a bad digestion as she has! I am sure if she would take her nourishment in a more concentrated shape, she would find a difference! I don't believe Mr. C. could have lived thro' this Book if it hadn't been for his horse exercise and his almost daily breakfast-cupful of clear essence of beef. When I told him about Elizabeth's attacks, he said, "did you tell her to take my strong gravy soup? Write and tell her that I can match anybody in the British Dominions for a bad digestion; and that I consider myself to have been kept so long alive, by that one article of food." If you would like our recipe for making it, tell me.

And now my Letter has reached a length[1] very incompatible with a headache. You say no word of Anne. My dear love to you all and severally.

Your affectionate

JANE W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 237

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea

6 Warrior Square, St. Leonards, 9 June, 1863.

All right, Dear! You would see from the Newspaper that I had arrived at the far end. Tho' only a journey of two hours, it seemed a dreadful long one, from which was to be inferred that I am not even up to the mark of "my [Page 289]  frail ordinar" at present. Dr. Blakiston was waiting for me with the carriage, and gave me the frankest welcome. I felt quite at my ease with him before I reached his house. Bessy wasn't allowed to come, having a headache, but she met me on the steps at the front door. So well she looks in her own house! and a very suitable Mistress of it, - altho' it is quite what the auctioneers call "a large aristocratic mansion." The situation is first-rate, close on the sea, at right angles to it, in a Square of large handsome houses. The bedrooms are beautiful, and must be very quiet as a general rule. ...

I have been out in the carriage to-day twice, - before dinner and after, - and I have had a dose of pepsine administered to me by the Doctor, whom I take to be a very clever Doctor. And Bessy is always feeding me with dainties, - calves'-foot jelly, etc., as if I were a young bird! Nothing can exceed their kindness. I only fear that I cause a good deal of trouble.

I have not said anything yet about going away, but I shall to-morrow, and tell you when to expect me. Pray don't sit up till two, nor take in a sixth cup of tea, - nor commit any indiscretions in your management of yourself. The thought of your being "left to yoursel'" is the only drawback to my content.

Yours ever,

J. W. C.



LETTER 238

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, 9th July, 1863.

Dearest Mary - I had been fancying it was your turn to [Page 290]  write and so, not feeling any qualms of conscience at my own silence, but your Letter comes with such an air of having nothing to be ashamed of or to apologise for, that I begin to fear I had made a mistake, and was myself the indebted Party! At all events, it would seem you had not heard from me since I went to St. Leonards. I staid there from Monday till Saturday, and liked my visit much. It is a beautiful place, and the Blakistons' house is situated within a stonecast of the Sea, and is a fine airy, lofty house, handsomely but plainly furnished; and Bessy looked very natural, gliding about as Mistress of it! Dr. Blakiston is a clever, energetic, kind-hearted man, - very vain, rather egotistic, and as excitable and impatient as my Grandfather Walter! But Bessy understands him entirely; seems to admire his faults as much as his virtues; and has the completest silken dominion over him! They live the quietest life, except for his Practice. She will visit nowhere; "does not choose to be patronised." She is always occupied about her house and his comforts. His Practice is not very laborious (being a Physician) considering how lucrative it is. He told me he made about £2,000 a-year!

They were both as kind as kind could be. Bessy would not be hindered from bringing up my hot water and waiting on me as a Lady's-maid; and she was never so pleased as when we talked of the things that happened when she was my servant. Dr. Blakiston, too, talked of all that so frankly that there was no awkwardness in my changed position towards her. I seemed to improve every day. Dr. B. gave me pepsine - which agreed wonderfully well [Page 291]  with me; and Bessy was always "nourishing" me with jellies, champagne, etc., and always making of me. And that divine sea air! And I did not fatigue myself with walking, but had two drives in the carriage every day. Never woman had a better chance of getting well! And I did come home a different creature from what I went away. And the difference lasted two or three days; but only two or three days, tho' I did continue the pepsine. Gradually I ceased to eat again, and got sicker and sicker, till I had to take to bed and lie there several days unable to hold up my head for nausea!

Mr. Barnes, whom Mr. C. sent for (Mr. C. never being alarmed at any form of illness but the incapacity of taking one's regular meals), put mustard blisters to my stomach; and dieted me on soda-water "with a little brandy in it"; and said "the heat had upset me." I have not been feeling the heat at all disagreeable; but, of course, Doctors know best! After a week I was about again, after a sort. But very thankful should I be to get away from this noisy, dusty place for a while; and if I had my choice, independent of all other considerations, it is to Holm Hill I should like to go. But I cannot run away this year again, as I did last, and leave Mr. C. to his own devices, especially as he is likely to take a short holiday himself, after all, provided I keep him up to it, and go with him. The Ashburtons are at last coming home this day week. Dr. Quain is going to Paris in a few days to superintend the journey, and hopes that when he (Lord A.) gets home to the Grange, he will make more rapid progress in gaining strength, than he has done hitherto. They are sure to want us at the Grange, [Page 292]  and Mr. C. will not refuse him, in his present circumstances. Then there was a promise, when Mr. C. refused Lord Lothian's invitation last Summer, that we would go there next year, - when the Book was to be done! But Lord Lothian asks us again, and I think Mr. C. will hardly find in his heart to refuse. That poor young man is so fond of him! and has such a sad life!

Miss Baring wants me to go to her in Hampshire, on the 22d, and I could do that, which is a short journey, and would not require me to be long away. But Mr. C. said to-day, I had to keep in mind that I might have to go to the Grange, and afterwards to Blickling Hall (the Lothians' place in Norfolk). So I must postpone my own will to his "mights."

Kindest regards to the Doctor. Don't be long in writing.

Your ever-loving

JANE CARLYLE.

About the beginning of October, 1863, Mrs. Carlyle met with a serious street accident (described by Carlyle in the Letters and Memorials, iii., 174-181), and wrote but few Letters during the remainder of the year, and none at all, it would seem, during the first three months of 1864.

In March of this year she was taken to St. Leonards, where she was the guest of Dr. and Mrs. Blackiston till April the 28th. On that day she removed to a furnished house (117 Marina), and shortly afterwards Carlyle came down with his Books and writing materials to be beside her. She did not improve in health; and growing tired of St. Leonards and the sound of the sea, she left for London on the 12th of July; staid overnight at Mrs. John Forster's, Palace Gate, Kensington; thence she set [Page 293]  out next evening to travel all night to Scotland, and arrived at Mrs. Austin's, the Gill, near Annan, on the morning of her birthday, the 14th of July. She remained with her Sister-in-law till the 23rd of the month, when she proceeded to Holm Hill, Thornhill, on the invitation of her old friends, Dr. and Mrs. Russell. Here she improved slowly but surely; and found herself strong enough by the 1st of October to return home to Chelsea.

Not many of her Letters written during this time of severe illness, are suitable for publication. She herself called them "weak and wretched"; and certainly they are not pleasant reading, being full of details of her sufferings and the incidents of the sick-room, brightened only here and there by her touches of wit and humour; but on the whole they are much less gloomy and despairing than the Extracts which are printed in the Letters and Memorials would lead one to infer. For some reason or other, Mr. Froude has clearly done his best (or worst) to paint her condition, especially at Holm Hill, in the darkest colours possible, by picking from different Letters the most gloomy and despondent sentences and placing them together as an Extract from one Letter, - many of these citations being of necessity under wrong dates. At the same time he supresses nearly all that is cheerful and bright. I had prepared several typical instances of this proceedure; but I now think it needless to trouble any reader with them.

The following half-dozen Letters, one written at St. Leonards, the others at Holm Hill, will serve as fair specimens of Mrs. Carlyle's correspondence during this most trying time.

LETTER 239

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea

117 Marina, St. Leonards, 29 April, 1864

Again a day of comparative comfort! The "Liniment" [Page 294]  and rubbing (with opium) having the desired effect. ...

I got thro' the night in my strange bed better than I had hoped; fell asleep about three! It is a most tidy little house, and so clean, and I think quiet!

Maggie is out with two of the Liverpool Leishmans, who are come over from Brighton on her invitation, - I knowing nothing [of it] till an hour before they came!

I fear, as John has had no practice at what they call "a Ladies' Doctor," he can suggest nothing either at random or on reflection, to save me from this worse than death torture; but if he likes to come for a day and take care of you, I shall give him some dinner, and be glad to see you both. Could you come on Monday? Oh! if I might be even as well as this when you come! But that is too much to hope.

What quantities of things I have to tell you, - if I had my poor soul freed from the pressure of physical torment!

Oh, my Dear, my Dear! shall I ever make fun for you again? Or is our life together indeed past and gone? I want so much to live, - to be to you more than I have ever been; but I fear, I fear!

As yet, your own affectionate

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 240

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Monday, 15 Aug., 1864.

Oh, my Dear - I have great cause for thankfulness! and I am thankful! I have no entire night of wakefulness [Page 295]  to report. For five nights now I have gone to sleep about two, and slept off and on till about six. It is not refreshing sleep; but any sleep is such a mercy, after wakefulness enough to have turned my brain, - if it had been in the habit of turning![1] ...

Another piece of intelligence I have for you, which you will regard as first-rate, - and so should I too, if with the gain of weight, there was proportionate gain of strength: when weighed last Friday I was found to have gained a pound and half in ten days!!! I am now eight stones, twelve and a half! Still I cannot walk; but go tottering like a Chinese woman; and am ready to sink with fatigue if I have gone some twenty yards on the smooth sward. Dr. Russell insists on my "exercising my legs," and I do my best; but no good seems to come of it!

This morning the little housemaid, bringing my new milk, having asked in a modest whisper, "Hae ye had ony sleep?" and receiving an affirmative answer, looked at me with such a bright smile, and said, "I think ye'r gaun to get better noo!" Ach! if I hadn't had so many disappointments, I should be thinking so too! But my Hope is like Humpty Dumpty that "sat on a wall," and "had a great fall; and all the king's horses and all the king's men, couldn't set Humpty Dumpty up again!"

I went with your sovereign to Margaret Hiddlestone [Page 296]  on Saturday. She looked very glad, and her eyes reddened when she said, "I canna show him my gratitude, but I am grateful!" Then she expatiated on how well you and she got on together at Templand.[1] "Ye see we just suited aneanither!" "Oh, yes," she concluded, "I thocht a power o' Mr. Carlyle! - thocht far mair o' him, Mem, than I did o' you when I saw ye!!" She is impatient to "just get back into my ain hoose and doe for mysel," - for all so well cared for as she is! The Daughter she lives with is married to a cabinet-maker, and they are well to do.

Oh dear, I must now go and "exercise my legs," - the most disagreeable thing I do all day.

Yours ever,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 241

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Friday, 19 Aug., 1864.

Dearest - ... Something occurred here last evening between the hours of 8 and 9, which produced an extraordinary sensation! Mrs. Russell has not got over it yet! My Dear, I laughed!!! "The first time I had laughed since I came!" And it was no feeble attempt, but a good, loud, hearty laugh! Perhaps you will wonder what could have produced an effect so startling? The cause was a nothing. Mrs. Russell had been telling of a row Mrs. ----- had with her servants. Hearing some disturbance in the [Page 297]  room where her maids slept, .... "Only think what a terrible thing!" - said Mrs. Russell; - and a great big man!" "My Dear," said Dr. Russell, in his quiet, dry way, "would it have been any better if it had been a little man?" I don't know why this tickled me so much; but I laughed; and if I had cried I couldn't have surprised them more, or so much!

Along with Forster's Letter to you, there is come this morning a kind little Letter from Forster to me. Nobody else has written to me for long, which makes me feel sometimes as if I were officially dead. Curious that Geraldine, above all, who makes more protestations of undying love to me than all my other friends put together, does not see what a "bad effect" such inconstancy would have in a Novel!

I read in Forster's Essays the other day a charming paragraph about Frederick. After telling the story of Frederick's making Zeithen add a line to his Letter to his Wife, to the effect that "next day at two o'clock he would be dead," Forster remarks: "There are people who have called in question the truth of this incident; but it accords so well with the cruel, tyrannical disposition of the man, that if it did not actually take place, it might have done so"!!

There, you have a long Letter to-day, tho' I am rather shaky; for you will get no more till Tuesday.

Your ever affectionate

JANE W. CARLYLE.

I hope Mary is shaking my furs to keep the moths off.

[Page 298] 

LETTER 242

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Monday, 5 Sep., 1864.

Here we are at the beginning of a new week. God grant that it be better than the last. ...

I wrote a Note to Geraldine on Saturday after post-time, - which will go to-day. Why I should have written to her whom I have been so dissatisfied with, - at a time when more than usually ill and depressed, - needs explanation, in case she make a fuss about having heard from "Jane." She wrote to me, as she had told you, some weeks ago a disagreeable Letter, - the third Letter she had written to me thro' all my illness (every one of them disagreeable), - about her parties and her new clothes, etc.! I should have delayed answering, into the vague, had not there been enclosed in the Letter to me a Note to Mrs. Russell full of passionate anxiety to have news of me (which could have been got any day at Cheyne Row!), and imploring Mrs. Russell to write and tell her how I was, - quite Geraldinish, the whole thing! Poor Mrs. Russell, who is very shy and nervous, fell into a panic at the idea of having to "write to a learned lady whom she had never seen." So, in common humanity and common gratitude, I had to take the answering on myself and promise to write. Every day it was "Oh, Mrs. Carlyle! have you written to that lady? I am afraid she will think me so rude." At last on Saturday afternoon, when I was ever so ill and miserable, I "wrote to that lady," - not however telling her much of myself. [Page 299] 

When the rooms are done, pray charge the maids not to rub on the clean paper with their abominably large crinolines, and not to push back the chairs against it, as their habit is! ...

Yours ever,

J. W. C.



LETTER 243

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Thursday, 15th Sep., 1864.

Dearest - Our Letter-carrier has taken it into his head to come an hour earlier; so I now get your Letter as a finish to my breakfast.

Last night I had a little more sleep, - not "balmy" by any means, but any sort of sleep is to be considered as a mercy now! To-day the rain has come only in brief showers, with bright sunshine between. I hear of no harm done by the flood yesterday, except the complete destruction of an embankment the Duke was making a little below Holm Hill. "It will be a great loss to the Duke!" Well, he can stand it! - But I wish all prosperity to the Duke! He seems to be a good owner, whatever other sort of man he may be. I have heard many nice things of him, not merely in the way of giving, but, for example, an old woman had an old cottage in a conspicuous part of the Park; all the other cottages were new and highly ornamental, but this one was not only an eyesore, but interfered with a new approach the Duke had planned; nevertheless as old Aggie liked better her old cottage than any possible new one, the Duke promised her "his [Page 300]  own self" and left strict orders, that so long as Aggie Brown lived her cottage was not to be meddled with. That was kind, and human! The old woman died two or three months ago, and the road is making over the site of her cottage. - The Duchess finding Margaret Riddlestone no longer in her laundry (fancy a Duchess knowing what women washed for her!), enquired of Dr. Russell about her illness and circumstances, and sent her a quantity of wine, and ordered that she should be cared for thro' the Winter. After hearing that, I would have staid in the room when "the Duchess" and "the Countess" called here the other day; could I have executed a decent courtesy; but in the actual state of my legs and back, I preferred making an ignominious retreat.

I am thankful to see the sun once more! If the misery would but fall into abeyance again! But I am never quite delivered from it now; never since the day I was at Dumfries. Not that, I suppose, going to Dumfries hurt me, but it so happened! I can bear all the rest, - my neuralgia pains, my lameness, etc., with patience; but that seems to be connected with the nerves of my brain! I go wild under it. To keep up the pretence of rationality is the most I am up to.

I saw in the Dumfries Paper the death of Mrs. Allan Cunningham, - modestly recorded, without a word of her Husband.

Ever yours,

J. W. CARLYLE.

What have you done with Ward's preserved apricots? If you have no use for them, I have, when I come.

[Page 301] 

LETTER 244

To T. Carlyle, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Monday, 19 Sep., 1864.

There is nothing new to tell, Dear: I continue to have wretched nights. My nights have never been to be called good even when at my best here; ... Still they do not react on my days, as one would expect. Except in the special ailment, which is indeed the most important of all, I hardly seem to suffer from them! I have not lost flesh; I do not feel weaker, when once up and dressed. Only the irritation is pretty constant; tho' not as severe as it used to be, but bad enough to spoil all comfort in the present and to keep me in dread of worse, and increase my unfitness for my long journey before me. After even the two hours drive in the carriage, I come in every day uncertain whether I had not better have wanted the air and exercise, than have increased my discomfort to such a degree. Last night I took a blue-pill, but it did no good: I lay awake till between four and five after; but neither does it seem to have done any harm. Often when I am lying tossing on my bed, the words of poor bewildered Mr. Barnes seem spoken in my ear: "You will never get rid of it! never! never!" - But I had better speak of somebody else. ...

Now I will tell you what Mrs. Russell has just said of her housemaid's Father, and then conclude. "He is a real excellent man, old Gabriel. He is just the man among them all (meaning the people of his clachan)! He has help for all needs. He kills their pigs for them; he [Page 302]  prays with them in illness; and he shaves their heads, when that's the thing in hand!" - Thanks for the Mutual Friends. Mrs. Russell will be glad of them. - The Taunton Letter was from Mrs. Graham (Agnes Veitch of Haddington) who lives now in an old Rectory near Taunton.

Ever yours,

J. W. C.



LETTER 245

Saturday, 1st October, 1864, a mild clear (not sunny) day, John brought her home to me again to this door, - by far the gladdest sight I shall ever see here, if gladness were the name of any sight now in store for me. A faint, kind timid smile was on her face, as if afraid to believe fully; but the despair had vanished from her looks altogether, and she was brought back to me, my own again as before. ...

My poor martyred Darling continued to prosper here beyond my hopes, - far beyond her own; and in spite of utter weakness (which I never rightly saw), and of many bits of troubles, her life to the very end continued beautiful and hopeful to both of us, - to me more beautiful that I had ever seen it in her best days. Strange and precious to look back upon, those last eighteen months, as of a second youth (almost a second childhood with the wisdom and graces of old age), which by Heaven's great mercy were conceded her and me. ... - T. C.

To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan

Chelsea, Sunday, '9 October, 1864.'

Dearest Mary - I should have liked to give you another kiss, and my thanks and blessings by word of mouth, before going away again beyond all reach of personal communication. But the additional fatigue of going

[Image fp302: FRONT VIEW OF NO. 24 (formerly 5), CHEYNE ROW, CHELSEA.]

[Page 303]  round by the Gill, and the additional agitation of taking a solemn leave in circumstances so precarious, were not to be encountered voluntarily. I was terrified enough, as it was, for the journey back, tho' the same journey down had done me no harm. But nothing is ever so bad when it comes to reality, as one's cowardly imagination paints it beforehand.

I arrived quite safe, and the dreaded moment of reentering a house, which I had left in a sort of a hearse, with a firm conviction of returning no more, was tumbled head over heels by Mr. C. rushing out into the street to meet me, in his dressinggown, and in violent agitation, - John had given him reason to expect us an hour and half earlier. He had been momentarily expecting a telegram to say I had died on the road.

I got a heavenly sleep the first night after my return: nothing like it since the first night I slept at the Gill. To expect the like of that to continue - out of heaven - would have been too presumptuous. Still I have slept every night since, rather better than I was doing at Holm Hill - An immense mercy! if it were only for reconciling my imagination to Home, which I had got to shudder at! For the rest I have been wonderfully well. Everybody is astonished at me, and so glad and kind, - especially the men. They take me in their arms, most I have seen, and kiss me, and - burst into tears!! or are struck speechless. I remarked to Mr. C. that women were always considered to have the tenderest hearts; but George Cooke and Lord Houghton had embraced and kissed me with far more enthusiasm! He answered that "there was [Page 304]  nothing very wonderful in that; men have been understood to have more notion than women of kissing women ever since the world began!"

I will write soon again and tell you more particularly about us. To-day, and all days at present, I am struggling against accumulations of disorder.

Yes, I should like butter very much. - Love to James; I hope his back never troubles him.

Yours affectionately,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 246

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, '20 Oct., 1864.'

Dearest Darling - Why don't you write me a little word? I don't ask for a long Letter, but just a line or two to break the strange silence fallen between us so suddenly thro' the necessities of the case. It still feels strange, and sad, for me when Mary (not your Mary) brings me my warm milk, instead of you, and when, all thro' the day, I miss your gentle ministrations. I should be thankful that I get new milk at all, whomsoever brought by! Mr. C. says "it is little short of a daily recurring miracle!" At first they did not make haste enough, and the milk was pretty cold, and the froth fallen; but now it comes frothed up an inch above the tumbler. Only it has not the sweet taste of milk made of grass. For cream, I do pretty well. A hamper from Addiscombe (Lady Ashburton's Farm) brings, three times a week, new-laid eggs, [Page 305]  sweet butter, and the thickest cream; besides vegetables and apples. ...

It is a wonder I have not been knocked up by the heaps of people who come and make such rejoicing over me, as if I were a Queen bee! The social imprudences I have gone into, or rather been forced into, were wound up the other night to a climax. I had been several times "kissed and cried over" during the day, and I was not bound to sit up longer than was good for me, with the two Confederate Officers who came by appointment to tea. (Mr. C. pours out the tea!!) About 9 I wanted to go away; but hadn't moral courage to hobble with my stick thro' the room, and raise them all to their feet with "fears of intruding," etc. So I sat on from minute to minute, hoping they might go away. At ten a carriage dashed up, and enter Lady Ashburton and Miss Baring, who staid till eleven!! And then they all went, Mr. C. walking out with the Confederates. ...

Lady Airlie is in Town for a fortnight. Has been here for two hours this afternoon, - making me miss the post. - Dr. Carlyle is on a visit to some stupid rich people. It is to be feared he will soon return here. - Kindest love to the Doctor, twenty kisses to yourself.

Your ever-loving

J. W. C.

I sent Mr. Hunter the autograph.



LETTER 247

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

'Chelsea, 24 Oct., 1864.'

Dearest - I have a superstition about beginning a week [Page 306]  in doing (when capable of doing) something pleasant and not "unwholesome, nor expensive nor wrong," as Lady Dufferin declared all pleasant things to be! So I begin this week in writing to you, tho' I have the prospect of being interrupted, very soon, by a Tailor about Mr. C.'s coat and trousers, a servant "after the place," and a groom with a horse for my inspection!! a sufficiency and variety of business "for a wee fellow like me!" ...

The weather has been warm and moist - often to the length of rain, - to which I impute the loss of my appetite (entirely) for some days last week, and a backgoing in several ways. In desperation at a ring, which fitted me when I left Holm Hill, dropping off my finger, I betook myself to the bottle of fluid quinine I had luckily brought away with me, and have taken it regularly twice a day, with good effect on my stomach, I think, and with no bad effect on my sleep. Perhaps the air being so much more sluggish here, my brain is more difficult to excite. I mean to go on with it; so please ask the Doctor to send me the prescription immediately, my bottle will not hold out above a couple of days, and I forget the proportion of quinine and water. Dr. Blackiston wrote, as if in the spirit of prophecy, "should your appetite fail, don't forget to take the pepsine." But I never got any good of pepsine and have always got good of quinine, except for the effect, real or imaginary, on my sleep.

I am perfectly astonished at the impunity with which I do and suffer things that used to ruin me for days at St. Leonards. Especially the talking in the evenings. I do not encourage anybody to come in the evening, but [Page 307]  cannot always keep people out without seeming too ungrateful. Lady Ashburton is still in Town, and she has come three evenings last week, and last night Woolner the Sculptor came, just returned from his marriage tour with the graceful lady, who, your Mary said, "looked awful modest" (in the photograph). Woolner was especially trying, for he dropped on his knees beside my sofa, and kissed me over and over again, with a most stupendous beard! and a face wet with tears! I had seen him last on New Year's evening, in my bed, dying as I thought; I had made Mr. C. bring him that I might bid him farewell; and he had then kissed my hand, and gone away with a great sob! Forster too, had been kissing me in the forenoon yesterday! I have never in all my life sustained such an amount of kissing in a given time!

Don't forget the quinine. I have bought you a Common Prayer Book, which will be sent when I am a little at leisure. Ask Mary to send me her photograph, and I will send her the shilling in stamps, when I have as many. - Dear and grateful love to the Doctor. - Never return any Letters or pamphlets I send to amuse you unless I ask for them back.

Your loving

J. W. C.



LETTER 248

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, Friday, 'Nov., 1864.'

Oh, my Darling, I should not be writing to you this morning, with so many Letters on my conscience, which it [Page 308]  is more my duty, tho' not so much my pleasure to write! But "life is short," and I feel that truth more poignantly than ever, since this horrible illness; and I don't feel to have time for always sacrificing my pleasure to my duty! So the others must wait while I talk to you a bit.

The weather has been, as November weather always is here, horrible: so wet and foggy and dispiriting. Nevertheless, I have not since my return to London, missed my drive a single day. It is the great support and comfort of my life, that movement thro' the open air once a day. Then it enables me to do my shopping (at the carriage window) and to make visits (on the new principle of calling out the person visited to sit in the carriage with me!). My back continues as weak as ever, making it too much fatigue for me to go up people's stairs, and that sort of thing! When I have nothing particular to do in the streets, I know where to drive for a sight of sheep (very dirty ones!) and green fields. I am out from one till about four, generally; then I dine, and receive company till six. Occasionally, not often, some one drops in to tea, but I seldom fail to be in bed by eleven, - and still better, I seldom fail to get some sleep. I have not been awake a whole night since my return! tho' I am still far from sleeping like a human being! I take pills at a great rate, - can't help myself. And no matter, so long as the special misery keeps in abeyance.

I have been feeling myself very ungrateful in not going to report myself to Dr. Quain all this time. He was very kind and attentive to me last Winter, and couldn't be persuaded ever to take a fee! But now that the torment [Page 309]  ... is abated, I "think shame" to see him, after all the dreadful questions and answers that passed between us!

My new "cook and housekeeper"[1] promises well. If I had not had another such perfect and polite servant in the "Old Ann," who was with me six years, I should live in constant expectation of discovering some serious flaw in her! For this woman's characteristic is plausibility, and I have a dread of plausible people! But probably, as in "Old Ann," there will be nothing to discover worse than a large amount of selfishness and an exaggerated idea of perquisites. The new "housemaid and lady's-maid" is to come on Tuesday. As Mrs. Warren (the cook) said, "however she turns out, we can't well be worse off than we are at present." ...

Mrs. Anstruther and Daughter were here yesterday, - sweet as melted barley-sugar! Lady A. has been in Town again, keeping me out of bed till near twelve! bless her! People begin to come back, and I have more company than I need.

The little box? Yes! it has a history. It was a white deal box containing some presents sent me by Goethe, when we were at Craigenputtock. By way of illustrating it, I painted it black, and ornamented it with clippings of chintz!! I sent it to you because I thought you would give it a place in your bedroom; and here, if I died, it would have no value for man, woman or child! ...

God bless you both, my Dear.

JANE W. CARLYLE.

[Page 310] 

LETTER 249

To Miss Anne Welsh, Edinburgh.

Chelsea, Wednesday, 30 Nov., 1864.

Oh, thank you, Dear! I am really grateful for this![1] ...

I have been very much occupied of late weeks, with changes in the house, etc., etc. My days are so short to begin with! As I am still too weak for getting up before breakfast, it is near eleven always before I get into the drawing-room; at half after twelve I go out for my drive, whatever weather it is, and am generally out for three hours; at four I dine; and receive visits till six. Then in the evenings, I am too much wearied to do anything but a little desultory reading. When I try writing Letters in the evening, it never fails to give me a restless night; and now, Mr. C. won't suffer me to take pen in hand.

Still it is not an unhappy life. The comparative freedom from physical suffering seems, after the long tortures I endured, positive enjoyment. And the pleasure I have in my friends is so enhanced by grateful remembrance of the kindness shown me thro' the long period of my illness! ...

I have got a respectable widow of fifty for cook and housekeeper, who has already done more for improving my appetite than all the quinine and pepsine that have been tried on me. There is never a speck of dust about this woman; and her manners are the perfection of courtliness! And so far as I have seen, things go on at less expense [Page 311]  than formerly. If she only goes on as she has begun, I shall say I have lighted on "a treasure," - at last!

The young person (eight-and-twenty) who came yesterday for housemaid and lady's-maid also promises excellently. She comes of an excellent family, and I have great faith in breed. She "thoroughly understands her business" - one can see that the first day; and she is very modest and intelligent and, I should say from her face, is not only honest but honourable. So I feel myself set up in quite a magnificent style; housekeeper and lady's-maid, and coachman coming every morning "for orders!" I feel the comfort of all this better now than if it had come to me when I was young and strong. As dear Betty says, "We hae mony mercies; may we be thankful!"

I find I have written on a sheet destined for Madame Elise, my beloved Dressmaker! Never mind!

My best love to Elizabeth and Grace. Couldn't you persuade Elizabeth to send me her photograph? The sitting one, on metal, is so ghastly! God bless you.

Your loving Niece,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 250

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, Tuesday, Nov'r (?), 1864.

I had it in mind, Dearest, to write you a nice long Letter to-day, but the fates willed that I should get up this morning late and stupid, having had a worse night than usual. No wonder! considering the way I was used. I went yesterday to have a dress fitted on at Elise's; my black silk [Page 312]  tunic which you liked so much, and which I have worn every day and all day since I left you! having fairly gone to tatters, - and no shame to it. I was before the time of day for the fashionable ladies, so Elise was disengaged and came to the fitting-room herself, to superintend the process, which I don't believe she would have done for any Duchess in the Land. And she would not let me have the thing done anyhow, as I wanted, saying to her French Dressmaker: "Because Madame will not wear a crinoline and will not be tied up, that is no reason why she should have no waist and no style!" And so she fingered away at me herself, while I stood for half an hour! Then she brought me a glass of wine, "to put away your fatigues!" but it didn't! - I went after to see Lady William Russell, who happened to be better up to talking than usual, poor soul! and I didn't get away from her till within half an hour of my dinner time (four o'clock). Mrs. Warren (the new cook) never keeps me waiting; but my dinner was not well over till Mr. Twisleton came, who staid till near seven; and between seven and eight, a Mr. Ballantyne came on the voluntary principle, and shortly after, Colonel Cunningham and Miss Cunningham (Allan's Family) by appointment to tea. And just, I think, because I was so feverishly tired, I thought fit to make tea myself, - the first time these fifteen months! It was half after ten when they went away, and Mr. C.'s walk was not ended till near twelve. Of course, I couldn't sleep; and when I did, couldn't keep hold of sleep for many minutes together; and awoke finally for good, at five. And such long, dark mornings these are! [Page 313] 

So I will put off the "nice long Letter" till another more auspicious day, and just tell you how it is with me.

On the whole, I don't think I have lost ground. My cold is gone, - a little tendency to cough and roughness of the throat, but nothing to speak of. My appetite has improved since I had the new cook, who makes everything look nice, however it may taste; and who regulates my dinners according to "her own sweet will." Nothing so soon destroys all inclination for food in me, as having to order it beforehand. So, reflecting that I was eating better, I thought I might probably be gaining flesh again, and yesterday summoned up resolution to go and be weighed, - at the green grocer's - swung up in the air like a basket of potatoes! It wasn't half such pleasant weighing as Andrew's; nor was the result so pleasant. I had lost two pounds and a half since I was weighed last; - not much, and the weight remaining, 8 stones, 9 lbs., is fair enough for a woman of my inches. Still I should have liked to keep the "8 stones, eleven and a half." When I came home after, I solemnly announced to Mrs. Warren that she would have to fatten me to the extent of two pounds and a half. Whereupon she went and baked some sweet unwholesome biscuits which gave me the heartburn. ...

I am not at all nervous, and I certainly sleep better than I did while I was with you, - when I commit no indiscretions like last night's. ... The actual suffering, if cleared of the aggravations of the Imagination, would be nothing to make a fuss about. Many people, - the greater number, I believe, - have to suffer as much in some form or other! I daresay the exceptionalness of the form [Page 314]  in my case, has had a great deal to do with the unbearableness.

My ever grateful love to the Doctor. Dear, dear! I wish he and you were not so far away!

Your loving friend,

J. CARLYLE.

Kind remembrance to Mary and Lady Macbeth.[1]



LETTER 251

To Mrs. Austin, The Gill, Annan

Chelsea, '21 December, 1864.'

Dearest Mary - ... The butter comes exactly at the right moment, just when Lady Ashburton's Farmer at Addiscombe had written that "the hamper" would henceforth be sent only once a week instead of three times, "as he had to send hampers also to her Ladyship in Devonshire." The impossibility is curious when you consider that in each hamper there is just two eggs, about a gill of cream, and, twice a week, a pound of butter! It is a compensation for those who have no toy-farmers and gardeners, to see how a great Lady is imposed upon at all hands! My grey horse that Lady A.'s coachman gave an "enormous price" for (sixty or seventy guineas!), and which Lady A. absolutely forced on my acceptance, turns out too soft for even my gentle uses; the first day of the frost I had it sharpened and sent out in the carriage as usual (I have not been one day without a drive since my return), and one of the creature's hind legs got sprained [Page 315]  somehow, and it has been laid up in its stable, with a farrier attending it ever since. - I have to hire a horse in the meantime! The groom says that every time my horse does a little more than usual she "goes off her food." I shall never have any comfort in driving her again, even if she gets over this accident. And the best thing to do will be to sell her, and job a horse.

Mr. C. does not look to me as if he were going to keep his word and "get done about Newyear's day." If he get done in February, I shall be thankful. I am not now so impatient for getting to Devonshire to Lady A.'s as I was before I knew that her house there only began to be built last June! She affirms it is quite dry, nevertheless; but she had only been there for two days when she said so. As she is troubled with rheumatism herself at present, she will not be able to live in it, any more than I should be, unless it is free from damp. We shall see.

In the meantime I have reason to thank God for the comparative ease I still enjoy, - in spite of the severe changes of weather. My appetite is improved again since I had the new cook, who sends up everything so tidy and pretty! She seems a very nice servant indeed, and not at all extravagant. I pay her a little more wages than I was in the habit of giving; but that is not the difference at the year's end. The weekly bills are diminished rather than increased since she came, tho' we live much better: - have all sorts of cakes and "dainties" which no former cook (unless Grace MacDonald)[1] was up to. And she is a most pleasant servant, always so polite and obliging, with [Page 316]  an equableness of temper rare at fifty, and very soothing for the rest of us, - who are anything but equable!

The new housemaid[1] is also a good servant; intensely "respectable," and "understands her business"; but she is nothing like so pleasant. ...

I was weighed the other day, and found that I had lost two pounds and a half since I was last weighed at Dr. Russell's. Considering my loss of appetite from cold and from worry, it was less than might have been expected. I am certainly sleeping better; not to be called well yet; but better than I had done since before my illness. ... Oh, mercy, what a different state of things from last year at Christmas! Can I ever be thankful enough!

God bless you, Dear, and all your belongings! Many thanks for all these things and all your true affection.

Yours ever faithfully,

JANE W. CARLYLE.

I can't walk any better yet, but I feel rather less fatigued by the effort of walking.



LETTER 252

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, Thursday, 'December, 1864.'

If it weren't, Dear, that the delay might make you anxious about the basket, I would not write this morning, having no time to make a decently long Letter. But you will kindly accept a brief acknowledgement in the meantime; and the nice long Letter will follow. [Page 317] 

I wish you had seen the sensation the Basket produced; for we couldn't conceive what it contained, or where it came from! "Glasgow?" Mr. C. said. "But who on earth," I asked, "is there in Glasgow to send us anything?" "Your Cousin Jeannie, perhaps?" "Bah! my Cousin Jeannie never sent me anything in her life!" "Well, let us get into the inside of it," said Mr. C., standing with his long pipe in his mouth, offering no assistance. Fanny, having placed the package in the middle of the Drawing-room floor, had disappeared. At last by my unaided efforts I had extracted the Basket from its brown paper. "Pooh!" said Mr. C., "it is more game!" (Mr. C. doesn't eat most sorts of game, and had been aggravated by the quantity sent lately). "D'ye know, I have a sort of notion it is fish," said I rather mournfully, not seeing my way thro' a basketful of fish! "I am afraid it is," said he - "just fish; and I wish you joy of it!" Then Fanny came back and helped me to open the Basket. "Eggs!" said Fanny, solemnly, as if she had been solving the Problem of the Universe. "Oh, hang it!" said Mr. C., "all broken again, of course." (Mr. C.'s temper had been much tried latterly by boxfuls of eggs from both the Gill and Dumfries, arriving all in a state of mush! and he had written to forbid more eggs.) "These seem to be all whole, however," said I; "who can have sent them?" "A person, whoever it be," said Mr. C. blandly, "who knows something about the art of packing!" "Look here," said Fanny groping among the eggs, "if that ain't a Turkey!" Still, with the fixed idea of Glasgow put into my head, I never thought of Holm Hill! not till we arrived at the whisky. Then a [Page 318]  light flashed on my soul! "Oh, it is Mrs. Russell!" I cried, "where is the address? don't you know the handwriting?" Mr. C. picked up the address and said, "To be sure, that is Dr. Russell's writing!" You can't think what a good the little excitement did us! But I couldn't help a little shudder, on contemplating the dead body of one of those Turkeys that I had seen grow up from babyhood! slain for me, poor bird! The whisky came exactly at the right moment; for only the night before, I had swallowed the last drop in the bottle I brought home with me! and was thinking I should have to put up with the Irish L.L. whisky, the only sort procurable here.

There wasn't a single egg hroken, - one cracked, that was all. A thousand thanks! And I am so glad the package did not come from Glasgow, as Mr. C. said; it makes all the difference whom a present comes from!

I have been sleeping very badly for the last ten days, without any assignable reason; but last night was better; so I hope the spell is broken. I have a great many things to do before going out for my drive; so must stop.

Ever yours affectionately,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 253

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, 28 February, 1865;

Darling - ... I suppose I am bilious just now; I feel so bad at writing; so bad at doing anything. I would like to lie all day on the sofa, reading Novels! the "last [Page 319]  sad refuge of the noble mind!" I will take a blue-pill tonight.

I had a visit the other day that gave me the knife in my back! Dr. Quain! It was very good-natured in him to come so far to see me, considering that I had never announced my return and my recovery to him. Not that I did not feel grateful for his kindness last Winter; but I remembered how wildly I used to talk to him, imploring him to give me poison, etc., etc., and all the horrid questions he had to ask! And I could not look him in the face, now that I found myself in my normal state of mind! He was very good and put me at my ease at once, and scolded me for not sending for him in my last inflammatory attack. How could I, when he would never accept a fee from me? I have such a pretty story to tell you about a Baby left at Dr. Quain's door, and a great many stories laid by in my mind to amuse you with when you come here.

For the present I must get ready for my drive. Love to the Doctor. ...

Affectionately yours,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 254

To Mrs. Braid, Green End, Edinburgh.

Seaforth Lodge, Seaton, Devonshire,
12 March, 1865.

My own darling Betty - Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your Letter, which was all the more pleasure to me that I was not expecting such an effort from you. I know how difficult it is to concentrate one's thoughts [Page 320]  and put them into written sentences when one is full of sorrow or pain! To do it at all one must hold very dear the person one writes to! And you and I hold one another very dear by that and by other tokens. When my bodily torments were nearly greater than I could bear, and I had dropt all correspondence in the outer world, I recollect writing a few lines to you; and now, you write to me when bowed down with sorrow as I was with pain.

Dear Thomas Erskine wrote me a kind Letter about you after he had seen you. He told me the manner of George's[1] end. In my life I never heard anything so sad! And yet how merciful!

... I was not thinking of a journey to Scotland this Summer, until I had the news of your loss. Now, I should like to go, that you might see the child remaining to you, which would be a comfort to you, would it not? If I were not still in such weak health that I can stand no knocking about, I should decide to go. For Mr. Carlyle, who has lately finished the great Book, in six big volumes, which has kept him busy for ten years, is going to Scotland in a little while, and to pay several visits up and down; so that I should not be needed at home. And it would be too much fatigue going from place to place along with him; besides that, among his own people there is not accommodation for us both at one time, as we are both bad sleepers and need a room a-piece! So, if I had but strength for it, there would be nothing to hinder me from going back to Thornhill, and on for a few days to Edinburgh. To Thornhill is not a difficult journey; and there [Page 321]  is such beautiful rest at the end of it! And I should find just the same welcome this year as if I had not staid near three months there last year! But the journey from Thornhill to Edinburgh is more complicated and bothering; and I don't feel at home with my Aunts as I do with the Russells. I need a great many tender attentions now, which I could perfectly dispense with when I was stronger, and it is not in my Aunts to be tender towards anybody! However we shall see! Perhaps as the weather gets warmer I may be less of an invalid. Meanwhile I have written to Mrs. Russell to beg her to come to me, - and the Doctor too if possible, - in London, when Mr. C. goes north and leaves house-room for them. After showing them London, I would perhaps return with them, I said, as an inducement to their coming!

At present we are on a visit to Lady Ashburton in Devonshire; so your Letter did not reach me till yesterday, as we left London on Wednesday, forgetting to leave the address with the postman. I had been much plagued with a constant nausea for some time, and was glad to get a change of air and scene, which the Doctors say is the only remedy for nervous illness; and certainly that is my own experience.

I am just as much at home with Lady Ashburton as with Mrs. Russell: they are the two kindest hostesses on earth. So I doubt not but I shall improve here, so soon as my sleep gets settled, which is always driven away by a new bed.

The house is within a hundred yards of a high cliff overhanging the sea; so we have fresh air enough! The [Page 322]  Country all round is extremely beautiful, and new to me. Chiefly I am delighted to see clear, running waters, like what we have in Scotland; also the wee lambs, quite white, are a treat to see after the sooty sheep near London!

We shall stay here some two or three weeks.

Mr. Carlyle was for me not continuing to send Punch, as the sight of it might make you sorry. But I thought your Husband might care to look at it; and at all rates that you took the address in my handwriting as an assurance of my welfare.

God bless and comfort you, Dear!

Affectionately yours,

JANE WELSH CARLYLE.



LETTER 255

To Mrs. Oliphant.

Seaforth Lodge, '29 March, 1865.'

I give you now, Dear, the only piece of news I have had to give since I went away, viz., that we are coming home on Saturday. It is very perverse of Mr. C. to be in such haste, seeing that we are only now beginning to feel the benefit of the change, and that we are not wished to go. Indeed a more cordial, more generous Hostess than Lady A. does not I believe exist on this Planet! Every time I see her I like her better than last time; and she seems more kind to me, tho' that had seemed impossible.

But I will tell you all about everything by word of mouth - which is much easier than with pen and ink. [Page 323]  Writing continues a horrid bore to me; and if Letters from me have "been flying about," I can only say they have flown very wide apart, and with very drooping wings!

Oh, what a place this is for lovers of the Picturesque! Such a sea! Such cliffs! the one so blue, the other so white! My head was quite turned at first, with all this "beautiful nature"; and I had a "moment of enthusiasm" in which I was near persuading Mr. C. to buy a Devonshire Craigenputtock, to be sold extraordinarily cheap! Pine trees and wild heaths, and black bog! a hundred acres of it; and in the midst, a charming house built in the style of a convent! The speculation was wrecked by my answering to Mr. C.'s fear I should "die of the solitude, in six months," "Oh, no! for I will keep constant company." George II.'s "Non! J'aurai des maîtresses!"[1] couldn't have given a greater shock! - My chief, indeed only discontents, have been from my Lady's Maid, who has put me in a rage at least once every day.

Affectionately yours,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 256

To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan

Chelsea, '26 May, 1865.'

Dearest - I am so sorry! Especially if my Letter, posted on Wednesday night, did not reach you last night, - not till this morning. But after all, my delay in writing was not so incomprehensible as it represents itself in [Page 324]  your mind. Time moves at a strangely different rate for the person gone away, and the one staying at home! It was on Monday you left: and on Wednesday (the next day but one) you are already astonished at my silence! ...

Affectionately yours,

J. W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 257

To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan

The Elms, Streatham Lane, Upper Tooting,
8 June, 1865.

Dearest - I wonder that we are not brought up to use our two hands equally, the same as our two eyes and two ears: there is no natural impossibility, and "it would be a great advantage"; anyhow I must learn to write with my left hand legibly at least, the right having entirely struck work. For it is not now a question of pain merely, but of utter powerlessness as well. I foresaw that it would come to that, so I am not shocked as you may fancy. I daresay a quarter of an hour's practice two or three times a day for a week or so will deliver me from the absurd necessity of having to call in the assistance of the neighbourhood to communicate my bits of news to you; not to say that dictation is only a degree less awkward than left-handed penmanship, having never tried it before in my life.

You perceive that I am still here, and you will infer from that that I find it good to be here; but, as it is Mrs. Macmillan who is writing for me, it would be too barefaced [Page 325]  to give any glowing description of either the pleasantness of the place or the kindness of the people, I shall only say, what you will be glad to hear, that I am getting into the way of sleeping for snatches, after three o'clock, which I attribute, under Providence, to a wineglassful of essence of beef, which is placed by my bedside every night, and which I take when I awake at three with the feeling of doing it for good. It is simply the juice of beef without any water at all. As for the pain, I am sorry I cannot compliment myself on its being in the least better; it has been and continues more severe than I ever had it before. It wears me to fiddle-strings, and takes all "good joy" out of my life; but it does not take the life itself out of me as the old nervous misery did. I always said, better any amount of acute pain than that; and I say so still, now when the acute pain is here.

I am going home in an hour or two to look after my workmen. They go on better when expecting me to drop down upon them at any hour. My further plans it may be interesting not to state, except this much, that I leave here on Monday; but you need be under no apprehension about the paint, as Mrs. Blunt has given me a bed-room at the Rectory. Indeed everybody is so kind to me that so far as human kindness can avail, you may always feel assured that I am all right, - falling on my feet like any cat. ... "I add no more but remain

Your obedient, humble servant!!"

JANE CARLYLE.

[Page 326] 

LETTER 258

To Mrs. Warren, Chelsea.

Holm Hill, Thornhill, 29 June, 1865.

My dear Mrs. Warren - It is a fortnight to-day since I left home, and time that I should send another word of news. At least I hope that you are thinking so; for, if such a kind, motherly woman as you did not feel any concern about how I was getting on, with this wretched arm, I should say it must have been somehow my own fault and did not tell to my advantage.

You will see before reading a word that my right arm continues to be of no use to me! If only that were all, I could manage to get on pretty well with the left, - as I am here giving you a proof.[1] But the pain continues almost unbearable, and keeps me awake, tumbling about like a wild thing, night after night, thro' one weary week after another; so that it is a perpetual miracle to myself that I am able to get up in the morning and keep on foot, like other people, thro' the day. I have been much worse since I came here, than I was at Mr. Macmillan's. And I long to be home again, where, when ill, one has always the consolation of perfect liberty to be as ugly and stupid and disagreeable as ever one likes!

If it were not for shame of seeming not to know my own mind, and for the terror of the long journey, I would start off home at once! But I must at least for decency's sake make out the month I spoke of at starting.

I hope you are quite rid of the painters and of the [Page 327]  smell too. Be sure to keep all the windows open, that the house may be sweet when Mr. Carlyle returns. ...

If you have no more pressing work it would[1] be a useful thing to be looking thro' all the sheets and mending them; and there might not be soon so good an opportunity. Please inquire for Mr. Royston, and tell me how he is when you write. The settlement of the hamper was very judicious; but in case of any such emergence again, just take counsel with yourself: I have considerable faith in your practical judgement but little or none in Miss Jewsbury's. Her talent is of quite another sort than practical. If the Bookcases are not quite finished, pray make Mr. Freure get on, that there may be no traces of new paint.

I will write again in a week; but mind that you send me a few lines in the meantime.

Yours kindly,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 259

To Mrs. Braid, Green End, Edinburgh.

Nith Bank, Thornhill, 15 July, 1865.

My dearest Betty - It has been often in my mind that you would think me growing neglectful, so long it is since I wrote to you any Letter! But there was needed the prompting of your own dear Letter, forwarded back from London this morning, to stir me up to undertake the fatigue which writing is for me at present, and has been for more than two months back. You must know that [Page 328]  everything I do, even to putting the food into my mouth, has to be done with my left hand, which I was not ever before in the habit of using at all; and which protests against the unwonted demands on it, by taking the cramp every now and then; so that writing is really only to be attempted in cases of necessity! For my right hand and arm are entirely disabled by neuralgia! And besides having no earthly use of them, the pain, - just like a bad toothache in my arm and hand, - hinders me from sleeping and eating. So my London Doctor, being unable to give me relief, ordered me off to Scotland again, as that had done me so much good last year.

So I came to Mrs. Russell's at Holm Hill, where I am always welcomed like an own child, just a month ago. A fortnight of the time I have been with Mrs. Ewart of Nith Bank. But I go back to Holm Hill to-morrow for another week; and then back to London! - without seeing you, my Darling! - I did not send you word when I first came, for I was hoping my wretched arm might really derive some benefit from the change of air, and if it permitted me any pleasure in life, I had it in my heart to proceed to Edinburgh just to see you. As for my Aunts, their invitations, if they give any, are so little cordial that I needn't put myself to any expense or trouble for the sake of seeing them! My idea was to ask you to find a lodging for me and my maid, for a day or two, and then take the train for London. But this beautiful little scheme has been knocked on the head by the fact that my arm continues as bad as ever, making me shrink from all journeyings and changings that can he avoided, [Page 329]  and only anxious to get back to my own quiet bed at Chelsea.

It is such a dreadful pity that the journey from Edinburgh to Thornhill is so indirect and interrupted. I should be only too happy to pay your expenses here to see me, if it weren't that I know the journey would be both too fatiguing and too confusing for you! We are none of us so young as we have been, Dear!

On the 24th then, I start for London; and will write or make somebody write, on my arrival.

Your loving

JANE W. CARLYLE.



LETTER 260

To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Holm Hill, Saturday, 22 July, 1865.

I am afraid, Dear, I "have made a mull of it!" I should have let you come here to-day! For there can be no peaceable meeting at Dumfries. I decided against Alderley; and must take two tickets for London, here, not to lose time or create bother with the luggage. So you will just have to jump in at Dumfries and go a few miles with me.

I told you I must leave the decision about Alderley till next day. Night would bring counsel. Yes! but one knows what dark premises Deliberation starts from, and what pusillanimous conclusion it arrives at, when Night brings no sleep! And that night I lay wholly and absolutely awake. ... All these objections assumed gigantic proportions over night; and the appointment of [Page 330]  "two nights" as the utmost possible limit of the hospitality offered me, chilled my ardour for availing myself of it! Not that I had ever any intention of, or wish for, staying longer; but I disliked not having the credit allowed me of mense enough to see when I was inconvenient without needing to be told. And so I wrote yesterday, with many thanks, that I could not think of plumping into the midst of the approaching event.[1] I took care to word my Letter kindly and gratefully. ...

On Monday, then, by the eleven o'clock train - on the platform!

Yours ever,

JANE.



LETTER 261

To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, Tuesday, 25 July, 1865.

Dearest - All right, that is, all as I expected! When I chose to travel by day, I knew I should have no sleep after! I sat up reading till three; it was no use I felt to lie down; then I went to bed and lay awake, without kicking about much, till morning. At seven I rang for my breakfast, and ate some; and got up at nine, and have been putting my things in the drawers with the efficient help of Jessie.[2] I don't suppose the night without sleep in my own bed can do me so much harm as that on the railway on the road down [would have done]. But in the meantime I am very unfit for writing. I do hope Dr. Russell may prove mistaken

[Image fp330: BACK OR GARDEN VIEW OF NO. 24 CHEYNE ROW.]

[Page 331]  about my right hand having gone to the dogs for good. The loss of it hinders me at every turn! And I haven't even the consolation of having lost it in the service of my Country!

At Carlisle we waited three-quarters of an hour; and Jessie was told her third-class ticket was "no go," - there being no third-class from Carlisle to London by that train. So she was transferred into a second-class carriage next me, and I had to pay 15s. 6d. difference! I perceived on the platform at Lancaster, a man in grey, pacing as if his foot was on his native pavement, and took him for the Station-master, - tho' looking upwards as tho' meditating on "the Good, the Beautiful and the True." He looked at me once or twice, then stopt and - it was Mr. S. ----- (is that the name?) He was very civil with offers of raspberry tart and gooseberries "pulled that morning by his Wife, in his own garden!" He is so awfully interesting to himself, that man! Mr. Sylvester is to be here with Bellona at 1 o'clock. I hope to be steadier next time.

Yours affectionately,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 262

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, '26 July, 1865.'

Oh, my Dear, my Dear - I wish I had the use of that hand again! For when I try to write or do anything with the left without great plenty of leisure, it shakes and threatens to strike work!

I absolutely couldn't write yesterday; and to make [Page 332]  Jessie write would have made you think me either more unwell or more disagreeable than I was! The first night after my long journey, I lay wholly awake as I was sure to do, except when I travel by night and allow myself twelve hours to subside! Indeed, knowing how it would be in bed, I sat up reading till three in the morning! Then I made a bold venture and took before lying down thirty drops of Morphia! I used to get good of an exceptional dose of this sort. Even that couldn't put me to sleep for a minute; but it gave me a sensation of rest instead of wildness; and I lay patiently till seven, when I rang for my breakfast. Last night I slept like the angels. In waking I had lost my identity, and was saying to myself, "It can't be I who have slept in this way!"

Oh! I am stopt! I will finish it at night. I am so sorry.



LETTER 263

To T. Carlyle, The Gill, Annan.

Chelsea, 2 August, 1865.

Dearest - What belated your Letter that it didn't arrive till the two o'clock post - after I was gone out? Getting no news in the morning, and being up to the eyes in the Books, I felt justified in passing a day, on the pretext of not being quite sure of your whereabout.

I must now be concise and to the purpose, the day being too short for all the affairs I have on hand. First, of my sleep: I really begin to sleep like a human being! If this would last a week or two, my arm would be cured, and even my hand. Already the pain is so much diminished [Page 333]  that I don't dream of it in my sleep! and I can do a lot of things with my hand; can put on my stockings! can lift a spoon to my mouth! can tie on my bonnet, etc., etc. Oh, the relief of this comparative ease, after five months of constant wearing pain and helplessness!

Mrs. Forster has been ill in the same sort of way, only her pain has been more general and more diluted and sooner over. Poor dear Fuz himself had a violent attack of British Cholera lately, and is at present in great misery with some new cold caught in his face. I saw him yesterday, by his own request, stretched among pillows on the sofa of his Library, bemoaning himself in his usual obstreperous way, and with palpable reason, - his face was swelled and discoloured frightfully, an abscess forming in the cheek, his Wife said. He himself said he "was dying, - not a doubt of it!" But he was far too impatient and unreasonable for being arrived at that stage. ...

Yours affectionately,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 264

To T. Carlyle, Miss Craik's
73 George St. Edinburgh.

Chelsea, Wednesday, 9 Aug., 1865.

Again you have had no Letter, Dear! But, in compensation, all the ink-spots are out of your writing-table!! Had it been going straight to any Literary museum, I shouldn't have meddled with the ink, which Hero-worshippers might have regarded with a certain adoration; but for your own use I thought you would like it better [Page 334]  clean! It has never been cleaned, that poor table, since I used to do all the Housemaid work myself! And it is a wonder of heaven that I should be up to such work again, after all; and I cannot better express my thankfulness than in working while I may! So I fastened on that table after breakfast this morning, and rubbed at it the whole time till the carriage came at two! Of course Jessie could have waxed and turpentined the table better than I; but no one but me, I flatter myself, could have shown the patience and ingenuity necessary for extracting all that ink!

You will infer that I am going on well as to my arm, my sleep, and all that. I have really had not one downright bad night since I came home, - except the first. The pain is almost entirely gone out of my arm and hand. But the stiffness continues, - and is easy to bear. I can use some of my fingers a little. I am now writing with the lamed hand! But I cannot take hold; nor could I raise my arm to my head if it were to save my life.

If it were not that almost everybody is "out of Town," I should rather regret having promised to go to Folkestone on Monday. But it is to be hoped the sea breezes will blow the dust of those Books off me! Two of the Pug Puppies and their amiable Mamma have been "placed at Hampstead for change of air," and only Spark and the youngest accompany us to Folkestone.

Another proof of wellness: I am going alone! I find that I can now do everything in dressing, with my left hand, except twisting up my back hair and putting the comb in; and Miss Bromley's house-maid can do that much for me in one minute. Jessie sees a great deal of cleaning needed, [Page 335]  and will get at it better when the regular work of the house is not going on. Then, sufficient for the day is the running up and down thereof! Besides, she will learn the ways of London servants fast enough without my hastening to initiate her therein!

In my dearth of company, I drove out to Denmark Hill yesterday to return a call old Mrs. Ruskin made here in my absence. But I am decidedly unlucky at that house: Mrs. Ruskin and Son were changing the air at the Norwood Hotel! He writes to offer himself for Friday evening.

Such a fright Dr. Carlyle's hand on the address gave me! - Forster is better, and off on his Inspecting. - You won't forget to go and see my Aunts! And do take a cab and go and see poor dear Betty! Stenhouse, close by Green End: anybody can tell you which is the house. [No room left for farewell.]

J. C.



LETTER 265

To T. Carlyle, Linlathen, Dundee.

4 Langhorne Gardens, Folkestone, 15 Aug., 1865.

Here I am, Dear, safe and slept! I arrived last evening about 7. Miss Bromley had gone for a walk with the girl staying with her, and they had lost their way! So I had ample time to unpack all the things into my drawers before I was called upon to dress for dinner.

It is a nice house - for Sea-lodging - but I am afraid you would find the same fault to it as to the West Cliff Hotel, viz. - "an eternal ripple-tippling of Venetian blinds!" [Page 336]  Also there is a terrible superabundance of - earwigs! They are found in your hair-brush! in the book you are reading! in fact, I defy you to say where they will not be found!

But the "Flight of Skylarks"[1] is always charming to live beside; and the air of the West Cliff is understood to be all one could wish! And "change" (Dr. Blakiston wrote to me the other day) "is for illness like mine the one available medicine." So I suppose it is all right! Certainly my sleeping facilities were nothing like so great here last night as they were at home; nevertheless, in spite of "ripple-tippling," and too much light and the sense of novelty, I patched together sleep enough to be called a goodish night.

It is blowing hard to-day, with a dull grey sky, and skits of rain; so I see no prospect of "vah-rying the schene!" as there are no carriages but open ones.

Oh, my Dear! I could tell you something that would make you die of laughing, if I hadn't to dilute it in ink! And I was solemnly charged to "not tell Mr. Carlyle!" Lady William told me that Mr. and Mrs. X-----, having lived to the respective ages of 72 and 74, in the expression of the most outrageously George-Sandish opinions, had tried the thing in practice and found it "no go." - "Yes, my dear Lady! Mr. X-----, sad to say, has committed an - infidelity! And poor Mrs. X-----, so far from agreeing that a grand passion is omnipotent, and showing the generosity of Jaques, has fallen ill about it, and had to go off to the Continent (Paris) for her health!" ... [Page 337] 

An intimation reached me yesterday that poor General Veitch (Hamilton Veitch) had died in India. He had gone out again for "just one year, to settle his affairs."

Yours ever,

J. W. C.



LETTER 266

To Mrs. Russell, Holm Hill.

Chelsea, 16 October, 1865.

Well, Dear, are you home again? And have you found the Dear Doctor all right? Not broken in health or spirits by being left to his own shifts and the "mercy of servants" for a few days! I heard of him in your absence as not only alive and "looking well," but as "remarkably agreeable!"

Depend upon it we are not so indispensable to these men of ours as we are apt to flatter ourselves! Any one would have sworn beforehand that my Husband could not have survived six months of housekeeping on his own basis, being as my Scotch Helen said of him, "one that could do nothing i' the worl' for himsel', and had no turn for takin' up wi' ither women!" but he did, and survived it very well, too! doing his own work all the while, without a day wasted in conjugal regrets! - You might have done as I wanted you to do in Summer, and taken the holiday I had schemed out for you, and found the Doctor on your return nothing worse than very glad to get you back!

It was from Mrs. Ewart I heard of your being in Glasgow. Such a long, nice Letter she sent me! How anybody [Page 338]  can keep up such a spirit at eighty exceeds my comprehension!

... What is to become of me for a Doctor when next I need one? I was so satisfied with Herbert Barnes last Winter, when I had conquered my prejudices against having a Dr. under thirty, who wore a glass in his eye! He treated me most skilfully; and was so gentlemanly and kind; and I had been quite at ease as to what I should do next time. I was saying to Mrs. Warren one night what a comfort that was and went down stairs after to receive the Rector's Wife, who looked anxious and flurried, and bit by bit told me the astounding fact that Herbert Barnes was dead! He had become a great favorite with his Father's patients, and is much lamented. The poor old Father took the news like a child: crying one minute, and forgetting the next! I know of no other Doctor in Chelsea that I would trust myself or any belonging to me to, without a shudder! tho' there are some scores of them! And Dr. Quain is at such a distance; besides the delicacy about sending for him, when he absolutely refuses his fee! Clearly I ought to take no business in hand till I have made a choice: for illness may come and the want make itself felt when I am powerless to supply it.

In the meantime, I go on famously without doctoring, even of my own! The wonderful improvement on my sleep has continued, and the cessation of all pains in my arm and hand has continued. There is still stiffness enough; but that, too, wears off by degrees, and has already ceased to be much of an inconvenience.

I have just made myself a bonnet! black silk and [Page 339]  ermine and little feathers! Indeed I can put the hand to anything needed; only I can't raise it to the crown of my head. In the Winter weather I suppose it will make itself felt again, that "gout," or whatever it was; but there is a good old proverb, "afraid of the day one is never to see!" I don't do that much. ...

Lady Ashburton is still at Vevay; detained there by an accident which nearly cost her her life, and did cost her a dislocated shoulder. A carriage drawn by mules, in which she was crossing the Alps, got overturned on the brink of a precipice! She had to travel eight miles in agony, before it could be got set; and then it was ill set and had to be all done over again. She talks of wintering abroad, which will be a great loss to me.

Jessie is well, and continues to be an active and punctual servant. Mr. C. is immensely pleased with her; and has reason to be. I think she must have her Mother's preference for the male sex; for she never exhibits any ill-temper with Mr. C.; but is ready to fly at his word. Perhaps one reason why she is better for him than for the rest of us, is that he never pays the slightest regard to a servant's humours; remains sublimely unconscious of them, so long as he gets his bidding done! She has had the young man that neighboured her at Closeburn Manse to visit her; indeed is not at all so ill off for visitors as she led me to expect. With Mrs. Warren she seems to fight less than at first; but still they are by no means cordial. ...

Kindest love to the Doctor.

Your ever-affectionate

JANE CARLYLE.

[Page 340] 

LETTER 267

To Mrs. Braid, Green End, Edinburgh.

Chelsea, '27 Oct., 1865.'

My darling Betty -- ... I was much amused by your account of the visit from Anne and Grace. It was full late, I think! Grace wrote to me after having seen you, taking credit to herself for the "great effort!" and telling me particulars of very old date now, as if I had been kept in ignorance about you till it pleased them to give me your news. I replied that "I was obliged to them for their details, but that these had been all communicated to me at the time by Mr. Erskine of Linlathen, who had a great respect and regard for Betty, and had gone to see her and sympathise with her on the first opportunity." And that you yourself, under whatever difficulties of sorrow or weakness, never neglected me -- as they did!

They never alluded to the subject of Jackie Welsh's[1] money in that last Letter. A long time ago, Elizabeth wrote suggesting that I should write to John Ferme about it! I answered that "considering the smallness of the gain to each of us when divided, I didn't see it was worth showing oneself anxious and greedy about it!" Poor Jackie! she is a loss to me! Besides having a sincere regard for me, naturally, since I was the only one of her Father's name that recognised her existence, she used to keep me up with all the affairs of Haddington. And dull, gossipping, low-minded place as it has become (if indeed it ever was otherwise), I was always interested to hear [Page 341]  who had died, or been married, or been born in it! Now I am quite cut off from it; especially since the loss of poor General Veitch (Hamilton, the youngest and best Veitch), who was always, when not in India, flying between London and East Lothian like a weaver's shuttle!

I continue free of my neuralgia, tho' the wet weather we have had is very trying for that sort of illness. My arm and hand are still stiff; but I don't mind that when the pain is gone; and I can do mostly everything for myself that I need to do,-- and even some things that needn't be done by myself! For instance, I made myself a beautiful bonnet the other day!! ...

God bless you, dearest Betty. My kind remembrance to your Husband.

Ever affectionately yours,

JANE WELSH CARLYLE.



LETTER 268

To Mrs. Braid, Green End, Edinburgh.

Chelsea, 28 December, 1865.

My own dear Woman -- I have been looking forward to writing you a nice, long comfortable Letter for your Newyear's Day! How many of them have we seen together on this earth, you and I! glad Newyear's Days, and sad Newyear's Days! Oh, so very sad some that we have seen! But the wonder to me is, that for all the sufferings I have gone thro', of one sort and another, I am still in the upper light, with my heart unchanged in its old affections, - especially its affection for you, my "Haddington Betty!" [Page 342] 

But I was beginning to say that I would not put off my Letter to you until the post before Newyear's Day, in case the last day should find me unable to sit up. I am taking what my little Cousins used to call "a heavy cold!" I don't know when I caught it, nor how; it has been hanging about me, making me feel all "no-how" for days back. To-night my throat is sore and I am sick, and shall most likely be "worse before I am better." Don't be uneasy about me! Colds are not the formidable things for me that they used to be, when I couldn't cough a dozen times together without my dear Mother setting me down for far gone in consumption! The only inference to be drawn from my present discomfort is that nothing that can be done to-day should be put off till to-morrow.

One shouldn't, however, talk lightly of consumption in our family! Oh, is it not sad, the last surviving Welsh whom one looked to for continuing my Father's name and blood, is going the way of all my Uncle Robert's family! He returned from his last voyage, coughing, emaciated, -- with all the symptoms of the disease that carried off his four Sisters! He was in a lodging at Liverpool when my Aunts wrote to me about him. His Mother, "Mrs. Robert," is very deaf, and does not see well, and said, "If she went to him she would be no help!" ... Fancy yourself in her place! I think if you had been stone-deaf, and stone-blind, you wouldn't have kept away from George, had you known of him dangerously ill -- in a lodging -- at no greater distance than from Hull to Liverpool. ... I am very sorry about the poor young man, altho' I never saw him with my eyes. But I have heard of him from [Page 343]  John Welsh (George's Son), who died, and whose opinion was to be relied on, as being more like my Uncle Robert than any of the others, and a most upright and industrious treature, who was very little cared for by the rest, -- because he was less pretentious.

I had a visit lately from Agnes Veitch of Hawthorn Bank (Mrs. Thomas Graham). She is such a queer, little old, white-haired, fairy grown! but as fond of me as when we were playfellows at home! I felt ashamed of myself that I couldn't feel so glad over her as she seemed to be over me! I felt to have gone so far, far away from her, into spheres of thought and action so different from the narrow, monotonous sphere in which she had lived and turned grey! But I tried to not show that she rather wearied me! that at least I owed to her loving regards. By way of being very kind indeed, I took her home, to a part of the Town, after dark, in my Brougham, the day she dined here; and this act of amiability cost me no end of vexation. For, on my way home, a drunk or mad carter drove against my beautiful black mare and burst her harness and bruised her foot, so that she was in the hands of the Veterinary Surgeon for three weeks and couldn't be put to any use.

So Mr. Carlyle has settled to go to Edinburgh to deliver that "Address" expected of him, in the last week of March. If the weather happened to be remarkably mild, and if I happened to be remarkably well, I should like to go with him, - and possibly may. Tho' my Aunts have given me no invitation, I should be at no loss for good quarters and the warmest welcome! But of all the invitations [Page 344]  we have, we are likely, - and have indeed engaged, - to accept the one that came first - from the Marchioness of Lothian at Newbattle Abbey. They are nice people, and live very quietly, - the poor young Marquis being paralysed in his lower limbs. They are in London now consulting Doctors.

I had to stop in the last sheet, I was so sick. It is two days since then; and meanwhile my cold has reached its climax, and I expect to be in what poor Jackie Welsh used to call my "frail ordinar," before the New Year sets in. I beg to be your "First-foot" in the shape of a post-office order for a sovereign. Ah, my Dear, if I could but give you a kiss along with it!

Kind regards to your Husband.

Your own

JEANNIE WELSH.

FINIS


[Index]

FOOTNOTES



[Page 233]

[1] A bottle of medicine resembling blue paint, prescribed by Mr. Barnes.


[Page 236]

[1] Called "Old Jane." This was the servant Mrs. Carlyle engaged just before leaving for Alderley.


[Page 242]

[1] Battle of Bull Run.


[Page 245]

[1] The Story was probably "Denis Duval," by Thackeray.


[Page 246]

[1] "The dozen pipes" I dimly remember; but except that it seems 12 to 20 years ago, and is perhaps 12 or more, can give no date.

The whisky, I think, was in use for the skin; sometimes, more rarely, a spoonful of it in punch as a soporific. Her Mother, who had one of the tenderest and finest of skins, was sometimes obliged in bad frosty weather, to wash with mere whisky (a sponge and towel) for days and days. - T. C.



[Page 247]

[1] The Hon. Mary Baring, the late Marchioness of Northampton.


[Page 250]

[1] The train was an hour late.


[Page 256]

[1] Carlyle's Letters had been too brief, - that was all.


[Page 258]

[1] "Poodle" (Byng), in winding up a diatribe against the dinner at Lord Ashburton's the first time after the advent of the new Lady Ashburton, exclaimed to Carlyle, with a tragi-comical look, "Gad Sir, I believe it's a woman!" - meaning that the French chef of former times had been supplanted by a female cook!


[Page 259]

[1] John Jeffrey's phrase.


[Page 260]

[1] Thomas Aird (1802-1876) editor of the Dumfries Herald from 1835-63; a minor Poet of at least local celebrity. He made Carlyle's acquaintance at College, and was ever afterwards well liked by him.


[Page 261]

[1] The Hill.


[Page 262]

[1] See ante, p. 89n.


[Page 264]

[1] See Early Letters of J. W. Carlyle, p. 316.


[Page 265]

[1] It has been remarked by Physicians that Mrs. Carlyle was in the habit of "occasionally taking Morphia," a drug which is known to produce depression and suspicion in those addicted to its use. Readers of the present volumes will find abundant evidence to prove that she indulged not "occasionally," but very frequently, and sometimes excessively, in this dangerous practice; and that she continued to indulge in it in spite of warnings. On hearing of the result of the Morphia taken on the above occasion, Carlyle wrote to her (on the 5th of Sep.): "Glad I am that the subtle Morphine has done its function; be thankful to it, tho' beware also!" The caution was far from needless; but it was, like warnings from other sources, unheeded. She continued to the last to indulge in Morphia, and other drugs equally dangerous. For, at a later date, she confesses to having taken a dose of "thirty drops of Morphia"; and she adds, "I used to get good of an exceptional dose of this sort." (See post, p. 332). Elsewhere she boasts of having taken, by guess in the dark, medicine containing prussic acid; of having swallowed a gargle intended for external application; of having administered to herself henbane, chloroform, opium, etc. Her constant pottering with dangerous medicines and her amateur doctoring of herself year after year, had probably much more to do with the breakdown of her health than the "hard work" she is said to have done!


[Page 268]

[1] See ante, p. 263.


[Page 275]

[1] Of Lord Ashburton, ill there in a furnished house.


[Page 276]

[1] Offering to go and help to nurse Lord Ashburton.

[2] A dozen lines beginning at this point appear as "Letter 262" in Letters and Memorials, iii., 142.

[3] This is of course exaggerative language. It may be as well to say that, as a matter of fact, the servants at Cheyne Row were all very fond of Carlyle, and would have "gone thro' fire and water" to gain his approbation. He was uniformly kind and sympathetic, and never scolded them (unless at the instance of his Wife!) nor needed to scold; for, by a subtle influence, which may be called magnetic, he never failed to bring out a servant's best qualities, and they were all willing and proud to do their very best for him. Not one of them had ever any complaint to make against him, nor he of them, when Mrs. Carlyle was absent; and she was away from home, alone, sometimes for weeks or even months at a time. Some of the old servants have fortunately put on record their opinions of their Master: amongst these are Mrs. Warren, and Jessie Hiddlestone (now Mrs. Broadfoot of Thornhill). The latter says, "I could have lived with him all my days; and it always makes me angry when I read, as I sometimes do, that he was 'bad tempered,' and 'gey ill to get on with.' He was the very reverse, in my opinion. I never [Page 277]  would have left him when I did, had I not been going to be married." (See Mr. Reginald Blunt's interesting Article, "Mrs. Carlyle and her Housemaid," in the Cornhill for October, 1901). Mrs. Warren's testimony is similar. Carlyle's Niece, who lived with him for over thirteen years, often remarked on the kindly relation between Carlyle and the servants during her time. And my own experience and observation, which lasted three years, was to the same effect.

It cannot be said that Mrs. Carlyle was, on the whole, unkind to her servants, or lacking in interest in their welfare; but unfortunately, she too often failed, by reason of her inconstant temper, to win and hold their respect and confidence: at one time she overpraised and petted them; at another, probably the very next minute, she went to the opposite extreme of censure and rebuke. This want of steady treatment is generally ruinous to the very best of servants, and was probably the chief cause of Mrs. Carlyle's troubles in housekeeping. It is hardly possible to imagine an easier task than hers was: a small house to keep in order; no children to be cared for; a Husband whose requirements were few and whose way of living was plain and simple. Surely housekeeping under these conditions ought to have been easily reducible to a minimum of trouble! It is fair to state, however, that Mrs. Carlyle's "trouble with servants," has been, by herself and others, greatly exaggerated. She had one servant for twelve years, and another for six, during the thirty-two years she kept house in Chelsea.



[Page 288]

[1] The first, and longest part of the Letter is to another Aunt.


[Page 295]

[1] "In the habit," etc. A big fellow, in a pugnacious mood, coming up to Carlyle's Brother Alick, said: "Thou canna gar me trimle the day!" (You can't make me tremble today!) To whom Alick Carlyle replied: "I kenna what's to hinner thee frae trimling the day mair than ony ither day, if thou's i' the habit o' trimling!" Big fellow, who hadn't thought of it in that light, at once departs again trimling. - T. C. loq.


[Page 296]

[1] When Carlyle was there in the Spring of 1842, settling the affairs of Templand after Mrs. Welsh's death.


[Page 309]

[1] Mrs. Warren.


[Page 310]

[1] A photograph of herself (Miss Anne Welsh).


[Page 314]

[1] Mrs. Russell's servants.


[Page 315]

[1] Servant at Comley Bank and Craigenputtock for a time.


[Page 316]

[1] Fanny.


[Page 320]

[1] Mrs. Braid's son.


[Page 323]

[1] See Carlyle's Friedrich, Bk. X, chap. iv.


[Page 326]

[1] Mrs. Carlyle is writing with the left hand.


[Page 327]

[1] From this point on to the signature, the Letter has been dictated.


[Page 330]

[1] An expected "addition to the family."

[2] Jessie Hiddlestone, whom Mrs. Carlyle had engaged for her housemaid.


[Page 336]

[1] Miss Bromley.


[Page 340]

[1] See ante, p. 140n.

[Index]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom