The Collected Letters, Volume 10


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 30 August 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380830-JWC-TC-01; CL 10: 156-161


[30 August 1838]

Dear Husband of me

I was most thankful to hear an articulate cheep from you once more—for the little notchen did [“]neither ill nor gude.”1 But this is a clear and comprehensive view of the matter which may satisfy the female mind—for a time and deserves a most ample threepenny2 in return. I would have sat down instantly on receiving it and made a clean breast of all my thinkings and doings in the first fervour of enthusiasm which such a good letter naturally inspired—but the letter came at one—and at two the carriage was ordered to convey me to pass the day with Mrs Crawfurd;3 so it was plain that you could not get the “first rush o' i' tea”4 without being stinted in quantity. But this morning I have said it, that nothing short of an earthquake shall hinder me from filling this sheet.

First of all then dear Ill,5 I am and have been in perfectly good case—so far [as] the body is concerned— “Association of ideas6 was like to have played the devil with me at first. The first night after your departure I slept three hours—the second forty minutes and the third none at all. If I had a cow I should have bade it ‘consider.’7 having none, it was necessary to consider myself—so I applied to Dr Marshall8 for any sort of sleeping draught which had no opium in it, to break if possible this spell at the outset. He gave me something consisting of red lavender and other stimulants, which ‘took effect on me9—not that I swallowed it! I merely set it by my bed side—and the feeling of lying down under new circumstances—of having a resource in short, put me to sleep! One night indeed the imagination was not enough and I did take the thing into my inside, where it made “all cozy”10 and since then I have slept as well as usual nor did these bad nights do me any visible harm. Helen asks me every morning “if I have no headache yet”? and when I answer none, she declares it to be “quite mysterous”!11 In fact I believe Mrs Elliots cab is of very material service in keeping me well—and I hope you will become a Great Paid and that we shall some time have a bit clatch12 of our own. I have driven out most days since you went—from two till four quite regular—and I continue to sup on Cafe Madeira which seems to be as good for me as porridge after all. For the rest. My chief study is to keep myself tranquil and cheerful convinced that I can do nothing so useful either for myself or others: accordingly I read french novels or any thing that diverts me without compunction; and sew no more at curtains or anything else than I feel to be pleasant. For company I have had enough to satisfy all my social wants—often had more— Two tea-shines13 went off with eclat—the more so that the people came for the most part AT THEIR OWN PERIL. The first consisted of Mr & Mrs Crawfurd—George Rennie and his wife—Mrs Sterling—Il Conte—Darwin14 and Robert Barker15—(who was up from Northampton on leave of absence).— Do you shriek at the idea of all this? You need not— We all talked THRO OTHER 16 (except Barker who by preserving uninterrupted silence passed for some very wise man) and we were all happy in the consciousness of doing each our part to stave off ennui tho' it were by nothing better than nonsense. The next was a more rational piece of work, but more “insipid.”17 Mrs Rich, Mrs Scott and her two sisters18—the Marshalls—Mrs Sterling again and the always to be got Darwin.19 We talked about the condition of the poor &c &c ONE AT A TIME—and I am sure the Saints think that all this while my light has been hid under a bushel—that in fact THEY have discovered ‘me.’ They kissed me all one when they went away and would have me out to Plumstead tomorrow. Then I had Mr Craik20 one night, to whom I prated so cleverly about DOMESTIC SERVICE—and all that, that his eyes twinkled the purest admiration thro his spectacles and two days after he returned with the horrible Mrs Craik,21 to hear me again on the same topics.

But catch me flinging my pearls before swine! But O dear me Dearest how the paper is getting covered over with absolute nothings—and I have really somethings to tell— I have to tell you one very wonderful thing indeed which brought a sort of tears into my eyes. The first money from the F.R.22 is come to hand—in the shape of a bill of exchange for fifty pounds—enclosed in a short business letter from Emerson.23 He says “an exact account has been rendered to me which tho' its present balance in our favour is less than I expected yet as far as I understand it agrees well with all that has been promised: at least the balance in our favour when the edition is sold which the Booksellers assure me will undoubtedly be done within a year from the publication must be $760.00, and whatever more Heaven and the Subscriber may grant”— You are to know dear fifty pounds is exactly 242.22—the rate of exchange being 9 per cent. He says nothing more except that he will send a duplicate of the Bill by next packet—and that “the Miscellanies is published in two volumes a copy of which goes to you immediately—250 copies are already sold” so you see dear here is Fortune actually smiling on you over the seas with her Cap full of dollars. “Pray you dont you be bashful” but smile on her in return.

Another bit of good luck lies in the shape of a little hamper full of Madeira—the Calvert wine24—I have not unpacked it yet—but I guess it holds a dozen— I too am to have some wine given me— John Sterling has desired his wine merchant on receiving a certain bask[et] of Malmsey from Madeira for him to send some fraction of it to me. He himself John Sterling you will be surprised to hear is off this day for good. He spends a week in settling his family at Hastings and then proceeds to Italy!! such is the order of Sir James Clerk [sic]25and his own whim! He breakfasted with me this morning to take leave— Apparently in perfect health and almost too good Spirits I think—I told him that he seemed to me a man who had a diamond given him to keep which he was in danger of breaking all down into sparks that any body might have a breast-pin of it. He looked as Edward Irving used to do—I do not think that morally he is at all in a good way—too much of virtue “and all that” on the lips. Wae to him if he falls into the net of any beautiful Italian! People who are so dreadfully “devoted” to their wives, are so apt from mere habit to get devoted to other peoples wives as well!—

Except Emerson's there have been no letters for you and of three-pennies only one of apology from Wilson along with that Globe26—and one from your namesake27 wanting letters to “Germany with which he wants to acquaint himself”—or rather in the language of truth, where he is going as a missionary (so Dr Marshall tells me—)28 I answered it politely. I must not conclude without telling you a most surprising purpose I have in my head which if you have h[e]ard of O'Connels late visit to a La Trappean Monastery29 you will not be quite incredulous of: I am actually meditating to spend a week with—Miss Wilson at Ramsgate!!30—to do penance for all the nonsense I speak by dooming myself for one whole week to speak nothing but real sense and no mistake! She wrote me the most cordial invitation and not to me only but to Helen whom she knew I did not like to leave—for three weeks I was to come— I answered in a long letter which you would have liked amazingly if you had had the good luck to hear it, “that when I heard from John—if there was time before his arrival I would absolutely accept—” I have had another letter from her since gracious beyond expression—and am really meaning to lock up and go with Helen for a week if John does not come all the sooner—address to me always here however as Dr Marshall will send on my letters instante. They are touchingly kind to me these good Marshalls—got up a dinnerchen [little dinner]—&c &c every body is kind to me—only I have put the Stimabile31 in a great fuff—purposely—that I might not have him dangling here—the old ass—in your absence—then it is impossible for me to get a frank—but you will not grudge postage even for this worthless letter since it is mine— I have not heard a word from my mother nor written to her yet—so I know not where she is— I have forgot a Thousand things—Madame Marast has not been yet—is to come32—a friend from Paris has deprived her of the pleasure &c Cavaignac was here last Friday—Edgeworth33 has been; wanted me out to Windsor—the blockhead Hume34 came to tea one night! No Americans—no strangers—Darwin is going off to the Wedgewoods [sic] with Mrs Rich. Thank you for the particulars to Helen—yes try and see her Mother—she is very kind to me—get very very well; and come back so good! and—so pooty.

Say all that is kind and grateful from me to the good Ferguses and tell Elizabeth I will write her a long letter one of these days—to be also in no sorrow about Pepoli—he is merely lack-a-daisical— God bless you Dearest— Do not I beseech you soil your mind with a thought of postage but write again quick. Be sure you go to Minto.35

[no signature]


This autumn, after Lectures, Printing of Sartor &c, I steamered to Kirkcaldy; was in Scotland 5 or 6 weeks,—to Edinr twice or thrice; to ‘Minto’ manse (Dd Aitken's, now married to “Bess Stoddart,” heiress of Old Bradfute, and very rich); thence, after dull short sojourn, thro' Hawick, Langhold [sic] to Scotsbrig (Mother abst in Manchester);—to Chelsea agn early in Octr. Vivid at this hour are all these movets to me; but not worth noting,—only the Kirkcaldy Part, with the good Ferguses, and after 20 years of absence, was melodiously interestg to me, more or less. Ay de mi,—all gone now, all,—and She who was herself all!— [Insert these Notes,—carefully at their places]36

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