JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 7 April 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410407-JWC-TC-01; CL 13: 82-85
JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE
[7 April 1841]
“Unresting One”!— How relieved I am in having first received your letter (12 o' clock)!— If my last look has haunted you, yours has haunted me as effectually, and I have been troubled about you “to a degree”!— If your Keeper proved unworthy of the confidence I had reposed in him!—if the railroad-journey instead of quietening your nerves, dadded [dashed] them still further abread [to pieces]!—what was to become of you? I did not like to think of it; and I could not think of anything else—I was in the worst case for the noble Lady, and for all that there awaited me. “The Cabman” gave me no trouble—the mother of the Gracchi1 received me in her choicest mood2—but I was very sick and very sad, and wanted above all things to see some dinner brought up—not that I might eat, but that I might get speedily away. Fancy then the dead chill that came over my soul and sense, on being shown a letter from Lady Monson,3 setting forth that she would “certainly conform to the early hour of half-after five for the pleasure offered her of dining with Mrs Carlyle.” Here I was in for it! a late dinner and a Lady Monson! I would have screamed at the very idea of it and run away—only that I thought of the noble Lady's reduced circumstances, and how inhuman it would be, when she had put herself to the cost and trouble of getting up the steam for me if I should let it all off in her face— So feeling it utterly impossible to talk, above all to talk nobly thro' all the intervening hours, I proposed going to make “a call in the neighbourhood”—and dawdled about the streets and shops till four oclock—on my return Frederich4 was there, a man become really worth listening to for once, as the second best Liar of the Age!—all the mewing humbuggery of his father, all the picturesque fictionizing of his Mother, joined with a sort of devilish cleverness peculiar to himself— Finally came Lady Monson and the Dinner both good in their way— Then old Basil returned from St Albans in such a condition of mawkish sensibility that I could hardly help strangling him—altho' he gave me a little book he had just written, on funerals, a companion to the one on laughter5—then lounged in, english-dandy-wise an Italian not of Giovane Italia [Young Italy] but belonging to the embassy, a certain Count de Revel6—an indication for people who judge summarily like Anthony Sterling,7 that if Giovane Italia be not good, Vecchia Italia [Old Italy] is a hundred times worse— With all this it was eleven oclock before I (strong as I am in saying no) could get myself away—and then I had to disburse three shillings for a cab; which I could not help reflecting mornfully, might, judiciously expended, have procured me a much more agreeable lark! I slept as usual and yesterday was very tired (being SICK otherwise) so I refused to go with old Mrs Sterling (the only person) who came) to call for Mrs Wedgwood)8 besides why should I have to foist her on all my acquaintances?
Today I am still silly but with my head more clear—so I issue orders for effecting a tolerable earthquake, without taking any active part in it— Here where I sit I feel myself a Goddess of Chaos for the time being—a gardener, a sweep, a white-washer, and Helen being all summoned to produce “hubbub wild and dire dismay”9 No letters have come besides the one I inclose, except a note to myself from Mrs Wedgwood—wanting me for a day—next week I may think about it—not now—today I was to have gone to Julia Smith but I sent a note of apology10— Moreover I have subscribed for a month to Falconers library!11
I wonder how on earth you will get on in that aristocratic house!— Do try to be quiet to take it asy—it all lies in that— I, in the midst of my, earthquake even, feel quiet now when I am not hearing and seeing and feeling thro your organs instead of my own more thickskinned ones! I wish the harmonious blacksmith12 or some such Titan would give you his skin, my poor dear! I would ask it from him with all the alacrity in life, if I had any chance of getting it.
Here has been The Thunderer13 “full of opinion”— He is going to Torquay on Monday— There is a review of you in the Morning Chronicle (Heraud's I suppose) “copied from something—a twadling thing, written by some of Fraser's devils”14— There is also a review of you in the Weekly Despatch15—that gives it to you finely I will try to get it—for it proves that you have not one idea in your head—
Do write instantly—I shall be quite uneasy till I know how you get on—how you sleep &c &c— I wrote to your Mother yesterday—
God bless you— I shall take the best care of myself—
Yours affectionately /