The Collected Letters, Volume 13


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 10 July 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410710-JWC-TC-01; CL 13: 178-179


[ca. 10 July 1841]

My dear Coelebs 1

That last letter, as you would infer was sent to the post office before the arrival of yours— I would have written a second, but Bishop Terrot came and staid till after post time2— To be sure I might have sent him away, had the case been pressing; but if you had not got an actual answer you had at least got a prophetic one, and so I resigned myself to doing the gracious.

I am glad you have conceived better thoughts of the cabin— The devil will be in it, or in us surely, if we cannot contrive to be comfortable [in] it for all the time—and then as you say we can go to Tynemouth or to Brittany even—to be sure we can—or to Kamtschatka even if we will!— So now the business is to get under way— No Dumfries newspaper has been sent to me last week—but I looked in the former one and found the sailing days were Monday and Thursday I suppose they are the same for all weeks— To profit by Thursday's we should need to be in Liverpool on Wednesday3—and I shall not be ready to start so soon—by hurrying I might get all done that is to do—but there are reasons besides what is to do—purely feminine reasons—connected less with doing than with suffering, which make it necessary for me to delay my travelling till the end of the week. On Friday I calculate on being in Liverpool and will write to you from thence when and where to meet me—

I wish I could bring myself to go by the steamboat also—it would be so much cheaper and so much less trouble for all parties—but for the present I shudder at the idea of it—it is such torture—and then arriving among ones friends nearly defunct—and needing two or three weeks to get refitted again!— On the whole I believe it is better not to—

Bishop Terrot with his little shovel-hat and little cockade in front of it is the greatest guy4 that ever appeared on this earth! He kept it (the hat) standing on this table the horrid little thing! till at last it gave me an accès nerveux [nervous fit], and I ordered him to carry it into the lobby—for I regarded the bringing of such an article into my parlour as a practical irony— He confessed it was “very ugly and ridiculous”— We had an immense deal of Edinr-logical disputation on “what was life”!—on what was the use of religion, what was the cause of marriage—what was the chief end of man—on all which great questions it seemed to me that I had the better of him at his own weapons (tho' in London one's logic is allowed to get rather rusty) and also that I—and not he—the Bishop, was on the orthodox side!— One thing he said which amused me— I was remarking that here one was allowed to be anything one liked except a fool, or a bore—to which he answered with naive earnestness—but that is surely more than overbalanced by the dreadful sense of individual insignificance, which London society impresses you with”— C'est selon [That depends], said I— for my part I do not suffer from that.

I shall bring you plenty of the literature of desperation—and all you mention—only I will not engage for the pipes not being all broken—no books are come from Cambridge—did you not expect some to be sent to my care—if so had you not better write to the firm at Cambridge what is to be done with them—

John dined here yesterday as usual—has patched up his affairs with Miss Scott— Eliza Miles and her husband5 walked in promiscuously at tea time—loving one another to such excess!—and only think Eliza tells me her Mother is married again! to “a very respectable old gentleman a clergyman near Fulham!—this is the age for old women getting used up! And now adieu from London— Be very well when I come—meanwhile—

Ever affectionately yours /

Jane Carlyle