August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 12 August 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420812-JWC-TC-01; CL 15: 8-11


Friday [12 August 1842]

Here I am then, Dearest, established at Troston Rectory—my clothes all in the drawers—one night over—and for the rest, the body and Soul of me “as well as can be expected”— The journey was less fatiguing than we had supposed, the coach got into Bury at three o'clock instead of five—and Mr Buller and the carriage revealed themselves immediately to my searching eyes—except my parasol left in the Fly, I committed no further stupidity— At 11 o'clock I eat a small biscuit and a bit of Jeannie's barley-sugar—and at 2 I eat the Ghent loaf1 or the greater part of it and a very good little loaf it proved to be—grey rye with currants in it— I had also, thro the politeness of the gentleman in the grey jacket a glass of water—slightly flavoured with onions— We did not sit in the coach on the rail way—they put us into a rail way carriage, only leaving the luggage in the coach— the country most part of the way reminded me of East Lothian—hereabouts it is richer and better wooded— the harvest was going on briskly—this to show you that I did not sit “with my eyes on the apron of the gig”— My reception here was most cordial— Mrs Buller met me with open arms (literally) and called me “dear dear Mrs Carlyle” which from a woman so little expansive was highly flattering— She looks dreadfully ill—as if she were only kept alive by the force of her own volition—and is more out of spirits than I ever saw her—no wonder! for little Theresa2 is gone away and they feel her loss as much as if she had been their real child— Theresa's Mother has fallen ill—of consumption the Drs say—and is ordered to the south of France as the only means of prolonging her life for a year or so— She wished to have her child go with her, and Mrs Buller could not resist her wishes under such circumstances— So the little thing was sent off to her, attended by a Governess—three days ago— The Mother is a most amiable and unfortunate woman Mrs Buller says—and she seems to have been on the most intimate terms with her— But Mrs Buller reads George Sand—like me—

This Rectory is a delightful place to be in, in warm weather—but in winter it must be the reverse of comfortable—all the room windows opening as doors into the garden—vines hanging over them &c &c— It is a sort of compromise between a country parsonage and an aristocratic cottage—and compromises never are found to answer, I think, in the long run— it stands in the midst of green filds and fine tall trees—with the church, (if such an old dilapitated building can be called a church) within a bow-shot of it—around the church is a little quiet looking church yard which, with the sun shining on it, does not look at all sad—a foot path about half a yard wide and over-grown with green, and strewn with fallen apples, cuts across the bit of green field between the Church and the Rectory—and being the only road to the church one may infer from it several things! I went into the church last night with Reginald3 while Mrs Buller was having her drive—and when I looked at him—and it and thought of the four hundred and fifty living souls who were to be saved thro such means— I could almost have burst into tears—any thing so like the burial-place of revealed religion you have never seen—nor a Rector more fit to read its Burial service!— The church bell rings night and morning, with a plaintive clang—I asked “was it for prayers?”—“no it was to warn the gleaners that it was their time to go out and to come in” “Monsieur cela vous fera [Sir that will give you] &c”4

Let no mortal hope to escape night-noises so long as he is above ground! Here, one might have thought that all things, except perhaps “the small birds rejoicing” would let one alone—and the fact is, that with one devilry after another I have had hardly any sleep, for all so dead-weary as I lay down— Just as I was dropping asleep between eleven and twelve the most infernal serenade commenced in comparison of which the shrieking of Mazzeppa5 is soothing melody— It was an ass or several asses braying as if the devil were in them just under my open window!— It ceased after a few minutes and I actually got to sleep when it commenced again and I sprang up with a confused notion that all the Edinr Watchmen were yelling round the house and so on all night!—an explosion of ass-brays every quarter of an hour!—then about four commenced ever so many cocks—challenging each other all over the parish—with a prodigious accompaniment of rooks cawing—ever and anon enlivened by the hooing and squealing of a child—which my reminiscences of East Lothian instructed me was some varmint of a creature hired to keep off the crows from the grain— Of course today I have a headach—and if succeeding nights are not quieter or if I do not [get] use to the noise my stay will not be very long— I am now writing in my own room (which is very pleasant to sit in)—taking time by the forelock; in case my head should get worse instead of better, and then, if you were cut out of your letter, you would be vaexed6— The post leaves Ixworth in the evening—but it is two miles to Ixworth—and the letters get there as they can Mrs Buller generally takes her afternoon drive in that direction—letters come in the morning—and this morning I found the french newspaper on the table for me—

I breakfast with Mr Buller and Reginald at nine—preferring that to having it brought to my own room as Mrs Buller recommended—

I will not write any more today but take care of my head—which needs it—so you must give my love to Jeannie and a kiss—and bid her do the best she can on that short commons—till I am rested— God bless you my dear husband— I hope you are rested and going to Lady Harriet—and I hope you will think of me a great deal—and be as good to me when I return as you were when I came away— I do not desire any more of you—

Your own / JC 7