August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 17 August 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420817-JWC-TC-01; CL 15: 24-27


Wednesday [17 August 1842]


There will be no news from me at Chelsea this day—it is to be hoped there will not be any great dismay in consequence. The fact is you must not expect a daily letter—it occasions more trouble in the house than I was at first aware of— Nobody goes from here regularly to the post office which is a good two miles off—only when there are letters to be sent, Mr & Mrs Buller take Ixworth1 in their evening drive and leave them at the post office themselves— Now twice over I have found on getting to Ixworth that but for my letters there would have been no occasion to go that road—which is an ugly one—while there are beautiful drives in other directions—besides that they like, as I observe, to go a different road every evening—from a polite desire I believe to show me the country to the best advantage— They write themselves hardly any letters—those that come are left by somebody who passes this way from Ixworth early in the morning— Yesterday after breakfast Mr Buller said we should go to Ampton in the evening—a beautiful deserted place belonging to Lord Calthorpe2—unless he added, raising his eyebrows, you have letters to take to Ixworth— Of course I said my writing was not so urgent that it could not be let alone for a day—and to Ampton we went— Where Reginald and I clambered over a high gate with spikes on the top of it—and enjoyed a stolen march thro gardens unsurpassed since the original Eden, and sat in a pavillion with the most Arabian-tale-looking prospect—“the kingdom of the Prince of the black Islands” it might have been!—and peeped in at the open windows of the old empty house—empty of people that is—for there seemed in it every thing mortal could desire for ease with dignity Such quantities of fine-bound books in glass bookcases and easy chairs &c &c! and this lovely place Lord Calthorpe has taken some disgust to—and has not set foot in for years and never he says means to set foot in it again! Suppose you write and ask him to give it to us! He is nearly mad with evangelical religion they say—strange that he does not see the sense of letting somebody have the good of what he cannot enjoy of Gods providence himself!— Look at this delicious and deserted place on the one side and the two thousand people3 standing all night before the provosts door on the other! “And yet you believe, says Mrs Buller that it is a good spirit who rules this world.”— You never heard such strange discourse as we go on with during the hour or so we are alone together before dinner!— How she contrives with such opinions or no-opinions to keep herself so serene and cheerful I am perplexed to conceive—is it the old story of the “cork going safe over the falls of Niagara where anything weightier would sink”?— I do not think her so light as she gives herself out for—at all event she is very clever and very good to me4

On our return from Ampton we found Mr Loft waiting to tea with us—the elder brother of the Aids-to-self-development-Lofts5—an affectionate intelligent looking man but “terribly off for a language”6—tho he has been in India and is up in years—he looks as frightened as a hare— There were also here yesterday, the Grandees of the district Mr and the Lady Agnes Byng7—one of the Pagets “whom we all know”—an advent which produced no inconsiderable emotion in our radical household!—for my part I made myself scarce—and thereby “missed” Reginald told me “such an immensity of petty talk—the Queen the Queen at every word with Lady Agnes”— There have been no other callers except a Lady Bunbury & niece,8—a jolly, good humoured, jerking woman Sister of the Colonel Napier9 who is “an excellent person”—her excellence I should say consisting chiefly in “soft soder”10— She invited me to “come over some day and dine with her” which I shall make a point of not doing—

How sorry I am to have missed Mr Dobie—but I hope to be still in time for him— What a modest old man! in paradise row a whole week without coming! My heart beat furiously at the news of his having been—as if he could have helped me anything— I have only read the first two pages of your Manuscript11 (you idler!) Mr Buller saw it in my hand and wished plainly to see what it was all about, so I left it with him while I wrote my letter— It will be very entertaining I have no doubt—but is it not a mere evading of your destiny to write tours just now!—with that unlaid and unlayable ghost of Cromwell beckoning you on!—

I wish I heard that Helen's leg was whole—if I had had the smallest notion it was to continue so long bad I would not have come away— I like very ill the notion of Babbie cinderellaing while I am playing the fine Lady here—poor little Babbie in her “flowered dressing gown”! Since you absolutely have not the pluck to kiss her for me give her at least my warmest regards and say I will write to her next time

Geraldine is out of the way of all the tumult the letter I had from her was to inform me she had gone to a watering place for her health12