August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 20 August 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420820-JWC-TC-01; CL 15: 33-36


Saturday [20 August 1842]

Oh dear me! how deceitful are appearances! Who would not say, to look at this place, that it was one of the likeliest places “here down” (qùi giu) on which to be “poured out of a jug”?1—and the fact is, that sleep is just the one thing that is not to be had in sufficiency for love or money!— Every night brings forth some new variety of assassin to murder sleep!2 The animals here seem to be continually finding themselves “in a new position”!3—and the protests and appeals to posterity4 that ensue, in shape of braying, lowing, crowing, cackling, barking, howling &c are something the like of which I have not fo[u]nd in Israel!5— Last night it was hardly possible for me to close my eyes a minute together with the passionate wailing of what seemed to be a most illused dog—not only (I fancied) excluded from its proper home but also robbed of its young—another or two other such nights will send me home “with my finger in my mouth to two people both alike gleg”!6 for I feel that no country air, or country diet—or country drives—or country anything can make up for such deprivation of my natural rest— It was horrible really!—an everlasting wail as of “Infants in the porch”7 mixed up with howls of fury and denunciation! from eleven at night till six in the morning, when I trust in heaven the poor brute fell down dead—no whisper of it has since reached my ear—but

“Once give the fish a frying
What helps it that the waters run?”8

All is quiet enough now externally, but my heart is jumping about in me like Mrs Gow's frog9 after the first drop of tea!— In the few moments I slept I dreamt that my Mother came to me, and said that she knew of “a beautiful place where it was so quiet!”—and she and I would go there by ourselves for some weeks—but somehow we got into different railway-trains and when I could not find her any more I screamed out—and awoke,10 and the dog was giving a long howl.

It is cooler today— Yesterday morning I laid aside my drawers which act as usual immediately brought a change of weather— I wish that it had occurred to me to do it sooner— We were to have gone last night to take tea with Lady Bunbury—but the sky looking thundery that project was changed into making a call on the Lady Agnes11—and that again in consequence of the rain beginning to fall—ended in merely driving to Ixworth & back again—where I had not calculated on going and so had not prepared any letter— How stupid not to have some boy or old woman to go regularly to the post office!— And now you will not hear of me till Monday—for tomorrow, I bethink me there is no post.

Little as you may think of your “Tour” yourself, I can assure you it is greatly admired with us; and Mrs Buller declares that you ought to publish it if it were only in the view of “putting down pianos”12— She had got it from Mr Buller before I went down—and read it half thro—but finding the hand “most provokingly illegible” she made me read the rest aloud to her!

They are very anxious you would come “and bring Miss Jeannie along with you”— “Regy would be delighted to have a young Lady”— More delighted I imagine than the young Lady would be to have Regy!—altho he does improve on acquaintance—laziness and what his Mother calls “muddling habits” are the worst things one can charge him with—one of the people who with the best intentions are always unfortunate—but he is very sweet tempered, and kindly, deserves really the only epithet that remained for him seeing there was already “the clever Buller” and “the handsome Buller”—viz: “the good Buller.” If he were not so completely the victim of snuff I should think that an attractive Babbie might be very beneficial to him!—but I would as soon undertake the reformation of a drunkard as of anybody that snuffs as he does—

If it were not for the sleeping part of the business I would back Mrs Bullers exhortations to you to come with my own—but when one of us prospers so badly in that matter I see not what would become of two!

Write a line to Mrs Buller herself anyhow—that she may not think her kind invitations quite overlooked.

I shall return I think the week after next—if this dog goes on—sooner— They do not seem to be at all wearying of me—but it were too long, if I waited to see symptoms of that— So far, I am confident I have not been in their way, but quite the reverse—the chess is a great resource for Mr Buller in the first lonliness13 occasioned by the loss of little Theresa—and Mrs Buller seems to get some good of talking with me as for Reginald now that he has conquered—or rather that I have conquered his first terror—he does not seem to have anything to object to me very particularly.

Sunday for Babbie

I left off yesterday to try if I could walk off the nervousness produced by my want of sleep—falling in with the groom I took the opportunity of questioning him about the dog—“whose could it be?” “perhaps one of farmer Waitman's—he keep four grey-hounds”—“no it was not so far off[”]14—perhaps it was old Mrs Richardson's she keep a big dog, and four little uns beside the one as died last week”—“No this dog was close at hand and suffering under violent15

I have your Saturdays letter— I do wonder what your writing is or will be— Bless you dearest and pray begin to weary for me a little16