August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 9 September 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420909-JWC-JW-01; CL 15: 79-81


Friday [9 September 1842]

Now; was it not provoking when I had done my part towards preserving you from disappointment,—either “a huge mass” of it or a small one,—that my letter1 should not have got itself posted?— The day turned so wet that driving was just out of the question—and as I have already told you we are our own messengers to the post office Even Charles was told in my hearing, that “unless his letters were of vital importance it was impossible to send them”—and mine to babbie had of course no pretensions to “vital importance” in comparison with the great Stateman's to Lady Harriet &—&c!—

According to programme I did not go down yesterday till I was summoned to dinner where I met Charles with a certain armed neutrality— He should see that I, at least, was too wise a woman to be Charlesed! that his society-graces and society-talents should not come over ME! One would say he had divined my humour and prepared himself to wheedle me out of it— I never saw him so agreeable not to say amiable— Still by a sublime effort of grumpiness I withstood all his attempts to win from me a cordial smile! Till at last the fated moment came—we were all standing at the hall-door looking out into a dripping world; when suddenly, as if struck with an inspiration from Heaven, he exclaimed “I will shoot a—holy-hock!” wait Mrs Carlyle till I fetch my gun! I must shoot a holy-hock!” the gun was fetched—he took his aim with the most sportsman-like intenseness, and a tall holy-hock dropt its head upon its breast! Then flinging down the gun he pulled a large knife from his pocket, ran up to the shot plant—severed the broken part from the stem, and carrying it dripping wet between his finger and thumb presented me with his curious game! Mr Pestrucci himself “in the character of Heraclytus2 must have laughed at the ridiculous scene—and laughing—that is to say honestly laughing with anyone—is for me what taking salt with anyone is among the savages—all ideas of hostility were dismissed from my mind—and to the disgrace of my originality I am today disposed to subscribe to the general opinion that Charles Buller is “the most agreeable person alive”

Carlyle came in the evening drenched with rain but otherwise in good condition—had seen enough to fill three octavo volumes—accomplished all he intended and a vast deal more—and lived that day on a quart of greengages!

He still stands by Monday in spite of Regy's entreaties for “another fortnight”—whether he will hold out against Mrs Buller's gracious mockeries remains to be seen— I hope the great dinner at Lady H Bunbury's tomorrow will clench his resolution— At all events you will get a letter on Monday some hours before you need to be looking for us which will put you out of pain either way— A bit of good bacon in the house is all the direction I have to give; in case of our wanting “a rough tea”—bless you dear— I am annoyed today in the prospect of that great dinner tomorrow—it came into my head the middle of the night and actually kept me from sleeping— I have tried to plead off—but Mr Buller said “for Godsake Mrs Carlyle dont when the thing is all arranged be making objections that have no sort of sense in them”!

Yours Ever /