January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 20 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430720-JWC-TC-01; CL 16: 297-300


Thursday [20 July 1843]


I quite fretted last night at your having been cheated out of your letter—d'abord, I had a headach but that was not the reason. for it was not an evendown headach under which no woman can write. I could have written—better or worse, but I put off, thinking always I should get into “a freer and clearer state” (John's favorite phrase) before the post left— And, as the copy line says, “procrastination is the Root of all evil”1—from two till four I had visitors—and not of the free and easy sort who could be told to go away and return at a more convenient season—first Mrs Prior, Sterlings2 Sister—and her companion Miss Allan—the primmest3 pair! but meaning well, and making me a long first visit of ceremony in testimony of Mrs Prior's sense of my “goodness to her poor Brother.” By the way I really believe that I have been the instrument under Providence of saving old Sterlings life—I told you how Dr Ferguson4 seemed to me to be ruining him with recommendation to “a plentiful use of porter, wine, and other stimulants to restore the tone of his nervous system(!)” Then he recommended to him vapour baths!— I saw him after his first bath—all scarlet as a lobster and pale as milk by turns—and shivering and burning by turns— I had an uncomfortable feeling about him all the evening—was not sure whether I ought not to write to John5—he looked to me so much in danger of some sudden stroke— Two days after he came and told me he had been twice cupped!6 He had been so ill that he had himself proposed the thing to Ferguson who approved— Now this was quite enough to show what sort of Jackass thi[s] Ferguson must be—feeding a man up with porter and wine and cupping him at the same time— I told Sterling most seriously that he looked to me in a very critical state—and that if he did not go home and send at once for Old Morrah7 who was no quack and had never flattered his tastes, I would not answer for his living another week— He was furious at my suspicion of Ferguson—but on the way home thought better of it and did send for Morrah who immediately proceeded to scour him with the most potent medicines— Morrah called for me two days ago, and said that he did not believe he could have gone on another week under Fergusons system without a stroke of apoplexy—that his pulse was a hundred and thirty and his tongue quite black—now he is sleeping well—and much better everyway— After Mrs Prior came the Dundee Sterlings and the Sister who is going to India.8 I liked the big bald forehead and kind eyes of Stirling very much indeed—he looks a right good fellow— They are to return to Dundee in a few days— But the most unexpected, the most stroke-of thunder visitor I have had—was—Chutikins!!!9— I declare when Helen told me he was below I almost sprang the rattle10

I had not answered his letter11—had made up my mind not to answer it at all—a man puts one in quite a false position who demands explanation of ones coldness—coldness belongs to the great sphere of Silence—all speech about it can only make bad worse— Was he come there—because like Kitty Kirkpatrick he “had found it so easy”—to ask me for an answer?—was the small chimera gone out of his wits?— When I came down to him tho' outwardly quite calm even indifferent—I was in a serious trouble—he put me speedily at ease however by telling me that he had been sent for express to see his Aunt12 who had thought herself dying (and from whom he has expectations) she was now recovering and he hoped to be able to go back in a few days— I hope so too— I said that I had not answered his letter—because it seemed to me that was the best way of counteracting the indiscretion of his having written it—that “altho as a man much older than myself and a dignitary of the church he ought to be wiser than me, I could not help telling him that I had learned a thing or two which he seemed to be still in ignorance of—among the rest that warmth of affection could not be brought about by force of logic”— He said, “I was right and he did not design to bore me this time” and so we parted with polite mutual toleration— But you may figure the shock of having that little black Cutikins descend upon me out of the blue so suddenly when I was relying on seeing no more of him for three years!

Only think what human wickedness is capable of— Some devils broke into Pearson's work-shop the night before last and stole all the men's tools! the poor creatures are running about quite lost; their occupation gone.13—they have never any money laid by—so they cannot buy new tools!—till they make money—and they cannot make money till they get tools!—it is the cruelest of thefts a man's tools! Last night six or seven pounds worth of glass was cut out of a new-house—out of the windows that is to say—.

I have got a very good situation in Manchester for Juliet Mudie14— she is to go to it on Monday fortnight I will get her clothes myself and take her myself to the rail way—if one trusted her with the money she would have it all taken from her— This however will be one of them saved from the Devil if she like to be saved— She has now a free field to make herself GELTAN [worth something]—what more has any of us a right to look for—

Your letter is just come,—I thank you for never neglecting me— Yesterday looked such a blank day—no letters came—as if in sympathy with your silence— You must feel something of a self-constituted Impostor in your present location— I have a good many little things to do—and an engagement with Mrs Prior who is to come to take me a drive at two oclock— Oh if you could mend me some pens!— Bless you dearest— — Here is Juliet Mudie too about her outfitting Your own J C