August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 3 August 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430803-JWC-TC-01; CL 17: 9-10


Thursday [3 August 1843]


If you go on board tonight this letter will reach you no sooner than if written tomorrow and addressed to Scotsbrig—but if you do not and tomorrow there be a second day for you without any news, why then you would be “vaixed”1 and on no account must you be vaixed if one can possibly help it. I cannot however make much of writing today—for it is thundering and raining in a quite soul—confusing manner—that in the first place, then in the second I have a headach—last night the stick-woman who is always shewing me small civilities brought me a present of asse's milk—(God knows where she had got hold of the ass to milk it!) and she bid Helen tell me that if I would please to drink it to my supper I should feel great benefit in the morning—I drank it more for the curiosity of the thing than for any superiority I could trace in it over cows milk—and awoke after two hours sleep with such a headach and such a de[te]station2 of Asse's milk! I was able to get up early to my breakfast but I am not recovered yet nor shall be till I have had a nights sleep—I did myself no good by cleaning the Lamp in the morning. It had ceased to act some time ago and was beginning to lie heavy on my conscience: besides that light is one of the things I do not like to economize in when I am alone—just the more alone I am the more light I need—as I told Darwin the night he drank tea with me, and when the lamp was brought in remarked that “it was surely far too much light for a single woman”!

Darwin by the way has gone out of sight latterly—it is a fortnight I am sure since he was here—he talked then of paying a visit to his Brother and then going down to the Mackintosh's!3

I am sitting in the up-stairs room now while the earth—quake is rumbling beneath—it and the thunder together are almost too much for me— They have washed the ceilings and Helen is now washing the paint and doing the impossible to clean the paper with bread—“Ah!” it takes such a quantity of labour (for a man quite inconceivable)to make what is dirty look one shade more near to clean

But here it is all quite clean and so pretty!— I feel like a little Queen sitting in it—as far as what Mazzini calls “The Material” is concerned—indeed I suppose no queen ever got half the comfort out of a nice room—queens being born to them as the sparks fly upwards4— There are still some finishing strokes to be given—the book shelves are to be put up and the window curtains—and a deal of needle work has to go to the last— But when all is done it will be such a pleasure to receive you and give you tea in your new library! when you have exhausted the world without—

Thanks for your constant little letters— When you come back I do not know how I shall learn to do without them—they have come to be as necessary as any other part of my “daily bread”—I long to hear of your Paulet-day and of the transports of Geraldine—but my dear I must stop—you see that my head is bad and that I am making it worse

Bless you /

Jane C

I am out of paper and reduced to the Butcher's book Love to my own Babbie I hope she has a fire I have one shamefully often