August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 6 September 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430906-JWC-TC-01; CL 17: 113-116


Wednesday [6 September 1843]


I could almost have cried last night when the letter I had sent off on Thursday came back to me from Scotsbrig—tho' I knew after receiving yours from Dumfries that it would not reach you there; I made sure of their sending it on to Edinr and that so there would be something for you at the post office But for this fond illusion I should not have let a slight headach combined with a great washing of blankets have hindered me from doing your bidding in that small matter—when you are so unfailing in writing to me—and such kind good letters—it were a shame indeed if I willfully disappointed you— You will not have been anxious anyhow I hope, for that would be a worse effect of my silence than to have made you angry with me— All is going on here as well as could be expected not so comfortably indeed as when I was alone—but I shall “be good” you may depend upon it “till you come”—John arrived in due course1—in a sort of sublimely self-complacent state—enlarging much on his general usefulness wherever he had been!— Since then I have had his company at all meals—and he reads in the same room with me in the evenings—a great many books simultaneously—which he rummages out one after another from all the different places where I had arranged them in the highest order— The rest of his time is spent as you can figure going out and in—up and down backwards and forwards—smoking and playing with the cat in the garden—writing notes in his own room—and your room alternately and pottering about Brompton looking at Robertson lodgings and Gambardellas lodgings over and over again—with how much of a practical view no mortal can tell—for just when I thought he was deciding for Gambardellas he came in and told me that he thought he would have an offer from Lady Clares Brother to go to Italy!2—and expressed astonishment on my saying that I had understood he did not want to go back to Italy— “Why not?—he could not afford to set up as Dr here and keep up a large house that would be suitable for the purpose”——— That is always a subject of discussion which brings the image of my own noble Father before me making a contrast under which I cannot argue without losing all temper3 so I quitted it as fast as possible, and he has not told me any thing more of his views I should really be sorry for him weltering “like a fly amongst treacle” as he is; if it were not for his self-conceit which seems to be always saying to one “damn you be wae for yoursel”!4

I sent away a letter from Alick to him on the Wednesday before knowing that he was to be here next day and it was only returned from Scotsbrig last night! it speaks of a letter sent to your Mother containing all particulars—and this by a few line from your Mother on the envelope had not come to hand—in John's there is little but first views of the yankees and accounts of the disgraceful exploits of Rob Hanning5— who appeared to have been on the point of making a new marriage— Surely our marriage laws should be so far revised at least as to allow of a poor woman entirely freeing herself from a scoundrel like that who is no husband to her—it is very hard for poor Jenny to have to live single and sorrowful all her days while her husband is seeking new marriages—Alick did not seem to have been to Canadagua—his letter is dated Alton6—he did not like the poor look of the farming thereabouts and was going on to Canada by Canandagua immediately.— For the rest; all was well with them—his letter very composed and practical-like—

I have nothing to tell you of the news sort—and of the inner-woman sort—I feel as if I had now only to await your coming in silence—

The note from Cole came this morning Nickison's was returned from Scotsbrig along with my letter last night7— Do not forget that we have a cousin in fife!8 the thing being a novelty might easily slip your memory—and if you go back to Edinr do try to see poor Betty who would be made happy for a year by the sight of any of us—her address is 15 East Adam Street9— My Aunts address in case you should have any leisure for them is 30 Clarence Street10— And Sam Aitken?11

I do not see how you are to get home by Saturdays steamer after all— If you go to Dundeed you might spend a day very pleasantly with those good Sterlings besides there being St Thomas12 to see— Do not hurry yourself an hour on my account—all will go well till you come. Remember me kindly to everybody that cares for me—if you have time look in on Helen's Sister—and say that I have been very well satisfied with her this long while13

Poor Macready called to take leave of me and to leave with me “his grateful regards” for you—his little wife who accompanied him looked the very picture of woe—I could not help thinking if he met the the fate of Power14—and when I bade him farewell I turned quite sick myself—in sympathy with the little woman.

Garnier was back last night—uncommonly sane—with a very bad coat but clean—had been working very hard and drinking I should say not at all

God bless you dear—thank you a thousand times for all that you told me in your last two letters—they were very sad but very precious to me—your affectionate / Jane C.

[TC's Notes]

From the Dunbar expeditn I seem to have gone agn to Scotsbrig for a few final days;15 thence homewards, round by Edinr, by Kirkcaldy, and at length by Linlathen,—for the sake of a Dundee Steamer, in whh I still remember to have come hence. Vivid enough still that day of my embarkatn at Dundee; betw Dunbar and that, almost nothing of distinct. “The good Stirlings” were Susan Hunter of St Andrews and her Husband a worthy Engineer, now residt at Dundee,—pleast house on the sea-shore, where I must have called, but found them out. The good Susan (I remember hearing aftds) had, from her windows, with a prospect-glass, singled me out on the chaotic deck of the Steamer abt to leave; and kept me steadily in view for abt an hour, in spite of the crowd & confusions, till we actually steamed away whh seemed curious! An hour or two before, in driving thither from Linlathen, I distinctly recognised, on the Pathway, John Jeffrey (“Frank” or Ld Jeffrey's brr)—quiet amiable man, with his face (whh was towards me, but intent on the constitutional walk only) grown strangely red since I had seen him.16 The Guest of these Stirlings, I cd well guess, and indeed not far from their house. He died soon after; my last sight of him this.