candlestick

April-December 1844


The Collected Letters, Volume 18


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JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 7 July 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440707-JWC-TC-01; CL 18: 111-114


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE

Sunday [7 July 1844]—

Dearest

They are all gone to church save Babbie and I, who “in wera desperation” have mustered courage to resist such stupid Tyranny as attendance at church for forms sake would have been for us this day. Babbie prudently keeps her bed professing to be “all over aches” in consequence of our two pleasure excursions—for me a second sunday in bed would have been a little too strong—but I found my claim of immunity on a sore throat and make anybody welcome to look into my throat which is in truth very much inflamed. It has been the only disagreeable result of my two days passed in succession in the open air. Both Larks have come off beyond my most sanguine expectations— On Friday we sallied forth about twelve—we comprehending Helen Babbie Mary and myself—with Gambardella for our only protector—and followed by Gambardella's maid carrying a basket of provisions, and a small scotch terrier that kept us in perpetual excitement by biting our own and other peoples heels. Having crossed the water to New Brighton1 in a steamboat—a voyage in which even I could not manage to be sick—we were all set down on the beech to spend the day! and the prospect looked to me of the blackest!— But before I had time to sink under it, Gambardella with a sudden inspiration of Genius rushed off like a madman, and returned after a little while on the ugliest of created ponies followed by two lads leading five donkies to accommodate the whole party maid and all! and on these creatures we actually rode eight miles—along the shore—to a place called Leesowe2 and back again—sometimes galloping as if we had been on horseback; thanks to the lads who shouted and belaboured us from behind—and all the way in fits of laughter at the stupidity of the creatures and our own ridiculous appearance. At Leesowe we sent them to graze and spread our provisions in a sand-valley all covered over with wild Thyme and white roses—and Gambardella sung us Italian songs—and we eat sandwiches and drank a good deal of wine—and it was a good joy!3 Your health was proposed by G. and drank with enthusiasm—“success to his wo-k! Goodhumour to him and a speedy journey to Liverpool”!— Even you would have been conquered by the creatures efforts to amuse—and endless consideration for my comfort—just think of his taking off a beautiful lightcoloured coat and making it into a cushion for me to sit on—because the sand was damp— He is far best in the open air, being in fact a sort of savage. We all reached home in much better humour than we had left it—but the girls were dreadfully saddle-sick—for me, my old habits of riding I suppose had saved me—and I rose yesterday morning quite up to doing Chester— Our party there consisted of my Uncle, a Mr Liddle (the only man I ever saw in my life exactly ressembling a doll)4— I remarked so to my Uncle and he told me with a delighted chuckle that Mary had once a doll which HE used always to call Miss Liddle) Sophy Martin, Babbie Mary Maggie and myself— We crossed in a few minutes to monk Ferry5— and then got on the railway and then into an Omnubus which landed us at the Royal Hotel Chester—where I drank a FIRST full tumbler of porter—after returning from Eaton Hall (the Marquis of Westminsters Show place6) I had tumbler the second—two full glasses of champaigne and a glass of maidera!!—and I was not tipsey “the least in the world”!— Eaton Hall is a magnificent place—something betwixt Windsor and Drumlanrig7—but what's the oose on't?8—all shut up!— I was rather glad we happened to go on one of the two days of the week on which the house is not shown—all fine houses are so much alike—so fatiguing to inspect—and we had the more time to spend in the gardens and grounds— My Uncle enjoyed it immensely—and so did I myself—and yet I could hardly keep from crying all the while—my being there alone with my uncle felt so strange—and then there is always such a confusion in his mind betwixt her9 and me, when he speaks to me of old times:— He will ask me if I remember such a one, and such a thing—alluding to people and things that he and she used to talk of together—and if, as I seldom do, I answer anything that reminds him I am not her, he will say with a little cough and almost impatiently “Well—but you have heard of it”—

You cannot imagine how this sort of thing goes to ones heart— But I should tell you that the gate keeper at Eaton Hall refused to allow our carriage to pass— —“quite against his orders on Saturday”—until Mr Liddle privately handed him five shillings—when he said—“but I suppose since you are come on purpose I must make an exception”— — Is not the like of that beastly at the gate of “the richest man in all England”?10

After a handsome dinner and all that drink I mentioned—which my uncle seemed to have as much pleasure in providing for us as if he durst have participated in it himself—we walked all round the walls of the twown11 and inspected the Cathedral and a queer old concern of a place that Chester is— Did I ever see a walled town before? not that I remember of—

We came home as we went and were here about ten—to tea—and if it were not for this stupid sore throat I should not be a bit wearied—

What a great stroke that was your calling for the Macreadys I am reall glad you thought of it for they are good kind people and very fond of you— —if you will tell me precisely what you want to know about Preston I will—bear it in mind—

I do not know Mr Paulets name12 but his “name by nature” is enough or you can address to the care of the Lady— I adhere to my purpose of going tomorrow— She is to send the carriage for me Here is Helen returned from Church and wanting me to Mrs Martin

bless you always yours /

J C