JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 17 July 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440717-JWC-TC-01; CL 18: 139-142
JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE
Maryland Street Wednesday [17 July 1844]
Dearest, most punctual Good! May your shadow never be less! One letter to console me on my arrival, another on getting out of bed this morning! I am more content with you than I choose to express—for fear of your getting vain upon it and giving yourself airs! Today's letter kept me laughing all the way thro—a signal triumph of Genius, as I had not slept till four in the morning! Noises?— No—nothing but my own “Interior” to blame for it!
My last letter was cut short by Mrs Paulet and Geraldine entering with a riding habit— You felt no misgivings over my concluding words?— In that case you have nothing of the Prophetical in you— Lend me all your ears and I will “hasten to the catastrophe”— Being equipped in the most approved Amazonian fashion I was led forth to my horse; the whole house even to “pup” (the youngest Child) turning out to see what they called “the procession”—and a dashing procession truly it was going to have been; The groom who was to follow me on one of the carriage-horses (besides the eldest boy on his poney) having turned out the whole pack of spotted Dalmation dogs to my honour and glory! and there were they all (five in number) barking, capering, leaping up and biting at the horse's neck after the manner of that species of dog! While I was still seeking in my consternation words of polite protest against this riotous cortége Mrs Paulet suggested that “the dogs had better be put up” very much to the disappointment of the groom, who made no haste to obey, till I peremptorily declared I would not ride a step with them. It was these very spotted dogs, if you remember, who tormented the carriage-horses into running off with us before1— Well! they were eventually got housed; their “owls” beating all “organs”2 hollow! And when the coast was clear of them I had time to look at my steed—the inspection was far from satisfactory—it was a beautiful animal with blood enough and to spare—but its manner of tossing its head and foaming at the mouth appeared to me “significative of much”!—and in spite of my dislike to be taken for a coward I again asked Mrs Paulet if she were perfectly sure that it was quiet. “Oh not a doubt of it! it was Julia Musprat's3 Horse—and she exercised it every day”—so I mounted with a modest trust in Providence—the saddle, an old one of Mrs Paulets, pleased me as little as the horse—it seemed made with a view to one's sliding off.—“Now my dear for god's sake do get to the catastrophe”!— Well! with the long-legged boy on his small poney by my side, and the groom on his carriage-horse behind I moved off, thinking in my own mind; “decidedly I will not go far—neither far nor fast”— So soon as we got within sight of the Musprat-house my steed “felt it his duty to intimate” to me that he liked that road the best; and a stout debate ensued between us, which after various circumvoluings and questionable conduct on his part, ended in his giving up that point and allowing himself to be guided towards the shore—not however without symptoms of that “subdued temper” which Darwin so justly detests. But no sooner did he feel the sand under his feet, than at one bound he set off like an incarnate Devil—and I found myself run-away-with beyond all controversy—not like Attila Schmelzle “at a walk”4—but at full racecourse gallop! Would he run on till I became dizzy and fell off and got my brains kicked out with his heels? or would he turn sharp up some back road to his own stable and dash me against some gate or stable-door?— I could not predict “the least in the world,” and I was extremely anxious to know—meanwhile I had the sense not to irritate him by any vain efforts at pulling up—and the luck to keep my seat—heaven knows how on such a saddle, and all out of practice as I was! Among the innumerable thoughts that passed thro' my head during this devils-race was the thought of your last advice “not to be getting into any adventure with wild horses at Seaforth,” and I could have cried if there had been convenience for crying—but there was none—and so I rushed along with dry eyes and closed mouth, until, as happened to you on a former occasion, the Demon of a brute was stopt by “an arm of the sea”!5— There was an adventure for your poor necessary evil! which could you have seen thro “a powerful telescope” the groom would not have been the only person that “trembled all over” When he overtook me he was as white as milk—and heartily approved my determination to risk myself no further— He proposed to put the sidesaddle on his mare, for whose good temper he said he “could answer with his life”— So I got upon the carriage horse next—rode on to the Bootle post office with the letter for you which I had all the while in my breast, and then came home at a decent butter-and-eggs trot rather gratified than otherwise to observe the loss of the grooms hat and other difficulties which even he had to struggle with on the back of Miss Julia Musprat's horse!— Decidedly, thought I “Miss Julia Musprat” must be a first rate horsewoman! Perhaps no better than myself after all, for the horse—was none of Miss Julia's! turned out to have been “Mr Richards6—sent as a credit to the Musprat-stables, instead of the one asked for,—tho it had once run away with a Miss Roberts7 before, and nearly finished her!!— Can you fancy people doing such things?— Poor Mrs Paulet was almost at the crying when she found how it had all been. However thanks God I was not even made stiff by the business only a little nervous—
Mrs Ames's musical soirée in the evening—in a small room—with every breath of air excluded did me far more mischief— Still I do not regret having gone to see how the[y]8 ack in the various places— Most of the company were Unitarians. the men with faces like a meataxe—the women most palpably without bustles—a more unloveable set of humanbeings I never looked on— However I had a long rather agreeable talk with James Martineau the only “Bae—ing I could love”9— of the whole nightmare-looking fraternity— HE is a man with “a subdued temper” or I am greatly mistaken but he is singularly in earnest—for a Unitarian—bold enough to utter any truth THAT HE HAS in season and out of season—and as affectionate-hearted as a woman—(I use the common form of expression without recognising the justice of it)
My Seaforth visit—in spite of cold and all the rest of it, has been a great success— I have sworn everlasting friendship with Mrs Paulet—we suit each other perfectly—neither of us have been rash in coming to this conclusion—and now that we have come to it—I feel confident that we shall be each others dearest friend as long as we both live.
My reception here was so cordial that it almost reconciled me to the difference of atmosphere—My Uncle not the least ecstatic among them— Still I desire to be home now—and shall go to Manchester God willing on Saturday10—(Geraldine waits at Seaforth for me) and back to my own Good in the beginning of the week—on Tuesday perhaps but I will not fix the day positively till I get there— I have promised to visit Mrs Darbyshire who is fallen deeply in love with me and I with her to a moderate extent She reminds me somewhat of poor Mrs Sterling only much more cultivated and less given to talk. But I must not write here all day Good— You sent me two most welcome letters old Betty11 and Mrs Russel— Mazzini wrote to me the other day that he had sent your letter in the Times to his Mother12 and that she had written him “a long letter full of the most fervid gratitude that ever woman tried to express”— Poor fellow he is much to be sympathized with just now
I shall perhaps have no time to write tomorrow Walter Mac is going to take me to THE RACES!!! Not on horseback in a carriage