August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 13 August 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460813-JWC-TC-01; CL 21:13-14.


30 Carlton Terrace, Green Heys, near Manchester, / Thursday, [13 August, 1846.]

In the first day or two after your departure I could not write any Letter that you would not have found worse than none,—and—so you got none! … The only thing like a purpose that would stay an instant in my mind, was at all rates to get out of Seaforth as soon as possible. That great echoing, disorganised place had got to look to me a perfect madhouse; and Betsy, with her fixed idea of my “liver-complaint,” and incessant tactless remarks on my “wild looks” reminding her now of “Nodes after he had taken poison,” now of “Marianne before her brain fever,”1 now of “old Nannie in her last illness,”2—of the Devil and his Grandmother,—had become more like a tormenting demon for me than the kind friend I had been used to think her. I tried hard to get away on the Saturday; but she would not hear of it … On Monday, however, I got away with decency, to Manchester for the moment, with little hope of getting more good there than I had got in the other place; but with that sort of blind, instinctive seeking for relief which makes sick people turn off one side upon the other. The journey freshened me up a little. Geraldine received me at the Garden-gate with a quiet kindness that boded well; and every hour that I have been here, I have thanked God that I came just when I did. The stillness, the good order, the modest elegance of this bright little half-town half-country house feels like a sort of cradle into which my good angel has laid me for a little while to lie still and make-believe to sleep.

… But I must not stay long; for this house is not Geraldine's, but her Brother's;3 who tho' also most kind to me,—carrying his consideration the length of proposing “to hire in a Piano for me, if it would amuse me to play a little,”—might nevertheless get bored if his privacy were too long invaded by his Sister's friend. So I have determined in my own mind to go to Maryland Street on Monday, where I shall not be so cradled and rocked,—far from it; but where I cannot avoid going without giving pain. What after? Many a scheme has been in my poor head, one after another cast out as distracted; and the feasiblest thing I see for the present is to go home to Chelsea. Scotland looks to me more difficult and more useless, the longer I think of it … Neither with you nor without you could I front all that, without the painfullest emotions; and emotions are certainly what I should not go out of my way to seek! just now,—at least not sad ones.

I might take my Cousin Helen back with me for a while as a social restraint in a small way, and to leave you more at liberty from the fret and responsibility of me. I should spend less money, too, living at home than streaming about in this fashion. The ruling virtue strong in death; my ideas of economy will, I suppose, be the last sane ones to leave me!

Give my kind love to your Mother and the rest there.

I do not know where to address you; but they will either forward my Letter, or it will be lying for you on your return to Scotsbrig.

Ever yours,

J. W. C.