July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 11 September 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470911-JWC-TC-01; CL 22: 58-60


5 Cheyne Row / Saturday [11 September 1847]

Here I am then, safe and sound! rather tired and as yellow as saffron with yesterday's journey; but that is all. I left Barnsley at one and got home at eleven, rather low when I stopt at my own door all alone, but Anne received me with a little outburst of affection as cheering as it was unexpected. What you will consider more to the purpose, she had every thing in the nicest possible order, seemed really to have exerted herself to the uttermost in divining and executing my wishes—a better cleaned house I never set my foot in, and even her own little person had bloomed out into new clothes for the occasion— All the carpets have been not only up, and most effectually cleaned, and nailed down again, as nobody but myself ever succeeded in nailing them before, but she has been at the unbargained for pains to DARN them, wherever they needed it. Nay she has actually learnt to stand on steps, and dusted every book on the shelves! Mrs Piper too has been at work like a very Brownie—Postie and she came at four oclock one morning and washed up all the blankets and counterpanes!1 and then the little post-woman herself fell upon the chair and table covers and having washed them quite beautifully nailed them all on again so that the whole house looks as bright as a new pin—Postie had also helped to beat the carpets, considering that Eaves2 was rather Slimming them; but he charged Anne to keep this and indeed all his doings a secret from me. To fall to work messing and painting inside, now that every thing is so well cleaned, and so late in the year, would I think be “very absurd”3— when the parlour is new papered and painted it should be done. properly—and proper painting, takes a prodigious time—but I will see somebody tomorrow to speak at least concerning the outside.

I have not seen John yet but he will come I suppose after his proofs are corrected— Nobody else knows of my return, and I shall keep it “a secret to please him”4 till I feel a need of company, which I fancy will not be for some week to come— Meanwhile I have plenty to employ me—in siding5 drawers and locked places which I left in the disgracefullest confusion, and in rehabilitating the clothes department which has been wonderfully reduced and dilapidated by these weeks of travel—to say nothing of plenty of letters lying on my conscience—

Did you find at Scotsbrig—a letter from Anthony Sterling announcing his Father's death?6 Anne says he (Anthony) called here last saturday to ask the address and she gave him the Rawdon one— The poor Old man had been quite insensible for a week before his death—and the week before that, he had insisted on having himself brought to this door, tho even then he was speechless! Anne said it was the sadest thing she ever saw—he waved to her to come to him and made signs as if he were leaving a message for me—pointed repeatedly to his lips and then to the house, and then shook his head with tears running down— How often I have made a jest of that old mans affection for me—and now it looks one of the most valuable affections I ever possessed for he clung to it till his last moment of consciousness— His nurse who came with him told Anne she knew I was not at home—but it was perfectly impossible to hinder his coming. Anthony, Anne says, seemed “dreadfully cut up” he “could hardly speak to her for the tears in his throat.”

Your letter was lying for me last night when I came in, and gave me somehow the feeling of a letter written out of Hades. I hope I shall get another soon—

I hardly supposed your Manchester worshipers and least of all Geraldine would let you off on the Tuesday. As to me, I could not well have got home on the Wednesday, even if much set on it, which I was not. On Tuesday Nodes and his Wife took me thro two immense factories, and a long drive besides in a phaeton—on the way home I was seized with one of my very worst fainting headachs and had to be carried from the carriage to bed—where I lay in what they took for a last agony till Midnight— Nothing could be kinder than Mrs Newton was, but kindness could do nothing till the time came— Next day I got up to breakfast—but too brashed [sick] to dream of going off to London—so I agreed to stay till Friday—they would fain have had it Monday but, I could not be so silly as change my day twice.

My visit to Long car was a highly successful one except for that headach which might have happened anywhere

—The children are beautiful loveable children, brought up, as children used to be in my time, and no trouble to anybody Mrs Newton herself grows more attractive for me the more I see of her—her quiet good sense and loving heartedness, and perfect naturalness are very refreshing to ones world-used soul— Even poor Nodes is a much more interesting man at the head of his Mill and his family—than when hanging loose on Society in London—but it is twenty minutes after four—

Ever yours /