July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 5 October 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471005-JWC-TC-01; CL 22: 115-117


Tuesday [5 October 1847]

I meant to have written yesterday, Dear; but the intention went to paving a square inch of the Bad Place. At my last writing I had rather crowed before I was out of the wood; the pain in my head and face returned when I was in the act of sealing my letter, and this time did not go away at five oclock(!) but continued all day, and all night, to the exclusion of any wink of sleep, and all day again— On Sunday night John found me pretty well out of my wits— “What in the world will you do, do you think”? he said looking quite blank. “What do you think I should do”? I answered as blankly. “Did you ever take any—any—what-do-they-call-it?”—“Any prusic acid”? said I impatiently— “Yes--yes(!) that is to say muriatic acid”?— “No; shall I send for some”? “But perhaps it will take the skin off the inside of your mouth”? “Could not I take some Chrysolite then”? “Some what?”— “That essence of tar thing”— “Oh Kreosote! yes—that might do better”—and the Kreosote was got forthwith, and applied, and in a quarter of an hour I was well—and have had no more of it since. Yesterday it was very fine in the morning—the sun shining quite warmly—so I thought I would indulge in a ride to the top of Sloan Street and back again, and write after— But I was tired when I came in and lay down on the sofa to rest, and meanwhile Mazzini came—to take leave—he goes to Paris on Thursday and then for two or three days “into the valley of Madame Sand.” He calculates on being absent a month— “Nothing likely to take place in Italy during that time—their prospects less promising every day.” When he went away he said looking very kind and sad; “will you be stronger when I return and will you be—what shall I say—goodif you can?” There was still time after his departure to have written you a little note—but just when I had got the pen in my hand, Forsters Henry arrived—with a note from Forster expressing his ‘interest’ in the first half of Geraldines M.S. which he had read for himself and hopes to be able to hear the rest on Wednesday or Friday night, and endless apologies for not being able to come ‘at once’—and endless thanks for “the divine leveret” and partridges (Lady Ashburtons “game”) which I had desired to be forwarded to him in my absence— All which, sympathy with my Sister-woman required that I should transmit immediately to Geraldine who is doubtless sitting in panting expectation of his verdict— And so my pen scribbled off in the direction of Green Heys1 instead of Scotsbrig

A long letter from William Edward followed me to Addiscombe, marked Private, once outside and twice inside—and stopping in the midst besides, to beg that it might be burnt the moment I had finished it—as “nothing but the Magnet-power of sympathy I possessed could have so beguiled him into laying open the secrets of his heart”2 The little Quakeress is still keeping him “in a perfect agony of suspense”—and not only him, but another—perhaps several others— A worldly woman—not “one of us as a people” who acted so, would be called a heartless coquette—but a Quakeress it seems may do all this and only be said to “feel a stop”— Let us hope “a way may be opened” to poor W. E before long—for he looks not unlike getting into the case of Dr Fyffe,3 when I “felt a stop,” “sick of his existence and, hardly equal to Practice” He, W. E. sends his “reverential love” to you, supposing you now returned

When I told Anne you were likely to be home on Monday; she asked if she should go up and sleep in your bed for a few nights to take the damp out of it— I thanked her for her self-devotion but said we would air it more effectually with good fires— The fact is she wished at any risk to be up with Mrs Piper who before my return slept three nights in my bed to air it—“her husband said it would be such a thing if Mrs Carlyle caught cold just at the beginning of winter”!

So many little schemes of improvement about the house have got all choked under the extinguisher of this sickness—and even my spare bed is not rehabilitated yet— But “there's no use rebelling against Providence4 Ever yours J W