July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 20 January 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480120-TC-JWC-01; CL 22: 223-225


Alverstoke, 20 jany, 1848—

My Dear, I am very glad, on all accounts, that you did not venture out today: it is decidedly the coldest day we have had; wind strong from the Northeast, frost and winter in every breath of it; the cold ride, and the fret and fuss of shifting into new arrangements (supposing them even superior, which they are not) would have quite ruined you! Besides I too have got a nasty cold, not like to leave me while here; I could have do[ne]1 nothing but shew you as in a mirror the image of your own unhappiness. Jack's short Note intimating that you had pos[t]poned2 the business “till Saturday” was a real comfort to me this morning.

As to Saturday,—Lady Harriet says she will write to you today; recommending, unless the weather alter, still farther postponement. For there are new Strangers coming on Saturday; “the Bear and Senior,”3 charming anticipations both! And so the house will be all in hurlyburly till Monday when they go again;—when perhaps the weather too may have improved. Something like that, it would seem, will be her Ladyship's advice to you.

My own notion, Dear, I confess is somewhat different. I have got, as you hear, an ugly cold, not much of a cough, but it settles daily deeper into the chest; and—and I can get no right sleep; that seems impossible here. They are willing to do for me whatsoever they can; will make mutton-broth, make &c &c: but, once for all, the laws of Nature cannot be gainsayed. Sleep, in the middle of ever-tramping flunkies, slamming doors, in paltry little French-beds, with so many new etceteras round one is and remains impossible. My tendency, therefore is, to try if I can get away on Saturday:4 if you had fairly given up the enterprise, I could certainly have managed it; and still, if it can be done without offence justly taken, I will try to manage it: at all events directly after you renounce I shall be able to insist. My advice, therefore, you see, goes against her Ladyship's: however, I do not deny that I might possibly get round somewhat,—one night of sleep would do it, at anytime:—and if your own feeling points in another direction, follow that, as I follow mine and we will wait the issue that way. Hitherto I have not had “a happy time” here; not by any manner of means. I have now a horse too, and have been twice riding, once by myself a long ride, and yesterday with Baring for company; I have the prettiest little room too, all decked with delicate traceries in light green colour; and everybody is kind enough to me in every way: but behold all this availeth me simply nothing, so long as &c &c

Charteris is pourtraying5 Mrs Taylor, they are all up over that in Lady H's room. Lady Anne6 is beautiful exceedingly,—employs herself in knitting wristikins; speaks out, in her clear bell-like voice, from time to time, some word of sincerity that falls strangely into the current of conversationalisms. Taylor is good and honest, looks very old, almost venerable (with a kind of weak affectionate smile that he wears); he is taciturn generally, and prosy when he speaks; for the rest, he reads Shakspeare to us in the evenings (much to his Wife's comfort, who is the naivest hero-worshipper I have even seen): he is the professed invalid of the party; but eats, as I observe, five meals aday, and professes to be rapidly improving. In Charteris is little or no offence; the frolicsome perfection of felicity, such as only healthy children know. Aubrey de Vere, who was invited extemporaneously, is not coming; he goes for Ireland on Saturday; and, what is much more notable, takes Alfred Tennyson with him. Alfred therefore is delivered! At least not by London dinners shall he at this time die.7

What you say of Miss Wynne is very interesting. May you continue to find more and more good in her: one's stock of available friends is not large in late times.— I write this in the Drawingroom; here has Taylor come down, proposing a walk; at all events, ending the composure I had. God bless thee, Dearest!

T. Carlyle