The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 4 August 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500804-JWC-TC-01; CL 25: 135-137


Sunday night [4 August 1850]

“Oh dear me”! It looks already a month since you went away; counting by the number of things I have pulled to pieces, and the weary hours I have lain awake, and the lonely thoughts that have persecuted me. But to lie awake at nights, and to have lonely thoughts by night and by day is surely nothing new or strange for me, that I should think it worth recording at this date! and for the work, it will not be irksome but “a good joy”—such good joy as I am still susceptible of—when it gets into the stage of restoring to order— The house has in fact been rushing down towards chaos during the last year—a certain smoothing of the surface kept up and underneath dirt and confusion really too bad— But it is in the way of getting itself rehabilitated now, and I shall try in time coming to be a better housewife at least—that career being always open to talent.1 I remember when I was very ill of a sorethroat at Craigenputtoch, thinking that if I died all my drawers and every thing would be found in the most perfect order. and there was more satisfaction in the thought than you (a man) can possibly conceive—curious to think how all would have gone if I had died then!

But you will like better some news than “bottomless speculations of that sort.” Well till Thursday night I had no speech with any mortal—then, about eight o'clock walked in Mrs Lewis of all undesired people!2— My first feeling was that I was intruded upon by “an improper female”—but as the interview proceeded, her calm self-approving manner, and radiant face—radiant as with conscious virtue (!) really—quite subjugated me, and I began to fancy it must be “all right” for her tho looking so very shocking to me. She said Lewis was “perfectly happy” in his monstrous position—“showed more esteem and affection for her than when she lived with him as his wife”—and “made more of the Baby than of any of his own children”!! he “liked babies best and this one had come in the place of his youngest that died”! it is “very brown, with unmistakable Hunt eyes.”—Lewis came to take her home—in tearing spirits—He theatrically kissed the tips of my fingers when I shook hands with him and then kissed Mrs Lewis on the mouth! and said “Well darling!—how did you get here”? a more comfortable welldoing-like pair one would not wish to see!— on Friday night Count Reichenbach3 came, a shade less silent and woebegone;— Then Masson— I am going to take Count Reichenbach to Mrs Austins with me if she permit—will write tomorrow to propose the thing for Wednesday or Thursday—(to give myself a days recreation from my earthquaking—) I am sorry for the man—he looks so lost— Yesterday I dined with Miss Wynn at six, and came home in the Omnibus at ten—the footman escorting me to Picadilly— There was no one there to dinner but her sister Mrs Gaskell4 a goosey goodnatured wouldbe-and-cannotbe fine Lady— Sir Frederick Doyle5 came in for half an hour at tea time— I was very ill with my sickness and got nothing but weariness of the whole thing—

Today (being Sunday) I told Elizabeth to take herself off for the whole day if she chose, that I might have no proposals to “go out” during the week when I intend that she shall work— — Most likely no one would come I thought and if any one did, I would simply not open the door— I was standing with hands all over whitning, having just made a brilliant job of the curtain rods, when there came a rap and ring—no reply—I held Nero's nose that he might not bark—again a rap very loud—then a ring very loud—then, after a long pause, both together as loud as could be—decidedly the individual would get in— I kept quite still—surely it is over now I was just saying—when the knocking and ringing recommenced—and went on at intervals for I am sure ten minutes!— I could hardly help screaming it made me so nervous.— at last all was quiet and some quarter of an hour after the uproar, I went to look in the letter box if the horrid visitor had left a card—when I looked in I met—oh mercy—a pair of fox-eyes peering at me thro' the slit—I threw the door open in a rage— (My hands had been washed by this time) and a coarse featured red-haired squat woman exclaimed “she will com now—please, no to shut— Mees Stirling com”— “What is it”? I asked sharply—“Oh she sit in so small house at corner!—I run!—keep open!—no shoot!—”—and off she went and in three minutes brought back Miss Jane Stirling!6— I felt ready to strangle her in the first moment— — but she looked so pale and grave—like the widow of Chopin—and was so friendly, and unconscious, to all appearance, of my dislike to her—that I behaved quite amiably after all— She had asked at Chalmers7 door if we were all gone—and the man Servant said—you were gone that Elizabeth had told him you were to go first to Bath then to Scotland then to the Black Sea!! And at the stick-shop at the corner the woman assured her I “always came home at five to my dinner” (it was then half after four) so she had meant to await and sent her maid to keep watch!

A letter for you from Chorely8—not read by me for the world!—and an invitation from that bare necked hooing gawk Stewart Kerr— I might have sent word you were away—but he deserves to be left speculating, for his impudence—sitting in Sloan Street, and summoning—you: to him to be presented to his grand-Lady wife as he thinks her—a rum Lady that could marry the like of him!9

For me a note from Emily Baring—an invitation—very kind—but necessarily answered in the negative— It is too long and expensive a journey for a few days—and in my present complication I could not be absent longer than two or three days— Besides, Geraldine is still hanging in the wind—

Miss Wynn likes Jesuitism best of all the Pamphlets—so does Masson—“such an admirable summing up”—just what I said— Your Mothers copy was sent on Thursday


Took morphine last night and slept some—a letter this morning from Mrs Macready—two little sheets all crossed! inviting me to Lyme Regis10— Nero desires his respectful regards

Ever affectionately

Yours Jane