The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 18 September 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500918-JWC-TC-01; CL 25: 220-222


5 Cheyne Row / Wednesday [18 September 1850]

“If the buttons be here on Wednesday they will be in abundant time.”1 I should think they would! and—“dont you wish you may get them”? Why how on earth would I have them there on Wednesday; unless indeed I had, immediately last night after reading your letter and swallowing my tea, dashed off in an Omnibus to Regent Street, by dark, and then, having bought perhaps yellow buttons for drab ones, posted them before my return to Chelsea? One is capable of such acts of devotion to save “a man's life or even his watch”—but merely to expedite his buttons?—hardly!

I shall go now however when I have written a bit—for I am able to go out again without risk. The Town seemed to come momentarily alive yesterday, like a blue-bottle on an unseasonable winter's day. I was just finishing the nailing down of the Library carpet—(Still THAT to do, you think, after nearly two months of earth-quaking! Yes—and it could not have been got done sooner, under the circumstances, by the exemplary Martha Tidy herself!

“Ah that is the mystery
Of this wonderful history
And you wish that you could tell!”2

I have a fine misadventure about the Library also to reveal to you; but that and my other various misadventures shall form a “CHELSEAN Nights Entertainments”; when sufficiently remote to be laughed over— So, I decided some weeks ago when I saw the part your Ungrateful “Destinies” had taken against me. that it would be better to keep my squalid difficulties to myself till I could “take a bird's eye view”3 of them in the past tense, and work them up, at my ease, into a conversational “Work of Art.”— But I was going to say that just as I was a-finishing the above mentioned job I was surprised by the rare sound of a knock and ring, and a brisk little voice asking “is your mistress within”? Emma came up with much awe in her face, and said “it is the Bishop of something—I don't know what.” Actually Terrot again! He had been brought up, not at his own expense, to bear witness that he had married a couple who now want to be divorced, and deny having been properly married ever, “it was a love-runaway sort of match”!

After an hour and half he went his way and I returned to my carpet—in five minutes I was called down again to “two gentlemen and a Lady”—“Don't you know their names?” “No—but there is a coachman and a footman! and the Lady is very stout”— Bunsen. Madame Bunsen, and a young german Dr4— The Lady was formal as usual, but Bunsen was really charming He praised much the Pamphlets “already saw them doing much good” especially he delighted in—Jesuitism!! “Oh! his definition of Jesuitism is capital! so good—so good!”— By the by nobody that I have ever asked about it understands Bunsen recalled5— After these came my Cousin John6 to early tea—his second visit since he was settled at Kew three weeks ago—and latish Craik who improves in sententiousness and that universal forgiveness which springs from universal understanding A luck I didn't wait for his Maid—he now “thinks of keeping her three months” and she thinks of “a little shop after.”

If I dont be off I shall be belated—Nero bids me give his kind regards, and wishes you had seen him this morning when he came to breakfast, with hair on his face all died bright crimson! I thought he must have done it himself to improve his looks. till I recollected that he was sent down last night to have his face washed, he had been rubbing it dry I suppose, after his fashion on a piece of red cloth that lay lying under the table—but the effect was startling— Love to your Mother and all Your affectionate