The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 27 September 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500927-JWC-TC-01; CL 25: 233-236


The Grange / Friday [27 September 1850]

It is curious, Dear, how in the midst of the perfect idleness that is here, “something very particular” always occurs to prevent one's having time to write a deliberate letter— When I was leaving the drawingroom after breakfast, in the intention of writing all day in my own room Mrs Henry Taylor ran after me, and insisted on my going out with her and Lady W Russell; “for it looked like rain and there would be no walking later”— So I went, and by and by she slipt in to her children and I remained sitting alone with the elder Lady who is an immense talker, and whom I felt bound to use up in Lady A's absence who is gone today to Southampton to see Lord A off on the spanish adventure—and left Lady W Russell who only came yesterday to our attentions— There, on that bench, have we sat talking “all round my hat” till lunch-time; and now I am required to go driving with her in half an hour—and as I dont know what will be my fate when we return I think it best to write a few hasty lines before starting—

I performed my journey in perfect quietude and safety; Bölte brought a cab from The Hospital to take me to Waterloo, and went and saw all my luggage put in, in a much more calm useful manner than men do1— The Taylors (the three children are here too) met me at the door when I “descended from the carrozza [carriage]”2 and welcomed me with those little cares which one is used to in middle life— They are very nice for me, both of them. Lady Ashburton looks extremely well, and is in excellent spirits, only fidgetting a little about Lord A's thinness; which is the reason of her sending him to Spa[i]n3 that he “may be sea-sick and have a complete change of food”—“seasickness” being “excellent for all his family.” He declares himself perfectly well and would rather I think have been spared the seasickness; but he certainly does look rather lean, tho for the rest, clear and sprightly (for him) he is not to be home till the ninth of November— One would think he could not be be4 better anywhere than here—where there “are all things most pleasant in life”5—but without ‘change’ there seems no health possible any longer—and while the visitors find health here the hosts must seek it elsewhere— Lady A will be home to dinner and Miss Farrer comes today Many people are coming but I do not know exactly the whens Thackeray6— Mr Brookfield Col' Rawlinson— Mildmays Poodle &c7— I suppose it might be from Mrs Austin that you heard of the Russells. Lady William is what our old Helen described her stepmother—“a real sensible good woman just a most excellent worldly woman ye ken” She is Lord John's sister in law and her eldest son is prospective Duke of Bedford8— Her sons seem modest dutiful inoffensive young men—dear friends of Alfred M[izmar?] (Hartman's friend)9—and all that sort of people, and speak English rather imperfectly!— Lady William piques herself on being superior to aristocratic prejudices, and preferring Lions to “tiresome Counts and Princes.” We were looking thro the bookcases this morning together and she put her finger on a Vol' of the miscellanies and asked “what is that to you?”—“how do you mean?” “The name—what is that name to you?—“Oh! it is the name of my husband”— “Your Husband! good God Almighty! I fancied you his daughter in law or something— — how old is he then?—I have heard his name in Germany so long ago that I fancied him seventy or so.” We are to have the Frenchs at dinner today, yesterday we had the Thorntons, and the day before the Salmons10— I get along very peaceably— Lady A is quite kind to me, every body seems to like me rather than otherwise, I have slept better than usual both nights, have been almost free of my miserable sickness during the day, I make no “wits” unless they come natural to me, and am “altogether” much “quieter” than I was alone in the midst of botherations with bad servants in Cheyne Row— This is not the sort of thing in which I any longer “dad myself abreed” the least in the world!— I no longer wish to show myself off and what else should fret or flurry me in this ‘Celestial Bed’11 existence? By the way I am in the room that used to be yours, where the four posted bed is—

I hope you did not come away without taking leave of your Mother it is a bad dodge that! I shall never forgive Mazzini for having played it off on me, if a son had done so I would disown him— I dont know yet in my own mind the precise term of my stay— I should wish to stay as long as that sickness is “staved off” by the change of air and food—that will not be long I expect, I have always found that the benefit of removing into the Country lasted with me but for a week or so— even a weeks respite however is something to be thankful for— I must also consult Lady A's convenience about my going, now that she has been kind enough to fetch me here for my own convenience— Lord A being absent she will not like being left without some woman in the house when these men come—and if she have trusted to having me, I must stay thro them— To do her pleasure in such matters is the only return I can make her for her manifold civilities—the obligation of which should not be lessened for me because they are shown me in your account—

So if you wish to return South before my time—you had best just leave your superfluous luggage at Chelsea and come on here— It would certainly be much more natural, since you like being here, than fighting for your daily existence at Cheyne Row— That poor Emma being all made up of good intentions as yet— I also have an “intention” which must be carried into effect before the winter set in and I am disabled (possibly) from doing my own cooking &c— I will tell you how cleverly I have made things dove tail into one another when we meet

In the third page of this letter I was told that the carriage had come round and have since been a long beautiful drive, and have so “ingrushed” myself with Lady William that Lad[y] A (who is come back) has just been to my room to ask if “I, rather than Miss Farrer” will accompany her tomorrow to Winchester— as I “seemed to suit her particularly well”— Finding me writing she said “if you are telling Mr Carlyle when you are to be home mind you say on the 20th and if he wants you sooner, he can come here[”]12— I said I was not going to fix any stay just yet—

Miss Farrer is come and I must go and see her I suppose— If I had only Nero here!— Lady A would have made him welcome she says

Ever your affectionate /