The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 3 October 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501003-JWC-TC-01; CL 25: 246-248


Thursday [3 October 1850]

I have put a lucifer to my bedroom fire, Dear, and sat down to write but I feel more disposed to lay my head on the table and cry. By this time I suppose you are at home—returned after a two months absence—arrived off a long journey—and I not there, nobody there but a stranger servant, who will need to be told everything you want of her, and a mercy if she can do it even then! The comfort which offers itself under this last innovation in our life together (for it is the first time in all the twenty years I have lived beside you that you ever arrived at home and I away) is the greatest part of the grievance for my irrational mind—I am not consoled but ‘aggravated’ by reflecting, that in point of fact you will prefer finding “perfect solitude” in your own house, and that if I were to do as nature prompts me to do, start off home by the next train, I should take more from your comfort on one side than I should add to it on another: Besides being considered here as beyond measure ridiculous. Certainly this is the best school that the like of me was ever put to for getting cured of every particle of “the finer sensibilities”1

Mrs Henry Taylor was in London yesterday at “Virginia Pattle's” marriage2 and saw my maid, on business of her own, and brought back word from her that you were coming last night—and the shouts of laughter, and cutting “wits” with which my startled look and exclamation “Oh gracious”! were visited when the news was told me as we sat down to dinner were enough to terrify me from “showing feeling” for twelvemonths to come— Mrs Henry Taylor shan't snub me however—I am quite as clever as her any day of the year and am bound to her by no ties human or divine—and so I showed her so plainly that I was displeased with her impertinent jesting at my expence that she made me an apology in the course of the evening.

And now what is to be done next? You say, stay where I am as if you were not—easily said but not at all easily done— It is quite out of the question my remaining here till the 20th—the day Lady A has appointed for the term of my visit—doing nothing—and thinking of you at home with that inexperienced girl!— Who cares one doit for me here, that I should stay here; when you who still care a little for me—more anyhow than any other person living does—are again at home? and what good can “ornament and grandeur”3 and “wits” and “the honour of the thing” do to my health when “my heart's in the Highland's my heart is not here”!4—Oh dear certainly not— I shall keep to my original programme and come home after a fortnight, that will be next Wednesday when you will have had plenty of time to subside from your jumbling, and will have exhausted all Emmas powers of cooking—unless you are savage enough to wish not to see my face till the 20th and honest enough to tell me so—or unless you prefer to accept the invitation which Lady A is again writing to you to come here after you are rested— You would be bored here just at present, with Henry Taylors solemn fatherhood, and the much talk and bother about the children— But the Taylors depart sucking baby and all, on the eighth—and after that I hear of no one coming but Thackeray and Brookfield, and Lady Montague,5 George Bunsen and Colonel Rawlinson are coming but only for a day or two— Do Dear “consult your authentic wish” whether you will join me here or have me back there—which ever way of it you like best I shall like best—upon my honour— The only very good reason for my staying till the 20th, viz: to be “another woman in the house” as Lady A said, while men visitors are here in Lord A's absence is done away with by the fact of Lady Montagues coming and Miss Farrers being to stay till the 19th— by going next Wednesday I shall not put Lady A about then the least in the world—at the same time—you might be better here perhaps till the 20th than in London—as Lady A says you should have this bedroom which is quiet enough—at least will be—when the Taylor children have ceased to “run horses” over head, and shall have your dinner by yourself at what hour you please— And so I will now go and try to walk off the headach I have got by——what do you think?—crying actually!—prosaic as this letter looks I have not somehow been able to “dry myself up” while writing it— I suppose it is the compress put on me in the drawingroom that makes me bubble up at no allowance when I am alone

Ever your


Poor Mrs Henry Coleridge6 is dying of a cancer in her breast

Chapman has written to ask me where he should pay the money—you can answer him—I have been to seek my letter out of the box that I might append a most needful piece of information—I trust still in time the key of the wine cellar and of the sideboard drawer where there is some brandy and sherry. and lump sugar are in the uppermost of your small drawers in the Library—and the key of that under the slide of the old ink-stand