The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 10 December 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511210-JWC-TC-01; CL 26: 259-261


The grange / Wednesday [10 December 1851]

Lady A told you I had a headach; she said; so you would understand, Dear, that I did not write yesterday, for the very good reason that I couldn't. Believe me I wished TO! The condition of things here for the last few days has been an impressive Sermon for me, if any such were, needed, on the inanity of “Ornament and Grandeur”—but as I have extremely little strength to write with, I need not be spending any of it in moralizing, for the benefit too of “The Greatest Thinker of the Age”! Neither, as I am to see you in so few days, need I expatiate much on the Narrative side—a bulletin of the Family health is what you will chiefly desire—but as I was sealing my note on Sunday, I was sent for to Lady A's room to be told that she had a threatening of cold, and that I must try to keep Lady Sandwich in good humour, as she (Lady A did not mean to go further than her sitting room—and would “not see Lady S there, for the whole world.”— The task was not a very easy one under the circumstances—Lady S wished to go to see her daughter naturally, and I had to invent one excuse after another—about “the passages being too cold for her” &c &c— Monday it was the same thing Lady A in her sitting room, Lady S often in tears to me and I only too happy if I would tell lies enough to pacify her. Then when I went to Lady A she crossquestioned me always about what Lady S was saying and doing—and to her also I had to tell lies—at least I had to conceal the truth or I should have made things worse between them— The fret of all that together with so much going backwards and forwards thro the really “cold passages” made my own cold much worse, and yesterday it gathered itself into a horrid headach—I went down to breakfast—but while sitting with Lady A I had to get up and declare myself too ill to remain so I passed the day in bed admirably “well let alone,” seeing no human face till half after six when a housemaid brought me hot water for dressing, I drank some of it and begged of her to procure me a cup of tea instead of dinner and by ten I was able to get up and pay a little visit first to Lady Sandwich—and then to Lady A who had both sent to ask me to come “so soon as I was well enough”—Lady Sandwich it appeared had been all day ill in her room with a bowel-complaint—“the state of her health” rendering it necessary for her “soon to return to London”— I went to bed at 11 and lay trying not to fly thro the ceiling till four in the morning, when my patience could hold out no longer and I rose and swallowed some morphine—it put me to sleep—but, there being nothing in my stomach but tea for it to “plump into,” it made me so sick that morning that I retched till I brought up some blood!—and there was some mistake about my breakfast so that I could get none till eleven o'clock! On the whole “the state of my health was such” that I also began to think of “returning to London”— After having got, at last, some hot tea however the sickness left me, and I am now no worse than in the first days—and it is very evidently desirable that I should stay, if I can at all keep about; for Lady A caught some fresh cold over night and has sent off to Sir J Clark for medecines and is to keep her bed till they come— And Lady Sandwich is also in bed today— with much the worst cold of the three I think— And the prospect of all these people on Saturday! Besides, I shall now be better looked to—Lady Sandwich insisting on sending her maid to ask my wishes and get me anything I want— If I were a Unitarian I might be perfectly happy in “virtues own reward”—it is so seldom one can get a stroke at a good action—and really if I had not been here just now but some other—with less discretion—and plenty of such Indiscreets come here— Lady S would I think have been off and the Devil to pay—

—Enough however—you will be here on Saturday and will find us all better I hope— Lady A of course has given up all thought of London— I read her your offer and she laughed very heartily at the terrors of the Painters should you take to ‘rebuking them’

The boots are my old Bolte boots that I lent to Geraldine on some occasion and which have been lying ever since at Pattens1— flung there out my room— And don't forget to give Ann the sovereign I left for her—

I was thinking whether you hadnt better write to Redwood to hold his hand this Christmas—but if we are to go home as I fancy the day after Christmas day there will be no harm in a box awaiting us— Lady A has written to invite Thackeray and his two girls2 to come on the 23d and stay over Christmas day The dolls are at a still-stand—kisses to my little wise darling3 who is being made a great scholar of in my absence

Ever your affectionate /

Jane Carlyle