The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO KATE STERLING; 11 December 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511211-JWC-KS-01; CL 26: 261-263


The Grange / Thursday [11 December 1851]

Dearest Kate

I don't know what I was “born with in my mouth” but it couldn't have been “a silver spoon” anyhow,—and if anyone ever presented me with a charm, I must have left it, I think, beside my teacup. For certainly there is not “in all England” (your grandfather's phrase) a poor woman more liable than myself to having “the pigs” run thro' things!— Here have I been living these ten days in the midst of “a terrestrial Paradise,”—“woods and wilds whose melancholy gloom &c” terraces and fountains and artificial lakes, “regardless of expense”—and for any good I have been able to take of it all, I might as well have remained sitting before my own dead wall in Cheyne Row!— Not once have I crossed the threshold my Dear! and am thankful to have had only one day in bed— The cold I caught so suddenly that night became much worse on my arrival here—and has kept me so thoroughly wretched, that I really think I should have gone home ere now, to my own red bed, but for the fact that both Lady Ashburton and Lady Sandwich have fallen ill also—and even as I am I am up to more than either of them, and can do them some good by staying— I don't go much on doing good, in a general way, all that unitarian twaddle about “thinking only of others” “studying the welfare of others” &c &c I leave to Miss Rankin1 and the like of her—but Lady Ashburton has been extremely kind to me for many years—and our relative positions afford so few opportunities for my showing her any practical gratitude that when one does offer itself I am naturally very glad to seize it— Lord A has been from home for a week and if I were not here to sit with her in her bedroom, her situation amidst all her grandeur would be rather desolate— And as for Lady Sandwich with her french manners it requires all the good sense I can bring to bear on her to keep her quiet— There being about a quarter of a mile of corridors and staircases between the bedrooms of the two; I get plenty of indoors exercise, at least, in travelling, from the one to the other!—but in this way I have hardly any time to myself—to write my own letters or think my own thoughts—besides that when I do get to my own room for a little while I need to lie on my sofa with my eyes shut—to rest my wearied spirit— I look forward to Saturday with perfect terror—the House is to be filled with people on that day—and if Lady A cannot appear I shall have to do them all myself—with this cold! While Lady A was coughing and blowing her nose this morning I was taken with a violent fit of sneezing— “Gracious!” she exclaimed when she could speak “what do you suppose Mrs Carlyle is the meaning of all this?”— “I could do without knowing the meaning of it I said, if I could only predict the end of it—what is going to become of us on Saturday”!— “Oh the end—, said she—of the end there can be no doubt— Mr Salmon2 will have to come and read the funeral service over us all—and I shall send him a note today to prepare him!”—

Poor Saffi has written me two charming letters one in English one in Italian and has received no answer to either—the english letter I will send you but don't lose it—keep it for me— I was very frightened at first that they would all rush off into that row—strange that nobody should have as yet shot the President3—but there is a good time coming please God!—did you see the account of General Cavaignacs arrest—that man does every thing and suffers everything like a man out of Plutarch's Lives4— If the young Lady5 to whom he is affianced dont have the spirit and wit to effect his escape—someone else must—why not I?— Ledru seems to have miscalculated strangely— Lady Sandwich who is a violent Aristocrat was scolding me the other night about my faith in Ledru—adopted from Mazzini entirely—at last she exclaimed “Mrs Carlyle Ledru must either be or have been your Lover!—only that—only a passion could have so blinded and perverted your judgment”— Lady A looked up from her work—(a dolls shift)—and asked gravely “was he ever your Lover Mrs Carlyle?”— “Never,”! I said laughing—“the very reverse of that”! “The very reverse”! repeated Lady A. What does that mean I wonder! Oh I have it—you mean to say that he had prevented somebody else from being your lover!!!

Kindest regards to Lotta and Julia and cordial thanks to Julia for her amusing letter—which I will answer before long if we succeed in staving off the funeral service

twenty kisses to you my Kate—

Your affectionate /

J W Carlyle