The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 23 July 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520723-JWC-TC-01; CL 27: 178-180


5 Cheyne Row / Friday night [23 July 1852]

Oh my! I wonder if I shall hear tomorrow morning, and what I shall hear! Perhaps that somebody drove you wild with snoring, and that you killed him and threw him in sea! Had the Boatmen upset the boat on the way back and drowned little Nero and me on purpose, I could hardly have taken it ill of them, seeing they “were but men, of like passions with yourself”!1— But on the contrary they behaved most civilly to us, offered to land us at any pier we liked, and said not a word to me about the sixpence, so I gave it to them as a free gift— We came straight home in the steamer, where Nero went immediately to sleep and I to work. Miss Wilson called in the afternoon, extremely agreeable, and after tea Ballantyne came, and soon after Kingsley.2 Ballantyne gave me the ten pounds,3 and Kingsley told me about his Wife—that she was “the adorablest wife man ever had”! I was extremely happy to hear it and hoped she might continue so. neither of these men staid long. I went to bed at eleven, fell asleep at three, and rose at six. The two Plumbers were rushing about the Kitchen with boiling lead, an additional Carpenter was waiting for my directions about “the cupboard” at the bottom of the kitchen stairs— The two usual Carpenters were hammering at the floor and windows of the drawingroom— The Bricklayer rushed in in plain clothes measured the windows for stone sills (?) rushed out again and came no more that day—after breakfast I fell to clearing out the front bedroom for the Bricklayers, removing every thing into your room—when I had just finished a wild looking stranger with a paper cap rushed up the stairs, three at a time, and told me he was “sent by Mr Morgan to get on with the painting of Mr Carlyle's bedroom during his absence”!! I was so taken by surprise that I did not feel at first to have any choice in the matter—and told him he must wait two hours till all the furniture was taken—somewhere! then I came in mind that the window and doors had to be repaired—and a little later that—the floor was to be taken up!— Being desirous however not to refuse the good the Gods had provided me,4 I told the man he might begin to paint in my bedroom—but there also some woodwork was unfinished—the carpenter thought they could get it ready by next morning—so I next cleared myself a road into your bed and fell to moving all the things of mine up there also, Certainly no Lady in London did such a hard days work not a soul came to interrupt me till night when Fairy5 stalked in for half an hour uncommonly dull—“it must have taken a great deal to make a man so dull as that!” I never went out till ten at night when I took a turn or two on Battersea bridge, without having my throat cut— My attempts at sleeping last night were even more futile than the preceeding one—a dog howled repeatedly, near hand, in that awful manner which is understood to prognosticate death, which together with being “in a new position” kept me awake till five. and after six it was impossible to lie—for the Plumbers were in the garret, and the bricklayers in the front bedroom! Mr Morgan came after breakfast and settled to take up the floor in your bedroom at once—so today all the things have had to be moved out again down to my bedroom—and the painter put off—and tonight I am to “pursue sleep under difficulties”6 in my own bed again!

They get on fast enough with the destructive part—the chimney is down and your floor half off!

After tea I “cleaned myself[”] and walked up to Miss Ferrar7 She and her sister were pick-nicking at Hampton court,8 but the old Mother was very glad of me—walked half way back with me and gave me ice at Gunters9 in passing. I am to have a dinner-tea with them next wednesday and tomorrow evening I am to give the last sitting for my picture10 and take tea at Mrs Sketchleys— And now I must go to bed again—more's the pity— I shall leave this open in case of a letter from you in the morning—


No word from you this morning indeed I suppose the thing was not possible—a tiny note from John—nothing more— I am carrying all the crokery and china into the new cupboard—one thing finished for which thanks God!— Thanks God too for some four hours of sleep last night I dont mind the uproar a bit now that you are out of it— love to Mr Erskine tell him to write to me— Ever your