The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 5 October 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521005-JWC-TC-01; CL 27: 319-323


5 Cheyne Row / 5th October [1852]

I write, Dear, since you bid me write again; but upon my honour it were better to leave me silent, all the thoughts of my heart just now are curses on Mr Morgan. I have not a word of comfort to give; I am wearied and sad and cross; feel as if Death had been dissolved into a liquid and I had drunk of it till I was full! Good Gracious! that wet paint should have the power of poisoning one's soul as well as one's body! But it is not the wet paint simply; it is the provocation of having an abominable process spun out so interminably and the prospect of your finding your house hardly habitable after such long absence and weary travel. Never in all my life has my temper been so tried! so anxious I have been to get on, and the workmen only sent here, seemingly, when they have no where else to go—and Mr Morgan dwindled away into a Myth!—Not once have I seen his face! I will have your bedroom at least in order for you, and if the smell of the staircase is too bad you must just stay the shorter time here. Lady A wrote to invite us to the Grange on the 15th—for “a long visit”—and I have engaged to go—myself for a week or ten days but if you I said could stay longer it would be all the better for you! We shall see how it smells when you come, and need not make long programmes. For myself I have been sleeping ABOUT at home again—have done so since Monday gone a week— I had to give up my snug little lodging suddenly and remain here for “reasons—which it may be interesting not to state.” as the painter (only one can I get) paints me out of one floor I move to another—but I have slept oftenest in the back parlour, on the sofa, which stands there in permanency, and which with four chairs and a quantity of pillows I have made into an excellent bed— But surely it were more agreeable to write of something else— Dr Weber then!— What Dr Weber means I am at a loss to conjecture; but that he comes here oftener than natural is a positive fact—after the five ineffectual visits he made a sixth which was successful. I was at home, and he stayed an hour and half!! looking so lovingly into my eyes that I felt more puzzled than ever. Is it to hear of Lady A he comes? I thought, and started on that topic; but he let it drop without any appearance of particular interest. “He is an Austrian” I thought again, and all Austrians are born spies, Reichenbach said; he may know I am the friend of Mazzini, and he wanting to find out things of him. So then I brought in the name of Mazzini but that also was no go— When he was going away he said “in a few days I will do myself the honour of calling again”!! I did not want him to be taking up my time in the mornings so I said “it was the merest chance finding me at present in the mornings”— “At what time then may I hope to find you?” In the evenings, I said, but it is too far for you to come then— “Oh not at all”!— Better fix an evening I thought and have somebody to meet him—so I asked him for wednesday—and had Saffi and Reichenbach here—and both were charmed with him, as well they might for he took “such pains to please” us—actually at my first request, sang to us without any accompaniment Today he has been here again with his wife, a pretty ladylike rather silly young woman—whom Lady A has taken into favour. Mrs Brookfield called yesterday—of the same genus— The Captain1 is come to town, and is on his good behaviour for the moment— He says he was keeping a journal of his travels in Scotland but when he found no letter from me at Oban where he had begged me to write, he “dropt his journal—never wrote another word”—

I have had no accounts from John very lately—entangled in the details no doubt—indeed I get almost no letters—not having composure or time to write any—Geraldine has been some weeks in the Isle of Man, making love to some cousin (a Dr) she has there, and even she has fallen mute

Last Sunday I thought I had got a letter! Oh worth all the letters that this earth could have given me— I was tumbling two boxfuls of my papers into one large box, when the desire took me to look into my Fathers daybook which I had never opened since it came to me wrapt in newspaper, and sealed, from Templand2— I removed the cover and opened it, and fancy my feelings on seeing a large letter lying inside addressed Mrs Carlyle in my Mothers handwriting—with three unbroken black seals of her ring!— I sat with it in my hands staring at it, with my heart beating, and my head quite dizzy— Here was at last the letter I had hoped would be found at Templand after her death! Now—after so many years—after so much sorrow!— I am sure I sat ten minutes before I could open it— And when I did open it, I could not see to read anything— Alas! it was not that wished for letter of farewell—still it was something. The Deed was there, making over my property to her,3 and written inside the envelope were a few words—“When this comes into your possession my dearest Child do not forget my Sister”4 / G W May / Templand 1827” beside the deed lay my letter which accompanied it and a long long letter also mine—most sad to read—about my marriage some Copies of letters also in my Fathers writing and a black profile of him—on the whole I felt to have found a treasure tho' I was dreadfully disappointed too—and could do nothing all the day after but cry.

Wednesday 6th

Last night I took to crying again at this point, besides it was more than time to go to BED (figuratively speaking) And now I have my all work to attend to. Fanny continues the best tempered of creatures, and her health keeps pretty good thro all the mess—so that decidedly one may hope she will be equal to our needs in the normal state of things. Do you know I think I have found out, tho' T Erskine has never written to tell me, “what God intended me for”—a detective Policeman! I should have gone far in that career, had it been open to my talent!5 You may remember an ornament I have been wearing for some years on my neck—or rather you certainly remember nothing about it—it was a large topaz set richly in gold forming a clasp to a bit of black velvet ribbon—well; this disappeared while I was at my last lodging, and I was very sorry—as it was the first jewel I ever possessed, and was given me by my Father— As I had perfect faith in the honesty of the simple people of the Lodgings I would not fancy it stolen there and as little was it possible for me to believe any one here had stolen it—it was gone anyhow—and for the first time in my life I let a thing I valued go—helplessly and hopelessly—without one effort to recover it; beyond searching thoroughly the two places. One day about a week after it came into my head in the Kings road—“does it not look like a decay of my faculties to “so part with that clasp How many things have I not recovered by trying the impossible?” And then I said to myself—it is not too late for the impossible even now—and set myself to “consider”—thus—“I am certain it is not mislaid eith[er]6 at the Lodgings or at home—I have searched too thoroughly—I am equally certain that in neither house would any of the people have stolen it— Ergo it must have been lost off my neck or out of my pocket—out of doors—off my neck no—I had a blue ribbon on my neck when it was lost—out of my pocket then—now it wouldnt have leapt out of my pocket—it must have been pulled out with my handkerchief or my purse—with my handkerchief? no—I never use one; unless I am crying or have a cold in my head—and I dont cry on the streets and have had no colds this twelvemonth. with my purse then, it must have been pulled out—ergo in some shop—I would not be pulling out my purse except to pay for something—now what shops was I in last week—I could easily count them— The Postoffice, Wains, Smiths, Todds7—I asked at the postoffice—at Smiths—no result—then at Todds—the same careless answer—but suddenly a gleam of intelligence came over Mrs Todds face—and she exclaimed to her girl “THAT couldn't be gold surely—that thing the children were playing with!” And it was my clasp—found by Mrs Todd under a chair in her shop, and taken for “a thing of no value” and given to her little boys to play with and so well had the[y]8 played with it that only the setting could be found—and that after two days search—the topaz had been “lost in the green park!!” But I was so glad to have the frame at least and am getting some hair put in instead of the stone—but just fancy recovering such a thing out of space in London——after a week!— I wonder if my letter will be over weight— Such weather rain rain—and the paint—ecco la Combinazione [that's the combination]!—

Kind regards to Neuberg who will certainly go to Heaven without any lingering in purgatory— / Ever affly yours / J W Carlyle