The Collected Letters, Volume 28


JWC TO KATE STERLING ; 20 April 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530420-JWC-KS-01; CL 28: 114-116


5 Cheyne Row / Wednesday [20 April 1853]

My dearest Kate

Your letter lay on the table for me, when I returned home wearied and sad after seeing off the Reichenbachs—Ah yes—they are gone—away to America—and Gods blessing go with them as mine goes!—the loss they will be to me is not to be told—and my life, with all my many so-called friends—as many as the Hare's1—is not so rich that it could afford any loss of the sort— The Bishop of Edinr2 wrote, when I was a girl, some verses for my special behoof, or rather reproof,—on occasion of some violent weeping I had transacted in parting from, not himself, somebody else—I really forget who,—and the last four lines, have stuck to me ever since, they gave me such a cold shudder at the time—they run thus—

“And fairer things shall come and pass
“Like shadows o'er a magic class,3
“And Time will teach the softest heart,
Unmov'd to meet, “Ungriev'd to part”!

Oh Heavens could this be true? Should I, if I lived, be one day unmoved to meet those I loved ungrieved to part from them?! It is thirty years since then and the doom of indifference is not fallen on me yet however,—and I verily believe that the Bishop was a false prophet when he foretold that Time or any other power, of Earth or of Heaven, or of the Other Place even, could ever bottle up my tears— Yes it is a gift that has its costs to be born with a tendency to take things well to heart! But plenty of this—lamentations are useless— And who went with them to America, think you, to cheer them on the voyage; and help them to settle? The Baron4 God bless him! The Baron having received Reichenbach's letter to say they must go, answered by return of post—“at least you shall have me with you in the first months to help you all I can”— Reichenbach, fearing his friend should still further compromise himself for his sake, wrote, that he could not wait the fortnight, which it would require for the Baron to get leave from his Commander— To which as generously Dalwig answered “Go then, if you are in such haste, but, in a fortnight I follow you!— I shall sail by the first ship that goes, when I have got my leave”—So what could Reichenbach do but wait for him—and he came after all WITHOUT leave!! trusting that it would be “sent after him”!—another indiscretion for his mother and her friend the Governor of the Province to get hushed up as they best can!— He looked somewhat thinner and paler—more like a man of the world—but very handsome and in excellent spirits—and to my utter astonishment he spoke to me in perfectly good English!—had learnt to speak it in Paris!! “from english people he was with every day.”

This morning they are all on the Sea I suppose! and the house in Paulton square stands with half closed shutters looking as if death were in it!— So goes it in the World!—

Yes Saffi is indeed here and it was a shame I did not tell you at the first But I have been so ill and out of heart— He looked uncommonly fat and well coloured when he came, and was in fine spirits!—being pursued ‘for his Life’ had evidently agreed with him—his under chin is shaved—unhappily I must think—and he is writing for the London & Westminster Now if Mazzini had but got to harbour as safe! his coming will be an affair of the utmost danger5

I should like to go to you at once—now—but the workpeople are coming in again on Monday for at least one week— So soon as I can get away I will write and ask if you can have me for a few days, that sounds extensive does it not?

Your Uncle is going to you—and I pray you all to be kind to him. It is a great sacrifice of that sullen pride of his to do this—for he still thinks himself cruelly wronged— But if you be as well disposed as he is for reconcilement better or worse, here is a chance!6 and surely surely it were best that your Fathers Brother and your Fathers children should be on seeing terms at least! If you knew the hard things I said to him yesterday about his behaviour to you, you would be pleased with the feeling of right, which made him write today “he would go to Headley”— Be kind to him then all of you— Your affectionate

Jane Carlyle