The Collected Letters, Volume 28


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 15 July 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530715-JWC-TC-01; CL 28: 206


Moffat House / Friday morning [15 July 1853]

I will take this sheet ready addressed to Ecclefechan, and a pencil, and write you the news Jemmy brings to the Station of your Mother—there may not be a chance to the post office in the afternoon— This is St Swithin's day and “it rains hale (whole?) water”; as Helen1 used to say. But I should go, if it rained brimstone. I dont think I ever felt more discouraged in all my life; and that is much to say! Do not suppose however that I am terribly “others” with my inward dismay—I am sure neither John nor his wife have an idea how little satisfaction my visit has yielded me, or how little purpose I have of ever taxing their hospitality again— I have conducted myself with perfect politeness here— And at Scotsbrig the impression is, I am “as full of mettle as ever I was”—and I shall take care not to undeceive them. When one goes into other peoples houses one lays down ones privilege “to be as ugly and stupid and disagreeable as one likes”—if one have such a privilege even in one's own house, which “may be strongly doubted.”

You need not attach the slightest importance to anything John writes about your Mother. It is clear as day to me that he knows no more about her than any intelligent person beside her does, and can do no more for her than any intelligent person can do. And he talks talks about his own insight and his unheard of exertions in her behalf, in a way to confuse ones senses— His Wife is always talking to him of his making himself a perfect Martyr to filial affection, and he accepts the merit with a fatuity! I beg of you to burn this letter and all I write at present— Jemmy told me in secret that he had gone up to her room twice “without a licht” during the night before John went last; to listen to her breathing, and that she was “a deal war” than the last night when “the Dr threepit she wud hae died if he hadna been there”— Margaret Austin who sleeps in the room with her thought the same—Jemmy said that no mortal could tell one day how she was to be the next. her strength came and went with her spirits in such a wonderful way—and I believe with him that no doctoring is of any use to her but just constant kind attention which she seems to get. and she told me herself that they were very kind to her2