July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 11 August 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550811-JWC-TC-01; CL 30: 25-27


Willesden!!! [11 Aug. 1855]


The distance I have travelled (mentally) on that ten pounds is hardly to be computed in British miles! But, materially; I am got only so far as—“what shall I say? Willisden!!1 upon my honour”!2—“I did design” to run down to—Scotland! to Auchtertool and Haddington that is—with a single carpet-bag, and a third class return ticket “available for fourteen days.” On this principle the pains wouldn't have out run the profit. The pleasure of dropping among them “like an angel out of the blue” exhausted; there would have been little other pleasure to speak of—but that, with the benefit of the ‘change of air,’ might really have been worth the “chaarge3 proposed— I did design then, for 24 hours, to start for Scotland in the Friday night train!4travelling all nightthro' the open airalone, had been my dream for ever so long! I fancied I should fall into such sound calm sleep in these circumstances. I told Darwin on Thursday, and he bought me a cake of chocolate to eat on the journey: neither Geraldine nor Ann knew what was in my head, nor did Darwin know I meditated going by Third class, and at night— After parting from Darwin on Thursday while I was taking my tea at half after five “a sudden thought struck me”; would the third class carriages to Edinr really be open ones, like those to Brighton. and if not, what would they be like? better inform myself on that point before hand; I put on my bonnet instantly and walked to Sloan Square where I took an Islington Omnibus and reached Euston Square Station in time to see the train start at eight— Oh Heaven! the third class was a black hole of Calcutta on wheels!5 closely roofed in, windows like pigeon holes, and no partitions to separate the twelve breaths of one carriage from all the breaths of all the third class carriages! The second class was little better and the expense of first class, tho' I could have perfectly well stood it, would have been far greater than the advantages to be attained warranted me to “indulge in.” So that project was felled on the spot— I was thankful I had ascertained in time—and that I had not written a word to Auchtertool. And now what next? When Friday came I had not yet decided on any feasable course beyond waiting for the Sunday or Monday train to Brighton and going there, and then on to Bexhill. Meanwhile Chalmers's paint was killing strong, and the (our) house carpetless and comfortless, and Ann in not the best of tempers, at having to bestir herself, instead of taking her ease, with us both out of the way.

So when Mr Neuberg came to ask me to Willesden for a day or two; I was glad to start there and then, and sleep one night at least in a new position— It is as charmingly fresh here, the ‘air,’ as anywhere, I should guess. And there are goosberries—and when the young gentlemen had made an end of ‘hollaring’ and banging and bumping over head, reminding me severely of the Addiscombe footmen, the house was sufficiently quiet, and my bed was fourposted, and free of bugs. But—as there is always a something—I did not get slept a quarter of an hour together—thro the infatuation of Nero! He had been struck at first sight with a grand passion for “Miss Tott-unter's” spaniel—had galopped about after it all the evening—and could not forget it a moment. After we went to our room, Instead of lying down and going off to sleep—he who can sleep!—he sat the whole night with his head in the air, and as often as I fell asleep he crept up and impetuously scratched my hand, or flung himself over the high bed, into which he could not get back without my rising to lift him. “The troubles that afflict the just”!6— I am going home before post time—and shall send any letters—but I write here not to be hurried! Tonight I shall sleep at home—and tomorrow I must stay at home all day, having promised to give Ann a holiday—to encourage her to get thro her work cleverly— But on Monday I shall go to Brighton—that is all the programme I have for the moment— I may go on to Bexhill that day or may sleep at Brighton or may return to sleep at Chelsea and start fresh.

You are getting beautiful weather now surely— I hope you will stay longer than the week—for I am sure you can't expect to find anywhere a more comfortable host—

Ever yours

Jane W Carlyle

Cheyne Row

Neuberg has made me too late—I have hardly had time to glance over your letter—none for you