January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 3 July 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560703-JWC-MR-01; CL 31: 115-117


Thursday [3 July 1856]

Dearest Mrs Russell

Your letter quite warmed my heart and gave me a pull, towards Scotland, stronger than I had yet felt. I think it in the highest degree unlikely, and certainly it will not be my own fault if I am there without seeing you. But we have no programme positively laid out yet for the summer, or rather the Autumn— Mr C always hithers and thithers in a weary interminable way before he can make up his mind what he would like most to do. And so, as I dont like wandering in uncertainties; with a net of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and ‘perhapses,’ and ‘possibly's’ and ‘probablys’ about my feet; I have got into the way of standing aside, and postponing my own plans, till he has finally got to some conclusion. His present “most probably” is that he will go to his sisters at a farm within a few miles of Annan,1 and “enjoy perfect solitude for a time.” I mean in that case to stream off after “my own sweet will,”2 as he should not need me with him at The Gill, and indeed there would be no room for me there, and I should only complicate his case. when he has settled to go there—or anywhere else where I am not needed; I shall proceed to scheme out a programme for myself and I want to go to Scotland too, and I want to see you and to see my cousins in Fife and my old people at Haddington3— But I do not take up all that practically at the present stage of the business in case he take some new thought—with which, my wishes could not so easily combine

I dont see any hope of his quitting London anyhow, till the beginning of August, at soonest; which is a pity; the present month would be passed so much more pleasantly in the green country, than here where every thing seems working up towards spontaneous combustion. I was thinking the other night at the “most magnificent ball of the season”4 how much better I should like to see people making hay! than all these Ladies in laces and diamonds walzing! one grows so sick of diamonds and bare shoulders and all that sort of thing after a while! It is the old story of the irishman put into a sedan chair without a bottom, “if it weren't for the honor of the thing, I might as well have walked!”5

I shall write dear Mrs Russell wenever I know for certain what we are going to do. And as I have great faith in the magnetic power of wishes I pray you to wish in the meantime that I may come—as I on my side shall not fail to wish it strongly

I am just going off this burning day to—sit for my picture!! rather late! But I have a friend who has constituted herself a portrait-painter,6 and she has a real genius for the business; and Ruskin told her she must paint a portrait with no end of pains—must give it “twenty sittings at the least.” And I suppose she thinks I am the most patient woman she knows and may give her these twenty sittings, out of desire for her improvement— As she is a clever charming creature I dont feel all the horror that might [be]7 expected of my prospect— My kind regards to your Husband and Father

Yours affectionately /

Jane W Carlyle