October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 5 November 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18561105-JWC-MR-01; CL 32: 26-28


Chelsea Wednesday [5 November 1856]

Thanks Dearest—a letter from somebody one loves, as dearly as I love you, is one of the greatest pleasures and consolations the Hours can bring,—at all times;— But when one is reduced to a passive state—confined to the house and all that sort of thing, it is a perfect godsend!

If a good Angel, or good Fairy, or good Being with miraculous gifts, under any name, would appear to me at this moment and offer me a Wish; I dont think I should have the grace to ask for Wisdom. No, upon my honour! I think I should ask for that little square of carpet in the Arabian Nights which you had nothing to do but sit down upon and be transported, in the twinkling of an eye, wherever you wished— And having got it, I would sit down on it, just as I am, in my dressing gown, and your plaid about me, and be popped down on your hearthrug.

I am sure I should be well in twenty four hours after getting there—but this raw coppercoloured fog is so trying to body and soul—and it is impossible to venture out in it without catching fresh cold, and without being in the open air I cant sleep, and without sleeping I cant get rid of my cold—and so things go on in a bad circle. I dont wonder at that Frenchman who began a book, “In the gloomy month of November, when the People of England hang and drown themselves”1—his knowledge of “England” was probably drawn from a three weeks visit to London. And London in November is as lively an image of Pandemonium as one can conceive—

I have had no return of the pain in my side— If I have I will send for a Doctor—but in the meantime I really dont need “advice”— I have had so many bad colds that I must have been a blockhead if I hadnt learnt how to treat them— My servant has been wonderfully attentive—for her—but today she has gone out for her quarterly holiday!! tho I am only down stairs from midday till the darkening!— I have a married woman in her place whom I am used to have on such occasions;2 but of course it is an inconvenience to be obliged to tell all sorts of little things—and be worried with questions and messages— But this is just the style of thing one has to lay ones account with in London! One might have thought a woman between forty and fifty might without much self sacrifice have put off her holiday for a week or two till I was fairly on my legs— If I hear of any one likely to suit us better when the winter is over I shall not certainly feel myself tied to this woman— But for the present what a mercy I am not to have a stranger to run after and train!

Mr Fairie is cantering up and down this street while I write; showing off a horse to Mr C who is out in the middle of the street in a long hideous pink and brown tartan dressinggown chosen for him by his sister Mrs Ai[t]ken.3—and a brown wideawake of course a crowd of boys have assembled to stare at them— Mr Fairie has been trying horses for Mr Carlyle these last three weeks— Do you know that long man has got quite a new interest for me since we met in your drawing room and I can talk to him about you all4

I am in great anxiety about my little green children—the weed I brought from Haddington Churchyard and the nettle from Crawfurd seem both growing but when blackened with the fog I always fancy they are dying—the bit of rose from the Inn has put out several leaves isn't that living too fast—at this season—and there are two just visible buds on the bit of sweet briar from Templand5—the slip of snowberry I think is quite dead— They are all in the pots still and when it looks like frost I have had them brought in at nights—

The Canaries are a less anxious charge they are always singing in their large new Cage— When you see Mrs Grierson6 give her my kind regards and ascertain if she received a book of poems I sent her about a fortnight ago— It was a little volume called Waters of Comfort7 which I thought exactly suited to her taste—pure pious and rather weak— Pray remember me to Mrs Macveay8 and tell her the Countess9 was quite delighted with my description of her pretty house and garden and to the dear old Yourstons10 and everybody that cares about me—

This is shocking writing— It is to be hoped the next time it will be steadier

A kiss to your Father—love to the Doctor—

Your affectionate

Jane Carlyle