October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 7 December 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18561207-JWC-MR-01; CL 32: 44-46


5 Cheyne Row / Sunday [7 December 1856]

“A feverish cold and headach”— Oh my Dear! I am sorry for you, and angry at you—for putting it on yourself to write in these conditions. Please don't ever “ feel it your duty"1 to write to me— There are few greater pleasures for me in the world than getting a letter from you— The place you write from—more interesting to me than all other places on the great round globe except only Haddington—the association with my Mother that always attaches to you in my mind—your own lovely, womanly character—and your affection for myself, for my Mother's sake, and for my own too (I feel) since that week of such mixed suffering and blessing I passed beside you—all that together makes a letter from you like a drop of manna in this Wilderness of artificialities and trivialities where my heart is not. Still I would have you write to me just when the spirit moves you—as I write to you when the spirit moves me—when I feel to2 need to pay you a little visit, as it were—and give you a kiss you dear kind woman!

I sent your book3 on Friday—The Secretary4 packed it (Mr C is so enchanted when any use can be found for that Famulus of his!) so I hope it would go safe. Yesterday I sent the book to Dr Russell5— A German friend of mine, to whom I had written of the phrenzy Mr C had been in at his Secretary's habit of “sniffing thro’ his nose” when absorbed in his writing; answered, that he hoped, he (the secretary) was going to prove of great use to me—“as a lightening-conductor!!”— When I told Mr C. this, he said “faith, Plattnauer6 is pretty right—I do think the poor little fellow keeps a good deal off you!”— The horse is back to his stable free of lameness; but mustn't be ridden for a week yet, till the hoof that had to be paired has grown!

We have suddenly passed from winter to summer—a difference of twenty degrees between one day and another! These sudden extreme changes make the climate here very trying to delicate people—first the cruel frost, and then an atmosphere only fit for fishes to live in have kept me in the house ever since I wrote to you till today, that I took a drive of ten miles—my first reasonable exercise for seven weeks— Oh dear! one gets to feel so musty and motheaten stuck up in a house so long— Of course I went out in your plaid7—surely it was in the spirit of prophecy you gave me that plaid!— It never leaves me, more than my skin, day and night—at night it lies on my bed to be ready to put about my shoulders when I sit up to eat my breakfast. And the piece of worsted work—just the evening before I was taken so bad, there were some Ladies here, and they fell to admiring it, and all said what a shame to use it for a chair back! and one said “I will tell you what you should make of it—a travelling work bag”—and another said “Oh you should make it up into a cushion”—and another said, “with a deep fringe it would be such a pretty table-cloth"! But none of these ideas pleased me—I have an idea of my own—which is only waiting till I have a little more enterprize for getting itself “carried out”— I am going to make it into a little bolster with fluted silk ends(!) for the drawing room sofa— There was something else I had to say; but it must wait till next time—Tell your Father to hold himself in readiness—taking care all his strings and buttons are firmly sewed on—for I am said to be very remiss in that department— love to the Dr whose kindness to me about that horse8 and everything while I staid with you, I shall never never forget

Your true friend /

Jane W Carlyle