October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 5 July 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570705-JWC-MR-01; CL 32: 170-172


5 Cheyne Row, Sunday [5 July, 1857]

Oh Mary Mary! Aren't you well ashamed of yourself?— For me; remembering that I told you not to force yourself to write in unfavourable circumstances; it does not surprise me—much—that you leave me without letters altogether! So often I have had occasion to remark—“There! that is what one gets for showing consideration"!— Indeed I see that it is the exacting, impatient people that are always first attended to in this world, and that putting on a modest amiable face and stepping into the waiting room with ones claims only gets one overlooked— Well my Dear I have been upsides with you—for if you have not written to me I have not written to you; tho' I have had matters on hand in which you might have felt some interest— For the last few weeks I have thought of nothing but whether I should go to Scotland,—or go to some nearer less loved place,—or stay here at Chelsea and—die!— I have indeed been very sick and weak and miserable since the last heat came altho it is now cool and wet.— For my life I could not come to a decision—at least, I decided twenty times a day, and as often revised and reversed these spasmodic decisions. And the consciousness of my diseased volition made me fear I was going out of my wits—it was so new and strange a thing for me not to know what I would be at! At last one day last week I said to myself if I would keep out of Bedlam this must end! If I cannot form a resolution with any stability in it; at least I may seize one of my moments of resolution to do something that will lay me under a moral or physical necessity to follow one or other course of action, and so give myself a fictitious volition at least. And so, having received a letter from my dear old friends at Haddington,1 that gave me for the moment a longing to see them once more—and to gratify their longing for me, I sat down, and without taking counsel with man or woman dog or canaries or own flesh and blood; wrote to them that I would be at Sunny Bank on Tuesday or Wednesday next!! and hurried off the letter to the post office before I had had five minutes to change my mind in! Quite right for the next hour I would have given the world to recall it, and recommence shilly shallying! But to inflict a pang of disappointment on these old old women, who have so few pleasures now and who love me so dearly, was in the nature of a moral impossibility—as I had forseen it—and so—there only remained for me to make my preparations and keep my word.

The thought of the long journey is terrifying enough. And so is the thought of Mr C left here to his own devices— But I try to not think. I have settled to travel by night—it will be a deliverance from heat and dust—and the loss of a nights sleep is of less moment to me than most people—as I sleep so badly in my own comfortable bed—

What further will become of me—I cannot predict— My plan will [be] arranged from hand to mouth after I get to Sunny Bank—depending on how I feel my strength hold out and how Mr C gets along without me— But if I go back to London by the road I came, to spare myself fatigue and excitement, I will go to see you next summer—if we be all alive then—

I want very much to hear of your health—especially of your sleep—and I want to hear how the new servants turn out— I do pray Heaven, well—for you are not strong enough just now to be worried with doing the work of thoseyou pay to do it. and with inco[m]petency and bad dispositions— My address for a week after you receive this will be care of Miss Donaldson / Sunny Bank / Haddington— My love to the Doctor—

What does he think of Miss Madeline Smith2 I feel quite ashamed—of her being a Scotch woman.

Remember me to Mrs Grierson and all my friends in Nithsdale3

Poor Mrs Maitland4 I got a great shock the other night when her and my cousin Mrs Godby5 told me of her death— How often getting our dearest wishes fulfilled proves fatal to us!6

Your ever affectionate / Jane W Carlyle