October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 8 July 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570708-JWC-TC-01; CL 32: 173-175


Sunny Bank—Wednesday [8 July 1857]

Oh mercy! Lord be thanked! “Good times, and bad times, and all times pass over”— Last night is passed over—like an excessively bad dream! And I am sitting here in cleanness and quiet, announcing my safety; so far. But it is a wonder that somebody else has not rather to announce my death—by “bad air”!— Oh my Dear! you saw all those people in one box—sixteen of them!—well! imagine that they closed every window and slit except the fourth window commanded by Georgina1 and me! Not one breath of air to be had all night except in holding one's head out of the window! Craik and his insipid offsprings were very attentive and kind, and I eat my cold fowl wing and drank a little brandy and water, and the large Scotchman who blew up my air-cushion, offered me “his shoulder to rest on, if it would be of any service”—but what availed all that against “a polluted atmosphere”?2 how it happened that every body got thro the night alive I cant explain—nay every body but Craik, one of his girls and myself sleeped the sleep of the just!— By the way you may tell Mr Larkin “snoring” is not audible in a railway train. My chief torment proceeded from the tendency to sleep, produced by the atmosphere, getting itself overcome by the upright position with no rest for the head. It “was cheap” but I did not “like it”3— And have seldomer been thankfuler than when I found myself the only living creature visible at the Dunbar Station4 after the Craiks had streamed away. I washed my face with eau de Cologne and combed my disheveled hair in a little cold tidy waiting room— And in about an hour my train came and picked me up and set me down at Haddington Station soon after nine—where the carriage was duly waiting— I never saw the country about here look so lovely but I viewed it all with a calm about as morbid as was my excitement last year!— Dear Miss Jess received me with open arms in a room with a bright fire and the prettiest breakfast table set out— Miss Donaldson does not come down till eleven— They are the same heavenly kind creatures—and there is no falling off even in looks since last year— I am not going out of the house again today—but I cannot write I am so wearied—oh so dreadfully wearied!— Being hindered from sleeping is quite another thing from not being able to sleep—

I hope you found a fire when you got home and some reasonably good tea— If you could fancy me in some part of the house out of sight, my absence would make little difference considering how little I see of you—and how preoccupied you are when I do see you.

Do you know I had a presentiment yester evening I should die before I got back— Those things Lord Ashburton brought5 had shivered me all thro'—and the first thing we met was a coffin— I was so nervous that I wanted to scream But the physical weariness has quashed down that nonsense—

Oh be kind to Nero and slightly attentive to the Canaries. and my poor little nettle and gooseberry bush6— Moreover tell Anne she will find Mrs Cooks7 bill in my blot-book— I forgot to give it to her— I also forgot to bring my boa—tell Anne, please, to shake it every two or three days and to leave the fur jacket exposed to the air where I placed it—and shake it and the great fur coat downstairs frequently— She let the moths get into my fur last year— A kiss to Nero—

I wonder how you are getting along—

God keep you—

Affectionately yours /

Jane W Carlyle

I wish you would thank Lord Ashburton for me— I couldn't say anything about his kindness in giving me those things which she had been so in the habit of wearing—I felt so sick and so like to cry, that I am afraid I seemed quite stupid and ungrateful to him8