October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 23 July 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570723-JWC-TC-01; CL 32: 196-197


Sunny Bank— / Thursday [23 July 1857]

The pens you made me, Dear, are all ground down on this lime-paper, and I am obliged to write now with the backs—which has a perverse effect on my ideas. and my ideas are rather awry to begin with. I feel provoked that having “made an effort,” like this, to get well; I do not succeed in doing it effectually, and at once.Very absurd,”1— I ought to be thankful for ever so little ammendment; above all, even if no cure should be worked on me by all this fresh air, and sweet milk, and riding in carriages, and having my own entire humour out; I ought to be thankful for the present escape from that horrid Sickness, which nobody that has not felt it can know the horror of. Tho my nights are no better than they were at Chelsea, indeed worse latterly; still it is only oppression and weariness I feel during the day—not that horrid feeling as if Death were grasping at my heart— But “Oh my!”— What a shame! when you are left alone there with plenty smoke of your own to consume, to be puffing out mine on you from this distance! It is certainly a questionable privilege one's best friend enjoys; that of having all one's darkness rayed out on him!— If I were writing to—who shall I say?—Mr Barlow, now—I should fill my paper with “wits” and elegant quotations, and diverting anecdotes; should write a letter that would procure me laudation sky-high on my “charming unflagging spirits”!! and my “extraordinary freshness of mind and feelings”! but to you I cannot for my life be anything but a bore!

Eliza Donaldson and her young niece2 arrived yesterday. Eliza if possible more conceited and sententious than ever, but perfectly goodnatured withal; the young niece a long-legged, Wersh, shooting-up thing, that always suggests to me the idea of boiling her into “cock-broth”!

I went and drank tea with Mrs David Davidson—the worst used woman I ever knew; and at seventy eight years of age, she hasn't a drop of gall in her whole composition, and is as serene, as if she had never had a sorrow— she has still the same servant Mary Jeffrys who was with her when I was a child!3 she has served her ‘with the same relish’ for fifty years! “Ye dinna find us as PERFECT as I could wuss.” She (Mary) said to me (the house was clean as a new pin!) “but I'm as wullin as ever to workonly no just so able”!— At the door she called after me—“yell find us ay here while we're to the fore! but its no unco lang we can expect to get bided.” I dont think either Mistress or Maid could survive the other a month— Tonight again I go out to tea—at Miss Browns4—and on Saturday night at the Sheriffs5 who were at school with me—on Monday I go to Mrs Binnie's, on Tuesday to Craigen Villa—Morning-side6 and on Wednesday to Auchtertool7

I have a most AFFECTIONATE letter from Lady Airlie8—but I hardly think I shall go so far—compliments to Anne—your care of the live stock does “credit to your head and hort”9—Affectionatly yours / Jane Welsh Carlyle