July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO TC ; 6 August 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580806-JWC-TC-01; CL 34: 103-105


Bay House. Alverstock Friday [6 August 1858]—

Only Friday morning Dear! yet—Heaven knows! Possibly this may not reach you till Monday!— However—when it does reach you, it won't bring bad news! I still have nothing but good to tell of me! I continue to get a very tolerable allowance of sleep, and to eat my breakfast “with the same relish”!1 And, will you believe it? I eat two dinners every day; I do that! One at half past one, and the other at eight; which last I call in my own mind supper, and take no tea after. The little nervous cough is entirely gone, and the rough cough gets rarer every day.

For the rest, I am quite comfortable morally; I never was put more at my ease on a visit. I feel to have dropt into the regular life of the House, and to have found my place in it, without anybody taking trouble to adjust me, or myself taking trouble. The only visitor now besides myself is Mrs Mildmay—(yes!—Geraldine's Mother—a much nicer woman than one fancied her—full of fun and goodhumour) She reads to us for an hour or so after breakfast while the rest sew—(Chambers's Annals of Scotland)2— Then we go to our rooms to write or do anything that needs privacy. I for my part, take always a stroll on the shore, before lunch, at half past one. At three we go out in the open carriage, and have the pleasantest drives, being permitted to sit perfectly silent. Miss Baring seems to think that the natural way of driving in the open air—and she is quite right! Coming in about five, there are the letters—each takes her own, and retires to her own room till dinner time— After dinner till eleven we talk, and work, and read the newspapers, and play piquet, at eleven the Butler enters with a silver tray containing four bright Chrystal tumblers filled with the purest—cold water!—nothing else whatever! I always take one, and have grown to feel a need of it!

You cant think how genial the Miss Barings are at Home what a deal of hearty laughing they do in a day!—

You will foresee that I am not going at the end of “a week”; Miss Baring goes to join Lord A on Monday; but Emily has pressed me quite cordially to remain with “her and Mrs Mildmay,” till she goes into Norfolk— And, if nothing unforeseen occur to “dash the cup of Fame from my brow,”3 I shall remain and be thankful TO! I dont feel the least drawing to 5 Cheyne Row in your absence, indeed I dont mean to have any thing more to do with it than I can help, till you are there.— Dont think me crazy! I have written to Mrs Pringle this morning (the 6th), that I will be with her, if all go well, the end of this month— September is often a fine month in Scotland—(you may see how much better I am, from this effort of moral courage, as well as if you were beside me.)— I cant be said to need “change of air” after having had it so long here;—don't indeed mean to give any “varnish of duty4 to the journey!—it maynt have the least effect in keeping off illness thro' the winter; it can't add in the least to your comfort; when you are only waiting for a yacht!5 but it will be a pleasant way of spending the next month and perhaps may (if I manage myself carefully) help to keep me well thro' the next month—and oh my Dear! I have suffered so much! So much, and so long! that even a month of respite looks to me a thing worth taking any trouble for! and spending any money for—that I can lawfully spend! When I left home I did not believe that a change could do so much for me, even for the time being! now that I feel what it has done, I want more of it— There is no other place nearer hand where I could get any good—besides there is no place nearer hand that I am invited to—

To be sure I might go into lodgings nearer hand—but horrible is the thought to me! and in lodgings I should have the cares of bread! One of the reasons I eat so heartily here is, that I have had no fore thought about the thing set before me! Eating the dinner one has ordered oneself, is to a sick person as ungrateful as wearing the gown one has made oneself is to an inexpert sewer!

So please dont think me crazy! and above all dont fetter yourself with me the least in the world. If the “Yacht”6 turn up before I come—if your stay seems to find its natural limit before I come; go all the same. As I should try to cut the journey in two, by sleeping at Liverpool—I could go straight on, if you were not there to give me a rest and a good speed.

But it is far off yet, all that!—and meanwhile, it may become intolerably cold, or I may catch cold, or fall off my sleep and so become too cowardly “for anything.7 I said to Mrs Pringle I would go if I could; not that I would go “whether I could or not”8

Now—I have just been down to lunch—and must get ready for Gossport—in the carriage— I will take that letter on chance of hastening it

Yours ever /

Jane Carlyle