July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 8 August 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580808-JWC-MR-01; CL 34: 106-108


Bay House Alverstoke / Hants / [8th August 1858]

There then! I have gone and done it! and if you find it strange—unnatural of me; blame yourself young woman! It is all along of your stinginess in writing to me, while I was so many weeks ill and alone, and your not seeming the least curious whether I was coming or not, the summer meanwhile passing away—all along of this unnaturalness on your part, that I have gone and been so unnatural as to tell Mrs Pringle first, that I was coming, and to engage to go straight to her!! Now! what do you think my Dear??— I have no purpose, however to be “off with the old love, before I am on with the new.”1 I dont see that the one need interfere with the other. So I seriously intend, calling upon you(!!) altho' upon my honour, with your long silences when I was so needing to be written to, you have made me doubt whether you care for seeing me in reality or not! We shall see! I can swear to it, that I care very much for seeing you, at all rates! and that I should be hard to persuade, and very sorry to be persuaded, that Mrs Pringle's new friendship for me is warmer than your old friendship; altho' she has SHOWN more interest about my coming, and indeed supplied the courage that was wanting to me by all sorts of promises held out—even the promise of “Dr Russell to bring me round” if I should be knocked up by the journey.

I have been here with the Miss Barings (Lord Ashburton's sisters) for the last ten days and remain till the 24th. As soon after my return to London as I can manage it, I mean to start for Dumfriesshire. I had no such thought—at least only in the form of “a devout imagination,”2—when I came away. But the journey did me so much good, and I have been such an improved woman ever since—so unrecognisable as the “seedy Party” (so a Lady described me) that I was for a long time back in London; that I think it would be stupid not to take more of the country; and spend my time as pleasantly as I can; while Mr C is still out of harness. I dont think he will be returning to London till the end of September and September is often a fine month in Scotland—so since I have got up my strength enough for a journey to Scotland (taking it in two halves) I see no reason why I should remain “like owl in desert”3 on the banks of that horrid Thames,4 waiting Mr C's return. I had some idea of going from here on the 24th to Sherborne House in Dorsetshire, where I had a pressing invitation from Macready (the actor)5 a family I have long been much attached to: But in that case I should have made myself quite too late for Scotland, and while I was wavering between the two directions, exactly at the right moment, came Mrs Pringle's last letter, giving me the push I needed towards the north! So I shall go straight to London on the 24th—and then—!

Meanwhile I am in no haste to be gone from here. It is the place of all others to get strong at—close by the sea—nothing between me and the sea but a lawn, a terrace walk, and a little fringe of scotch firs. then such a lofty airy house, with such beautiful grounds; long drives in an open carriage every day, sails too in the Bay6 when I like! quiet, kind, clever people to live with. What more could one wish to have? But one likes and feels grateful to any place where one sleeps, better, and eats better, and feels less weak and miserable! I have not been so well for ten months as since I came here—and tho' I dont expect I have got over my tendency to catch cold, and to spend my life, nine tenths of it, in having cold; I am unspeakably thankful for the present respite. and am as anxious to prolong it a few weeks as if it were a question of good health for all the rest of my life!

Mr Carlyle is still at The gill—beginning to weary of it I think——

Oh there is the carriage come round! and the rest are all ready

—No! a false alarm it was only a Butcher's cart!—

I was going to say I think Mr C is tiring; for Lord Ashburton told me he had written to him requiring him to find “a man with a yacht” to take him to the Baltic Sea—on his way to Germany! Perhaps Lord A who was to have a meeting with Mr C this evening at Dumfries, may persuade him, in defect of the yacht to follow him to the Highlands.

I have written to tell him not to tramell himself in the least with me—and that is all I have to do with it. He tells me he saw my Aunt Ann in Dumfries—If she is at Thornhill by now, give her my love and I say I hope to come accross her—

Kindest regards to Dr Russell

yours dearest Mary ever most affectionately Jane W Carlyle