July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO LADY SANDWICH ; 9 August 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580809-JWC-LS-01; CL 34: 113-115


Bay House Alverstoke / Hants Monday [9 August 1858]

Oh thank you dear Lady Sandwich! Your letter is so welcome! I was wishing to hear from you, and did not like to ask you to write, lest you should find it a bother, and do it nevertheless out of politeness; and I was wishing to explain what had kept me from going to see you in London, to deliver Mr C's farewell greetings which he had charged me with three times over. But I did not like to do that either, lest you should think it too superfluous, accounting for the nonappearance of anything like me!

Now, encouraged by your kind recollection, I may tell you, that three days after Mr C's departure I caught a fresh cold, in going to look at a cottage at Rottingdean1— and was laid up all alone at Cheyne Row for a month; more like dying in fact than I had yet been! A fast Lady2 of my friends told me she had “never set eyes on a more seedy looking party”! and various men, who came, kissed me at parting; which, in the present state of things, I took to be a clear indication of their conviction that they should never see me again!

Happily for me, the Miss Barings came just before they left town, and seeing me the “seedy Party” I was; humanity prompted Miss Baring to invite me to Bay House, and afterwards to write and urge me to come. For my nerves were in such a shivery state that I took a deal of pressing! But I knew, in my inner woman that I was a decided case of ‘needing to go out of Town,’ in spite of my superficial reluctance and terror. So ten days ago, I shut my eyes, and clenched my teeth, and pitched myself into a railway carriage to Gosport. And actually I was in better health before I was gone ten miles! Here, I have been flourishing ‘like the green Bay Tree’3—indeed nothing, I should think, can exceed the healthiness of the situation, and of the Life one leads here. I stroll by “the multitudinous sea”4 and try to get into The Ideal!5 but hitherto I have only succeeded in getting to feel singularly hungry and sleepy—which conditions were perhaps more needed!

How I wish you were here! I am sure this sea air would refresh you as it does me.

The next thing I wish is that it were possible for me to be in two places at once, and that I could accept your invitation to Addiscombe, without breaking my engagement to stay here till the 23d when Emily Baring leaves for Norfolk! I should have liked so very very much dearest Lady Sandwich, to be living alone with you at Addiscombe It would have been like the days of long ago when I stayed there so often alone with Her.6 But I am here—and to stay till the 23d so there's an end of it!

What a very odd man Lord Ashburton is! You tell me He is to be till today at the D of Somersets at Wimbledon;7 and Mr Carlyle writes to me that he is to be with him this evening at Dumfries!!

Miss Baring went to London today, expecting to find him there, and to accompany him tomorrow to Glasgow, but Lord A told Mr C he would leave Dumfries at four on Tuesday, to meet Miss B and Rouse at Glasgow!! I did not say a word of this Dumfries project to Miss Baring; as I thought it might annoy her to learn it round about thro me, instead of direct from Lord A—who had not written one word since they parted in London, on the understanding they should start for the North together on the 10th—

If he has not gone to Dumfries this morning—my silence will have been doubly discreet—

Mrs George Mildmay is here and also stays till the 23d— She is very good humored and lively. She took Emily and me over to The Isle of Wight the other day, to call for certain Mildmays rusticating there, and to show us St Clair the most beautiful little Paradise of——geraniums! ever seen! Colonel Harcourt and Lady Catherine were very civil to me, and I found with them your Mrs Malcolm whom I did not recognise in her broad brown hat; till she pronounced the name of “Lady Sandwich” “pleasure of meeting us &c”

Oh you never saw such a beautiful gown as that is, made up! the gown you gave me on Xmas day! I had it made up to come here8—and Mrs Mildmay even, who professes to be a judge in raiment, said “surely it had been made in Paris”— It fits beautifully, and makes quite a presentable woman of me! I felt, the first time I put it on, such a besoin [need] to go and show myself to you, and ask your blessing!

A carriage has driven up since I began writing— Perhaps it is Bingham Mildmay—who was to come some day this week—

The letters dont go from here but once a day—at five— I did not get your letter till that hour—so I am afraid this wont reach you till the day after tomorrow— I never saw such a place for posts!

I may possibly catch a sight of you before you go to Hinchinbrook9 and before I go to Scotland—for I am up to that now—in imagination at least

Yours most faithfully

Jane Carlyle