July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 1 October 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18581001-JWC-MR-01; CL 34: 208-211


5 Cheyne Row Chelsea Friday [1 October 1858]

Oh my Dear! my Dear! Will you ask “the Doctor”; what the Devil is the reason that when I travel from London to Scotland, I get quite fresh to the journeys end, however weakly I may have been at starting, But when I do the same journey back again, I am tired thro every fibre of me, and don't get over it for days? I do begin to believe London a perfectly poisonous place for me, and to wish that the projected Pimlico Railway may actually tear our house up, and turn us adrift in Space!1 Such a headach I had all yesterday! and today still I drag myself about with difficulty. Really it is always “pursuit of Life under difficulties2 here!

I hope your picture arrived, and safely! If it didnt I will get you another— I was too ill with my head to write along with it. Indeed I have not succeeded yet in getting my boxes all unpacked; should be doing that “duty nearest hand”3 for the moment if I were a thoroughly well principled woman—such a woman as Mrs Pringle for example—instead of sitting here writing to you! But, my Dear, it is so much pleasanter this! and I miss your kind face and kind voice so much! and writing to you is a sort of substitute for seeing and hearing you!

My little visit to Mary Austin was very pleasant. But I was obliged to put on an additional box at the Gill, to hold the fresh eggs (!) “pookit fools,” and other delicacies she loaded me with! Then Mr Carlyle had left an enormous bundle of new clothes to come with me!—the produce of the indefatigable exertions of three tailors4 whom he had kept sewing for him at the Gill for four weeks!!! besides a large package of books! So I made the journey with six pieces of luggage! not counting my writing-case, travelling bag, and the bee-skepp, which last I let nobody carry but myself. It arrived in the most perfect state. I told Mr C you had sent him “improper femalehoney; and I think he is greatly charmed with your immoral present. I took out some for immediate use, but I think I will not displace the rest— Dont you think it will keep best covered up, just as the Bees placed it?

My bit of ham too, that you would hardly let me take; has given high satisfaction, he helped himself three times this morning. But then he cuts it as thin as gold leaf! How kind you are my Darling and that blessed Husband of yours, that everybody is pulling different ways at once, how good and patient he is for me always!— Is Mrs Patterson5 dead? I heard, curiously enough, that she had been “prayed for” in the Austin's Church.6 Pow head? or foot?7 is close by the Gill.

When I was stepping into a carriage at the Cummertrees Station that morning (Wednesday) a horrid sight turned me back! Nothing less than the baboon face of our new acquaintance the Hull Surgeon!8 I dont know if he recognised me— I dashed into the next carriage—and fell amongst an odious party of English tourists. My Baboon friend and I exchanged glances at the different Stations when he expended his superfluous activity in fussing to and fro on the platform; till finally he left the London train at Lancaster— I wonder what impression he left at Lann Hall?—

I find all extremely right here. A perfectly cleaned house and a little maid radiant with “virtue its own reward.”9 And oh unexpected joy! a jet-black kitten added to the household (playing with the dog as lovingly as your cat with your dog! This acquisition of Charlotte's announced itself to me, by leaping onto my back and then my shoulders! a most agile kitten and wonderfully confiding!

Charlotte said yesterday, “I think Scotland must be such a fresh, airy place! I should like to go there! You did smell so beautiful when you came in at the door last night”!! She is quite a jewel of a Servant! Far more like an adopted Child than a London maid-of-all-work— And upon my word and honour her bread is a deuced deal better than that loaf of Mrs Blacklocks!10 I fear after all said there is “more cry than wool”11 with that Lady! What a weary day I had after you left me, till the train delivered me! Poor Mr Aird called (that was before I went to the Blacklocks)—I hope he has had no consequences!—

I have seen nobody yet since I came,—heard nothing of Mrs Yescombe!12 Tell Mrs Grierson13 her wristikins were really a comfort on the journey—they are the warmest as well as the prettiest I ever had. And remember me to Miss Douglas and Mrs Macvey14—and—and—do make a pretty speech for me to Mrs Gladstone15 for I'll be hanged if I can compose a note to her at this date!—

A kiss to—the Doctor? or Ripp?16 and do tell Ripp to behave better at prayers— Mr C has sent his book to your husband— It goes in some bookseller parcel so there may be a little delay

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