January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


JWC TO JOHN GEORGE COOKE ; 2 September 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590902-JWC-JGCO-01; CL 35: 187-189


Auchtertool House / Kircaldy Friday [2 September 1859]

My dear Friend

Before leaving Humbie I sorted all the letters I had received there; burning some, and tieing up others in a bundle, which was packed with some things not needed here, in a box ready to be taken to London. Thus, when in the fulness of time, Nature prompted me to write to you; the address was at the bottom of that box, not to be realized without infinite trouble. (You must be aware by this time that I never can keep addresses in my mind, unless indeed I have been to the place—and you never invited me to your place!)1 Well! I might, to be sure, have taken the ‘infinite’ trouble!—or the lesser trouble of asking your address from Geraldine! But—there are states of mind—or perhaps I should rather say states of Body—when, as you must have experienced, or if you haven't experienced it you are too happy!— The smallest obstacle in one's way is capable of turning one aside from it—as if one were a billiard ball! And So—!

But now is come another kind welcome letter, again putting the address before my eyes; and I should be a brute entirely, if I made not “some reasonably good” haste2 to thank you!——I am not at the Manse but within a quarter of an hours walk of it—in a large comfortable house lent us by a Mr Liddell—And we should have done well here, had not Mr C walked and rode and bathed himself into a bilious crisis just before leaving Humbie—so that he began life here under the most untoward auspices, For the first fortnight indeed, it was, so far as myself was concerned, more like being keeper in a madhouse, than being “in the Country” for “quiet” and “change”— Things are a little subsided now however and in spite of the wear and tear on my nerves, I am certainly less languid and weak than during all my stay in the farm house—whether it be that the air of Auchtertool suits me better than that of Aberdour; or that having my kind little Cousins within cry is a wholesome diversion; or that it required a continuance of Country air to act at all upon my feebleness—I am not competent to say—nor is it of the slightest earthly consequence what the cause is, so that the effect has been as I tell you.

I have had a piece of news on my mind for you these two weeks—little Miss Barnes—(you remember her? remember her! will you ever forget her?) has found a Being she can love! and who loves HER!!— And the marriage will take place soon!— As odd as any other part of my news is, that the little girl was moved in spirit to write and tell me of her happiness!— I “had been so kind to her that evening” &c &c— Indeed the whole of her letter, which is excessively sentimental, breaths a spirit of beautiful HUMILITY (!!) towards me, and of young girl enthusiasm towards her lover and her Father and me and every body!— Now—will you ever judge from first impressions again?— I could have taken my Bible Oath, that this little girl hadnt one spark of sentiment or humility (of all things) in her whole composition! I was as sure as if I had been “up thro’ her and down thro’ her with a lighted Candle” (to use an Annandale expression)—

Poor Geraldine! I wish if a Dr was needed, she would have consigned herself to Mr Barnes—what do you think ails her?3— The letter she wrote to me about her illness was so gay and amusing, that I did not think it indicated much the matter—but I might have known by myself that the excitability of nerves which makes amusing letters is very compatible with serious ailment.

I liked Mr Mantle much when I saw him away out of the valley of the shadow4 of Geraldine— So did Mr C like him—“far too clever and SUBSTANTIAL a man to be thrown away on a flimsy tatter of a creature like Geraldine Jewsbury”! was his remark, when he returned from “convoying” Mr Mantle5

I am coming before long, Mr C goes to Annandale he thinks the end of next week— I shall then get Charlotte packed off home to make ready for me—and follow myself so as to be there a week before Mr C— It were best I had time to REST before “my duties” (as Mrs Godby6 would say) begin

I was to have gone with him to Alderly (the Stanley's) but I have no spirit for late dinners and dressing and all that sort of thing. So I will cut myself loose here— A day or two with my Aunts in Edinr and with my old Ladies at Haddington will full up all the time I shall have to dispose of

Yours affectionately /

Jane Carlyle