January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


JWC TO TC ; 22 September 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590922-JWC-TC-01; CL 35: 211-213


York!— / Scawins Hotel Thursday [22 September 1859]

There! I have done it!— You prophecied my heart would fail me when it came to the point, and I would “just rush straight on again to the end.” But my heart didn't fail me—‘or rather’—(to speak like Dr Carlyle) it did fail me horribly!—but my memory held true and kept me up to the mark. With the recollection of the agonies of tiredness I suffered on the journey down,1 and for many days after, still tingling thro’ my nerves; I took no counsel with my heart, but kept determined to not expose myself to that again whatever else (bugs inclusive)

And so far I have reason to congratulate myself—for I was getting “quite” done up by the time we reached York— And am now very comfortable in my Inn, with prospects for the night not bad! If only there be no “small beings” (as Mazzini prettily styles them) in the elegant green-curtained bed of Number 44!—Scawins

I am sitting, writing in that number, by the side of a bright little fire which I ordered to be lighted the first thing on my arrival. While it was burning up; I went down and had tea in the “Ladies Coffee Room” where was no fire, but also no Ladies!— They brought me very nice tea and muffins, and I “asked for” cream!! and for an egg!!! “and it was all very comfortable!”— I think I shall order some supper when the time comes; but I haven't been able to decide what yet! There isn't a sound in the house, nor in the back court that my windows look out on!— It is hardly to be hoped such quiet can last!—Trains will come in during the night, and I shall hear them anyhow— For this Hotel, tho’ not the Railway Station Hotel, is just outside the Station Gate. It was Eliza Liddell who recommended it to me—

I never was in an Inn all to myself before—except one night years ago in the George2 at Haddington—which was not exactly an Inn to ME— And I like the feeling of it unexpectedly well! the freedom at once from obligation to “others” and from “Living's care's—that is, cares of bread,” the pride of being one's own mistress and own protector, all that lifts me into a certain exaltation, “regardless of expense”!3— And now I am going to ring my bell and order a pair of candles!—

Candles come!— A pair of Composites4 not wax “thanks god”!5——

I shall breakfast here in peace and quietness tomorrow morning and leave by a train that starts at ten, and reachs London at four. And shall so avoid night air which would not suit me at present. It has grown very cold within the last two weeks, and I was as near catching a regular bad cold as ever I was in my life without doing it! The habit I took of waking at four at Auchtertool continued at Morningside—where there was much disturbance from carts “going to the lime”6 The morning I left was chill and damp, and I rose at six, tired of lying still, and dawdled about my room—packing, till I took what Ann7 used to call “the cold shivers”— Mrs Binnie's warm welcome and warm dinner failed to warm me—which was a pity! for Mrs Godby had arrived, and the short visit would have been extremely pleasant but for my chill. My tongue and throat became very sore towards night— Next day I felt quite desperate But Mrs Godby gave me a stiff tumbler of brandy toddy in the forenoon, before I started, And her Brother8 sent me in his carriage straight to Sunny Bank, so as to avoid the cold waiting at Long Niddry,9 and the other risks of the train. and on arriving at Sunny Bank I swallowed two glasses of wine—and then at bed time a stiff tumbler of whisky toddy!!! And so on, for the next two days, fairly battling down the cold with “stimulants.” I think I shall escape now if I take reasonable care.

Pity there should be “always a something”10 But for this apprehension of an overhanging illness and these horrid “cold shivers” I should have enjoyed my last visit to Sunny Bank so much— They were so much better—the house so much cheerfuler with Eliza11 there—and so many people came to see me that I liked to see. Even when I left this morning, I did not despair of seeing them again!12

Surely you will never be so rude to that good humoured Lady Stanley as to fling her over after all! Besides Alderley would make so good a resting place for you on the long journey.

I hope to get things into their natural condition before you arrive—

Ever yours


Love to Mary. I hope she liked her picture13 You never saw such a pen as I am writing with