January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 6 August 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310806-JWC-TC-01; CL 5:312-315.


Saturday [6–9 August 1831]

Best & Dearest

So you are really gone!1 and I—ich bin allein [I am alone]! every instant I feel this; yet I am not so miserable as might be supposed—at least not more miserable here than I should be in any other place where you were not. It would be infinitely worse to be obliged to make the agreeable among people whom I was all the while wishing annihilated—as I should be constrained (notwithstanding my true tho' perhaps feeble attachment to my species) to wish, with hardly any exception all creatures of the human kind that ‘obtruded’ themselves on me in my present humour. As it is, Heaven be thanked I have ample room and verge enough2 to ray forth darkness; and to meditate on ‘the mill of death’3 or ‘the monstrous twelve yards long puddings in our insides’4 or any other earthly or unearthly topics that seems good to me, without the smallest interruption.

I went to bed when the sound of your wheels could no longer be heard; and cried myself into a troubled sleep. The first thing that met my eyes on waking was your night cap lying on my pillow; whereupon I fell a-crying anew, and actually kissed it I believe, tho' you know I hate red nightcaps. New trials awaited me when I got out of bed and found some article of your dress in all parts of the room: but the worst of all was when I sat down to breakfast, and noticed the one cup and one everything, and thought how long this must last. My heart was nearly failing me altogether; my head did fail me—and the whole of that day and part of the following, I had to keep my bed. Fate seemed minded to spare me the trouble of seeking myself employment in your absence. To day I am in my usual middle state—and have been going about ‘siding things’ as they say in Liverpool—in East lothian dialect, ‘redding up [thoroughly cleaning]’ or in your ‘brief and energetic’ dialect ‘making an earthquake.’ And now my house is all in order (‘swept and garnished’) and tea has been made for some hours for Jemmy5 who is late (it is near eleven) I may mention further that Harry6 has got his sides tarred; and that old Mary7 has found a nest of twelve turkey eggs—which I could have broken, in spite that they were not put in the canister. Nothing of more importance has ‘transpired’— Good sleep to you my Darling and good dreams.

Monday [8 August]— Jemmy did not appear on Saturday—I sat up for him till twelve. Yesterday was my worst day since you went. A betterish dinner having been prepared for Jemmy I thoughtlessly—madly I should say—invited Alick and Jenny. Alick indeed took off (aus, ins Freie [out into the open]8) so soon as the repasts were ended: but she sat on—on the unspeakable eye-sorrow, toning forth an occasional ‘ee-a’ and ‘doost,’ till I was within a hairsbreadth of telling her that if I was going to keep anybody about the house in these times it would not be she.9 Jemmy's arrival at nine was a real deliverance— He left them all well at Scotsbrig— He brought me an affectionate little letter from Mary excusing her shyness at our last meeting and accompanied with “a riband for my wearing cap”—both which made me very wae. We sat looking at the randzeichnungen10 till Midnight (Jemmy & I)—for I am as wakeful as if I had a Teufelsdreck in petto [in mind]. ‘When I lie down I say when shall I arise and the night be gone’11—and I am on foot again the first in the house—to do—what? to dream—

This morning we were two at Breakfast, and I rang twice; then started and exclaimed almost in tears ‘O Mercy, what am I doing’—and frightened Jemmy into whiteness of face. The people are gathering for the roup;12 several have landed themselves in the complete inclosure before the house, and dashed off over the wall as if we had been discharging cannon from the windows. One man with a pot belly hung on the top till I thought he was going to become a fixture; for the war[ning] of other travellers in this remote part of King William[']s dominions. The cruel[l]est midge that ever was born has alighted in the very centre of the little disease on my face and inflicted a most severe bite. and my head is not well— Poor Goody! sorely flamed on from the Hell beneath!—— The roup is concluded and has turned out surprisingly—considering the handful of people—The corn brought considerably more than Alick calculated the hay rather less, the potatoes found no purchaser except a small lot which was sold to a drunk man (the most diverting drunk man he seems to have been for he clapped a second saddle on Samuel Macadam's13 horse and insisted on riding it off as his own). A Hundred and forty five pounds was the price of the corn and Hay exclusively of what Alick kept for his own use[.] And Macadam proposes to take all the potatoes at the Candlemas price— This is rather what Mr De Quincey would think a too Theresalike 14 paragraph— I have sent Betty15 home for two days to see her Babe—and old Mary is officiating as housemaid. The only visible work I have done since you left me has been creating her a bonnet out of an old petticoat which has made her the happiest of old women. But I have also read some little in the Chaos16 and the book of Job— Jemmy said when he found me today sitting amidst a litter of books papers needlework &c “You are not without a sort o wark here I think, but you never seem to get fettled [settled down] to”— So it is—my head achs & achs, and I dream dream[.] And now to bed where I shall not sleep— Good night—and Heaven keep you—

Tuesday [9 August]— Well I too have ‘a Most excellent passivity’17 Behold me I toil not neither do I spin,18 yet somehow the day always slips over if not without wishing yet without weariness— O the magic of the imagination! For what would one exchange the power to fancy? I shall hear on Saturday— This I expect will reach you before then—

I have your profil[e] stuck up on the mantelpiece— Rem[em]brances to John— How I long for your letter— Bless you Bless you my dear good Husband. I am ever thine

Jane W Carlyle

The whole parcel of arsenic disappeared in Alicks house—it seemed not improbable we should every soul of us be poisoned. It was found after a time[.]