JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 18 August 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310818-JWC-TC-01; CL 5:344-348.
JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE
Craigoputta [18 August 1831]
‘My foot is on my native heath, and my name's Magregor [sic]!’1 And now dear Love I can breath[e] again, and think, and feel, and write. Well, it is an invaluable privilege to have a house of ones own,—to be entitled to take a rank in society—tho' it were even below the craziest sort of gig. Robert Barker said one day, naively enough, when I had been skipping all his remarks and sparing myself the fatigue of answering: “What does ail you? At Craigenputtoch she is the brightest, most delightful creature in the world—and here always sullen and miserable looking!” “It is a pity it should be so,” said my Mother with much emphasis and tossing— “Fortunate rather” I coolly replied—“it is surely fortunate that I produce the pleasantest impression in the place where I oftenest am and where it is my duty to be”— But I am not quite alone now Isabella MacTurk accompanied me home—whom I think of more highly than I was wont. She is blythe and good-natured to look at, as can be, and then she can work and be silent— We shall get on well together for a little while. I told you that I had appointed Alick to come for me on Wednesday. We waited dinner for him till half after four, when he at length arrived—and how think you—mortal drunk—in such a state as I never saw him in before. I could have cried with shame and vexation, but I tried to laugh if off, as the rest were trying—most unsuccessfully— Knowing his style of driving in such cases, nothing could have persuaded me to risk myself and another in the gig with him—except my impatience to get him away from a place where he was making such a deplorable figure—where of all places I had wished him to appear to advantage, at least to be himself— Isabella was willing to take her chance— And off we came about seven having vainly waited to see if he would sober—and of course drove like Jeheu2 up hill down dale over stock and stone—making such hairbreadth turns! O mercy—I left Templand with my cheeks burning like a coal and my heart not less—but I was pale enough after— When we were at length thro the mercy of providence landed with whole bones—I threw my self on my bed, and took a hearty greet [cry]— I have now partly slept off my vexation— How he came to be in such a plight so early in the day—or what tempted him to come among strangers in such a plight I am at a loss to imagine[.] He had been round by Dumfries it appeared— They go down to Annandale next week— The milk-table business is to be brought forward again this day week—it was all a misunderstanding—the Macadam people thought they would be in time before twelve oclock— and went to the court house then, and found it was all over—3
A thousand thanks for your kind letter— Your letters are always welcome to me but especially when they praise me— Last night the joy of it was sadly overclouded or rather flamed on from the hell beneath—but I read it over again this morning at day break and found it ‘very good’4— Poor Julia Strachey, poor Ann Montagu—poor everybody! I am wae for them all— I should be waeest for my self5 if it were not that I have the best man living for my Husband— Jeffrey writes me that you ‘look very smart and dandyish—have got your hair cut and a new suit—and are applying various cosmetics to your complexion’— Moreover—that he “will do what he can for the book but fears its extravagance and what will be called its affectation[.]”6 Let him not tro[u]ble his dear little heart overmuch— Dreck is done for already and no Bookseller or body of booksellers, no discerning public—can undo him—not the Devil himself can undo him— If they will not publish him—bring him back and I will take care of him and read him and admire him—till we are enabled to publish him on our own account— There was also a letter from the Parishes7 yesterday which I will enclose—no others— Harry's sides have been much the worse for the tarring—we have washed it off and put on train oil [whale oil]— I am going to line my bonnet—
Eleven at night / What think you we have been doing (Bella and I) for the last hour and half— Verily dancing quadrilles, with all the seriousness in the world, to the sound of our own singing— Today I have followed Jeffreys prescription to the letter— I have both ‘danced and drank [sic] red wine.’ And yet my heart is na light— Who indeed who has read Dreck can be lighthearted anymore[?] Good night dearest— It is some comfort to think you do not take up with other women—
Friday— We have a fire today, and are very quiet I knitting, Isabella embroidering— She can hold her peace for hours and then laugh till the tears come—if I like that better— We had a small adventure after dinner[.] At the corner of Stumpy8 we met two pointer dogs and presently after a handsome oldish military looking man—who inquired very politely if Mr Carlyle was at home— On being assured in the negative he said he was going to have requested his leave to ride across the ground—not to shoot—but to save himself some travelling— I told him he was quite welcome—and he rode off with many graceful bows and when he was some distance gone called back that he hoped Mrs Welsh was well—who the Deuce can he be—
I heard of your Mother and Sisters being at Lockerby Fair on Tuesday—all well— I wrote last Wednesday—my Mother also sent a kind sort of note to Mary9 enclosing a guinea “to suit her taste in a gown which she wished to give her”—a little attention which gratified me more than the many ‘kindnesses of that person’ confer[r]ed on myself— My Aunts10 are not coming on this occasion— Poor Elizabeth I fear is in a bad way she has got a cough and pain in her side and all the symptoms of the fatal malady which has already taken so many of us— She said to [me] in her usual rapid speech and with an almost frightful smile—“I have a cough now too—and what will come of that I don't know—but, we shall see”—I felt a sort of terror when I looked at her pale face and clear eyes—not so much for her I confess as for my self—and something within me seemed to say so shall you also one day look— You know I am something of a coward—but if I am too fearful of dying whose fault is it? Whose but yours who make life dear to me!
Saturday We have got our curiosity satisfied about the Stranger—this morning a servant handed in a blackcock with compliments from ‘the gentleman who was here yesterday’— We took care not to let the opportunity slip, and asked the Gentleman's name— It was Major Irving—formerly of Gribton—an old friend of my Father's!11 How stupid not to tell me so at first—he looked too so unwilling to go without speaking more—but I could not encourage him to linger not knowing who he was—tho' his prepossessing appearance made me treat him politely[.]
My head has been less troublesome for some days and the dancing makes me sleep a little more— Betty tells me that all Terregles was talking about the Master's speech12—her political friend Mr Anderson had seen it in an Edinr newspaper—“and they all know of his cleverness now Mam”—which is always some comfort— The said Betty has had certain love passages with “the Rowantree” as she calls him which in spite of her recollections of Easton seem to have taken effect on her— But the Rowantree privately confessed to Alick that it was all on account of the skimmed milk I gave the Maxwells—!
I have just been down to Nether Craigenputtoch charging the Corsons to ask for letters tomorrow. William seems pretty nearly ‘deranged’— Indeed he told us that he had “been so unsettled of late that he was become in a manner quite detached”— He misses you much “for tho he did not see you aften close at hand, you were many times visible to him from the fields coming along the road like a comet[”]!
God bless thee Darling— It is a fortnight past on Thursday since you went away. Will you be back in a fortnight more? Your own Jane
Isabella begs t[o be] remembered to you[.] I have not written to [the N]oble Lady13 yet but will