January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 29 August 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310829-JWC-TC-01; CL 5:370-372.


Craigenputtoch—Monday [29 August 1831]

No letter yesterday! But this time I am sure it is lying for me, and I do what I can to be patient— Yet never before was I so fully sensible to the misfortune of living sixteen miles from a post office— Here must I write for the third time, in the dark as it were—and you get no answer but at random as if you talked with one deaf— It is very hard yet what can one make of it— Withhold from the wretch of a Carrier his occasional sixpence; and no further does our power reach either to remedy or revenge.

I know not what Betty was thinking of yesterday but she made up my bed with the whole four pillows as if it had been for two— I was so wae to see it, and could not have the heart to throw out the two I did not need—and got little or no sleep in consequence— I do not like to say how much I weary for you; lest I make you too impatient under these unavoidable delays—but in truth it is very lonely here for one— The weather too is become rather gloomy—dark and drizzly and chill— However I keep good fires (Alick brought two carts of coals before he went away) and need not complain of the weather as it agrees with my health better than the intense heat did—

Robert did not come yesterday (on account of the rain I suppose) and neither did Isabella go—but she will not be persuaded to stay after the first dry day.

I wonder what answer you will make to my last— ‘Come’? What a mightiest of earthquakes would that word be the signal for! ‘Stay’? I think I shall sigh if you bid me stay—not for myself, so much as for you— No—‘here thou canna be’1 much longer—and here you would not have been so long but for me— You would not have your Goody a gigwoman and yet you would fain leave her her gig— I cannot, you think, jostle my way thro' the crowd on foot— Thou unbeliever!— Do you forget the pattens [wooden-soled shoes] which I boldly avowed as ‘my carriage’ at the very outset of our married life? Or do you fear that I shall not always put on my pattens with the “saym relish2— Debt is the sole boggle [ghost] that fleys [frightens] me— Keep me but out of debt and I care not three snuffs of tobacco whether I be poor or rich— By the way there need not have been so much work made about my smokes— I am no such slave to the practice as was supposed[—]now that I do not see it going on it never comes into my head to wish for it—

Tuesday— Another wet day and nothing going on except—degestion [sic]—the little works we had on hand are completed; and nothing new has yet suggested itself— Moreoever the needles are dwindled to an unintelligible wheener3 so that the sphere of possibilities in that department is much restricted[.] We have overhauled all your manuscript verses—and my wardrobe also—in which last Musaeus thinks the female spirit of contemplation finds the most palatable food— And now to preserve her vital energies from inanition, poor Isabella is taken to thumping my piano out of tune—while the ease of society is pressing on me like a nightmare—

How providential! just at the extremity of fate above recorded arrived, what in such circumstances I could not but regard as a real himmelsend[ung] [gift from Heaven] a [man] with a shelty come for my compan[ion.] She [has] packed and dined and is gone. And n[ow] it is so well with me!(ungrateful that I am) for I no longer feel a necessity to make myself agreeable—which I hold to be the most deadening and killing feeling mortal can lie under— For the rest ennui is far from me I have writing more than enough to keep me busy till six when Betty must set out to Mac[k]night's— A letter to your Mother I must write—and to Alick and to my own Mother—who is fuming herself into a bad way because I will not come.

In a week or so I expect that Harry may be saddled without injury and then I will ride over for a day— But I cannot say what I shall do till I hear something decided from you. I had heard that poor Dow4 was gone mad but afterwards that he was only inspired— Good Heavens how can Edward Irving take in such janners [foolish talkers]— The only miracle that has come under my notice has been worked on our lame duck which after lying motionless for a whole month—took up its bed and walked5— I think it would be doing George Rennie too much honour to call for him but I should like that you saw him— Could not Allan Cunningham bring you together?— O that tomorrow were come! that I saw my closewritten precious letter spread on the table before me. This you will think a dud—and in truth it is of the thinnest—but that depart[ure] took up two hours of my time [which] I had calculated on devoting to you— I must smile at the idea of Jeffrey recommending your manuscript to Murray— He will not, dearest, dare not— Trust only in yourself and there trust—to all lengths— Heaven bless my darling

Ever your