August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 25 August 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420825-JWC-TC-01; CL 15: 47-50


Thursday [25 August 1842]


I hardly expected any letter from you this morning, so that I was all the gladder to find it beside my plate as usual— Along with it was one from Elizabeth Pepoli—the chief merit of which, besides the kindness of writing at all, is, that “it expects no answer”—

I hope you have the same refreshing rain in London, which is reviving our drooping spirits here—for it is easy to see, altho you try to put the best face on every thing for me at a distance, that you are suffering horribly from the heat— My only consolation in thinking of your being in the town and I in the country in such weather is that, if you might have felt a less degree of suffocation, sitting out of doors here during the day—certainly the improvement would have been counter-balanced by the superior suffocation of OUR nights—even with both door and window wide open it is hardly possible to realize a breath of air—the cottage-roof collects and retains the heat so very much more than any other sort of roof I ever lived under— After the first few days I was obliged to give up remaining during the mornings in my own room—my head got into a swimming condition as when I poisoned myself with the charcoal1— Mrs Buller I find retires out of her room into some back apartment—but even there I am sure the closeness is very hurtful to her— The drawing room is the coolest place and that is left to myself till Mrs Buller comes down; except for occasional inroads of Mr Buller and Regy to seek some volume of a french novel—repeated cargos of which are sent for from Rolandis'.2— “A very bad stock, this last” I observed last night— “Yes!” says Mr Buller raising his eyebrows—when french novels are decorous they are monstrous stupid”!

What do I think of Clifton? what do you think?— It is a most kind offer of Mrs Strachey's and pressed in such a way that one need not reject it from any scruples of delicacy.— The place is beautiful and the air I believe very healthy—but I do not know whether you would not find it too much of a watering place. that is to say too much ornamented and too many idle people going about— However it is to be remembered that I saw it along with very fussy people who were on the look out for anything rather than privacy3— “Plunges in the sea”—I am afraid it is not very conveniently situated for that—but if you were there, it would be the easiest thing possible to run over for a few plunges to your admiring Welsh man4—who is really one of the sensiblest admirers you have—a man who expresses his enthusiasm in legs of mutton and peaches &c &c— I imagine he would make a better host than you think— For my part of it, the only thing I should slightly dislike would be having to make Mrs Strachey's servants my servants for the time— There would be a certain perplexity in our housekeeping induced by this circumstance which I cannot estimate the probable amount of— Mrs Buller says it is an excellent scheme—being so very easy to execute— “Nothing could be easier except staying over September & November here—where I am already—and having you to join me!”— With such an extravagant invitation as this, I need not hesitate about staying another week from any apprehension of exhausting their hospitality— She says that she can quite well sympathize with your nervous dislike to making up your mind—and what you have to do in such a mood, is just to come off without making up your mind at all!— the first Cool morning to put yourself in the coach without any previous engagement or determination—the only objection to this is that without being warned Mr Buller could not meet you at Bury—but there is another coach from London which passes thro' Ixworth (from which you could walk being only two miles) and a coach she says just made for you, being called the Phenomenon!5 I deliver all this long message without the expectation that you will lay it duly to heart— I am thankful to hear that the leg6 is in reality mending—for it has been a great detriment to my repose of conscience while here— I should never have dreamt of leaving my post if I had foreseen that there was to be such a long puddlement before it healed— I cannot understand how it had gone back—for really it was almost closed when I left—

You may tell Babbie that my ardour for nightcap-muslin that morning was the most superfluous in nature!—for except twice, to mend a hole in my black silk stockings, I have not had a needle in my hand since I left London—nor wished to—neither have I so much as wound the skein for my purse— I do a little in the way of reading—and of writing as you know—and a great deal of nothing at all— I never weary—and yet, there is no company comes, and except the evening drive and the chess we have no amusements—the chess however is getting into the sphere of a passion— Mr Buller “does not remember when he had such good playing as this” and so, to make hay while the sun shines, he must have a game before dinner as well as the one after tea—sometimes a game will last two hours—and then there is generally three hours consumed in the drive—so that there remains no more time on my hands—than I can find ways and means to get rid of without calling in the aid of needle work

Last night we drove to a place called New house—which is in fact a very old house—bearing the date 1612— The wainscoat floors were polished to such a pitch with wax & turpentine that I am certain I could have skated on them!— The Lady, a married sister of Mr Loft's,7 showed me an original portrait of “Ferguson the self-taught philosopher8 who had been her Mothers preceptor”— I was ashamed to ask “what does it due”?9 I never heard of him in my life— There were various pictures besides—Queen Elizabeth—Charles 2d and honourable women not a few— Tonight we are to go if it fairs to take tea at a show place called the Priory—belonging to a “Squire Cartwright”10— Mrs Buller is infinitely kind in her exertions to find me amusement— Bless thee

Your own


Did you ever read such nonsense as Harriet11 writes about Milnes?— It really makes one sad to see anybods judgement so misled by their affections and their affections so accessible to a little flattery—all this comes of his verses to her