August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 26 August 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420826-TC-JWC-01; CL 15: 50-52


Chelsea, Friday [26 August 1842]

Dearest,— I assure thee we are very well here; all well,—except my invincible Stupidity, inability to work with success! For which what remedy is there? Evidently none, except within one's own skin. Be easy then, and let no thought of us be other than pleasant to thee.— —

We had copious splashings of rain; today our climate is delightful. Helen's limb is perfectly sound again: she had fretted it the day after you went away, by leaving off the dressing, and jigging about, all day, with the wound bare. Wise woman that she was! We had to keep her, by sheer imperative moral-force, sitting quiet, till the businessed1 healed itself, and the little Stickwoman (a very assiduous, seemly little thing) could be safely dismissed.

This morning I slept till nine, a heavy treacle sleep; my day's work is accordingly left not done: ah me!

The day before yesterday I did call for the Reeves; was admitted to the Drawing-room: “They are not in; nobody is in!” whereupon I left my card, and joyfully withdrew.——— That same evening I had fallen asleep on the sofa; a loud door-knock woke me; in the twilight, tea standing on the table: a man entered in white trowsers, whom Helen named—Oedipus knows what, some mere mumble: in my dim condition I took him for Mackintosh2 again, and held out my hand; but his hand was clammy, irresponsive; he was not Mackintosh! “He was impowered to call on me by Miss Fox, of Falmouth”;3—he got seated, disclosed himself as a man of huge coarse head, with projecting brow and chin (like a cheese in the last quarter), with a pair of large protrusive glittering eyes, which he did not direct to me or to anybody, but sat staring with, into the blue vague! There sat he, and talked, in a copious, but altogether vague way; like a man lecturing, like a man hurried, embarrassed and not knowing well what to do. I thought with myself, Good Heavens can this be some vagrant Yankee; Lion-hunting Insipidity,—biped perhaps escaped from Bedlam; coming in on me by stealth? He talked a minute longer; he proved to be Owen the Geological Anatomist, a man of real faculty, whom I had wished to see;4 my recognition of him issued in peals of laughter, and I got two hours of excellent talk out of him: a man of real ability, who could tell me innumerable things!— After his departure I asked Helen what she had called him? “She did not know, but was quite sure it was his right name at any rate!”— What an assistant this little damsel would have been to Adam, when names were just beginning!—

You do not tell me what the good Harriet says of Milnes: but I can readily conceive it. She has a most infirm judgement; and ever had, and will have. Gambardella met me on the street one day: his aversion, not to say secret abhorrence, appeared to be great, of poor Harriet: “Did not like to paint it!”— I could not keep from bursting into laughter at such a combination: The hungry white bleached Socinian Formula of these Northern latitudes with the hungry hot Caliban and Poussin Satyr of the South! It must have been “mysterous,” as Helen says!

John sends me that Note of Counsel yesterday; I suppose he had been with young Strachey, for I did not speak with him on the subject. Mrs Strachey's place is not exactly in Clifton, but at a village called Henbury on the north side of the Downs, perhaps five miles from Bristol. A pony and country air would be one of the usefullest and agreeablest things to me: but nothing, not even this thing, can be had without fash [bother];—and on the whole the fervour of London, and the beauty of the rural year too are mainly over now. My vote, I rather think, will be the echo of yours, No or Yea.

Ballantyne sends Newspapers and a Letter: Manchester still continues grumbling; has not yet taken to its work at all generally. Peel has certainly no enviable place of it at present!

Evidently you need not hurry home from fear of wearying your hosts. I know that to be very certain. Neither shall you hurry for us; no, do not; it is not often you take any holiday!— As for myself, I feel as if I might as well write today, and say at once No. Except for health's sake what will country do for me? Work will do infinitely more! Adieu my own Jeannie. Be well, come back to me well!

T. C.