January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 28 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430728-JWC-TC-01; CL 16: 322-325


Friday [28 July 1843]


I write to you in the vague as you desired that I would—tho it would have suited my practical spirit better to have waited until you “found a fixed point”—

Well! the most remarkable thing I have to tell you is that I—little I—have been to Tunbridge Wells!! Went and came in the same day!— you may guess then with what Spirit of locomotion— —John Sterling came in the beginning of the week—and since then has been I am sure in one thousand on[e]1 hundred cabs and other vehicles to say the least— He was going to Tunbridge to visit Mrs Prior, and Mrs Prior— having as I told you conceived a wonderful liking for me he proposed to take me with him—so we left this at seven oclock yesterday morning and were at Tunbridge by half after nine! and at the Wells an hour after that2—Mrs Prior gave us the most animated welcome—an early dinner served on plate—at the most magnificent Hotel imagination ever painted to itself, and drove us back to Tunbridge in her carriage. I should detest living at Tunbridge Wells—even in that most magnificent Hotel! but it was charming to look at with all its “curiosities and niceties”3 for a few hours. and the drive from the Wells to Tunbridge was really as picturesque as the lover of nature (not I) could possibly desire. John is back again today to Ventnor—whither I could not accompany him for plenty of good reasons—first because my chaos is not settled yet—and still more final—“the Maurices” are going to ruralize with him for a month on their own suggestion!— He poor fellow candidly acknowledge[d]4 that he dreaded it as a considerable of a bore— A thing almost equal in energy I have to do this very day viz: to dine with the Kay Shuttleworths at seven oclock!5— I am to meet Mrs Austin6 who is here for a little while and look forward to the whole thing with a sacred shudder— A dinner is hard enough on me at any time— but on my own responsibility—without the Lion to take the responsibility quite off my weak shoulders “terrible is the thought to me”—however the Lady came herself and pressed so hard—and we had used them so scurvily hitherto that I had not force of character enough to say no—to mend the matter I have got a stiff shoulder—but I will try the showerbath on it before dinner time— All these Daniels too called again7 the other day when I was out and left the most magnificent bouquet worthy of the garden of Eden! with many kind messages—so you see I am popular in your absence—

But I must not forget to tell you of another visitor whom I was quite sorry you did not see—a Prussian General officer sent by Varnhagen von Ense8— He sent in his card and letter of introducty9 begging to know when you would return—so recognising Varnhagen's writing I of course invited him in and received him in my choicest mood10—a thing not ill to do the man being the very beau ideal of a Prussian Officer—so highbred and intelligent and brave looking— He is here buying horses for the army—his faculty of English was not great but happily little Bölte was here at the time, come to have tea with me, and he knew some of her relations in the army, and it was “a mutual strike” between them— He is a man about fifty I should think and stands some six feet two inches high—“plumb and more than plumb”11 Considering what I could do for him I could think of nothing better than sending Krasinski—who could speak german and is a gentleman at least and idle to offer him any services in the way of pointing out sights &c—but he was only to be two or three days here at present and then for a week after the first of August— Krasinski waited on him immediately on receiving my note12—and would show him at least that I wished to be civil if I knew how— He told Miss Bolte that Varnhagen had lent him your Past & Present to read on the journey—and that he had left it in the Derby Coach! (strange fate for the book sent to Berlin!—) he “was afraid to go back without it for tho' he had bought another copy here Varnhagen would so regret the loss of the inscription— Could you not write an inscription on a blank page and send it to the General's address for him to paste on13

Another German also sent by Varnhagen came within the same twenty-four hours and left a small book and another letter14—but I did not see him as he went away when he had handed in his documents—

Besides my own work I have a deal to do in fitting out Juliet Mudie just now with all the necessaries of “a clothed animal”—which are amazingly manifold when one has to commence from the very shift—the poor girl is here helping me to sew—and leaves for Manchester on Saturday week—where I have now very little doubt she will do extremely well—since she came this last time under these new promising circumstances she looks quite a different creature—so active and willing and happy—her countenance that was so stern is become quite radiant—and her gratitude for leave to be a nursery maid shows by its intensity what misery she must have endured in her late position— there is hopes of the other two children being placed thro Krasinskis friend Mrs Byson15—and then the Mother may take a situation herself or drown herself if she like for me—

Bless you—I must not scribble any more at present for several things are awaiting my legislation

Ever your affectionate /

Jane Carlyle