April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 25 June 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440625-JWC-TC-01; CL 18: 82-84


Monday [Tuesday, 25 June 1844]


It was impossible for me even to aim at sending you any word last night—for in fact I was deposited here in assez mauvaise condition [bad enough condition],1 in other words quite beside myself— I had set off on the journey with my imagination in far too lively a state— and accordingly before I had gone far “there came to pass”2 in me “something—what shall I say? strange—upon my honour”—and by the time we had got to Rugby3 I was in all my agonies of seasickness— without the sea! It was a great aggravation being cooped up in that small carriage, so ill, with a man I knew so slightly as Mr Wedgwood4— He behaved very well—“abstained from no attentions” and at the same time made no fuss—but still I should have preferred being beside an entire stranger— At Birmingham he pressed me to have some coffee—but “horrible was the idea to me”5—both of that, and of the modest repast which I had in my own bag— I took instead a bottle of soda water in hopes it would bring the convulsions of my stomach to a crisis—but it did me neither ill nor gude6—and the hope I had been cherishing of being let lie for half an hour on my back in the Ladies Waiting Room also went the way of most of our human hopes—the place being so crowded & the smells from the dining room so pungent that I was glad to return to the carriage Mr Wedgwood kept insisting to the last moment that I ought to stop at Birmingham all night; but I knew better than that—just as the train was starting the Clerk of the Station (at least Mr Wedgwood took him for such) jumped up to the window touched by compassion for my ghastly appearance and said to me encouragingly— “I have told the gaurd to attend to you maam—and take you out at any Station where you may wish to be LEFT”! When Mr Wedgwood went away, I was got over the worst of it, and could laugh at his proposal to ask “one of some QUAKERS” whom he had seen in a front carriage to take his place in case of my fainting all by myself— What advantage could there be in providing me with A Quaker, in preference to all others? The rest of the way was got over without any more faintings and I found Helen and Maggie at the Station—but worn out with so much sickness and having taken nothing from breakfast time but the soda-water—you may fancy I was in no state to resist the horror I had been feeling all the way at the notion of entering this house again—and when the rest came all about me in the passage instead of being able to feel glad to see them something twisted itself about my throat and accross my breast as if I were going to be strangled—and I could get no breath without screaming— — In fact I suppose I had been in what they call hysterics—for the first time and I hope the last in m[y]7 life for it is a very ugly thing I can tell you—must be just the next thing to being hanged— But it is all over now—and my Uncle was so very good to me he who so hates all that sort of thing—that you would have felt as I do this morning quite grateful to him, the girls of course were equally good but their patience was more natural— I have got—Alicks room—Alick having gone out to sleep—and it is all made as nice as possible for me—and tho I did not get much sleep last night I dare say I shall get on well enough in that department when I am once quietened— Maggie brought me the prettiest little breakfast to my bedroom—a little plate of strawberries and all sorts of dainties that looked quite like Templand— It was right to come—tho yesterday one would have said I had really run away from you and was spending money, very distractedly for the purpose of getting myself torment Now that I am up I feel really as well as well as before I left London—so do not be anywise anxious about me

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