April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 26 June 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440626-JWC-TC-01; CL 18: 87-88


[26 June 1844]

Thanks Dearest for your note and the newspaper, which was the best part of my breakfast this morning—not that I had “lost my happityte”1— I slept much better last night—in spite of cocks of every variety of power, a dog, and a considerable rumblement of carts! but the evil of these things was not doubled and tripled for me by the reflection that YOU were being kept awake by them and what individual evil there was in them could not get the better of my excessive weariedness. I feel as if the outdoor sounds should not lay hold of my imagination for all the time I am likely to be exposed to them—and within doors all is quiet enough and they let me go to bed whenever I like They are all as kind and considerate as possible even my uncle who did not use to make any practical admission that there was such a thing as irritable nerves in the world— I suppose his own illness has taught him sympathy in this matter— I find him looking fully better than I expected—and he does not seem to me worse at walking than when I saw him last—his speech is the worst thing—so thick that I have great difficulty in catching what he says without making him repeat—but this seems as much the result of the loss of his teeth which he has not supplied as of anything else They complain much of his temper but I have not seen the slightest trace of ill temper in him since I came except for a moment yesterday during dinner—when he said some very sharp words to Jeannie—who provoked them in the first instance and resented them in the second in a way that quite astonished me who had never seen her otherwise than imperturbably good natured— I am afraid my Babbie has been deteriorating in these latter times—she looks most painfully indolent, and young-ladyish— I have got into no free communication with her yet—alone with me she is the same gentle sweet Babbie as ever—but impenetrable. I shall find out what is at the bottom of all this by and by— Helen is grown more like my Aunt Jeannie in all respects a higher praise one cannot give her— The one that pleases me least of all is Alick—his Toryism is perfectly insupportable—seems to be awakening reaction even in my uncle!—even the letter-business2 Alick defends because it is the Ministers' pleasure!—not so my uncle, for whom your letter had set the thing in its right light and who honestly confesses with all devotion to the Powers that be, that “where such things are doing there must come a break-down!

I have not written to Mrs Paulet yet—a letter from Geraldine which was lying for me here informed me that she (Mrs Paulet) had been salivated thro' mistake—her Dr in meaning to give her ipechacuhana four times a day had been giving her mercury to that extent! Whereupon Geraldine observes “if she were an ugly woman one would not mind it so much!”3

I hope that you will not find the silence too delicious—there is a moderation to be observed in all things— I wish you to be neither quite miserable nor quite content in my absence—at all events so long as you are finding the silence a benefit I shall take precious good care to keep away;—as I like to have my human speech duly appreciated—

Give my kind remembrances to Helen—and you may tell her, as a thing she will fully appreciate the distress of, that on the way here I got myself all covered over with oil-paint Heaven knows how—and it has taken nearly a quart of turpentine to clean me (my clothes I mean) the little scotchwoman4 I sent here welcomed me as if I were come on purpose to see her—she gives great satisfaction and is grown into a perfect Beauty— Do not I beg of you work too hard—how provoking about the Fly!5— Bless you / J C