April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 14 September 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440914-TC-JWC-01; CL 18: 206-208


The Grange, 14 Septr / 1844—

Thanks, Dearest; thy good little letter was lying safe on my hat this morning in the Hall, when I came down: it is one of the happiest things I have found here yet. The Painters, the Plattnauers, the leave-takings, the sortings and the sweepings: poor Goody has enough to do! Be patient with that Scotch blockhead; he will get it all done right if you give him time. Do not hurry so much; I shall evidently not get home on Tuesday1 as I speculated,—tho' unless I prosper better than hitherto, I cannot stand much beyond.

Alas, if I could sleep I might be very well here: but sleep does not come, sleep flies, and I have nights in which the virtue of patience is very useful to me! I do study to keep patient; in fact there is something very soothing in the deep dead silence, broken only by the rare hooting (last night) of one poor owl, seemingly a mile off, who appeared to be the only living thing awake beside myself. For the rest I have a capacity for smoking on those occasions, which is something; my bedroom (a bedroom and dressing room) has three huge windows, and seems near twenty-feet high; the bed is excellent, of the just degree of softness, of warmth, and bolstership, and extensive as the Bed of Ware or nearly so.2 But all these things avail not to the one thing— sleep. I cannot yet by any precaution make out above 5 hours; if in the morning I get to doze again, the valet with his hot water awakes me like Fate at 20 minutes past 8. On the whole, it must be borne; it is only to last a few days.— I start generally in the morning with a dull headache, very stupid; but the breezy fresh air, and the constant motion they keep me in drive it away gradually, and I feel pretty well again at dinner,—which, however abstinent I make it, again spoils me. Eheu [Alas]!—

We are not a brilliant party here, nay if it were not for the Lady Harriet and myself we should almost be definable as a dull common-place one. Strachey, when he gets out, which is but seldom, threatens always to become a bore; needs always to be quizzed in again; Buller is never yet come, but is now confidently expected tonight, and will really be a welcome acquisition to us. Poodle Byng's companion was one Greville, an old Official hack of quality who runs race-horses, whom I have often enough seen before: memorable as a man of true aristocratic manner without any aristocratic endowment whatever,—a Lais without the beauty.3 He has Court gossip, Political gossip &c, and is civil to all persons, careless about all persons;—equal nearly to zero. “The Poodle,” as they call him, is serviceable as a butt for quizzing, and is also liked for his good nature.— Lady Ashburton somewhat improves upon me; and is very anxious to ingratiate herself: a square solid American woman, happily without the accent, but with the rugged go-ahead character of that people. It is from her that your lover Baring takes his features: she speaks greatly about Lockhart, Mrs Lockhart4 and so forth, and seems to aim at Literary lions. I go and pay a visit to her every day, in her remote apartment, where the interior family is. The old Ld Ashburton, especially as he smokes, is my favourite of all; a really good solid, most cheery sagacious simple-hearted old man; he takes me long walks, to see his new churches, his labourers' cottages, his old cedar and yew trees; carries spunks [lucifer matches] in his pocket and cigars, and talks and is talked to. In the afternoon we all, all that are not shooting, go out in some miscellaneous cavalcade; make some circuit that will last till five; then home tired, and for me a cigar, and solitary lye on two chairs in my room, or between two bushes in the Park brings me to dressing-time, and then dinner. Lady Ashburton, wheelin[g]5 in on her chair, awaits us in the drawingroom, and the evening passes as it can, till half past eleven sends the women away, and then each of us retires when he likes. Last night I made the butler give me some hot milk for supper; and just now, since I began writing, a servant offers to procure me “some broth,” since I decline going down to lunch; which offer I shall perhaps accept!— Thus they ac in the various parts. On the whole they have engaged to let me “quite alone for two whole days” if I prolong my stay with them beyond Wednesday: that would be a real improvement!

To finish my description, I have only to say that our House is built “like a Grecian Temple” of two stories, of immense extent, massive in appearance and fronting every way: the interior is by Inigo Jones with modern improvements.6 The rooms are full of excellent pictures; and there is every convenience, “—all things was pleasant in Life; But the all-wise Cre-a-tor” &c7— Yesterday we went all in grand order to Winchester, which I was very glad to see, but will reserve all description of. Curious enough, I saw Fitzgerald and Allen on the road; but our Carriage whirled past, and there was no stopping to make them recognize me!8 I must write a line to Fitzgerald today. What our fate for the afternoon is I do not yet know.

Enough, dear Goody; more than enough! Perhaps I may sleep better tonight; otherwise it will be bad work,—and I shall simply have to hurry home again.— Poor Mrs Buller, I hope she may get stronger at Nice, and come back to be a kind of comfort to you.——— ——— The other day I lost my fusee-box irretrievably, and the other fusees I have will not burn! I am reduced to common spunks. They are sold in Princes Street opposite Sampson the Tailor's. Adieu my own Goody. T. C.