January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 23 July 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450723-JWC-TC-01; CL 19: 105-107


First day in Flatz1 [23 July 1845]


It is all as well as could be expected— I arrived without accident—not even much tired—an hour and half before I was looked for—in fact between five and six! Consequently here was nobody to meet me, and I had some difficulty in getting myself a car, and at the same time keeping watch over my trunk and dressing box—the former indeed was getting itself coolly borne away by a porter amongst some other people's luggage, when I laid my hand on it and indiciated thus far shallt thou go but no farther. The door at Maryland Street was opened for me by the daughter of the murdered woman2 and she looked ready to jump out of her skin with gladness— My Uncle I met tumbling down stairs with what speed he might—prepared for being kissed to death—then came Maggie giggling—her usual manner of expressing all sorts of emotion—and lastly Babbie—flushed, and embarrassed, and unsatisfactory looking—for alas she had been all day preserving strawberries—and had not expected me so soon—and was not dressed:—to be an unwise virgin, taken with ones lamp untrimmed,3 means here to be caught in deshabille Alick I have not seen yet—tant mieux [so much the better]—for I dont like him “the least in the world”— Johnnie has sunk away into “an unintelligible whinner.”4 On the whole there is little “food for the young soul, Mr Carlyle”!5—but she (as Mazzini insists on calling the Soul—and I think with reason—making the Soul into an it being—what shall I say?—a desecration—upon my honour!—) “She” can do without visible food, like my leech, for all the while “She” is to abide in the place—and “one has always one's natural affections left”!— And then to “give pleasure to OTHERS”! the compensation that lies in that, under all circumstances! Ah!— — I am established in Mary's little room, off my Uncle's, which they have made as tidy as possible for me— There is a tradition of “a little wee wifie, that lived in a shoe”6—but I am still more curiously lodged for this room is for all the world like a boot!—the bed occupying the heel of it—a little little bed like a coffin— In so new a predicament of course I could not sleep—the best I made of it was a doze from time to time, of a few minutes duration, from which I started up with a sensation of horror like what must have been felt by the Victim of The Iron Shroud!7 For the rest there was a Cat-Opera—in which the Prima Donna had an Organ that “bet the worl8—then there are some half dozen of Stout-lunged Cocks & a dog that lyrically recognizes every passing event!— Perhaps like the pigs I shall get used to it—if not I must just go all the sooner to Seaforth where there is at least a certain quiet—

My coachful of Men turned out admirably— Silent as could be wished yet not deficient in the courtesies of life. The old gentleman with mustachious and a red face was Colonel Cleveland of the Artillary “much distinguished in the wars”— There was another old gentleman still more miraculous than Rio9—for he had one eye boiled—the other par-boiled—no leg—and his mind boiled—to jelly! and yet he got to Liverpool just as well as the rest of us!— The little man opposite me who was absorbed in Eugene Sue's Female Bluebeard10 was a German—and pleased to see me reading his language he gave me his pi-jacket to wrap my legs in—for we were all perished with cold—the English Dandy with the Heaven-blue waistcoat slept the whole way exactly in the attitude of “James” waiting for the Sylphide to come and kiss him11—but he might sleep long enough I fancy before any “bit of fascination”12 would take that trouble—

Will you tell Helen to be sure to give the leech water every day and keep it out of the Sun— The note you sent me was from Miss Clayton13 announcing Plattnauer's safe arrival at Home And now you must “excus us the day”14—after such a night I can neither “make wits15 nor, what were more to the purpose, senses for your gratification— I shall go and walk, and look at the Great Britain packet16—if one do not enlighten one's mind in the shipping department here, I see not how else one shall enlighten it—

Babbie has just knocked to beg I would give her love to you and most sincere thanks for the book17—the preface of which I read aloud to my Uncle at Breakfast and he pronounced it “very satirical”—a true speak!

God bless you dear— I do not wish you to feel lonely—nor will you—and yet I should not precisely like if you missed me none at all—

Your distracted /