October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 30 December 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18451230-JWC-MR-01; CL 20: 85-86


5 Cheyne Row / 30th December [1845]

Dearest Mrs Russell

We are just returned from our Hampshire visit—and I can answer for one of us being so worn out with “strenuous idleness” as I do not remember ever to have been before! Six weeks have I been doing absolutely nothing but playing at battledoor and shuttlecock—chess—talking nonsense—and getting rid of a certain fraction of this mortal life as cleverly and uselessly as possible—nothing could exceed the sumptuosity and elegance of the whole thing—nor its uselessness!— Oh dear me! I wonder why so many people wish for high position and great wealth when it is such an “open secret” what all that amounts to in these days—merely to emancipating people from all those practical difficulties which might teach them thefact of things, and sympathy with their fellowcreatures. This Lady Harriet Baring whom we have just been staying with is the very cleverest woman—out of sight—that I ever saw in my life—(and I have seen all our “distinguished Authoresses”) moreover she is full of energy and sincerity—and has I am quite sure an excellent heart—yet so perverted has she been by the training and life long humouring incident to her high position that I question if in her whole life she have done as much for her fellowcreatures as my mother in one year—or whether she will ever break thro' the cobwebs she is entangled in so as to be any thing other than the most amusing and most graceful woman of her time The sight of such a woman should make one very content with one's own trials even when they feel to be rather hard!

To jump to the opposite ends of creation how is old Mary? let her have her usual tokens of remembrance from me poor old soul!—and Margaret1—say kind words to them both from me—which I know is always a pleasant commission to one so kindly disposed as you are—

I have never yet thanked you for your welcome letter—but not the less have I thanked you in my heart— I was just expecting my husband's return when it came, and was busy making all sorts of preparations for him—then; after he came, I was kept in a sort of worry till we got away to Bay House— and in the last six weeks I have never felt to have one minutes leisure, tho doing nothings all the while— Now that I am home I hope to settle down into a more peaceful and reasonable life— God Bless you dear Mrs Russel and your Father and husband.

Accept the little new Years gift I send you as a token of grateful affection that will never be less— Yours J Carlyle