August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


JWC TO SUSAN STIRLING; 5 October 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18461000-JWC-SS-01; CL 21:68-69.


[early October 1846]

My dear Susan

This sounds the very thing for me; and my only fear is lest it should end in “Don't you wish you may get it?” So if the cook with the ‘mortal disease’—poor thing!—still at the end of the ‘four days’ gives signs of recovery, pray engage this girl for me without another word about it. The Dumfrieshire woman I mentioned cannot undertake—“would have liked much to come but feels herself getting old and failed”—sorrowful feeling that!—and so I must have a stranger, and am not likely to get any more promising one than this one whose merits you give so clear and credible an account of. As to wages—if by the blessing of Providence it come so far— settle with her as you like. I dare say it is best to begin with a little less than I mean to give ultimately: that the additional pounds may be more acceptable when they come as a reward of good conduct. I did so with Helen. I believe there is a sort of a Scotch church not far from here—but whether it have emancipated itself or hung on to the “auld establishment,”1 I am not able to say, but if it do not suit her, I shall try to find her another that will, and she may always get to church once a day—“when nothing extraordinary have occurred to prevent it.”

And now thanks, the heartiest thanks for your two letters—even if this woman slip thro' our hands, and you can find no other, I shall still have got much good of my application to you—in the expressions of your unaltered friendship which it has given occasion for. Surely we ought not to lose sight of one another so long again!—and trust to Doddses2 and such like incompetent go-betweens for all our news of one another. Now that you are once more in that dear old house where I first knew you, and where I can think of you so much more definitely than in the unknown locality of Dundee;3 I feel as if you were again within holdable distance of me! Strange that Mr Craik, whom I often ask about you should never have told me this!4 stranger that he did not know it himself! for when I spoke of it to him last night he was as much surprised as I had been. He is much changed poor Craik—his red hair turned quite white and allowed to float over his coat-collar like a German Students; and his nose very red indeed! but he is the same good soul at heart as ever, bearing up manfully against a weight of domestic troubles that would break the majority of backs, and always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone that cannot bear up as well as himself. He is often a living reproach to me. Ah my Dear! it is not the exactions of society—or the charms of a more distinguished position that is ever likely to put you or anyone dear to me long ago out of my head! Bother with one's own liver and one's own soul makes one supremely inaccessible to that sort of temptation. When I married Carlyle I was content with feeling perfectly sure myself that he was a man of genius and never troubled my head with wishing that the world would recognize it along with me. And now that the world has recognized it; I often think that its recognition has been of small service either to him or me.

Ever affectionately yours / J C