JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 21 January 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480121-JWC-TC-02; CL 22: 226-227
JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE
Friday evening [21 January 1848]
Oh dear me! I am so annoyed about those letters! if they have missed the post what will you think about me, and what will Lady Harriet think of me tomorrow morning?
I wished to see John before writing, and sent for him so soon as I was dressed, which was not till twelve this morning—for the Chalmerses1 had a ball last night and thundered quadrilles on the piano-forte till three, and I was quite worn out. But John having already “taken the road” did not come till two hours after. Meanwhile I had written the note to Lady Harriet, but did not send it with him, meaning to write also to you. Just as I had got to Mr Toots Miss Wynne arrived, and afterwards Captain Sterling (returned from Paris with his Wife)—Miss Wynne went, and I was on the point of asking Sterling to go immediately, also, as I had a letter to finish, and besides; so much talking was increasing my “cuff.” but he said he had come to “consult” me about “what on earth he was to do”—his wife being still quite mad he thought, and the French Physician of opinion she would end in permanent lunacy, and I felt it so unkind to stop him in the grave exposition of his affairs which he had entered on!—still I was thinking all the while more of my letters than of his troubles poor man, and was at last obliged to interrupt him with the question what o'clock it was—“5 and 20 minutes to five”— I leapt up and sealed my letters and ordered him to make all haste he could with them to Knightsbridge—and he said he would— But goodness knows if he would manage with them rightly This I will send by the night post anyhow—to show that the omission—if any—was most involuntary—for I had no idea of the lateness of the hour, every thing today having gone so late, thro' that confounded Ball.
All yesterday I lay on the sofa—seeing nobody except John for an hour in the evening. I was about to tell you some nonsense he said but the spirit is gone out of me now for repeating nonsense.
The day before; I had gone into my own room to wash my hands after dining from a roasted joint—(one wing of a chicken roasted) (today I had a boiled leg) when I heard a considerable pattering in the stairs, and Anne putting in her head with the look of a person who had good news to tell informed me Sir Harry and Lady Verney were in the Library. “Oh dear!” I said “if you would only ask me whom I choose to receive”? “Have I blundered again”? said the little woman—“I thought the gentleman looked nice—and that you would like to have him up.” And so he did look ‘nice’—ten years younger than when I saw him last—half the starch out of him!—and “what shall I say—lively—upon my honour”!
I have heard no such hearty laughing as he laughed since you went away—the Lady too looked—as well as she could—good, sensible, and “most insipid”2— I suppose they are going to stay here now a while, for she said at going she “hoped she would now see much more of me”—more might easily be—much more, not very likely. They made a prodigiously long stay; as I felt afterwards to my cost and at such an odd time—after the candles were lit in a winters night—
They set to “working it out of me” about the Cromwell letters— “Pray Mrs Carlyle will you tell us what we are to believe about these letters of Cromwell”?—“I suppose,” I said, “there will be nothing for it but just to believe that you believe in them.” But said Sir H. “I cant understand &c”— a great deal he could not understand, as it seemed, and I did not feel it my business, especially “with my cough, and at my time of life” to furnish him with understanding. I am told that Landor says he wrote the letters for a joke against Carlyle—this comes from the Procter side of things, but fool as he is (practically) he would hardly I think indulge in so bad a jest. John is not coming tonight; since he got demoralized by the Watts he has found out that “it is better perhaps I should not be read to”—I “may sleep better for having been alone”
I send the Books tonight to Stanhope Street—
I wish I had kept to the idea you left me in—to give up my visit altogether from the first In the weak state I am in all this hithering and thithering has been very hurtful to me, and must have been tiresome enough to “others.”
When Lady Harriet is quite done with Sterling I should like to have it back3—