April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 13 April 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480413-JWC-TC-01; CL 23: 17-18


Thursday [13 April 1848]

If better for you in all other respects that I should remain in “some other part of the country” my return will have at least one comfort in it, that I do serve to “stave off” the people from you, especially at meal times! But perhaps it is more the cold than the people that makes you more unwell than usual in these days— I have no people here to worry me—have nothing to complain of as to diet or hours or noise—and I have not one well moment day or night—except that day you came however;1 I have always been able to keep on foot and to put a good face on myself—so I have not had the un“pleasant additament”al consciousness of being a bore. Mr Baring has not returned yet—on Tuesday evening, after dinner, Lady Harriet went up to the Opera—very rashly I thought, having risen from her sofa to go—but she returned quite well next day about one o'clock. Mr Baring is not to come I believe till she goes up for the Molesworth-dinner on Sunday2— The evening I spent here, so unexpectedly, alone was like a morphia-dream— The stillness was something superhuman—for the servants, it seemed to me, so soon as they got their Lady out of the way went, all but William, off into space— While I was up stairs for a moment, light had been brought in—and an hour after, tea was placed for me in the same invisible manner— I looked to myself sitting there all alone in the midst of comforts and luxuries, not my own, like one of those wayfarers in the Fairy Tales who having left home with “a bannock” to “prove their fortune,” and followed the road their stick fell towards find themselves in a beautiful enchanted Palace where all their wants are supplied to them by supernatural agency—hospitality of the most exquisite description only without a host! I had been reading Swift all day but I found that now too prosaical for my romantic circumstances and seeking thro the books I came upon The Romance of the Forrest which I seized on with avidity,3 remembring the “tremendous” emotions with which I read it in my night-shift, by the red light of our dying schoolroom fire, nearly half a century ago, when I was supposed to be sleeping the sleep of good children—and over that I actually spent the whole evening—it was so interesting to measure my progress—downwards I must think—by comparing my present feelings at certain well remembered passages with the past— After all it might have been worse with my Imaginative part— I decidedly like the dear old book, even in this year of grace, far better than Rose Blanche &c Execrable that is— I could not have suspected even the Ape of writing anything so silly— Lady H read it all the way down and decided it was “too vulgar to go on with”— I myself should have also laid it aside in the first half volume if I had not felt a pitying interest in the Man, that makes me read on in hope of coming to something a little better. Your marginal notes are the only real amusement I have got out of it hitherto.4

The note of this morning was not from the Governess but an invitation to a Hawes-evening5— I have an amusing and kind note from John this morning—and more M.S. from Anthony Sterling6—taking now chiefly the form of regular epistolary correspondence.

My head feels as usual to be full of melted lead, swaying this way and that— There is no walking off the heaviness if wakable-off for the rain is incessant. Tell Anne to bid the Confectioner bake half a dozen fresh little cakes for the Verneys— Have patience with them. are they not seeking which is next best to having found— Tell her also to put fire in my bedroom on Saturday morning and air the bedclothes.

Ever your