April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 20 July 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490720-JWC-TC-01; CL 24: 136-138


Benrydden / Friday 20th [July 1849]

Oh my dear! I have been “packed” The Dr proposed to “pack” me, for courtesy, and I for curiosity accepted so at six in the morning, just when I had fallen into sound sleep; I was roused by a bath-woman coming to my bedside, in a huge white flannel gown, and bidding me turn out! I got on to the floor in a very bewildered state, and she proceeded to double back one half of my bed clothes and feather-bed, spread a pair of blankets on the matrass; then a sheet rung out of cold water; then bid me strip and lie down, I lay down and she swathed me with the wet-sheet like a mummy, then swathe me with the blankets, my arms pinioned down, exactly in fact like a mummy then rolled back the feather bed and original bedclothes on the top of me, leaving out the head—and so left me—for an hour—to go mad at my leisure!— I had no sooner fairly realized my situation—of being bound hand and foot under a heap of things, than I felt quite frantic, and cursed my foolish curiosity, and made horrid efforts to release myself—thought of rolling to the bell and ringing it with my teeth, but could not shake off the feather bed!—did ultimately get one of my hands turned round—and was thankful for even that change of posture—Dr Nichol says the bath-woman should have stayed with me during the first “pack” and put a wet cloth on my head—that it was the blood being sent to my head that “caused all this wildness”—whatever it was; I would not undergo the thing again for a hundred guineas When the Bath-woman came back at seven I ordered her to take me out instantly—“But the Dr”?—the Dr I told her had no business with me, I was not a patient—“Oh! then you have only been packed for foon, have you?”— “Yes—and very bad fun”! so she filled a slipper-bath to “put me to rights again”—and I plunged into that so soon as I was set loose, and she plashed pitcher after pitcherful of water on my head—and this shall be the last of my water-curing—for the present. I feel quite shattered still, with an incipient headach. and am wishing much that Forster would come, and take me back to Rawdon—

I suppose Forster has sent you a Bradford paper containing the report of our meeting for “Roman Liberty”— It went off very successfully as a meeting, but did not bring in to Forster all the “virtue's own reward” he anticipated—and he was out of humour for twentyfour hours after— His speech was long-winded, not good, and his delivery the worst in nature1— The people (il populo) often cried “Time—time”! to him—and once they cried “sweet soap”!—the yorkshire for “soft sawder”— In fact the Bradford Gentlemen on the platform were like Bess Stodart's2 legs “no great things”—but the Bradford men, filling the Hall to suffocation, were a sight to see!—to cry over “if one liked”!—such ardent, earnest half intelligent, half-bewildered countenances! as made me, for the time being, almost into a friend of the species and advocate for fusion de biens [communal ownership]3 And I must tell you—“I aye thocht meikle [thought much] o' you”; but that night I “thocht mair [more] o' you than ever”4— A man of the people mounted the platform and spoke—a youngish, intelligent looking man, who alone of all the Speakers seemed to understand the question, and to have feelings as well as notions about it—he spoke with a heart-eloquence that “left me WARM5— I never was more affected by public speaking— When he ceased I did not throw myself on his neck and swear everlasting friendship, but I assure you, it was in putting constraint on myself, that I merely started to my feet and shook hands with him—all the Gentlemen immitated my example and shook hands with him—then “a sudden thought” struck me; this man would like to know you—I would give him my address in London—I borrowed a pencil and piece of paper, and handed him my address—when he looked at it he started as if I had sent a bullet into him—caught my hand again, almost squeezed it to “immortal smash,”6 and said; “Oh! it is your Husband!—Mr Carlyle has been my teacher and Master—I have owed everything to him for years and years”!— I felt it a credit to you really to have had a hand in turning out this man—was prouder of that heart-tribute to your genius than of any amount of Reviewer-praises or of aristocratic invitations to dinner— Forster had him to breakfast next morning— I shall have plenty of things to tell you when we meet at leisure—if I can only keep them in mind—but in this wandering-jew life I feel no time on hand ever for going into particulars

Today I am pretty well finished off for all practical purposes, by that confounded pack— My head is getting every moment hotter and heavier—and the best I can do is to get out on the hillside and think of nothing!— Lucas's7 Father and Sister are here genteel Quakerly people—very lean—

After Monday address to Auchtertool Manse Kircaldy I wish to heaven I were fairly there—I could almost lose heart, and turn, and go back to London—but I will go—as I used to say when a little child and they asked if anything was too hard for me—“Me can do what me's bid”— The difficulty is still chiefly to bid myself—and I have bid myself go to Scotland—

Mrs Paulet is asleep on a sofa beside me—so young and pretty and happy looking—I wonder at her—

God bless you Dear—when I have “some reasonably good leisure”8 again, I will write you better letters, and more legible ones when I get a decent pen— If you saw the stump I am writing with you would be filled with admiration of my superiority to circumstances— God bless you—all to be said worth the saying lies in that

Your affectionate /

Jane W C