The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 31 January 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500100-JWC-JAC-01; CL 25: 15-17


[late January 1850]

My dear John

I feel as if it behooved me to write to you this morning to congratulate you on a narrow escape. I dreamt over night that you were on the point of being married—to a Miss Crawford from about Darlington1—no dream could be more particular I was not “entangled in the details” the least in the world2— We felt much hurt here, that you had kept the thing from our knowledge till the eleventh hour tho' you gave for reason that you were “afraid of its going back” and then our laughing at you—it had been settled for months however; and it now came out that your long stay at Scotsbrig had been for the object of laying in a great stock of wedding clothes!—shirts sewed by your sister Jenny, and coats and trowsers world without end by Tom Garthet3 The whole thing seemed to me questionable and I was glad to awake— Considering that I did not fall asleep till four in the morning and then, (after taking a morphia pill) only slept by snatches—ten minutes or so at a time,—I might, I think, have been spared the bother of your marriage—

Geraldine's Tale is now going on in the Manchester Examiner4—I sent the first three parts to Auchtertoul three days ago, desiring them to forward it to you—and do you when done with it send it back to myself—as I wish to lend it to Miss Wynn &c &c— It is good so far—no “George Sandism” in it at all5— indeed Geraldine is in the fair way to become one of the most moral “Women of England”6 Seriously she has made an immense progress in common sense and common decency within the last year—and I begin to feel almost (as Mazzini would say) “enthusiast of her”!7 Her last letter contains some details I had asked for respecting Espinasse who had told me in three lines that he was about to retire into very private life till some sort of amalgamation were afected betwixt the French and Scotch blood in him which “insisted in flowing in entirely opposite currents”8—I will send that part of the letter—a wonderful style of proceeding in the nineteenth century!—my private idea is that Espinasse is insane in some corner of him— Ah “that minds me” as Helen9 used to say of poor Garnier10—he was killed in the fight at Baden last year—a respectable happy death compared with what he had to anticipate here in London!— I had a letter the other day addressed Mrs T Carlyle Esqr from one of Helen Mitchells Dublin brothers—the religious poor one.11 He wrote to ask the fact of her leaving here12— Since she left Dublin she had written to none of them till now—and now he said she wrote “in great distress of body and mind”— She was living at Bow13—had not been in service apparently since she left the place I got her—what she is doing the Devil I suppose knows—if there were the least chance of saving her I would seek her out—but there is none—even the letter to her Brother under the present circumstances had been one mass of lie's— Elizabeth does not go14—It would have been the extreme of folly to keep her to her word when she evidently wished to remain and I knew of no likelier person— So one day I asked her if she wished to leave “at the end of her month or the end of her quarter”? and she answered most insinuatingly that she did not wish to leave at all if I were satisfied with her— So I gave her a good lecture on her capricious and sullen temper—and all has gone on since better than ever—not a frown has darkened her brow these three weeks— As for Nero his temper is at all times that of an angel— But yesterday, Oh Heavens I made my first experience of the strange, suddenly-struck-solitary, altogether ruined feeling of having lost one's dog! and also of the phrenzied feeling of recognising him from a distance in the arms of a dogstealer! but mercifully it was near home that he was twitched up—I missed him just opposite the Cooper's15—and the lads who are all in my pay for odd jobs—rushed out to look for him and stopt the man who had him till I came up and put my thumb firmly inside his collar—not the man's but the dogs— he said had foundthe dog who was losing himself—and was bringing him after me!! and I would surely “give him a trifle for his trouble”!! and I was cowardly enough to give him twopence to rid Nero and myself of his dangerous proximity— I continue free of cold—and able to go out of doors—but that I may be reminded “I am but a woman”16 I have never a day free from the sickness nor a night of real sleep17— This way of it however is much less troublesome to other people than colds confining me to my room

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