The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 30 August 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500830-JWC-TC-01; CL 25: 184-186


5 Cheyne Row / Friday [30 August 1850]

My poor Dear!

That was the worst journey “but one” I ever read of— You can perhaps guess the exception. One good thing will come of it, I hope; and that is a certain sympathy with Quashee! You will be more disposed henceforth to grant to your black Brother the compensation of unlimited pumpkins!1 Such is indeed the only benefit that I “as one solitary individual”2 ever get from being made excessively miserable in any particular way; it develops a new sympathy in me for another class of human sufferers. In all other respects, I should say, that being made excessively miserable is not for one's soul's good at all, but the reverse. Natures strong and good to begin with, that is, the exceptional natures may be ‘made perfect thro' suffering’3—when one can digest it I dare say it “goes to fibre” but where the moral digestion is unhappily weak; the more miserable one is the more one grows—“what shall I say—bad—upon my honour”?

But you would rather be told is the new maid come— Yes— She arrived yesterday unexpectedly early— Eliza, the young person who has been “doing for me” intended to have her kitchen seductively clean for the stranger and had just tumbled everything up, and swashed the floor with fresh water when her successor came to hand, with plenty of nice trunks, and we had to shut her up in the spare room with some sewing (one of her accomplishments is “needle work”) until she could find a dry place below for the sole of her foot!— “With the best intentions etc”!4— I will venture no opinion of her on such short observation; further than that she looks, tho rather youthful, perfectly “respectable”—and that her manners are distinguished!—so self-possessed, and soft-voiced, and calm, as only english people can be—

The second vol. of Dr Chalmers is come5—very bulky this one weighs an ounce over the two pounds or I would have sent it at once by post to your Mother who I think got the first vol.— There is also come a novel called Alton Locke6—which I flung aside in my worry as not readable—but now I hear from Geraldine, whom the Athenaeum has invited to review it, that it is the novel of young Kingsley—and tho “too like Carlyle” a production of astounding merit7— So I shall fall on it some evening—

For the rest I have nothing to tell—except “goot look” has not returned to me yet from “the Orient8—I surely never had such run of provoking things “since I ken't the worl” but it will “come all to the same ultimately”;9 one does hope—

From the Wednesday night when Geraldine went off with Anthony Sterling I had no speech with any one till Sunday that I made a call at Miss Wynne's—no one had been here, and for me I cerco nessino [seek no one]—then again I was silent till Tuesday evening when Craik came and insisted on playing at chess with me— I beat him three games in no time and he went away heavy and displeased.10 the only person since was Anthony Sterling yesterday—rather bored by his yachting expedition— His wife was to return to Knightsbridge last night, and he intended to take her to Hedley where Mrs Prior11 is coming or come on a visit of indefinite duration— The Irish business is going on towards a law-suit—perhaps the best for Anthony that could come of it—the possession of more money will only add to his troubles, but going to law for his rights will be an excitement for him as good as any other—

Kindest regards to them all at Scotsbrig.

Ever affectionately yours

Jane Carlyle