The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 12 September 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510912-JWC-TC-01; CL 26: 168-170


Friday [12 September 1851]

There never was such a Postman! His morning delivery varies from nine till half after ten! Yesterday it was half after ten when he brought your letter;—after I had lost all hope of it, and was beginning to think; could it be that you were fallen ill?—and, with this incipient fear threatening to spoil my day's lark, was stepping into a cab, according to programme to be ultimately conveyed by railway “thro the prettiest scenery in all Lancashire” to Burnley1— — When I had read the letter I wished that I had not been going for an hour at least that I might first have written to Blanche—but a carriage, or to speak with truthful modesty, an old gig was to be in waiting for us at the Burnley Station, and a dinner waiting for us, a mile or two beyond—so without disappointing and provoking various persons, there was no delaying—and as we did not get home till eleven at night the letter to Blanche has only got written this morning.— (Oh these pens of Geraldines!) I have begged her however to answer by return of post— As it is now so near upon her marriage—(on the 22d Lady Stanley said it was to come off) I judged it best to express the strongest doubts of its being convenient for them to receive us for even the shortest number of days—but offered to come over, without luggage, and spend a part of a day with them if they had still leisure to see us on that principle— It is possible they may have their house full of the mutual relations—and if otherwise they can renew their invitation—but it was best not to put them to the awkwardness of saying they did not want us at this time—

I am very sorry to hear of your rushing down into coffee and castor so soon—and an amount of smoking I dare say!—for me; I can tell you with a little “proud Pharasee” feeling,2 that I have not—“what shall I say?”—swallowed a pill since I left Malvern!!!—and I am alive, and rather well— — But then my life otherwise is so very wholesome—nice little railway excursions almost every day—nice country dinners at two o'clock—everybody so fond of me!—and Geraldine guarding me from all sorts of “mental agony with my own inside,” telling me Tales of Manchester life—much better than her novels—rubbing my feet at every leisure moment and taking as much fond trouble with me as if I were her own little red infant—

It is great fun too visiting these primeval Cotton spinners with “Parlour kitchens” and bare-headed servant maids—so overflowing with fervent hospitality—and in the profoundest darkness about my Husband's “Literary reputation”— I have a great deal to tell about these people but it is needless to waste time in writing that sort of thing— But one thing of another sort, belonging to our natural sphere I must tell you so long as I remember—that Espinasse has—renounced his allegiance to you! When his Father3 was in London lately, he (the Father anything but an admirer of yours) was greatly charmed to hear his son declare that he had “quite changed his views about Carlyle—and was no longer blind to his many and great faults” whereon the Espinasse Father in a transport of gratitude to Heaven for a saved “insipid offspring” pulled out—a five pound note! and made Espinasse a present of it— Espinasse, thanking his Father, then went on to say that, “he no longer liked Mrs Carlyle either—that he believed her an excellent woman once—but she had grown more and more into Carlyle's likeness, until there was no enduring her”! The Father however did not again open his purse!— Store Smith,4 who was present, is the authority for this charming little history—which has amused Espinasse's enemies here very much—

Mrs Gaskell took Geraldine and me a beautiful drive the other day “in a friends carriage”— She is a very kind cheery woman in her own house but there is an atmosphere of moral dullness about her, as about all Socinian women— I am thinking whether it would not be expedient however to ask her to give you a bed when you come—she would be “proud and happy” I guess—and you do not wish to sleep at Geraldine's—besides that mine is the only spare-room furnished— The Gaskell house is very large and in the midst of a shrubbery and quite near this—

Kind love to your Mother and the rest—I had a parcel of letters from Chelsea—round by Liverpool—where Mary had coolly kept them three days— Miss Farrer, Mrs John Stodart and the marriage cards of Mr and Mrs John Allan Braun5—Heaven knows who these are!—the post mark was Rothsay—

Nero is the happiest of dogs goes all the journeys by railway—smuggled with the utmost ease—and has run many hundreds of miles after the little Lancashire birds—

“Oh my”! your old gloves have come home with their tails behind them!6 I found something bulky in my great-coat pocket the other night when I put it on, and pulled out—the gloves! You must have placed them there yourself—for there was also a mass of rolled up paper for pipical purposes—

Ever yours /

Jane W Carlyle

Johnnie7 had arrived at Maryland Street when Mary wrote

We drink tea at Dilberoglues tonight again—tho' Geraldine has broken down into a streaming cold