The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 28 September 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510928-TC-JWC-01; CL 26: 185-188


Hôtel Maurice,1 Rue de Rivoli Paris 28 Septr 1851—

My own dear little Jeannie,—Here am I at last, not without difficulty, in a condition to send you a word or two of Autobiography: my pen is of the worst, and I have had my own ados to get ink &c and even a table (in a room of my own); but let me be content, and proceed with business. It was a luck for you there went no post yesterday; otherwise you would have had a Jeremiad which may in part be spared today. But first of the first.

The Brownings were just dismounting at London Bridge when I arrived, half and2 hour ahead of time: we did all extremely well together (except that Bg was a little loudish and talkative beyond need now and then); and certainly such company was a treasure compared with what one might have had; for Browning couriered in the most perfect style all the way to Paris, and I had not the least thing to do, but sit still and look about me: An immense advantage in my poor case! Our sea-voyage lasted nearly 8 hours, and did not finish till towards nine at night; very rough and blustery, everybody sick, sick; even I had to lie perfectly flat, and endure the spray and wet occasionalities, under pain of getting queasy. Then came Custom-house, passports &c: it was towards 10 p.m. before I got any successor to the breakfast you had given me,—again tea, and very different from my poor Jeannie's. How sad and miserable most of my thoughts had been all day I will not tell you: the image of my poor Jeannie, and her downcast mistaken and yet heroic mood was present to me, and has been, and is, as a great black cloud of sorrow and affections, which, is very painful, but which I wd not put away either even if I could!— We had stumbled upon a quiet tolerable inn at Dieppe; and I slept beyond expectations (till 4 and then a ½ hour again); the next morning was bright, Dieppe is a fine old Norman town (size of Dumfries or so, and very quaint and notable); our rail to Paris ran thro' fine country, and all went right enough with us to the end of the route at 4 p.m.—but there our felicity, at least mine, took leave for some time! Near an hour spent waiting and jangling before we could all get thro' the “Octroi” (kind of Town-Custom Dues) and fairly out of the railway station; then here nobody to receive me, only concierges and hackney cabmen &c &c: both Lord and Lady A. were out, having given me up for 4 o'clock train. Eheu! Happily I wanted nothing, except tobacco, which I had; and—some hours afterwards, dinner, with sleep, which latter I utterly failed of, and could not get at all, at all! Oh my Dear I think a worse enemy than any I ever had wd have been sorry for me that night, could he have gone into the poor heart and inside of me, and seen what I was suffering and doing! Enough, I did not sleep one wink, from 11 till 7 that I tried;—I was at the top of the House but in a front room, looking out over a street equivalent to the Parisian Piccadilly; and the horrors were manifold! I think you never saw such a room,—or such a bed, witht vestige of curtain &c;—I had in fact a horrible night; and decided upon one thing, that I wd stay there no more. Next morning, it was arranged witht the smallest difficulty that I shd get a nice little back room, really an excellent place, with bed curtains and other such conveniences, two floors lower, on the floor where all the rest are: the other misery was mere oversight,—they had understood (at least her Ladyship had) that the “noises of the street which are continual wd disturb me less than the accidental ones from the court,” and so I was put there for my good! In fact this Hôtel, by far the dearest in Paris, is also I suspect one [of]3 the worst for real comfort;—a bad go altogether, like “fashionable houses” generally.

However, let me hasten to say that now I actually have slept, six hours of excellt deep sleep; and feel vastly better, and glad as if delivered from one considerable woe. My head still aches &c, and I foresee that I shall do no good in the health way here; but I shall be able to rub on, for the “few days” it is to last,—and indeed I hope they will be rather few, for “many” such wd be sufficiently intolerable! Nay if sleep again fail I have arranged to fly to Browning's Hôtel4 where there is a thoroughly quiet little room that I can rent from the people, and so make sure of sleeping. But that necessity, I now hope, will not occur.

Paris is very bright, brisk and beautiful, and everybody here is kind enough to me: only one drawback, I have nothing to do in Paris except “amuse” myself; and that I believe might be difficult before long. Both Lord and Lady are unwell at present, the Lady visibly suffering from cold; I think they only stay till Lady Sandwich can arrange herself to go with them,—day not yet fixed, nor fixable yet, but “soon.”— — All yesterday I lay motionless, only went out in the carriage with Ld A. and sat while he made calls; Lady A. confined to her room till night. Thiers came at 4, and talked immense quantities of watery enough vain matter; then two other “Men of Letters” or “office” one Mérimée, one Laborde:5 nichts zu bedeuten [of no importance]. Today Lady A. is a little better but cannot yet take me to her Mothers; so I must go myself. I have a word to write to Jack. This is all the paper your poor cover will carry (quarter of an ounce) perhaps more than all— Oh write to me, my Dearest, and tell me you are better!—

Yours ever, God bless you!—

T. C