The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 1 October 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511001-JWC-TC-01; CL 26: 192-193


Wednesday 3d [1] Oc[tober 1851]

Alas! your letter, which came on the Monday morning in due course, couldn't get itself so much as opened till late at night! I was all that day in bed again with a raging headach, only lifting my head to—what shall I say?—retch! When Anne told me there were three letters, I asked if one of them were from you, and that demonstration of interest was just the most I was up to for the moment. Really Nero makes a capital little nurse! he never left me for an instant, except for inevitable purposes, and these he transacted with a despatch! for the rest; he warmed my feet and my back by turns, licked my face, and once was so overpowered by his feelings that the consequences, had I been of superstitious turn, might have proved fatal!—for he laid his little head on my breast and set up that peculiarly dismal, preternatural howl which is said to portend “a death in the family”— I assure you I remained amazed for a moment as in presence of the Infinite! the effect was more startling than you can well conceive!— The newspapers too failed of getting sent that day; there being no one to address them—yesterday however I made them ready so soon as I got up, and wrote a short business note to John, and began to write a letter to you—but I was still so weak and fluttery from all that pain that I felt I had best desist, in case of accidents. and I spent the day purposely in doing as nearly as human faculties could accomplish it—nothing at all. About nine at night the two Triumvirs Mazzini and Saffi came,1 and found me emancipated from combs, with my hair all down!— I had tried to gather myself up and escape, on hearing a knock but failed— Saffi is a very gentlemanly, grave, sincere looking young man—with an unfortunate habit of tumbling over the fire irons— He does this, Mazzini says, wherever he goes—not once—but three or four times at one visit—last night he restrained himself on account of my weak nerves, and did it only twice. I have had the quietest time since you went—“chiefly sewing Mr Carlyle”—I have finished my dressing gown and “other things too”— My visitors are extremely few and those who do come are not always let in— Dr Samuel Brown had tea given him one night, for the sake of dear old Haddington2—for himself he strikes me as “the thinnest of men”—a sort of shoemakers awl in human form—the night after he was here I dreamt that I saw a Head, with HIS eyes peering out of it on all sides, moving along the floor, and while I looked at it with a mild wonder, it dropt down thro a trapdoor!— My Imagination you see is still lively—at nights— Mr Neuberg came according to appointment to take me to the Exhibition and I went and staid—just five minutes It was too dreadful!— Darwin came another day in the same intention, but I made him drive me instead to different shops where I had wants— There was a letter on Saturday from the new Lady Airlie—requesting me to thank you for her book3—not feeling up to addressing “the great Man” herself— She writes pleasantly and hopefully—“feels, she says, as if she could be very happy there,4 and feels strong to DO all she is appointed to—(Alas!)—“Airlie is kinder than words can say”!— So are they all generally speaking in the first week!

There are no letters for you of any moment— Two shilling Yankee ones returned—after thro the Postmans help taking “a peep into their inside”— Anne is out for a holiday for once in her life—and I have her daughter to “do for me”— When I made her the offer she curtsied and said “well Mam—if you have no objections I think I really should like to go and see—the Tower!5 I was quite glad she had the sense to prefer the good old tower to the Crystal Palace I called at the Chorleys door on Saturday— Mr & Miss “as well as could be expected— It was the day I had Darwins carriage

Ever faithfully yours