The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO JULIA STERLING; 18 December 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511218-JWC-JMS-01; CL 26: 271-272


The Grange / Thursday [18 December 1851]

My dear Julia

I cannot write a reasonable letter under the present circumstances but here are two lines to bear witness that I am alive, and thinking of you all; grateful for your letters—and desiring more letters— For the rest; till within the last two days I have been struggling on under the same difficulties—incessant headach, and plenty of cold— The others are restored to health and society—tho' when the first detachment of visitors arrived they were still confined to their rooms. Happily Mr Carlyle being among these I was relieved from the apprehension of probably death—from starvation— Had I been reduced at last to keep my bed, with no maid of my own, and no hope of ‘ravens’;1 it were hard to say thro' what means I could have procured even bread and water!— Oh let nobody wish to possess 40,000 a year!—who wishes to be comfortable himself and to make others comfortable— My heart never went after money, and every day I see more reason to question its desirableness— Meanwhile I have shaken off the worst of my cold, and have risen the two last mornings without headach, and can go thro the heavy work of the day—talking—“making WITS” (as Bolte called it) if possible—but at all rates talking—with less of internal protest to the Universe and appeal to posterity.— The never failing topic is this beastly Revolution; not that anyone takes any real interest in it, but that every one flatters him and herself to carry his and her head a little higher than the rest on the strength of individual perspicacity, or of the news received by post from “authentic sources”— Lady A's letters from Thiers however enable her to appear at breakfast, as triumphant in the news-line as she is in all other lines— Indeed all yesterday we were expecting the little scoundrel to arrive here bodily an invitation having been sent to London to await him there— But today we hear he is only to arrive in London tomorrow and as he must go first to Clermont2 he is not likely to come till next week— I wrote to Nero yesterday, and sent the letter by post—addressed to himself—desiring him to call on Mazzini and Saffi and bid them write to me—I rather wonder who will open that letter—and answer it!—

My Dear! if you will only consider that Macauley is flowing on like a mill-dam within three feet of my ear, and that the second and third greatest talkers of the age are trying to get in an occasional sentence you will admire the power of abstraction that has enabled me to write even this much— There is a room on each side of this one furnished with writing apparatus but Lady Sandwich has established herself at the one writing table and a Mrs Mildmay at the other; besides that Macauley's voice is painfully audible thro all the rooms— Up stairs in my own room they had let my fire go out—and I used my last match yesterday, in sealing the letter to Nero—so there was no resource but to set down here in the middle of the great drawing room—to “pursue friendship under difficulties”—

An emphatic kiss to Kate, I will write to her soon— Perhaps I shan't be home till January Lady A wants me to stay till after newyears day—“even if he should go home after Christmas day”— God be good to you all

Your affectionate /

Jane W Carlyle

I never cross the threshold