The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 3 August 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520803-JWC-TC-01; CL 27: 200-202


5 Cheyne Row / Tuesday [3 August 1852]

Oh my Dear! If I had but a pen that would mark freely—never to say spell—and if I might be dispensed from news of the house; I could write you such a Lettre d'Une Voyageuse1 as you have not read “these seven years.” For it was not a commonplace journey this at all! It was more like that journey of a Belinda or Evelina or Cecelea.2 Your friends “The Destinies,” “Immortal Gods,” or whatever one should call them, transported me into the Regions of mild romance for that one day. But with this cursed house to be told about, and so little leisure for telling anything, my Miss Burney faculty cannot spread its wings—so I will leave my journey to Sherborne for a more favourable moment, telling you only that I am no worse for it—rather better—if indeed I needed any bettering which it would be rather ungrateful to Providence to say I did—Except that I sleep less than ordinary mortals do, I have nothing earthly to complain of nor have had since you left me— Nor will I even tell you of the Macreadys in this letter—I cannot mix up the image of that dear dying woman with details about bricklayers and carpenters—

You ask what my prophetic gift says to it; more to be depended on I should think than Mr Morgans calculations— My Dear, my prophetic gift says very decidedly that it will be two months at least before we get these fearful creatures we have conjured up laid. The confusion at this moment is more horrible than when you went away— The Library is——exactly as you left it!!— The plaisterers could not commence there on account of the moving of the floors above—and the front bedroom floor could not be got on with on account of the pulling down of the chimney; your bedroom is floored and has got its window shutters and the Painter was to have begun there on Saturday—and has not appeared yet—and Mr Morgan keeps away and I am nearly mad. My present bedroom is as you left it—only more full of things— The chimney above upstairs is carried back and finished, the floor is still up there and the ceiling down it will be a week before they get the floor laid there—and till then the plaistering cant be begun below!! This is our own fault, having begun at the wrong end. We should have settled every thing that was to be done before they started— There is no excuse however for the slight hold Mr Morgan takes of his men— The things that were at the head of the stairs have all had to come down into the back parlour—and much furniture from the front bedroom besides Instead of shutting the folding doors I have put the skreen right accross which leaves me the cross air—the door is of course opened into the passage—

And now you must consider and decide— For two months I am pretty sure there will be no living for you here—I can do quite well—and seem to be extremely necessary for shifting about the things and looking after the men— The only servant in the House is little Martha— Our Beauty was as perfect a fool as the sun ever shone on, and at the end of a week left, finding it “quite impossible to live in any such muddle”— I have been doing very well with Martha for the last week—and Irish Fanny is engaged to come on the 27th—but I did not want a regular servant at present—

My idea is that you ought to go to Germany by yourself—leaving me here, where I am more useful at present than I could be anywhere else—but if you dont like that, there will be the Grange open for September, and you could go by yourself there As to “cowering into some hole”! you are “the last man in all England” that can do that sort of thing with advantage so there's no use speculating about it—

If you could make up your mind to Germany any easier for my going to see to the beds &c, of course there is no such absolute need of my staying here, that I could not delegate my superintendence to Chalmers3 or somebody, and put Fanny into the kitchen and go away—but I shant take it the least unkind your leaving me behind, and with Neuberg to attend on you I really think you would be better without me— You are always wishing to get away from me, and when you have a fair pretext you dont embrace it— I wish I hadnt been required to say all this business sort of thing—I could have written you a letter really pleasant to read out of the materials collected in my Sherborne visit— Nay If I am left quiet this evening perhaps, now that this disagreeable prose is off my hands I may still write my travels

Meanwhile ever yours / J W C

love to Mr Erskine and thanks for his note