The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 10 August 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520810-JWC-TC-01; CL 27: 216-218


5 Cheyne Row / Tuesday night [10 August 1852]

Oh my Dear! What a comfortless letter! In your last from Linlathen you said you were “decidedly better,” and now you seem to be again “all nohow”! I hope it has only been the fag of the journey. Dont fret about the house; it is getting on pretty fast now, and will be satisfactory when finished. For my part I am got quite used to the disturbance, and begin to like the what shall I say?—excitement of it—to see something going on and to help its going on fulfils a great want of my nature! I have prevented so many mistakes being made, and afforded so many capital suggestions, that I begin to feel rather proud of myself, and to suspect I must have been a Builder in some previous state of existence. The Painter is my chief delight, he does his work so thoroughly; he is only in your bedroom as yet, but he has rubbed it all down with pumice stone till it looks as smooth as paper. And I have never been at all inconvenienced by any smell!— Perhaps the house may be habitable a week or two sooner than I guessed, tho' I hardly think the workmen will be fairly out of it sooner— I shall “see my way” better next week— The weather is capital for drying both paint and plaster—that is one blessing! My half of the low room is kept always tidy—the bedding, and tables with their legs in the air, as if in convulsions which show themselves above the screen often make me laugh— When the noise is very great I practice on the piano! I do quite well in short, and dont see how I can be spared till things are done to my mind, and the chaotic heaps of furniture restored to their proper places, Decidedly nobody but myself can do that.

I found your letter today on my return from Tavistock House1 where I had gone to see Forster. He is staying there for a change in the absence of the Dickenses— I had promised the Macreadys to go and tell him about her, and found no time till today. I went by the boat to Paul's warf,2 like a goose, and found myself so far off my destination! Besides, a violent thunder shower fell just as I set my foot on land, and having on a pair of those cheap boots I bought a stock of—(chiefly paper Mr Carlyle!) My feet were wet thro in two minutes—I went into a shop and bought a pair of stockings, then on till I found a good looking shoeshop and bought a pair of real boots. left my dripping stockings and paper boots with the Shoemaker, requesting that when they were dry—and not till then—he would pack them up and send them to the care of Forster—and so proceeded on my long walk dry-shod—cleverly managed dont you think “regardless of expense”? Forster was very glad to see me, he is a little less helpless—but still on fish diet—I got into a Holborn omnibus after, which left me at the top of Regent Street, and then I went to Verey's3 and had—a beautiful little mutton chop! and a glass of bitter ale! That is the sort of things I do!— It was my second dinner at Vereys, meat dinners at home are as nearly impossible as can be—and one sleeps ill on tea dinners the chaarge at Vereys is very moderate and the cooking perfect. for my dinner and ale today I paid one and five pence. The day I went to the Foundry I dined at a clean looking shop in the Strand, where I had half a roast chicken (warm very small indeed) a large slice of warm ham and three new potatoes for one shilling! It amuses me all that; besides keeping me in health and for the outrage to “delicate femaleism I am beyond all such considerations at present. However I see single women besides myself at Vereys—not improper—governesses and the like— And now goodnight I am off to bed


Ah! it is a tempting of Providence always, to congratulate oneself on the weather! Today, it “is pouring hale water” (as Helen used to say) and has so poured all night— If it weren't for the paint and plaster's sake I should have no objection. I called at the London Library yesterday on my way home—to get Me de Staals Memoires4 for Count Reichenbach, Mr Donne5 never comes out of that end room seemingly—Mr Jones was “absent three days for a little pleasuring”— The tall young man6 was on the eve of his departure—had “found, on trial of six years, that the place didn't suit him”— He was going to embark in a silk manufactory at Derby—“a very good opening indeed.”

Mrs Humphrey Mildmay, did I tell you, left your books and a Card for me, just before leaving town—Dilberoglue might surely call thatglorious prudence”!— Nevertheless she might have safely relied on her own powers of boring me—and on my general indisposition to intrude! god help us! I dont know of any fine people remaining except the Farrers who cant get away for fear of their house being robbed. Mazzini was here on Sunday morning and made my hair stand on end with his projects— If he dont be shot, or in an Austrian Fortress within the month!; it will be more by good luck than good guiding. I rely on the promise “God is kind to women fools and drunk people.”

Kind love to your Mother and all of them— After going all that way to Sherborne for two days, who know[s]7 whether I shant run to Scotsbrig for two days, and see her when she is not thinking of me— Ever yours


If you wont go to Germany alone, and dont much like the notion; is there no little lodging to be got by the sea side within reach of Scotsbrig butter and eggs for two or three weeks—for yourself I mean—