The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 7 September 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520907-JWC-TC-01; CL 27: 270-273


Tuesday night [7 September 1852]

When I returned from Addiscombe yesterday forenoon I saw a letter on the table and cut short poor Nero's vehement leaping, to take it; and lo! it was my own letter from Rotterdam! addressed to the “London Library St James's Square”! a fact which puzzled me extremely, “An old man” had brought it from there, and said “a shilling had been paid for it”—the second shilling the unlucky deed had cost! By and by I noticed that the envelope had the London Library mark on it, and then the small mystery was solved. I had written the letter at the Ln Ly after some hours of wild galloping in a street cab to ascertain about the passport—indeed that passport affair was as pretty a version of Simon Brodie's Cow as any I have lately had on hand!1 Today I have to thank you for a letter more agreeable to receive than that one—as you have not got ‘stolen or strayed’ hitherto one may now feel a moderate assurance that you will be safely landed at the far end of this journey to—what shall I say?—Flaetz!2 Neuberg being not likely either to lose sight of you or to lose patience with you.

The Addiscombe Programme was only once changed We went on the Saturday instead of Friday—separately of course—I by steamboat and railway— The Brookfields, Baby and all, came about an hour after me, and an hour after them the Poodle3—Mrs B was as sweet as syrup, and dreadfully tiresome, her husband ingrushing4 himself, “trés aimable dans la societé;”5—and the baby! a “bit of fascination” seemingly, for everyone but me!— The visit went off harmoniously, but I got no better sleep in my curtainless bed there, than among the bugs at no 2! on Monday forenoon the Brookfields and I came back together by the railway, Lady A was to come too, and sleep at Bath House and go to the Grange this morning Mr Brookfield invited me to dine with them the same evening, but I preferred a chop and silence at home— He seems to be very fond of me, has a perception, I think, that I dont adore his wife, and is grateful to me for that. I was engaged to tea at the Farrer's tonight, but a note came from Annie to say that her Mother was lying ill with a blister on her back, and her sister brought home from a visit she had been making, with her nose broken and otherwise all smashed by a dreadful fall!—poor girl! I saw her the day before I went to Addiscombe looking so pretty! (Thursday morning)

At this point I stopt on Tuesday night the thunder and rain becoming too loud “for anything” it was still raining violently when I went to bed, (—in your room—the bed up—for the rest, carpetless and full of lumber—) so I left only one of the windows open; and what with the paint smell, and the fatigue of having nailed up all the hangings myself, and the want of sleep at No 2 and at Addiscombe I took quite ill in the middle of the night, colic and such headach! in the morning I crawled down to the sofa in the parlour, and lay there all day, till eleven at night, in desperate agony, with a noise going on around me like the crash of doom.6 If it had not been for Fanny's kindness,7 who when all else that she could try failed, fairly took to crying and sobbing over me, I think I must have died of the very horror and desolation of the thing, for the Plasterers came back yesterday to finish the cornice in the new room, and the bricklayers were tramping out and in repairing the backyard and the Painter was making a rare smell of new paint in my old bedroom— Besides the two carpenters into whose heads the Devil put it to saw the whole day at god knows what, without a moments intermission, except to hammer! I have passed a good many bad days in this world but certainly never one so utterly wretched from mere physical and material causes as yesterday!— It is over now however, that bout! and I should be thankful to have held out so long. In the evening came a note which I was not up to looking at till some hours after—when lo! it was a few hurry-scurry lines from John, to say that he and “the Baing” were actually engaged! they were all well, I was to tell you, and had got your letter. no newspaper reached me except the Athenaeum which I supposed had been overlooked at Scotsbrig I hope poor John is “making a good thing of it” the “parties” having known each other for fifteen years it is possible they maynt be marrying on a basis of fiction— Reflecting with a half-tragical, half comical feeling that John was just my own age, I turned to another letter still lying unopened, and found what might have been a proposal of marriage to——myself! had you not been alive at Bonn! A man who having wished to marry me at fifteen, and “with the best intentions proved unfortunate,” and whom I had seen but once these twenty years, now “thought himself sufficiently master of his emotions, to dare to tell me that for nearly 40 years (!) he had loved me with the same worship-ful love—me the only human soul who ever possessed the key to his locked heart”!8 And they say Man is an inconstant animal! Poor Fellow! I am afraid he must be going to die—or to go mad, or he would have continued to pursue the silent system which use must have rendered easy to him. The practical inference from all this, and a good deal more I could instance, is that the laws of nature in the matter of Love seem decidedly to be getting themselves newmade; “the bloom” not to be so “speedily swept from the cheek of that beautiful enthusiasm”!9

You may calculate on having your bed room quite ready—and the new room in a cleaned out state—not papered—but really that is easily to be born after what has been to bear— The door in the parlour has been left as it was—partly because I dreaded to let the wretches begin any new mess and partly because I find the room can be made so warm for winter, by having the door opened into the passage and the folding door space completely filled by the screen. Now that I see a probable end to the carpenters and bricklayers—I may tell you without putting you quite wild that Mr Morgan has been here just twice since you left home.— And neither time have I seen him!! The first time I was out at the balloon and the second time was yesterday when I was on my back in an agony, and could not have stood up for Jesus Christ

The botheration of hunting on the men of such a careless master and the responsibility of directing them you may partly figure—Fanny is the best comfort I have had—so willing to fly over the moon for me—and always making light of her discomforts—and now I must write a word of congratulation to John

ever affectionately yours