The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 8 July 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530708-TC-JWC-01; CL 28: 185-187


Chelsea, 8 july, 1853—

My dear little Jeannie,—I have got no Letter from you this morning, not even at 11 did any come: but perhaps there will be one at six, for Jack yesterday taught me confidently to expect one. Meanwhile it is hard on 3; and for a man tenth part so wearied, and worn-out with the ills of life, as I now feel, it is high time to be in the open air, at such a temperature! Pray Heaven, thy own poor toothache be not still bad:—or the cocks, or the thousand miseries that beset a skinless creature in this world!— — But I must hold in all that; and give a hasty word of narrative, the less commentary the better. I have been awakened (by Cocks, Ronca's1 I think, or else a new mysterious set) these two successive mornings at 5 o'clock; under my windows is a vile yellow Italian grinding;—and I am in such a mood for impartial “commentary” as you may fancy. Oh my little woman, I wish to God thou wert here, to be of some comfort to me,—to pity me at least as in thy heart thou wouldst! But let us get on.

Chorley's dinner was of elegant simplicity and wholesome as the repast of sages: ourselves two, a volunteer from Liverpool having been rejected; really a very tolerable evening, with plenty of talk not wholly uninstructive; and shortly after ten, under the serene summer skies, my magnanimous Chorley set me down here (or left me, for we both walked, of course!) safe at my own door. Nevertheless, after reading till my usual hour, I awoke—at 4 in the morning; and had such a day following: ah me, a more miserable day than even this. Silence, silence! I tried too to do a little work; against all evils one has no redress whatever but the fraction of work one can snatch out of them as by the hair of the head. But I could do no work. Summer with its noises and its heats is very terrible to me in these parts. The Painters too were winding up (Hydrastisy not yet done, nor any of them here these last two days): I worked three days at my Books again, true Nigger's work; beginning with the sun, that one day, and not ending with him, any of the three days. Perhaps I did myself mischief: it is my stomach and its error that creates this want of sleep; and I am going to vanquish it on that side if I can.— At all events, the room is now finished, Books once more in apple pie order, and I am now sitting beside them again, without carpet, but really in a clean airy nice place: for it does look all very well; and we shall get some good of it yet, my poor little Jeannie and I,—yes, if we can keep the Devil out of us, if it pleased God! Oh Jeannie, Jeannie, you know nothing about me just now: with all the clearness of vision you have, your lynx eyes do not reach into the inner region of me at all, and know not what is in my heart, what (on the whole) was always, and will always be there: I wish you did, I wish you did! And you shall yet again, if I can compass it.

On the Wednesday night a servant from Bath House had given the bald message That tomorrow (Thursday) was to be the Chobham-Camp2 day; “tickets all taken”; and if you go, “be at Bath House at half past seven.” That will be an early hour!— — However, on the morrow morning, being awake at five, and meditating on the day I was like to have as sedentary character, I got up, made ready,—luckily had swallowed one cup of tea and bit of bread of Fanny's readying or I should have got no breakfast at Bath House (where Lady A. sat also sleepless, and not in her happy mood): and so at half past seven, taliter qualiter [more or less], we rolled away. Lord A. Lord de Mauley (excellent gentle polite man),3 these were the rest of the 4. The day proved grey, not quite windless, & on the whole very beautiful. A riding soldier (chasseur, the French call him) waited to escort us; and the “own horses,” with a very rough rumbling carriage: the drive, I think, is less than an hour; all manner of omnibuses, gentlemen's carriages, ass-carts, and miscellaneous locomotives, were going the same road,—amid clouds of dust; which by superior speed, we at last got to the front of, and fairly out of. Between 9 and 10, I think; a hot morning, tho' with feeble sun: no tobacco permitted hitherto!— — After considerable hithering and thithering, not of a pleasant kind, we at last fixed upon the right stand-point; unyoked the horses; & I, withdrawing to leaward, could at least smoke and look about me over the camp. It is a grey barren heathy upland, perhaps a mile each way; woods bound it (the Windsor woods towards the north), and a gentle ring of what they call “Hills” on the sunny side is visible here & there in the distance. The ground itself is all broken into heights and hollows; heights that could also be called “hills”; it was on the crown of one of these, near the extremity of the tents that we, and many others had taken our stand.4 I thought of poor old Sterling and that fierce Woolwich day5—ah me! But this was not nearly so roasting; and the sight was far finer.

Great eating, really tremendous in some cases, went on near at hand— — Good Heavens, here is Donaldson of Bury & his “Brother Stuart”:6 it is now 10 minutes to 4;—and I must be off, and close instantly! With the best intentions always unfortunate.

God forever bless thee, my poor little Bairn. I will still hope for a Letter this night.

Adieu, O Jeannie Jeannie!

T. Carlyle