The Collected Letters, Volume 28


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 14 July 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530714-JWC-TC-01; CL 28: 203-204


Moffat House / Thursday night [14 July 1853]

Oh my Dear!

I am so wearied and out of spirits and unfit for writing tonight! but if I don't write to you myself, John will, and I must save you from the comfortless feelings which a note of his, in his actual “flight of crows” state is sure to leave you with. I almost affronted him by insisting on his not writing to you yesterday; taking the whole blame, if you found any, on myself, and now thank God I have reason to congratulate myself that you were so spared 24 hours of deadly anxiety. On Tuesday a few lines came from Isabella to the effect that your Mother was more weak than usual and he had better come over— He went accordingly with the intention of staying all night, and returned home yesterday forenoon; seeing she was so poorly he said that he must go back after dinner and stay the night again. “She had no new disease but was fallen into a fit of weakness from which she might not rally.” My visit had done her no harm that was the only positive thing to be got out of him. The day after I was there she had been out of doors for a little walk—Somehow I could not believe that she was so ill as he said—and wishing to see her again in any case, and wishing also that you should learn her state on my own observation, I said that I would still go to Scotsbrig today—only without baggage and to return here to sleep. So it was arranged that the gig should be sent to the Ecclefechan station for me at half after eleven. This morning before I was out of bed a note was brought me from Isabella which I shall inclose, and from which it appeared she saw no reason why I should not come according to programme. I then regretted having been turned from my original plan. but it was necessary to stick to the second arrangement since I had made it. So I started from here with a headach in a pour of rain and found Jemmy1 with a face of cordial welcome waiting with the gig. Before he left home your Mother had been out of bed for half an hour!! Wasn't I thankful I had not suffered John to write to you that he thought “she would not rally.” I found Jean and Jemmy Aitken there. She poor soul had been written to and had come in great fright. Your Mother was in bed, and very weak, but I declare to you her appearance pleased me better than on the former day. her eyes had a quiet natural look, and her colour was natural. She looked to me like a person who had had a bilious crisis which was past, and had left her cooler and calmer. She chewed some nice mutton chop while I was there and said she hadn't felt so hungry for long. She spoke to me just as she used to do. indeed her faculties are as clear as yours or mine. The fact is as you need not to be told that she is very frail, and any little accident, such as a pill failing, shakes her to pieces. I do not see how she could be made more comfortable—her room is nicely carpeted and warm, and tidy—and every attention seems to be paid to her. I shall be able to tell you more particulars the day after tomorrow—for finding the posture of affairs I said I should return tomorrow to make my visit— But that I needed to pack my trunks and take them away, I should have spared myself the fatigue and expense of the journey back. James Aitken left at the same time as John and I. Jean was to remain a few days—so that I shant get much “silence” I guess.

Jane Howden2 writes that the Donaldsons will be quite glad to have me and that if I find them too frail “my own house is as wide open to me as ever it was”!! How would that do? I have really some notion to go and try sleeping in the bedroom I used to sleep so soundly in! “Blanche Airlie”— Good God! in this mood!—— I got your letter and the books from Jemmy at the station—thank you for all you have done and all you intended— A good letter like that was more needed than a present— I wrote to offer a visit to Mrs Russell! I wished to see Templand and Crawford but her Husband has been lying between life and death for a fortnight.

Bad luck seems to attend me at present— And on the whole I think it were safest perhaps to go right back to Chelsea—as I had made up my mind to do had there been bad news to tell you of your Mother—the idea of your hearing of her death, alone there, was too sad— But I am dreadfully tired for two nights I have had hardly any sleep—

I wrote to Lady A for her Birthday—happily I “took time by the forelock” and wrote on the 12th, tho I dated my letter the 13th otherwise in the alarm about your Mother and the intention of starting immediately for London I should have forgotten the memorable occasion

Ever your