October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 24 October 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18561024-JWC-MR-01; CL 32: 15-18


Red Bed / My own Room / Friday [24 October 1856]

Darling! This isn't going to be much of a letter—only a few lines to say you shall have the good long letter I owe you, so soon as I am up to writing—and that mean time I think of you every hour of the day—and wish you were sitting on the side of my bed to make of me!1 I do so want to be made of just now.

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Jane Baillie Welsh, by Kenneth Macleay, 1856

Courtesy of Scottish National Portrait Gallery

ALT="In this 1826 portrait drawing by Kenneth Macleay, a young Jane Baillie Welsh is depicted in a formal gown, with ringleted hair, with her head turned slightly to her right."

It wasn't to be supposed that all that household Balaklava which awaited me on my return would pass away like a morning dream—leaving no consequences! And one doesnt wash bedsteads with vitriol2 under the open sky—at this season of the year—in passionate oblivion of bonnet and shawl—without worse consequences than holes burnt in ones dress!— And one doesn't be worried from morning till night without ones digestion striking work— The short and the long of it is that just this day gone a week I took what Lady Ashburton is always taking “a chill” which developed itself into a violent cold “with tetanic complications” (I havnt read Palmers Trial for nothing!)3— For five nights I couldn't get a wink of sleep—only one night of the five I passed in as near an approach to the blessed state of Nirwana as any one not a worshipper of Buddha need aspire to—that was from a doze of Morphia—I had given myself—and to which I ascribe the “Tetanic complications” (served me right for being so cowardly as to take it!) I didn't mean to take any more Morphia after what Dr Russell said about it—and perhaps too the Morphia had nothing to do with the frightful pain in my left side which threw myself and even my wooden Ann, and Mr C too, into a panic—two days after— Please ask the Dr if Morphia could give me a cramp in my left side two days after taking it? Also please tell him that he4 said I “would have sent for a Doctor if I had ever been very ill”—and that when Mr C said that day “who shall I send for? what shall I do?” I said in the midst of my screaming—“nobody—nobody—only put me in hot water!” and I can assure Dr Russell I am “very ill” when I scream—not to say scream without intermission for half an hour together!!— Dont let him fancy I make a practice of taking morphia whenever I cant sleep I hadn't taken any for four months.

Ann has been very attentive to me—and Mr C declares—(tho’ I cant believe it) that she “ran” the day I was so ill—and “sort of cried”! Such odd freaks come into the head when one is in critical situations! I remember once being galloped a quarter of a mile by a mad horse with my head within two or three inches of the ground—I was sure I should be killed and I thought “How lucky that Macclay took a notion to do that miniature of me; that my Mother may have it!!”5

The other day in the midst of my Spasms I thought “If I die, they wont know to send those pins to Mrs Russell— It was two Genoise6 brooches I had thought would just suit you to wear with that pretty open black silk gown—and had brought down stairs the first day of my illness to put them in a letter and hadn't been able to write it—and for all such a trifle as that was it bothered me like a great thing! So today that I am really much better and can attend to my affairs a little, I send the brooches.—

Thanks for the paper—I wouldnt let it be sent away—I have it laid by—if it were only for that compliment to you, Dear, and the Doctor's nice clever good humoured answer to it7— my love to him and to your Father— I am writing lying on my back with your plaid (so soft soft it feels morally as well as materially) over my shoulders and my blot book set against my drawn up knees! That is why I write so badly— I kiss you twenty times

Your affectionate / Jane Welsh Carlyle 8