October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO KATE STERLING ROSS ; 27 December 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18561227-JWC-KS-01; CL 32: 63-65


5 Cheyne Row / 27th Decemr 1856

My darling Kate! Jewel of the world! I am so glad you have written to me! and to this purport!1— Just so, I should think, must the good catholic feel:—thus lightened and “all right,” when his Priest has given him absolution! I was afraid you could never be made to understand how that adorable letter you wrote to me in Scotland should have remained unanswered, not at all thro negligence, nor any shadow of change in my feelings for you; but simply thro—“What shall I say?—shyness!— Like Miss Wynn,2 “I am very shy, tho’ I dont look it!”—first thro shyness, and then thro’ shame of myself. And so, I never tried to make you understand it!— This want of faith, and of go-o-o-dheadness in me, so different, I flatter myself, from anything seen or known of me before, we will, if you please, impute to physical disorder! It is the easiest and most comfortable way of dealing with it—I have just been putting myself thro’ a course of Mental Physiology3—and there is no folly or stupidity or mortal sin even that I could not explain and justify on the hypothesis of a disordered state of the sympathetic nerve and its ganglia!!— My Dear, years and years ago, there was a horrid dirty old sow at my grandfathers;4 and it struck me I should deserve well of the Republic,5 could I get that sow cleaned!— so I went and made a sweet little face to two of the men-servants, and bribed them with sixpence a-piece, to scrub that sow with soap and brushes! You may imagine how she yelled, laid on her back, and sconered!6 The noise brought my grandfather to the scene who stood amazed a space, as “in presence of the Infinite!"7 Then addressed me with uplifted hands “God's curse! Miss! You fall on strange plans for diverting yourself!” That is true now as it was then it would seem! diverting myself with Physiology in this last long illness! and in a former one you may remember I went far in “Insanity—”8 Heigh ho! one is put to it, when shut up in the house ten weeks!— I am thankful however to be not at the Grange this winter—and to not have had the Xmas toys to buy!9 In all afflictions there are consolations!10 (you may read that striking new sentiment to your “Hub” it “does credit to my head and heart!)—11 The Ashburtons are at Nice and that is how I come to be “well let alone"!12

Mr C has a13 got a lovely horse that reminds him, he says of Xarifa14—also he describes it as “a most remarkable combination of Courage and Sensibility!!” Also he has got a little German Famulus, of an ugliness—! who (Plattnauer “hopes) is going to prove of great use to me as—lightening Conductor!"—I hope so too!—certainly on the days when one hears sounds of what Ann calls “Mr Marten catching it” from up stairs; it is observed that Mr C is unusually mild and “affable” when he comes down!

My Dear! George Cook15 comes to call for me almost every Sunday!— I should mention,—“not to put too fine a point on it,”—that he comes on his road from Geraldines! Geraldine and he seem to have “sworn everlasting Friendship”— with proviso, on his part, that there should positively be nothing more tender! Geraldine is now off to Manchester for a month or more16— We shall see if he come after me at all! I like him and we talk about you— Of course I never see a sign of the Colonel17—I hear of him sometimes, in the frivolous sense, from Annie Farrer—from no-one else— The “Crimean Heroes” no longer occupy the public mind; “ThankS God!"18

Tell Mr Ross I passed thro’ his native place, when I was in Scotland. And have here, still alive, a nettle brought from the little lonely church yard at Crawfurd, which he must know well. My Mother is buried there.19 More than this; I found that a second cousin of mine knew him. Her name was Hunter—Miss Hunter of Glenshaw—now Mrs Pringle20 with ever so many thousands a year, the finest drawingroom in Nithsdale, and three red haired obstreperous children,

My child! it is the pen that is making this bad writing, not want of “a liberal education”— You shall see another time I will write as good a hand as other well brought up females— My Dear there is a little fascinating Mr Lushington, with dove's eyes and without two fingers, who comes here now to tea very often—and he talks of you with interest

My kind love and a kiss to that dearest of Julias! I am so obliged to her for your letter as well as her own21 I will contradict the statement about the will as often as I hear it— It is much to be wished some man of sense and solidity would marry up that well meaning, rather distracted young lady! Or she is likely to get into worse scrapes than Mrs Williams22— God bless you my darling Kate— Your own ever

Jane W Carlyle 23

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