October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO LADY AIRLIE ; 31 July 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570731-JWC-LAI-01; CL 32: 211-212


Auchtertool Kircaldy. / [31st July 1857]

Lady Goderich said to me lately “Don't you like Lady Airlie? I like her much! She is so affectionate and enthusiastic!” So one would say indeed from that note to me; which I may call “dear” with more reason. I read your message to my old Lady1; and you should have seen the blush that coloured her innocent face! It would have warmed your heart for hours after, as it did mine. At no age and at no point of moral worth, it would seem, does a woman get indifferent to the appreciation of her fellow-creatures.— “But, my Dear! she said, what on earth have you been saying of me to that young Lady? (she knew you were ‘young’ by instinct; for I had not told her)—kiss me?! Bless her young foolish heart! If she saw me, she would find me an unco concern to kiss"! And then she asked me a great many questions about you; showing by her interest in you, how sensible she was to your interest in her. And that sort of womanishness, at eighty seven, is one of her chief attractions for me.

Anyhow I felt so well beside her, that I overstayed my time there, and could only get away at last, under promise to return, on my road home. Thus my stay with my Cousins must be much shorter than they expected, and it would be using them downright unkindly, to shorten it still further by an escapade to Cortachy. Besides, tho' a little stronger in body—and mind since I came to Scotland, I am still very easy to knock up, and very easy to scare, and being arrived here only yesterday, I should need more days to recover from that odious “crossing,” and to gather up my nerves for a wholly new adventure, than you will be remaining at your home. On “the 5th” I think you said you would be going elsewhere. And so my Lady dear, I must content myself to keep your image as hitherto like one of those bright-coloured Chinese picture[s]2 one sees, without any “Background,” “to speak of”

It is better so, is it not than that you should be all background3— as some people are!

I had a charming letter from poor Lady Sandwich the other day, in which she tells me Mr Carlyle is going with her, to Addiscombe, for a week— I hope it is true; for he writes as if he were growing into a sort of savage, under his ten-shillings worth of calico, out in that wretched little garden! I trust in god, I shan't find him tatooed when I go back, and that he has eaten Nero raw! The said dear little Nero writes to me occasionally—Geraldine Jewsbury holding his paw!

I suppose to go to Addiscombe will be better than going nowhere; still a sadder place to go to now, for either of these two, I can hardly figure.

And what must Loch Luichart look like to Lord Ashburton?

He (Lord Ashburton) came down to Chelsea, the evening I left it, and gave me a gold chain and bracelets of hers. I had seen them on her when we went together to Edinr the year before! Oh they made me so sick, these things!

My dear Lady Airlie; I slept ill last night, or more properly speaking didn't sleep at all, and so, having written enough for practical purposes, I had best conclude.

If one must be dark oneself, one is bound at least not to ray out any of one's darkness, on “others"!

God bless you—and all your belongings—

Affectionately yours, always /

Jane W Carlyle