August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


JWC TO TC ; 10 August 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570810-JWC-TC-01; CL 33: 14-15


Auchtertool Monday [10 August 1857]

Oh my Dear! I am so sorry!— To think of your having been all alone there with Ann “dreadfully ill”! As it has turned out, it was better that you did not tell me; for certainly I should have at once flown off to the rescue, and arrived only to complicate your difficulties by falling “dreadfully ill” myself. Still, the confidence in all being WELL (figuratively speaking), so long as I hear nothing to the contrary, is done for by this concealment. So it will be for my peace of mind to be making no further move that is not a move homeward. My consolation, under the images of your discomfort that present themselves, is of that melancholy sort produced by “two afflictions.”1 I have been in such a way myself for the last week that I could have done no good to you, Ann, or myself, by being “at my post.” The physical pain has been over for three days; but followed by such horrible depression of spirits that it felt as if one degree more of it would make me hang or drown myself2— I could not write to you anything but articulate moans and groans, with a sprinkling of execrations! and so I prefered letting down the valve and consuming my own smoke— The last two nights I have had better sleep, and today I feel a little more UP to living, tho' still far enough from ‘doing the hoping of the family’— Walter is going to give me a drive— Since Friday I have not had any exercise.

Jeanie, with her ‘child of miracle’3 and its two attendants is still expected tomorrow and I have fixed my departure for Thursday—which is as much giving in to family proprieties as could reasonably be expected of me. I have not named any time for my stay at Morningside; will “leave it open” (as you say) but even should I thrive there, I don't think of more than a week; and another week at Sunny Bank will make as much “outing” as should suffice for this year!— For the rest I may give myself the same comfort about my travels that I used to give you about your horse, when you were saying it did you “next to no good”; I “can't tell how much worse” I should have been, had I stayed thro' all that heat of London!— Certainly I have had nothing to suffer from heat—whatever else.

Oh those Indian Women! It seems sinful of one to complain of anything, in face of their dreadful fate—and their mothers and sisters at home!4 It is difficult to reconcile such things with the belief that God takes care of every individual he has made! that “God is Love”5— Love? It isn't much like a world ruled by Love this—

My Dear I am tempted to write a good deal of blasphemy just at this moment— “Better not”!

Thanks for writing so often— If you saw your letters received, you would think them very important to me surely! or that I am certainly too weak and nervous “for anything”!6 (as they say in Lancashire) The last two or three letters I turned quite sick at the sight of! and had to catch at a chair, and sit down, TREMBLING, before I could open and read them!!—this is “a plain unvarnished” fact! and yet I was frightened for nothing in particular that I could have put into words! If you had put a loaded pistol to me, and required me to tell on my life what was agitating me to such a degree; I could have said nothing more lucid than that I didn't know whether there mightn't be some word in the letter, that I would rather hadn't been there!—or that the tone of the letter might show you were ill or uncomfortable—or that in short I couldnt guess whether it would make me gladder or sadder— But for a rational creature to be at the point of fainting with no more reason than that!—“a poor miserable wretch with no stamina”! (as old Sterling7 used to say)

I hope Ann's mother is better—she has an attack of British cholera every year which makes it less alarming.

Address to Craigenvilla / Morningside

Yours affectionately / Jane W C