August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


JWC TO TC ; 24 August 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570824-JWC-TC-01; CL 33: 47-49


Craigenvilla— Monday

[24 August 1857]

Oh my Dear! What a magnificent Book1 this is going to be! The best of all your Books! I say so who never flatter, as you are too well aware; and who am “the only person I know that is always in the right”!2 So far as it is here before me; I find it forcible, and vivid, and sparkling as The French Revolution, with the geniality, and composure, and finish of Cromwell—a wonderful combination of merits! And how you have contrived to fit together all those different sorts of pictures, belonging to different Times, as compactly and smoothly as a bit of the finest mosaic! Really one may say of these two first Books at least, what Helen3 said of the letters of her sister who died4—you remember? “So splendidly put together; one would have thought that HAND couldn't have written them!”

It was the sheets that hindered me from writing yesterday; tho' I doubt if a letter posted at Morningside (the Scotch Campo Santo [cemetery] yesterday (Sunday) would have reached you sooner than if posted today. Certainly it is a Devil of a place for keeping the Sunday, this! Such Preaching, and Fasting, and “Tooting5 and Praying” as I was never before concerned in! But one never knows whence deliverance is to come any more than misfortune! I was cut out of all, or nearly all my difficulties yesterday—by the simple provedential means of—a bowel complaint! It was reason enough for staying away from Church; excuse enough for declining to be read to; and the loss of my dinner was entirely made up for, by the loss of my appetite! Nothing could have happened more opportunely! Left at home with Pen (the cat) when they had gone every one to their different “Places of Worship”; I opened my desk to write you a letter. But I would just take a look at the sheets first. (Miss Jess had put a second cover on the parcel, and forwarded it by railway on Saturday night; and I had not been able to read then, by the gass light, which dazzles my eyes. It is one of the little peculiarities of this house that there isn't a candle allowed in it of any sort, wax, dip, moulded or composite!) Well I took up the sheets, and read ‘here a little and there a little,’ and then I began at the beginning, and never could stop till I had read to the end, and pretty well learnt it by heart. I was still reading when Church came out, and so my letter got nipt in the bud. If it is so interesting for me, who have read and heard so many of the STORIES in it before, what must it be for others to whom it is all new? the matter as well as the manner of the narrative? Yes, you shall see it will be the best of all your books!—and small thanks to it! It has taken a doing!

I suppose you are roasting again. Here, there has been no such heat since I came north, as in the last three days—mercury at 75 in the shade yesterday. But there is plenty of EAST wind to keep one from suffocating—provided one can get it without the dust— I used to fancy Piccadilly dusty! but oh my! if you saw the morning-side Road! Here has been Anne to ask, “when will you be ready to go Jeanie”? we are for Edinr (in the Omnibus of course) to call for Mrs George Welsh's Sisters6— And I am hardly begun! But I have nothing to tell that wont keep. Oh, wont you put a picture of Triglaph7 (on his tail) in the book?— And that dear brave old Barbarossa,8 one wants so much to embrace him, and lay one's cheek on his beard!

I must tell you a compliment paid me, before I conclude— A Lady I hadnt seen for twenty years came to call for me—“You were ill I heard,” she said, “Ah yes—it is easy to see you have suffered!—an entire wreck, like myself”—then, looking round on my three Aunts—“indeed like all of us”!!

Yours affectionately / Jane W Carlyle

What of Lady Sandwich? You never mention her. Fleming9 at Raith! I should have been as astonished to meet him in Kircaldy, as to meet Tiger Wulls “finest blackcock that ever stept the streets of Greenock!”10