August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 27 June 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580627-JWC-MR-01; CL 33: 257-258


5 Cheyne Row Chelsea / Sunday [27 June 1858]

Dearest Mary

It is so long since I wrote, and I have been so bothered and bewildered in the interval; that I cant recollect whether it is your turn or my own to write! But whosever turn it is, the silence is equally needing to be broken! and if I am the delinquent, I can only say, I have had plenty of excuse for all my sins of ommission of late weeks. First, my Dear, the heat has really been nearer killing me than the cold—London heat!—nobody knows what that is till having tried it! so breathless and sickening, and oppressive as no other heat I ever experienced! Then the quantities of visitors rushing about me at this season, complicated by an influx of cousins, to be entertained on special terms, have taken out in talk my dregs of strength and spirit! Then Mr Carlyle, in the collapse from the strain of his book, and the biliousness developed by the heat, has been so wild to “get away” and so incapable of determining where to go and when to go! that living beside him has been like living the life of a weathercock in a high wind, blowing from all points at once, sensibility superadded! So long at least as he involved me in his “dissolving views”! The imaginary houses in different parts of the Kingdom, in which I have had to look round me on bare walls, and apply my fancy to furnishing; with the strength I have (!)—(about equal to my canary's, which, every now and then, drops off the perch on its back and has to be lifted up!)—would have driven me crazy I think, if one day I hadn't got desperate and burst out crying!! Until a woman cries, Men never think she can be suffering! Bless their blockheadism! However when I cried, and declared I was not strong enough for all that any more; Mr C opened his eyes to the fact so far, as to decide that for the present he would go to his Sister's (the Gill) and let me choose my own course after— And to the Gill he went last Wednesday night, and since then I have been resting—and already feel better for the rest, even without “change of air”—

What my own course will be, I havn't a notion! The main point in my system of rest is, to postpone not only all doing, but all making up my mind to do! to, reduce myself as much as possible to a state of vacant, placid idiocy! that is the state, I am sure, a judicious Doctor would recommend for the moment! When the time comes for wishing for change and action, it will be time to decide where to go— Meanwhile I shall see what being well let alone will do for my health! All the cousins are gone now,— The visitors going—no household cares! (“cares of bread” as Mazzini calls them!) For, with no Husband to study, house keeping is mere play—and my young maid is a jewel of a creature! It seems to me the best chance I have had for picking up a little strength this good while!

I suppose you will be having my Aunt Anne1 again soon. I hear from them very seldom. I should like so much, if I could be set down there in “the Princess of China's” “flying bed,” or on “Prince Houssans” “flying carpet,” to land at Thornhill, before the fine weather end—but the length of journey by rail terrifies me! especially the length of the journey back! Mrs Pringle,2 I dare say, half expects me to visit her in August—for I have never said positively I would not—and she has pressed my coming most kindly— But to say where I will not go, would require consideration and decision, as well as saying where I will go— And, as I have said, I mean to be an idiot for a time, post-poning all mental effort!—

Do write to me— I dont feel to know about you at all— love to the Doctor—

Your affectionate / Jane W Carlyle