July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


CHRONOLOGY; 2006; DOI: 10.1215/ed-34-chronology; CL 34: firstpage-34-xxxi-lastpage-34-xxxiv


July–December 1858

July. TC, resting on holiday at The Gill with his sister Mary, asks his sister Jean in Dumfries to organize new clothes for him from local tailors (2), and his brother John to find him a horse, on which he begins to ride regularly (8). JWC has been to Rottingdean and Brighton in search of a holiday cottage away from London, where TC now feels like “a ghostly phantasm hunted by Demons” (2), but she subsequently catches cold and rests at Chelsea reading Turgenev, which both she and TC read with interest. JWC is happy with the new maid, “Little Charlotte” (4). Tait's A Chelsea Interior is bought by Lord Ashburton, though there is misunderstanding about the price, which JWC tries to smooth over. Neuberg calls for books from TC's study, presumably for work on Frederick (3). Henry and John Larkin are preparing maps for Frederick with TC's advice (8), with publication scheduled for 1 October. TC, recovering from a sprained ankle, enjoys the peace and silence of Scotland and postpones thinking about his trip to Germany. J. S. Mill replies to TC's letter of 28 June (8), the first since 1845. TC worries about JWC's health and suggests she visit the Russells at Thornhill for medical advice and possibly consider a winter in Europe; Eliza Forster lunches with JWC. Louisa Baring invites a reluctant JWC to Bay House, Alverstoke (9). JWC is irritated by TC's continual demand for letters (10). Charlotte, “a good biddable clever little creature,” looks after her in Chelsea; TC writes to Louisa Baring (11) privately, to encourage JWC's visit to Bay House. JWC describes to TC a difficult visit from Botkin to Cheyne Row (11). David and Eliza Aitken visit, also the Forsters (12). JWC sends details of the Bulwer Lytton scandal (12), and TC responds supporting Lady Bulwer Lytton (14). The postal arrangements irk both of them. JWC takes an excursion to Richmond (14)—for her health, by omnibus—and begins to ride them regularly when she feels unwell. JWC sends TC a map of Carlyle Township in Australia, named by Charles Gavan Duffy for TC (19). TC tries to persuade her to consider a holiday in Annandale, while himself very reluctantly beginning to think about his visit to Germany (20). Tait and Neuberg visit JWC at Chelsea (18), and JWC visits the Larkins (20) and dines with the Forsters. The tailors finish TC's new outfits (20), and JWC suddenly decides after all to go to Alverstoke (21). TC thanks Neuberg for his continuing help and asks for his advice in planning the German visit (22). Bramah the builder's bill is bitterly contested; JWC visits Macready (22) and writes, and then loses, a long letter to TC, which mysteriously arrives safely (24). JWC, in a flurry, preparing to leave for Bay House, has to take time to look for TC's passport for the trip to Germany. JWC gives a tea party for the Larkins and Emilie Hawkes (28), while TC and Lord Ashburton agree on a long-discussed bequest to TC by the late Lady Harriet Ashburton (29). JWC leaves by train for Bay House and the Barings (31), while Charlotte begins a “thorough cleaning” at Cheyne Row.

August. TC makes an inspection of Craigenputtoch with his brother James (5), while JWC enjoys the company at Bay House, her health improving steadily; postal delays make TC nervous about her. She tentatively plans a Scottish visit. TC tries sea bathing, and continues desultory plans for the trip to Germany, but “I shudder at the German hurlyburly” (3). JWC sails round Portsmouth harbor (3), takes daily carriage rides, writes encouragingly to their servant Charlotte in Chelsea (5), and keeps in touch with Larkin, who sends her his watch when hers breaks down. She visits the Isle of Wight (7) and nearby military camps. TC meets with Lord Ashburton in Dumfries (9–10). Lady Sandwich invites JWC to Addiscombe, but JWC prefers Bay House, where her health is really improving, despite her breaking a tooth (11). TC invites Neuberg to join him in Germany (16) and asks Larkin to send him maps (18); leaves The Gill for Scotsbrig (19) and Edinburgh (21) and embarks with Foxton for Germany, arriving Hamburg (24) and on to Rostock (26). TC and Foxton part company, and TC goes on to the Usedoms at Isle of Rügen (27) for sea bathing; unfortunately he catches cold and is unwell for several days. Meanwhile JWC leaves London (27) and spends the night in Carlisle with Janet Pringle, then on to Thornhill (28) to stay at Lann Hall in Tynron.

September. JWC writes Charlotte in Chelsea about her gold ring that she has lost (3). She goes to Craigenputtoch (8) but remains Janet Pringle's guest till she moves to Mary Russell's home. Thornhill (15); there she becomes ill and is tended by Dr. Russell; she writes Charlotte to prepare for TC's return (16). In Germany TC leaves Isle of Rügen for Berlin (3–6), meets up with Neuberg, and visits Varnhagen von Ense. Then he goes on to Cüstrin, Liegnitz, and Breslau (8), where he bases himself, and visits Leuthen (9) and Mollwitz (10). He leaves Breslau for Striegau (11); visits Landshut, Pardubitz, and Kolin, then Prague (13) and Dresden (15); sees Weimar and Aix-la-Chapelle; and concludes the trip in Ostend (21), taking the steamer to Dover and train to London (22). TC writes to Charles Butler thanking him for looking after his Illinois bonds and asking his advice on a further investment of £1,000 (23). He recuperates, invites his brother John and Neuberg to tea (26); vols. 1 and 2 of Frederick published (27), selling out quickly. JWC abandons plans to visit Scotsbrig and returns to London, visiting relatives in Dumfries and stopping at The Gill with Mary Austin (27–29); she finds Cheyne Row cleaned and in good order, with a new cat in residence (29).

October. JWC writes Mary Russell with thanks for her Scottish holiday and describes an unpleasant train journey (1). TC orders three copies of Neuberg's German translation of Frederick from Tauchnitz (1); Chapman's edition goes straight to a second printing (5), with minor changes to text and maps that occupy TC and all his assistants. TC declines an invitation to a Burns Centenary celebration in Edinburgh (11). He tells his brother Alexander that the remainder of Frederick should take “perhaps two years of hard work, if I still live,” something of an underestimate. He adds: “A man at 63 has a strange feeling when visiting his native country,—as of a ghost coming back to the Earth!” (15). He writes to Lord Ashburton, congratulating him on his engagement to Louisa Stewart-Mackenzie (25), while JWC confides to Mary Russell “I shall never like the new Lady Ashburton—that I am sure of!” (30). JWC offers £50 to John Welsh (who has tuberculosis) to help him go abroad. TC and JWC welcome their nephew James Aitken, now working in London (26) and looking for lodgings in Islington. TC thanks John Fergus in Kirkcaldy for a present of two dozen bottles of whisky (27) and supplies of potatoes and oatmeal (28). They both go to dine with Lady Sandwich and Lord Ashburton (31).

November. JWC writes James Carlyle at Scotsbrig to refuse more meal and potatoes from Scotland; they have them in excess. She has taken to a nightly whisky toddy. An illustrated newspaper article (possibly by Frederick Martin) publishes wrong information on her father, which irritates and upsets her (early Nov.). TC wants very much to improve the illustrations in the reissue of Frederick (1), but he approves Neuberg's German translation (2), which has arrived. He is still thinking vaguely of buying a cottage in Scotland but cannot bring himself to begin the next vols. in continuation of Frederick (13). Lord Ashburton's second marriage, to Louisa Stewart-Mackenzie, takes place (17). JWC catches a bad cold during the reorganization of the house for the hanging of Lord Ashburton's gift to her of his copy of Pesne's The Little Drummer. TC refuses further invitations to do with the Burns Centenary celebrations to come in Jan. 1859 (22). Mary Hoggan from Thornhill visits (ca. 22). JWC is bedridden until the end of the month.

December. TC refuses another invitation to a Burns Centenary celebration (1); he writes Edward Chapman about the disputed skull of Cromwell exhibited as a curiosity (14). JWC again presses Margaret Welsh to take advantage of TC's offer to help John Welsh spend the winter in a warmer climate. TC visits his nephew Jamie Aitken (15), who then visits Chelsea (23). JWC writes to console George Cooke when she hears about his mother's death (21); William Coningham calls and is consoled for the death of his daughter (27). TC sends New Year's gifts of money to Scotland (28) and enlists his brother John's help in sending a gift of money to his sister Janet Hanning in Canada, while JWC sends a photograph of Tait's Chelsea Interior to Mary Russell (30). TC thanks Julia Margaret Cameron for her New Year's gift to him of a magnifying glass (31).