July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO TC ; 4 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580704-JWC-TC-01; CL 34: 8-10


5 Cheyne Row / Sunday night [4 July 1858]

Ach! What a three days and three nights I have had, Dear! Jonah in the whale's belly1 could not have had worse! “Brighton” still I suppose! I was not to get off from that adventure with only ONE night and day of torture! I must have caught cold that day and had it unpronounced in my nerves till Friday, when it broke out in sore throat, headach, face-ach, rheumatism all over, retching, and fever! Certainly I had done nothing after to give me a cold! But that was folly enough! I knew quite well that I was not fit for such an excursion and yet I went! ‘going’ whether I could or not!2— My only comfort was; to be at home—and not transacting these horrors on a visit or in a wretched sea side lodging! I had some sleep this morning, and the cold seems now concentrating in my head—not in my chest which would have been a drearier prospect—

Dont disturb yourself about my being ill in your absence—that is to say, about the absence part of it— outside of myself, I have nothing to complain of— Charlotte3 is much kinder and helpfuller than Ann4 was—and the comfort of talking with you now and then would have been counter balanced in my present circumstance by “the cares of bread”!

Besides I don't mean to be ill long—and once rid of this, won't I take care how I expose myself and overfatigue myself, again!

I can have as much society as I like—but I prefer none when I am ill—and I have these delightful volumes of Tourgueneffs—to amuse me when I am up to being amused—

I am gone “into the country” “at the shortest notice and on the cheapest terms” (as the Undertakers sign boards have it) I have made the sideboard and large sofa change places—arranged the back parlour as a boudoir—filled up the folding doors with the screen—and look out on nothing but green leaves and the “noblemans” seats!5— Moreover the dunghill is quite suppressed I have not felt a whiff of it since the letter was written.6 To be sure the hot weather went with you—the last week has been like winter— I have a fire—so has Mrs Hawkes7 and the fur rug is again in action—

I have surely more amusing things to tell you— But I must leave off for tonight I am dead tired already. Besides, tomorrow I may have a letter from you to answer.

Dont forget to tell me the address to put on the newspaper for America



“Nothink for Craigenputik today”8—a-well!—you waited, I suppose, for an answer, you cross Thing!—and if my sore throat on Friday night had turned to “the sore throat,” as I was half expecting; you might have waited—long enough!—and then wouldn't you have been “vaixed”?9

Tait was here—on Thursday or Wednesday—I forget which with a note he had received from Lord A—perhaps he forwarded it to you—such an unaccountable note! Regretting “that Mrs Carlyle should have neglected to communicate his (Lord A's) wish to purchase the picture”10 and congratulating himself that he had not “lost the chance of possessing it thro' her ommission”!! Really I don't know what my fault in this affair has precisely been—with Lord it is “Mrs Carlyle's ommission,”—with you “my wife's indiscretion”!— As Tait pretended to consult me on his answer—I scored out several things he had said, and inserted a paragraph of my own—to the effect that, if his Lordship were conscious of having been in the slightest degree influenced in his decision to purchase the picture, by the words of course he had spoken about it to me, it would be infinitely preferable to him (Tait) that the transaction should remain null— Tait made a great many objections to this interpolation and when driven from one after another, he stuck at the word “null” as being too “legal,” and then “a snobbish word”— So I told him if he liked it better, to say “void”— But he didn't seem to like “void” any better! In fact I am quite disgusted with him!

I find in reading his letter to you, which I did not do till after that interview, that he had told me a downright lie—for he had told me he had never told Combe that Lord A had spoken of buying the picture at all!

Newberg came on Saturday evening and being told I could not see any one, he went up to the Study “to get some books”— Half an hour after I was going to my bedroom and came on him, standing quite noiseless on the landing place, so I had to take him in, and give him a cup of my tea which was ready, and then he had the sense to go—

I am rather better today—had about four hours of sleep, and came down to breakfast. It is still very cold. I look forward to spending the day on the sofa under my fur rug reading Tourgueneff,—nobody to be let in but Mrs Hawkes who will come at four o'clock— I have a nice little fire opposite me in my back room—and the prospect of the noblemans seat!

Yours ever