July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 11 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580711-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 28-30


The Gill, 11 july, 1858—

My own little Jeannie, alas, there was no neglect on your part; you had done for me what you could: the two Letters came together on Saturday (yesterday) morning; but the news they brought was not what we could have wished. Letter first had gone round by Ardrossan1 (Ayrshire, near Glasgow), and perhaps to other places, seeking its goal, the “Anan” being very indistinct Letter first had gone round by Ardrossan1 (Ayrshire, near Glasgow), and perha; supposed to be “Ardrn,” “Montrose,”2 or what not: the stupid people might have read it better; but they are not inexcusable. Pray write it unmistakably distinct, and always with two n's. You may think whether I was glad of the Letters! Indeed had nothing come that day too, I think I must have got into the rail myself to come up and see. It was a great relief from the blackest side of my misgivings; but also a sad fall from the brighter side I had been endeavouring to cherish, and hold by, for the day preceding. Oh me, Oh me, I know not what has taken me; but ever since that sleepless night, tho' I am sleeping &c tolerably well again, there is nothing but wail and lamentation in the heart of all my thoughts; a voice as of Rachel weeping for her children;3 and I cannot divest myself of the most pusillanimous strain of humour: all yesterday, I remarked in speaking to Jean,4 if any tragic topic came in sight, I had a difficulty to keep from breaking down in my speech, and becoming inarticulate with emotion over it! It is as if the scales were falling from my eyes; and I were beginning to see, in this my solitude, things that touch me into the very quick. Oh my little woman, what a suffering thou hast had; and how nobly borne,—with a simplicity, a silence, courage and patient heroism, which are now only too evident to me! Three waer days I can hardly remember in my life;—but they were not without worth either; very blessed some of the feelings, tho' many so sore and miserable. It is very good to be left alone with the truth sometimes; to hear in all its sternness what it will say to one.— But surely too there is much weakness, and the working of a morbid habit of mind, in all this. I ought to direct my thoughts, as poor old Graham5 used to say, “round to the sunny side of the hill,”—at least not trouble poor sick you with them, tho' you are the subject they all turn upon at present.

Saturday was the first of the return of Summer; perhaps far too warm in Chelsea; here one of the beautifullest days and evenings I ever saw. About sunset I took Jean to the railway; coming home, I walked the gig, and sat looking at such a western sky and Gallowy-Nithsdale wall of Hills6 as no Londoner can ever know. “Cremorne” with the quality7 is but a poor sight in comparison, if one have eyes of one's own.— The question was, however, “Will this new weather have helped her; or has it been too suffocating in the brick labyrinth, with no “country” except the size of two bed-quilts to look out upon?” I wish with my whole heart you were in a case to go, and had gone, to Alverstoke.8 If Miss Baring's terms will ansr at all, go by all manner of means (only wrapping well, that is, seeing beforehand that you can avoid these Brighton horrors!) Nothing wd be welcomer to me than to see Bay House for a date from you: but I know too how ticklish it all is; and therefore I will give no advice, except with proviso that you can see your way thro' it. Perhaps you might then get over to the Tennysons9 for a few days too? But remember there is sea between you and that; and study well if you think of such a thing.— Alas, alas, must I remind myself that all this is yet theory; that, most likely, you are still tearing yourself to pieces with cough &c &c from that unblessed Brighton adventure. A thrice miserable business. I think sometimes, had we managed to get that Monday we tried, I might have taken better care of you. And yet, woe's me, I know what impediments, spectral yet practically as good as insuperable, might have lain in the way there too! We are weak, weak beings; and the infirmities that perplex us are manifold.— You care nothing for country air, you say: yet I am convinced it wd decidedly begin to do you some good,—in the way of soothing the irritated nerves, and assisting to some sleep, whh is the foundation and preliminary of all good. Don't you remember how you improved during that week at Addiscombe;10—steadily all the time, had not you caught cold again in the home-coming. Oh that you were ready to leave London somewhither, on some tolerable set of terms!—

Perhaps you are right about the Russell business: but take the truth of it along with you; for I spoke to Jean, and it was not from her that Mrs Russell's notion originated: certainly not. Mrs Rl, in great haste, with the Dr R & another lady waiting the while, asked after you. Jean ansd, There had been speculations this way & that, but these were all up; and we seemed to be bent on Yorkshire,11 I to go first & look there, then you to follow, if I reported favourably in my passage hitherward. “I will write, then,” said Mrs Russell, hurrying away. This was the real tenor of their brief dialogue.— But any way, I like your own present view of that matter fully the best. And it can be altered at discretion, if need arise.

You did well in regard to that half-hatched “Poet”;12 item in regard to Fuz and the map-plates,13—and especially the talking Wife:14 who might have proved a terrible affair in less dextrous hands! What is all that of Bulwer & Wife in confinement? Jean, when I questioned her, had heard from the Newspapers, of the furious Lady's spring up upon the Public Stage, and clutching her Phantasm Husband in sight of the world, at some sublime acme of his Harangue.15 But nothing more is yet known here.— Do not bother with Librarian Harrison16 at all: I will return him his List with marks of what I have & have not: keep you out of that oven of a place altogether The only thing I care to have sought out is the Daguerrotype of Jenny's two Canada Daughters (the Hannings junior),17 whom I quite forgot, tho' meaning to carry them for disposal hither away.—— My dromedary improves daily, and slouches with me at a grand rate thro' the highways & Priestside sands. Today I partly expected John and Jamie;18 that was why I wrote19 --> this insignificance, there being a chance of posting at Ecclefn. They are not coming, I think (1 p.m.): tant mieux [so much the better]. We can have a chance at Annan. I must wait till Tuesday. God keep thee. T. C.