July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO TC ; 24 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580724-JWC-TC-01; CL 34: 70-72


5 Cheyne Row / Chelsea Saturday [24 July 1858]

My poor letter!1 I am afraid it could not have had the luck to get “crushed in the mud”;2 for I was not in muddy places that dry day— I am afraid it must have gone to gratifying some vulgar curiosity! Never mind there was no treason in it.

What I was doing at Chapmans?—A stupidity!—When the last packet of your Translations came.3 I opened it in the parlour and two or three days after carried the volumes up to the Study. There having come for you the other day a book in two vols. from & by Montégut (Libres Opinions Morales et historiques)4 I went to lay that with the Translations and finding only 2 copies (my own deducted) I searched the whole house for a third, being under a hallucination that I had always seen 4 copies sent. Having satisfied myself no 4th copy was here; I went up to Chapman's to ask how many were sent—and should have been sent—and found it all right! What I “had been doing” before? was it not all elaborately written in the lost letter?— I had spent a pleasant half-day at Mr Larkins—made acquaintance with a large family of simple intelligent kindly people all after the pattern of our friend. Had been much in the open air—(the house is amongst green fields)—had eaten goosberies off the bushes—had been treated like a little queen—and driven to the Hoxton Omnibus in “a chay” (volunteered by a Builder—one of your devoted admirers)—had done nothing to hurt myself, so far I knew, and much to do myself good—and the up shot had been a night of the very worst sort!—No sleep—burning fever—and incessant coughing! I came down to breakfast all the same, and was found, in this defeated condition by—Bramahs Foreman!—All that Larkin had been able to elicit, from the winking old man in the shop, was; that “the Foreman would be sent to examine the work done”!! The Foreman! whose unconcientius conduct caused the whole bother! He to be arbitrator! I cannot write a detailed account of our discussion, a second time! Enough to say, it lasted 2 hours! and ended in his taking 3£ 10 / instead of 5£9 /6d— But the mischief to my nerves from having to keep calm, and collected, under impudent denials and assertions, the only natural answer to which would have been a smash accross the skull with a poker— From having to fence with my tongue for two mortal hours—after it had been all night sticking to the roof of my mouth—! It was more than I would have taken 10£ to suffer. But—one can't let oneself be imposed upon!— There I was, however, when the wretch had fairly gone off, to a certain extent reduced to reason—in a state impossible to describe unless you can conceive one having St Vitus's dance inwardly. It was with the utmost difficulty I wrote you a few lines promising an explanatory letter on the morrow—(the lost letter) but I did not say it was illness that hindered me—not to make you anxious about what I knew would pass off—with rest—

And accordingly—I was able to keep my appointment when the Forster carriage came for me the following day—to meet Macready— He looked very quiet and sad but no older nor feebler— It was not a good go, that!— Much pretension in the new Fosterian establishment!5 and a great falling off in comfort and ease from the pleasant old “Chambers”!6 Moreover I couldn't leave off coughing for a minute—and Forster's lyrical recognition of the fact, embarrassed me and made me worse

I came away very soon, with closed carriage-windows, and got no harm—beyond having been rather bored—

I hope you will get up spirit enough to go to Germany by and by—when “th’ first rush o’ i country”7 is past— I think you would be better off really without Newberg— A slave beside one never adds to one's contentment—

This letter will not reach you till Monday—but—Monday is a day sooner than Tuesday— Oh these ivory pens! Mrs George8 spent the day here yesterday. I asked her, to cheer her up a little

Yours ever


John is no better at all for his change of air.9