July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 25 November 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18581125-JWC-MR-01; CL 34: 245-246


5 Cheyne Row Chelsea [ca. 25 November 1858]

You darling Woman! Thanks! and a dozen kisses! It is so pretty, and soft, and warm! and above all it is the very thing I was wanting! something to keep my head from the cold without making a ‘fright’ of me!— For alas my Dear! I am in the depths of ‘Cold’ again, since yesterday gone a fortnight!— That “Picture,” I foresaw how it would be! The House Earth-quake it would occasion would be the death of me! (figuratively speaking, let us hope!) When it arrived I had it peaceably set down on the floor of the parlour down stairs—promulgating my rational intention of leaving it there; till the weather should be more favourable for the shifting of our largest bookcase, containing some six hundred books, and for getting the wall behind it papered, preparatory to hanging up the Picture in the Drawingroom— But I was mad to hope that Mr Carlyle could ever by possibility be patient! Every day it was “My Dear, I am much afraid that Picture will get mischief down there!” or “My Dear are you taking any steps yet about the paper for that wall?” or “My Dear I dont see what harm the Carpenter removing that Bookcase could do to you!”—or “My Dear something else to the same tune! till in desperation, I sent for the Carpenters and set them to work. But, as I expected, they could not do their own work without superintendence— No London workman has a particle of ‘shift’ in him. So when they had got the bookcase, which was only in two parts, STUCK FAST in the staircase—with every appearance of its sticking there till the end of the world, or at least till the end of the house I had to go and stand over them on the coldest day of the year, and make them take out the staircase window, and show them how to get the heavy big thing out there, and in again by the back door. All day, doors and windows were wide open and I ‘ABOUT’ in the stairs, and that night I went to bed in a high fever—and never closed my eyes for three nights in succession, with furious pains in my face and head and everywhere—all ending, after a week, in my usual winter cough and DELICACY— I locked the stable door very firmly after the horse had been stolen— Have not been up or down stairs since that unlucky day— But with all the care I can take; it will agreeably surprise me to find myself fit for going out of doors for some months to come!— However I am quite used to confinement now, and take it very placidly—remarkably well pleased to just keep up to regulating my household affairs out of this room; and receiving the people who, strange to say, never weary of coming “to sit” with me!— Among these who should present herself the other day but—Mary Hoggan!— I was so glad, for she brought with her “airs” from Thornhill! besides being really a good kind Soul herself. I desired her to go and tell you all about me—and I showed her that dear little photograph “The Doctor” gave me,1 and the sketch of Templand you gave me, hanging, prettily framed, on the wall of my own room.

Thank you Dear for telling me about all the people— Oh if the young Lady (Miss Howden)2 who wrote to me from Haddington this morning would but write like you, instead of treating me to her moral reflections which cannot really be supposed to interest me the least in the world— By the way did you read in The Illustrated News that I was the “Daughter of a Vetrinary Surgeon”!— If Mr Tait had held his stupid tongue I should have never known! which would have been next best to the thing not having been written— What could one say better than just what dear old Betty3 wrote on the occasion “Cumberers4 of the ground! not one of them worthy to take your Father's name in his mouth!—” Then some well meaning rather weak “Towns-fellow” wrote a contradiction in the Paper, into which he introduced very superfluously my “combination of charms”!! (as Miss Welsh of course) Lord preserve us! If they would but leave me alone! I have done nothing to make myself public property—and be d—d to them! My cold has its advantages— It makes it out of the question that I should accept with Mr C Lord Ashburtons invitation to dine at Bath House next Wednesday when he and the new Lady5 come to town, from the Grange (where the other Lady6 was lately buried) I have heard nothing of them since the marriage7 till that invitation came this morning— Decidedly my Dear we wives should live as long as we can! And I for one, mean TO!

Meanwhile I am charmed with my little head-comforter—

Poor Mr Hunter—I got an announcement of his death.— Will it put back the marriage?8 Perhaps not— Mrs Pringle having such powers of combination. Tell Mrs Macvie The Countess was asking about her and said she would write to her— Kind regards to Mrs Grierson9 and all my friends and special love to the Doctor

Your affectionate /

J W Carlyle