January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


CHRONOLOGY; 2007; DOI: 10.1215/ed-35-chronology; CL 35: xxix-xxxiii


January–October 1859

Numbers in parentheses refer to either the date of the event or the date of the letter.

January. JWC writes to her sister-in-law Mary Austin in Scotland to beg for fresh eggs ([3 or 10]). TC gives Henry Larkin a lifetime ticket to the London Library in recognition of his services as assistant (6). TC sends New Year's gifts of £10 to each of his sisters (7). He is wrestling with Frederick, “almost as busy and miserable as ever” (7). Neuberg is doing library work, checking, and visiting on Sundays; he helps TC with paper supplies (7) and with a new pipe (19). The eggs from The Gill arrive broken ([mid-Jan.]). TC enjoys regular rides on his horse, Fritz, despite the weather. JWC shows concern for her neighbors the Gilchrists ([late Jan.]); Anne Gilchrist, whose daughter was born 16 Jan., has suffered a relapse. TC writes Lord Ashburton, on honeymoon with Lady Louisa in the Mediterranean, lamenting his slow progress with Frederick (30).

February. TC insists JWC take rides in a “neat fly” twice weekly for her health, disapproving of her habit of riding in omnibuses: “Men are curious creatures after all” ([7 Feb?]). More Gill eggs arrive broken ([7 Feb?]). TC thanks David Laing and Lady Chatterton for gifts of their books (6), and JWC thanks Georgiana Craik for hers ([8]). JWC takes whisky at bedtime to help her sleep and “stave off insane thoughts"; her cousin John Welsh and her godmother, Jean Donaldson, are both critically ill ([ca. 8]). Larkin finds himself copying out “the more intricate and least intelligible” manuscripts for TC ([8]). Eggs have finally arrived unbroken from The Gill ([10 or 17]). TC declines nomination as rector of Marischal College in Aberdeen (11). JWC reminisces to David Davidson about her childhood (14), and thanks George Eliot for Adam Bede (20). TC thanks Butler for his continued care of his investments in the United States (24). Alan Ker on a visit home from Dominica calls (27).

March. TC wants the secretary of the Hogarth Club to stop sending him its “business letters &c” (3). JWC complains of weariness, able only to “creep along as I can” ([3]). Dickens to come for a visit “on some ‘business’” (10). TC writes to his publisher, Frederic Chapman, about engravings for Frederick (14) and tells his brother John A. Carlyle he is progressing with the second stage of Frederick: within a year “we may see land, after all” (14). TC writes kindly to Horace Grant who is ill, thanking him for a gift of paper (17); he complains of “unsatisfactory progress” on Frederick and that he is getting old and his health is “below average” (20). TC continues to ask Larkin for help with a wide variety of tasks (26). JWC is still fond of her servant Charlotte, “full of intellect and imagination and feeling” ([25?]).

April. TC writes that JWC's cousin John Welsh is not likely to live long, and describes Alan Ker's visit in late Feb. (5). Thackeray sends an amusing little rhyme and a gift of pens, for which TC thanks him and sends a gift of pens and paper in return (9). TC has sent Emerson the first two vols. of Frederick but has “reason to fear they are still loitering somewhere"; he complains that Frederick goes slowly and writes, “I profoundly pity myself” (9). He sends Charles Gavan Duffy in Australia a request from Charles Macready for help with employment for his son Edward (13). JWC catches a severe cold. TC thanks Jewsbury for sending him a letter from Alfred Domett to Walter Mantell in which Domett expresses admiration for TC (13); he apologizes to Charlotte Williams Wynn on behalf of JWC as she is “too ill for writing” (15). TC arranges to visit Ruskin in Denmark Hill on 21 April (19) and asks his sister Jean Aitken about a possible holiday home in Scotland (20); he sends Joseph Neuberg a list of the portraits he wants for Frederick and writes that both he and JWC are a little better in health (25).

May. TC comments critically on Mill's On Liberty (4); he agrees to sit for a photograph for Ford Madox Brown for the picture Work (5), the photograph to be taken in the South Kensington Museum, 12 May (10). Samuel Langley continues to help TC with museum research on Frederick (11). JWC writes about her prolonged ill health through the spring and daily visits from Dr. Barnes who prescribes rest and a nutritious diet (12). John Welsh dies in Falmouth (12). TC accepts Lady Sandwich's offered gift of Madeira to make zabaglione for JWC (17). Isabella Carlyle is seriously ill. JWC writes encouragingly to Isabella's husband, James, recommending zabaglione to restore her strength ([ca. 24]). JWC writes to Margaret Welsh after the death of her son, begging her to come and stay with them on her way home to Richmond from Falmouth ([28?]).

June. Isabella Carlyle dies (1); John A. Carlyle writes to TC ([6]) describing the funeral on the previous day. TC and JWC both decline an invitation from James John Garth Wilkinson to his daughter Emma's wedding on grounds of ill health (6). Larkin continues to work on maps (10), and Neuberg to research material for Frederick. With many changes of mind, the Carlyles are considering a holiday out of London, finally deciding on Humbie Farm, near Aberdour, Fife (13). TC, maid Charlotte, Nero, and Fritz take the Edinburgh steamer (22, arriving 24); JWC travels by express train (22), visiting the Donaldsons in Haddington on the way. She arrives at Humbie feeling very weak (28). TC visits Kirkcaldy (29) looking for a sidesaddle for JWC (30).

July. TC arranges to get a sidesaddle from Scotsbrig and, with the help of his brother-in-law James Aitken, a cuddy (donkey) for JWC to ride (1). JWC still feels weak and unwell but enjoys the clean house and the views at Humbie Farm. TC rides and bathes daily with Nero, whose mange is cured by the sea water, and Charlotte “is the happiest of Girls” ([4]). The cuddy arrives (8). John A. Carlyle visits for the day from Edinburgh (9). TC recommends a spell in the country to John Forster and says he and his wife should consider coming to Fife (10). After two weeks there is no improvement in health for JWC; she goes to Auchtertool for a few days (15). TC visits the Ferguses in Kirkcaldy, calling at Auchtertool on the way back, “a labourious futile, rather dreary day” (16). JWC returns from Auchtertool (18). Weather turns “wet rather troublesome.” TC rides, and JWC is confined to the house again, having caught a cold in the damp weather (21); she “continues weakly” but goes out for walks (25). TC celebrates his idleness and tells Larkin that “[t]he place is one of the finest I ever saw for outlooks and situation” (28) but discourages his sister, Jean Aitken, from holidaying near them (31).

August. Walter Mantell visits (early Aug.). Lease of Humbie farm ends (5), and they move to Auchtertool House, near the Manse where JWC's cousins live. Her cousins have prepared enough rooms for them in the house, which they have rent-free because of its bad state of repair ([12]). A. J. Scott asks for advice about leaving his teaching position in Manchester and editing a new magazine (6). TC catches cold and is in a “below-par-ish way” (6); he has not bathed in the sea since the night of their arrival; he goes to Kirkcaldy for “blue pill & castor” (8); he continues to correspond with Neuberg about books for Frederick and rides regularly (12). JWC is well enough to go out on her donkey; she complains of TC's restlessness, hoping that his plans for visiting Annandale materialize so that she can be alone and rest ([12]). John A. Carlyle and John Gordon visit from Edinburgh for the day (13). TC's cold improves; he bathes in the sea again and is enjoying the good weather, continuing his work on Frederick in the evenings (15). Thomas Spedding invites TC to visit in Mirehouse on his way back to London, but TC thinks it is unlikely he will visit (17). He welcomes Lord Ashburton back from his honeymoon and hopes to meet him in London in October (18); he orders more shoes to be made and sent to London (18). John A. Carlyle visits from Edinburgh (19). TC is invited to Thomas Erskine's at Linlathen, but, to his relief, the visit is canceled (21). His health has improved, although he still suffers from a sore throat; he asks for John's help in getting cloth from Edinburgh for a new dressing gown and jacket to be made at The Gill when he visits (25). Both Carlyles continue to write to Larkin, enlisting his help on various matters. The donkey falls under JWC, bruising her (28). Leigh Hunt dies (28). TC consults with John A. Carlyle about visiting Annandale on his way home to London (29); John becomes impatient with TC's frequent changes of mind (31). JWC prefers to return to Chelsea by train by the east-coast route after visiting her aunts in Edinburgh with Charlotte.

September. TC apologizes to John A. Carlyle for being difficult over travel arrangements (2). JWC writes to George Cooke about Geraldine Jewsbury, who has been ill, and Walter Mantell ([2]). JWC asks William Dods about her father's grave at St. Mary's Kirk in Haddington after the horror of her last visit when she found “trenching, and scaffolding, and bare, trampled, heaped up earth"; her stay in Fife has been “more the Life of a picketted Sheep, than of a human woman” ([3]). TC asks Larkin for help in settling his horse when Fritz arrives back in London with Charlotte (5). TC thanks Charles Butler for help with his American investments. He goes to Scotsbrig via Edinburgh with his brother John for company and sets about having his winter clothes made (8); he refuses an invitation to stay with Monckton Milnes in Yorkshire (12). JWC visits her aunts in Edinburgh and sees Charlotte, Nero, and Fritz on to the steamer at Granton (14). She visits Betty Braid at Upper Stenhouse (15) and stays one night with Mary Binnie at Prestonpans (16) on her way to Haddington and the Donaldson sisters (17). TC proposes accepting the Stanleys' invitation to Alderley en route to London; JWC declines (18); she stays a night at a hotel in York to break her journey home (22); her neighbors, Anne Gilchrist and Isobel Royston, and Henry Larkin call at Cheyne Row (24). TC moves to The Gill (19), then Scotsbrig (25). In Chelsea, JWC has trouble sleeping ([26]). TC arrives at the Stanleys' in Alderley (29).

October. TC arrives back in Chelsea (1); he feels gloomy on restarting work, despite his daily riding and Neuberg's and Larkin's help: “It does not appear to me hitherto that the History of Fredk can be written” (3). JWC warmly invites Walter Mantell to visit (6). Anne Gilchrist calls (11). TC writes his brother Alexander in Canada about his mournful feelings on revisiting Ecclefechan (7) and tells his sister Jean Aitken of his slow but at least “noticeable” progress with Frederick (17). JWC visits Richmond (17). TC again enlists Larkin's help in getting hold of maps for Frederick (19). He sends a sympathetic letter with a check to the chartist Ernest Jones who has suffered considerable financial losses (20); he declines Thackeray's request to contribute an article to the Cornhill Magazine (20). JWC thanks Susan Stirling for a gift of a photograph and tells her of the accident that almost killed Nero (21); she begins to go out in the “neat fly” again. Neuberg, even though he is ill, continues working for TC (23). TC thinks that both he and JWC are better for their holiday (26). David Masson visits (28). Food arrives from Scotsbrig; JWC writes to her nephew Jamie Carlyle asking him to thank his father for it; she complains of TC's “excessive irritability"; the cat has four kittens; JWC tells Charlotte to drown two of them ([late Oct.]).

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