January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 12 August 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590812-JWC-MR-01; CL 35: 166-168


Auchtertool House / Kircaldy Friday [12 August 1859]

My dearest Mary

I fear you have been continuing out of sorts, or you would have been writing to ask what ailed me, that I did not answer your former letter. You are too good for standing on the Debit and Credit principle of correspondence; and besides I think you feel pretty sure that whenever I fail in answering you, something else than mere want of goodwill must be in the case.

The fact is I made no progress at Humbie, and got more and more disheartened; and put off writing in hopes always of gaining a little strength and a little spirit to take some resolution about going to you— And besides I needed to know what Mr C intended before I could arrange for myself.

As the Lodging at Humbie could not be retained after the 5th we removed to this House—within half a mile of my Cousins. It is a large convenient House, but out of repair and not in a state for being Let (the Proprieter thinks) and so it was offered us rent-free—my Cousins undertaking to put enough rooms in order— I must say Maggie has acted like a beneficent Fairy in the matter—and prepared a most comfortable lodging for us. If we had only the grace to enjoy it! But Mr C with his absurd over fatigues at Humbie—(bathing twice a day &c &c) and, I think, with excessive consumption of milk and cream, brought on a severe bilious attack at the commencement of which he arrived here! and of course could find no beauty or comeliness in anything!—and all poor Maggies pains have gone for nothing. And the two or three inconveniences inseparable from a country situation are magnified into overbalancing all the good. And he talks of going off at once into Annandale and leaving me to do out the time here by myself— I should rather like that he did—for weak and nervous as I am, this constant worry about little things that can't be remedied, and constant sense of responsibility prevents me getting the least good of the change of air and quiet of the Country. And two weeks even of perfect let-alone-ness would be a Great rest for me—

Finding I did not get up to any visiting about in these first weeks—I had given up my first plan of going to see you from here and returning—my second plan was to take Thornhill1 on my road home. But now I am so out of heart, that I see nothing for it but to go straight home from here, without seeing you at all Dear!—merely staying a night at York or somewhere to break the dreadful long journey— I can't give you more indubitable evidence of how poorly I feel than by resigning myself to this arrangement. It is not only the stopping at Thornhill you see—that I have to consider— if I go there, it involves me in the fatigue and bother of going to see Jane Carlyle2 and going to the Gill—and going to Scotsbrig—were Mr C there— And for all that I am perfectly unfit!

So you wont think it unkind of me after all your kind invitations—that I sacrifice one of the greatest pleasures I looked forward to in Scotland—that of seeing you and the Doctor—to the fear of arriving at home more unwell than I left it—and giving myself and others all that trouble of illness over again—God bless you—write and tell me particularly how you are

your ever affectionate /