October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


JWC TO ELIZA STODART; 28 July 1833; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18330728-JWC-EA-01; CL 6:419-421.


28th July [1833] / Craigenputtoch


I salute you with undiminished regard; and sincerely thank you for your letter. It is the only ‘voice from Edinburgh’ that has reached us since we left; save a hysterical giggle from John Gordon about his marriage1— If we were not in closer connexion with London, whence we have news every week; we should remain in total ignorance “how they ack i the various places,”2 and might come in time to be as great curiosities of innocence as the King and Queen of the Sandwich Islands—who poor things stuffed themselves to death, if you remember—a more touching instance of overeating is nowhere on record.3

From overeating the association is natural to digesting—so I shall take the present p[a]ragraph to inform you, that of late I have been digesting not ill. If you were at all instrumental in giving me Influenza; you have the satisfaction to think you gave me a good thing—for I am certainly indebted to it for a considerable improvement in my hea[l]th, which has been better ever since, than at any time for two years previous. It has even seemed as if my beauty would emerge from its premature eclipse—at least it has occasional[l]y struck me that my glass reflected something more than “the remains of a fine woman—”4 the animated presence of an average sort of woman— Nothing indeed that to found conceit upon; but like the penny roll it may be “made to do”— And better thus perhaps than to be “ower foo hadin”5 as the proverb goes— For instance Had [sic] the Queen of the Sandwich Islands been but restricted to a penny roll!

On the whole this summer has passed away pleasantly— when I wake in the morning, and wink my eyes, and ascertain that I have still no headach[e], I spring up in good humour for the day; prepared to take the rest as I find it. The work I have done would go little way in furnishing out a set of dinning [sic] tables (Mrs Davies's were exhibit[e]d to her acquaintance, for three days, before the Sale of Ladies work, spread over with twenty pounds worth of knick nacks!) but it is enough to keep my hand in, and the Devil out, who “is always,” they say, “at the elbow of an idle man,” still more of an idle woman. I am more intent in getting all the good possible from the free access one has here to the open air— I am out and in all day long—neither walking nor working with any continuance but combining all sorts of excercise [sic] and all sorts of tasks in the most rapid alternation—a well fitting gown, and a rather stylish bonnet have received beginning and finish in this way—also one cap, one collar, and one shift. Nor has my hand forgot its cunning, in kneading dough, and “pressing the SNOWY curd6—(no good sign of curd, by the way which is the better the yellower it is)— Accordingly there is a cheese lying in state for your Uncle, with which I have had much sorrow. Once, twice, thrice the mice assaulted it—and so often left the impression of their “beautiful dents” (as Captain Robison at Pitcathly7 used to say) and Lord Minto was not more beside himself when the rats assaulted the cheek of his last Born,8 than I under these audacious attempts. I could have fired a pistol— I did better—baited a trap.

Young Hunt is not come nor coming— He got the length of Edinr where he was kindly entertained by Henry Inglis; as we had arranged for him. But the fatigue of the journey and the separation—his first separation from his own people increased his nervous ailments to such a degree, that he could resolve on nothing but to go back with all dispatch the way he came. We have had my Brother-in-law wit[h] us for some six weeks—but he soon leaves t[o] return with Lady Clare to Italy, for two years—so that our movements will not for the present be determined by his choice of a settlement. Most probably we shall remain where we are next winter—and go somewhere, perhaps abroad, in the spring or summer. We have had no other visitors except my Mother in law for two weeks; and my Mother Walter and Helen for a fly [flying visit]— My Mother has mounted an equipage of a rather fanciful sort—namely a cuddy and cart! which travels at the rate of two miles an hour— The whole apparatus I confess looks less useful than absurd—

Do you see any thing of my Aunts—of anybody belonging to me? My Mother will have told you all about the Donaldsonian expedition9—which I forgot in the list of our visitors.

We sadly miss your Uncle's Books, and we sadly miss your Uncle's self and his niece— Give him our kindest love— I shall not forget his goodness to us last winter—which had been as great perhaps on former occasions—but which I was more sensible of last winter than at any other time, from seeing how tiresome a person always ailing become[s] to ordinary friends— God bless you Dear write to me soon—all sorts of news great & small— Unless you had lived here a while you can have no idea how passion[ately] one desires to be told something

[No signature]