January 1835-June 1836

The Collected Letters, Volume 8


JWC TO SUSAN HUNTER; 20 September 1835; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18350920-JWC-SS-01; CL 8:205-207.


Sunday [20 September 1835]

My dear Friend

I have been hindered from writing to you all this while by the same cause, which has hindered me from doing almost every thing on earth that I ought to have done these last six weeks. Continual illness, namely, one day taking the form of intolerable headach[e], another day of equally intolerable colic, and many days together animating me with a noble disposition to hang or drown myself. Since you left me, especially; I have been at the right pitch of suffering for entitleing [sic] me to Mrs Jeffreys warmest sympathy; confined to bed and not [out] of danger of “going to the Undertaker” [the Co[c]kney idea of a future state].1

My projected visit to Herstmonceaux did not take effect.— My Mother arriving2 on the very day we should have set out— It seemed when I had received her in a perpendicular posture, and seen her fairly established in the house that I had nothing more to do; for I made no more fight with destiny but quietly took to bed.

When I was a little recovered Mrs Sterling who would not give up the fancy for taking me out of town carried me to her Brothers for a few days—about 25 miles from London3—a perfect Paradise of a place, peopled as every Paradise ought to be with Angels. There I drank warm milk, and eat new eggs, and bathed in pure air, and rejoiced in cheerful countenances, and was as happy as the day was long, which I should have been a monster not to have been, when every body about me seemed to have no other object in life but to study my pleasure. I returned in high feather—to be sick again the very next day!—

Now I am but just arisen from another horrible attack which being the wor[s]t, I fondly flatter myself may prove the finale to the business for this time.

I long very much to see you again, and have too much confidence in your kindness of nature to dread that my inability to make your last visit agreeable or even decently comfortable will deter you from giving me again the pleasure which I always have in your company; sick or well.

Carlyle expects to be at the end of his vexatious task this blessed day4—and in a week or ten day[s] will probably depart for Scotland[.]

There has been much solicitation on my Mothers part that I would go also and get myself plumped up into some sort of world-like rotundity— But man nor woman lives not by bread alone,5 nor warm milk nor any of these things; now that she is here the most that Dumfrieshire could do for me is already done—and country air and country fare would hardly counter balance country dullness for me— A little exciting talk is many times for a person of my temperament more advantageous to bodily health, than either judicious physic[k]ing, or nutritious diet and good air— Besides nobody was ever less than I a partaker in the curse of Jehu, who was “made like unto a wheel”6— I have no taste whatever for locomotion by earth air or sea; (by the way did you hear that the aerial ship has been arrested for debt?!!)7

Will you come a while in Carlyle's absence and help to keep my Mother and me from wearying?8 I think I may safely engage to be more entertaining than you found me last time—and one thing you are always sure of while I keep my soul and body together an affectionate welcome— For the rest—viz for external accomodations you like the rest of us will be at the mercy of another distracted Irish woman, or such successor as Heaven in its mercy or its wrath may provide—for this one also is on the move.!!— My Husband, God willing, will bring me a sane creature of the Servant sort from Scotland with him— For it is positively a great crook in my present lot to have so much of my time and thought occupied with these mean perplexities—

Your friend Mr Craik9 was here lately—he seems a good-hearted pleasant man—

Carlyle unites with me in kind love— My Mother also begs her remembrances—

Forgive scrawling and many things besides poverty in the article of paper10 among others. Remember me to “Mr John” and your sister11 when you write—and believe me always your

affectionate and amiable /

Jane Carlyle