The Collected Letters, Volume 13


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 9 April 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410409-JWC-TC-01; CL 13: 85-87


Friday [9 April 1841]

Virtue its own reward? “Never Sir”!— Had you been neglectful and sent me no letter yesterday, some scriblement better or worse would have proceeded from me yesterday— But the receiving of your letter assuaged those wants of my heart (to speak in the language of the Minerva press1) which would else have sought assuagement in writing to you—and besides—that letter on glazed paper, written with the best of pens, beautiful outwardly and inwardly, gave me such an ideal of what you would expect of what you were entitled to in “return,” that I had no longer assurance enough to put you off with one of my rough and ready scrawls, which, as Goddess of Chaos, presiding over the rumbling and tumbling of a first-rate earthquake, and with a considerable of a headach at the same time, was the best I could have done for you. Today I thought I should be able to write copper plate, to spell, and to put my words together, if not with a certain grace, at lowest with a certain intelligibility. And you see!— But “it is of no use rebelling against Providence”!— And so I will carry on and “keep never minding”2

No letters have come except your own—and your own having come no others are missed— Thank Heaven it is no worse with you!— So far as I can read your horoscope at this distance it seems to me pretty fairish— I have great faith in your young host3—in fact I believe we might have “riddled Creation” without finding a man better fitted for taking charge of you “under difficult circumstances.”4 If he brings you back a gladder and a foolisher man,5 I shall be under eternal obligations to him—say so with my kind regards—

Darwin came yesterday “fully confident of finding Carlyle still here”— He staid but a short while, having to call for “old Mrs Pepoli”6—told me nothing, being in fact in the muddiest condition of ditch-water— Ruffini7 came, full of solicitude about the dangerous state of Lord Granville—“it would be such a pity if he died before having received Mr Carlyle's letter”!8 Every man for himself and the Devil for all!— I sent him in quest of the Weekly Dispatch—which he speedily realized for me—but the criticism is not half so scurrilous as one would have wished—and so as it will hardly make you laugh it is hardly worth sending— I send it however, since I have got it, but under cover not to compromise your character, by addressing such a paper to you in a Tory house9— Nobody else has been here—my evenings are as quiet as if I were at the back of beyond— Only Helen now and then making noises as of the Gohst of Hamlet10—I have employed the quietness rather unprofitably you will think in reading Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer11—in four volumes—a strange book which I never heard tell of, and wonder that I never did—for I find in it as much wild energy and poetic beauty (of the “distracted” sort) as in any dozen of the Geniuses that we see “going about the streets”— The man seems to want only some one thing—common sense perhaps—to have been great in his day and generation— Or perhaps his defect was simply having been born an Irishman—and with a consequent leaning towards lying and stealing—

For the rest I do well enough,—there is not much betterness to be looked for this week—but next week I hope to be stronger.

Here has been Elizabeth to inform me that your advice was laid seriously to heart; but there are difficulties in carrying it into effect—nothing less than want of capital— The gallery is not [to]12 be had under seventy £ a year—and the expences of transporting the pictures &c &c would mount it up to a hundred at the least—is it, she asks, not too much to risk?13 Her grand risk was the first—She that has looked Death in the face need boggle at no shadows14

O dear Good! I am writing like a stupid woman—as I am at this moment to the centre of my being—pray for my rehabilitation—perhaps it is best for me to feel dead-stupid— Here are newspapers and a letter from my Mother—chiefly about you so I send it— Take every care of yourself and do not think. Above all write and love me— Yours ever

Jane C