August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 12 September 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420912-JWC-JW-01; CL 15: 85-86


Monday [12 September 1842]

Cara Babitha mia [My dear Babbie]

I have only time for a good day to you!—and keep up your heart!—for surely to goodness we will come on Thursday I have kept saying constantly Thursday, Thursday, till it seems to be finally received as a settled thing even by Carlyle—

We are going off again to Lady Cullums—a long journey comprising a lunch, and other laborious adjuncts. All her own curiosities are not enough for her—she must also see the Author of Hero Worship which book she professes to admire infinitely and therefore one would suppose to understand,—tho' hang me if I think she has ever got beyond Mammon-worship, with all her high pretensions! My heart sinks at the thought of having to dawdle for a second time thro' all her show-rooms—her “Old Curiosity Shop”1 served up to suit the most aristocratic taste—to hear a second time “This was an altar of Latona!2 is in't3 it a love of a thing?” “This is supposed to be a bronze of Benvenuto Cellini”— “That silver paper cutter represents Dante's Angel!” “These gold boxes were taken from the Carriage of Napoleon after the battle of Waterloo!—isn't it nice to have them? &c &c &c To all which I felt inclined to answer in Helens favorite phrase of admiration “how expensive!”— If I were Mistress of fifty thousands a year, I would not make myself into ashow-woman!—but there is no accounting for tastes!— What will Miss Hunter4 do with all her money? give Babbie a marriage portion?—with all her love for you I see not that she can restrict her generosity to a velvet gown and diamond ring!— I wish you would suggest to her, to found a little female La Trappe, to which people of an earnest turn of mind might retire from time to time, to consider what they want!—to attain to some glimmer of an idea as to that, would be an immense step gained for the female mind in these days—and an impossible one amidst the deluge of idle babblement, and pressure of most unlily-of-the-field-like5 small cares in which the most of us spend our lives— God help us poor women!—especially such of us as have not our daily bread to work for—and small children to bring up, better or worse!

Lady Bunbury was advising me to adopt an American baby of fourteen months—advertised in the newspapers as to be had for nothing— I thought that in “the present distressed state of the country” a good many native babies might be had for nothing!—but a full grown babbie were a better speculation—don't you think?

Bless thee dear Little / Your affectionate cousin / Jane W Carlyle