August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 26 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421026-JWC-JW-01; CL 15: 148-149


[26 October 1842]

Dearest Babbie

I must send you a few lines today in answer to your good two letters: tho I have hardly left myself time for writing and also doing what must be done this day or never; calling for Mrs Buller (she goes tomorrow, and oh Babbie such is the frailty of human intentions! that call is still to make!!) I have been seized with one of my violent fits of activity this morning—preparatory I suppose to an equally violent headach—the usual sequence: and since I rose at eight have been running up and down like a house on fire—discovering imperfections, putting them to rights—cleaning the lamp (which continues to act deliciously) brightening the plate—[understand by the magnificent word the basket, salver, and two wine sliders [every soul of them plaited by the way]1 which stand on the sideboard—and doing various et ceteras of like household importance— I could not but smile at the first words of your letter—having been thinking to myself that all the things I had meant to say to you had been ommitted in my last letters— Yesterday it rained from morning till night without ceasing—nobody came—nothing happened—and it is wonderful how the human memory freshens all up in the vapour bath of such a day!— Ever so many things which I needed to ask you and to tell you came out like invisible ink-writing held to the fire—it was as if the pitter-patter of the rain whispered them to me— Lord bless me! I am so figuratively disposed this morning!— I suppose it comes of having spent all yesterday in reading Jean Paul.2 But I will try to check the oriental tendency of my imagination and keep to the businesses before the House— First as to that invaluable but at the same time highly troublesome root—potatoes— No! we have as yet taken no steps— THE MAN'S have been slightly improved since you left—“to the extent that Carlyle can eat them”— They are not very good—nor yet very bad—so whether in such doubtful state of the matter your kind offer ought to be accepted or declined I absolutely cannot decide—do you decide for me; taking this along with you that should they become worse I will certainly give you notice.

Poor Henrietta!3 and poor Mistresses of Henrietta!— God be praised it is not typhus-fever!—it would have been a horrible anxiety for me to have known such a thing in your house!—to say nothing of her own and your more immediate concern with it.

One of the questions I had meant and failed to ask was precisely about her and the other—how they went on? and especially the new cook?—fellow-feeling makes one take a grave interest in these sublunary cares, which young ladies think beneath the dignity of modern correspondence Another of my forgotten questions was; Has Mrs Martin opportunity of sending things to old Miss Gillespie4 and if not what is old Miss Gillespie's special address Poor old woman, I know next to nothing of her personally—but she has lost a most kind friend and I would be glad by any little attention in my power to give her a moment's pleasure—often I used to feel vexed at my Mother for spending so much of the little she had upon others, and getting so few comforts and pleasures out of it for herself—fool that I was, I made that a reproach to her which was her goodness her wisdom Oh I am very thankful now that she followed the thought of her own generous heart instead of my mistaken counsels!— What comfort were it for me now to think that she had for so many years of life had a little better food, and better clothes, and more travelling about, and more company at home, compared with the comfort of thinking that she made herself loved as a benefactor while she lived, and has made for herself in the hearts of so many an eternal regret? All that she enjoyed is useless to her now—and useless to me in the remembrance—it belonged to her life on earth and her life on earth is finished—but all that she gave belongs to another and higher sphere—its fruits remain for ever and ever—

What were the other things I had to say to you?— They are all escaped again—and I know they amounted to something like half a dozen Well, perhaps I may recover them by tomorrow—

No 105 has been robbed of jewels and money to a considerable amount— So Helen learnt from the Butcher this morning— The family were in Wales and discovered their loss A DAY OR TWO after their return!!— The maid is taken up on suspicion—

Alas the poor stick—how I mourned its quick fate! more for my uncle's sake than even yours who had such pleasure in choosing it for him— I ordered mine to be brown—how did the other presents please? How do the lampshades perform—we are settled with the white one after all— love to the whole of No 206— Your own

Jane Carlyle