January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 2 March 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430302-JWC-JW-01; CL 16: 68-70


[2 March 1843]


The cover of my yesterdays letter was in my uncle's handwriting was it not? I laid it by in that idea—for having never received a letter from him in all my life, even a cover with my name to it in his handwriting—especially when he is sick—seemed a thing to be kept—if not with all the Werterean tenderness which Creek1 exhaled over my old newspaper covers, and note of invitation to dinner,—with at least a sincerity of natural affection not liable to violent reactions making it out of the question that some fine day I should send it back! Indeed darling your description of the bed-gallows is quite enough for me—I should not like to see it “the least in the world”2—and I hope it will very soon have fulfilled its mission—and return “into the womb of uncreated night.”3 I could not sleep a wink under it—moi [I]! Give him a kiss and tell him from me; he is a dear angel to—wish for bacon! it is an honest, healthy, rational wish!—as Carlyle would say, it is “indicative of many things”! How I should like to share my present ham with him!— John Carlyle; suddenly taken with I know not what movement of superhuman generosity—sent lately to Carlyle a Tweed!—if you know what sort of a garment that is—and to me some oranges—figs— french plums and a Yorkshire Ham from Fortnum & Masons—which ham is the “very best I ever eat— —” I believe it was a sort of amende honorable [reparation], for certain purblind, impertinent criticisms which he had been making to C. on his book—the which, by the way, he has never read and so was in no very competent state to pronounce an opinion of it—but he was sure that Carlyle “formed a wrong judgement of the Aristocracy—he had not had the same opportunities which he (John) had had of observing their dispositions and proceedings!!!4 To which Carlyle who had been fretted too long with his blether [nonsense] answered “No! perhaps not Sir I was never attached to any nobleman or noble woman—in capacity of flunky or in any menial capacity whatever.”!!— The result of this quarrel was the above mentioned Tweed and eatables— Geraldine I dare say secretly persuades herself—that her Sunday's bare neck—and grade toilette was the moving spring of his generous proceeding—but that is incredible truly! Oh no—Geraldine does no execution on either man woman or child here— No living soul takes to her—Severals Mazzini, Elizabeth,5 Darwin testify a sort of sacred horror of her—and the curious part of it is that every newcomer after surveying her with questioning eyes, begins immediately to ask me a hundred questions about you! Even Carlyle has come to the conclusion that, “that girl is an incurable fool—and that it is a mercy for her she is so ill looking!! There was a remark “indicative of several things”!— I really wish she would go away now for she places me entirely in “a false position”— Besides so long as she remains I am not likely ever to have C's company except at meals— From all which several practical inferences may be drawn—1st Beware of “swearing everlasting friendship” on “a sudden thought”—(a thing I might have known at this time of day without any new experiences) —2d Put no faith in the intellect which is purely theoretical; when you ask it for bread it will give you a stone—3d Choose your friends by their qualities to excite love and esteem—not by the love and esteem which they profess to feel—or may even in reality feel for you—4th follow your first impulses—not the impulses which you have cockered up in yourself by dint of special pleadings— —That is to say—if you be a reasonable woman—if you be not a reasonable woman all will be folly the first impulses as well as the last—your best course in that case were to tie your hands together, and deliver yourself over to some wise person, begging him or her, to take the responsibility of living off your shoulders—to order you in the way you should go6

Has Helen got a cook?

Poor Darwin is still very suffering—he came one day a week ago bringing with him three beautiful hyacinths in pots—a white, a blue, and a pink— The smell of them makes me sad somehow— Forster has also been ill, and is ill—all that prodigious “Brummigam enthusiasm” and foaming vitality bottled up in a sick arm chair,—very deplorable to see! for I actually went to see him.— One is so sorry for a man ill with only a tiger to look after him—tho his is the pink of Tigers!7— Poor Mrs Sterling is confined to bed at present.— Indeed every body seems ill or miserable— Bless thee my sweet wee Babbie—I would give a crown-piece for a kiss of you at this instant— J C

When is that monster of a Gambardella to come home with my picture?8

It is too bad to make you write every day still—but so pleasant!