January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 12 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430712-JWC-TC-01; CL 16: 263-265


[12 July 1843]

Not a line from you today Dear!—that is stupid— I, in the midst of my bit earthquake, am excusable for missing plenty of posts—but you in the midst of a “simplicity verging on the inane”—with “conversation which does not promise to be a treat”—you, for your own sake, ought to write every day—better or worse— If you had seen me last night asleep—you would have seen a pretty sight! The point was smelling of course—one cannot make a household's revolution any more than a state on with rose-water—and so this house did not smell of rose-water I can assure you— Old Sterling had said so much about its “costing me my life”—and the “absolute necessity” of my at least sleeping at his house—that I did begin to think it might cause me—a headach!—so I took all wise precautions against it—kept my room door carefully shut all the day—and slept with both my windows wide open—so that I really suffered very little inconvenience from the smell— But just when I was going to bed it occured to me that in this open state of things, with several ladders laying quite handy underneath the windows—“heavy bodies” might (as Helen phrased it last year) “drop in” and be at my pillow before I heard them—so “feeling it my duty” to neglect no proper precaution, I laid my dagger and the great Policeman's-rattle on the spare pillow, and went to sleep quite peaceably without any more thought about thieves! Mr Lambert told me yesterday that he sleeps in the back room of the ground floor “for protection's sake”—and has always “besides his dog a loaded gun at his side”— I was on the point of asking him what on earth he had to protect that was worth so much trouble— When he took his leave he hoped that I would “apply to him if he could be of any use to me in my husbands absence”—“whatever protection (in the virtuous sense of the word of course) he could afford me &c &c” I thought to myself that a man who slept on the ground floor with a loaded gun was more in a condition to receive protection than to lend it to a woman who slept with open windows and ladders. Darley brought back your book1—last night stuttering forth infinite approbation—

I have got such a pretty writing-establishment—a sort of Gipsy's tent which I have mounted in the garden with my own hands2—constructed out of the clothesropes and posts and the crumb cloth of the Library! I sit under its “brown shadd”3—the macready of “natur”!4— an arm chair and the little round table with my writing materials—and my watch to keep me in mind that I am in a time-world”—a piece of carpet under-foot—and a footstool—behold all that is necessary for my modest garden-house!—woman wants but little here below5—an old crumb-cloth6—but one has “no credit in being jolly in such a pretty bower—by and by I shall have to return indoors to “come out strong”— You see I am out of paper again—this is the back of an invitation from that Chimera Swinfin Jervis7— I shall answer it so do not trouble yourself—and now I have to write to Betty and Mary Miles8—some better thing according to old use and wont—for my birth-day—

Your descriptions of your quietude give me what Terrot complained of “a sense of oppression”—I feel as if you were living in an exhausted receiver— — God help you— You have credit in keeping pretty jolly— But if you do not write to me every day you will turn into a vegetable!

ever your Jane Pen 9