August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


JWC TO [MARTHA M. LAMONT] ; 29 December 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18431229-JWC-MML-01; CL 17: 222-223


5 Cheyne Row / Chelsea / Friday [29 December 1843]—

Dear Madam

My husband's excessive occupation at present affords a pretext which I gladly avail myself of to write my own thanks for your book sent me thro him. Remembering the real interest with which I read your Gladiator I shall fall to this new book with good hope; so soon as I have finished Harriet Martineau's Life in the sick Room which came to me exactly in the same moment and which, for old friendship's sake, I could not but read first.

Thanks also for having said a word in season to my husband on the heterodox state of his opinions respecting us women. That he thinks us an inferior order of beings—that is, an order of beings born to obey; I am afraid there is not the shadow of a doubt!—not that he is in the habit of promulgating such opinion with any offensive clearness. He never almost speaks about women in the abstract, and for this and the other concrete woman I have heard him express a very passable admiration: but this reticence—I should say from his practice—proceeds not from any misgivings on the question of our inferiority, nor yet from any delicacy towards our feelings; but simply and solely from that self-complacency of full conviction which finds its natural expression in silence. Just as nobody thinks it worth while to call peoples attention at midday to the fact of its being daylight!— Never mind!— As Napoleon said at St Helena when they would make him into General Buonapart “They may call me what they like they cannot hinder me being what I am!1— So these arrogant men may please themselves in their ideas of our inferiority to their hearts content; they cannot hinder us in being what we will and can be. Oh we can afford very well to laugh at their ideas, so long as we feel in ourselves the power to make slaves, and even fools of the wisest of them!—

If you are ever in London be sure to come and see us; for I have a presentiment that I should like you considerably. in which case tho “I am not the rose—have only lived beside the rose”2—you will certainly like me—for all my experience has gone to prove that human sympathy is invariably two-sided.

I have relations in Liverpool and go there at rare intervals; should you be still in Liverpool at my next visit I shall make a point of finding you—

Meanwhile till further acquaintance believe me yours

with sincere esteem /

Jane Carlyle

My husband would send his kind regards if he were not upstairs over head and ears almost to the drowning point in a Life of Cromwell which he can make no sort of sense out of—as yet—