August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 16 March 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440316-JWC-JW-01; CL 17: 309-311


[16? March 1844]

Darling I write just a line today to prevent you fancying that I have lost either my life or my senses— You are not one of those unimaginative characters who cannot believe in inability to write unless it be attended with the outward visible sign of confinement to bed— And so I need not fear your turning away your sweet face from me with an incredulous and unsympathizing smile, when I declare that my silence has really been the result of inability, tho I have been all the last week on my legs—yesterday however I sat down to write to you at last a long letter—when behold the Sterling carriage drove to the door—“without encumbrance” putting itself at my orders for the forenoon—and as I very much needed to go to the Strand to enquire the result of Chapman & Halls cogitations as to Geraldines Manuscript which has been laid on my arms and left there (!) very much as the baby which the Gentleman in the Omnibus incautiously undertook the holding of, while the Mother stept out—I judged this an opportunity of getting that business transacted without fatigue which in my present feeble condition I ought not to neglect— You know that with all my laziness when there is real business to be done, I make it a point of honour never to let it linger or miscarry for want of exertion— Geraldine was extremely helpful to me about my Mudies1— I owe her a service “decidedly”—and besides by putting her into the way of getting her “superfluous activity” vented in printed books I consider that I shall have done a real act of charity—what is to come of her when she is old—without ties, without purposes, unless she apply herself to this trade?—and how is she even to have a subsistence otherwise should her Brother2 take it into his head to marry? all these considerations have made me very anxious to find a Publisher for her first book.—and contrary to Carlyle's prognostications—beyond almost my own hopes I yesterday found that her M S—was accepted (Do not speak of this publicly) for it will be some time yet before the book gets out—) Actually it is a very remarkable book, and well worth being tried—but when I think how John Mill's Logic which he spent ten years over—and Carlyles Sartor a real “Work of Genius”—had to hawk themselves about thro' all the trade before they could so much as get printed free of cost—I do wonder at my good luck and hers viz having this philosophical novel accepted by the first man I offered it to—on the principle of half profits— Their Counsellor as to the publishing of new works whoever he may be—told them that it had “taken hold of him with a grasp of iron” Think of little Geraldine having a grasp like that in her!

Well this morning as in duty bound I have had to write her the good news and now I am too wearied after all the “explaining and expounding” of my letter to her to write another letter of any magnitude even to my Babbie— Last night my incautious husband shoved his stone bottle of warm water over the bed—and the thump which it made on the floor just over my head in the dead watches of the night just when after weary hours of tossing about I was falling into sleep of course put all ideas of sleeping far from me—and I have risen after a horrid night in a condition more dead than alive—curious coincidence of bottles!—there has also been a curious coincidence of rings. Two days after my last headach I missed a little ring from my finger which I wear constantly—one that was my Aunt Jeanie's3— I made a strict search for it and finally had to give it up for lost—when Carlyle putting his hand into the inside pocket of his dressing-gown felt something and drew out in wonder the ring!—in my agony that day my hands were clutching at every thing within their reach and had clutched it seemed into his pockets and left the ring there! But I trust in heaven there will not be a coincidence of chiminies—here the disgrace is the least of it for we have to pay a fine of five pounds!4

How is it that the Macs are not home—and settled down into old married people by this time? It was last Saturday that they called here and told me they were going on Monday night—just a week ago— She looked better that day—indeed as Helen said “perfectly Broillant in comparison”

Oh my good Babbie, what a wretched scrawl to put thee off with—but indeed indeed I am good for nothing just now!

God bless you all—

your own /


How I do pity you with your Servants—such work would turn my brain!