January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 21 February 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450221-JWC-JW-01; CL 19: 37-38


[21 February 1845]

Dearest Babbie

Well to be sure! what weather poor mortals have—outside and in! I pity you with it—and even more do I pity MYSELF—for you being younger have more of future sunshine in prospect to console you under the nipping frosts of the immediate Actual— I can write you no consolations this day—nor advices—nor indeed anything better than complaints—and even these my physical weakness happily prescribes should be brief— When I received Helens congratulations on having got out of my cold, I was already sliding back into it—and for the last fortnight I have been again lying at the bottom of it— I am quite unconscious of having brought on this relapse by any imprudence of my own— I was only out some three or four times and not farther than Sloan Square—but however it has happened; I have been worse during the last ten days than I have been at all—and my outlook grows to wear “a certain”1 hopelessness— I have lain in bed however only two days—for if I can crawl down here at all it is much better for my spirits— The sight of human faces such as they are and the sound of human speech is infinitely preferable to the sight of the yellow tassels of my bed and the sound of the beating of my own heart—

And really it must be said the people are abundantly sympathizing and attentive—especially the men Both that good little Mr Fleming and Arthur Help (also little enough) finding me in bed on Sunday came back on Monday to know how I was, tho the former did not come in at all and the latter had only five minutes to stay— Elizabeth2 has finally also taken a sort of fright about me and returned to all her old kind ways— So as the Christian people say I have “many mercies for which I desire to be sufficiently thankful”3

—Carlyle is very much out of sorts—nervous and a man of sorrows not acquainted with silence4—tho' he does love it “platonically5—in fact his book is lasting too long for his strength— So that we are a grim pair—and I feel a rather irksome necessity of being patient under my own illness and saying as little about it in the house as possible— I do not think he has the smallest idea how ill I am—at least never for above a few good moments together— As for John!—he sees me here coughing and suffering month after month and the only advice he has given—was to “make a point of getting out a little—not of course while my cold lasts—but so soon as it is gone”!!! if it were gone I should not need his sapient advice or anybody elses—

—I have lost the recipe Helen sent me—at least I cannot lay my hands on it—and I remark that I found it at least very pleasant to take—will you write me out another copy or make her do it— I hope to give you a longer letter soon—love to them all Ever your affectionate J Carlyle