January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 15 June 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450615-JWC-JW-01; CL 19: 78-81


[15 June 1845]

Dearest Babbie

If earthly worries have like earthly joys always “a culminating point”; it may be modestly believed that your worry with domestics has now reached its culminating point—and that henceforth it will go on diminishing. Fairly fighting it out was “a grace beyond the reach of art”1—a sort of thing that one would like to see—or rather to have seen—for I fancy Helen's2 scientific interest in the spectacle would hardly reconcile her to its atrocity for the moment— In getting her away you have done I think wisely and well—and also in keeping Margaret3— Margaret has received kindness from you under circumstances which must have burnt it into her soul for ever—and it would have been a sad pity to part with her on account of a Row— Would any of us have shown a more christian spirit under the same provocations?—positively the poor things rage was but unmanufactured virtue, filial affection dans sa plus simple expression—placed in difficult circumstances!— You did right to forgive her—

Here has been no Row but plenty of Bother— I was obliged to take in Miss Bölte for a few days in the first place and she is, with her many talents and good qualities, a most teazing inmate4—in as much as she never ceases staring at you from morning to night— But of course I know her ways by this time and merely took her as a disagreeable piece of virtue calling on me to do it—and so it is done— She is now gone to a very good situation where she has a hundred a year and it is devoutly to be hoped she may remain there for a time and half a time. At all events I have determined if she cannot stick there; to wash my hands of her future— Then the very day she went arrived my Uncle Roberts eldest son from Edinr— He wrote me a letter a good number of weeks ago—taking me on my weak side—exploiting our relationship and saying very pretty things in the tone of regret that he should know me only by name— He might perhaps “run up to London for a few days in June,” when he had undergone his law-trials and “wished to know if he would find us then here”— You know I had not seen him since he was in petticoats—and I detest his Mother5—but my own Fathers nephew—I must be kind to him at all risks— So I asked Carlyle in fear and trembling if it would bother him much should the Boy come here to stay during “the few days” the[y] talked of— “Oh” I suppose you will sedulously keep him out of my road” said C “and in that case he can do me no particular harm”— And so I asked him to come here at once instead of going to a lodging—an invitation seized on with avidity—and which was of course the aim of his sudden development of “natural affection” for me his unseen Cousin—

It is now near a fortnight that he has been here, turning the house at least all ones regularity and quietness upside down—and then he is not one of those loveable people for whom one can resign oneself to be put about— He is a long sprawling ill-put together youth6—with a low brow a long nose and hanging jaw a sort of cross betwixt a man and a greyhound!— He never sits—and his boots always creek as if they had a Devil. He is argumentative and self-complacent beyond anything that one can conceive out of Edinr—not a bad fellow absolutely—with a certain shrewdness and a certain honesty and even naiveté—but so disagreeable! And then of course he is out every night at some theatre or other devilry—and I never gate7 to bed till far on in the morning—and then he cannot be got wakened in time for our breakfast but after repeated assaults on “the wooden guardian of his privacy”8 which he carefully locks every night as if he were a delicate virgin—he comes sprawling down at ten or eleven oclock and needs a second breakfast made for him—and in the same manner he runs after Sights at our dinner time and needs a second dinner made for him—and all this fuss in such hot weather drives me to despair— I sincerely hope he will be got home to Edinr next week—where he had better remain for the future— Carlyle could almost kill him I see—but there is no help for it now— If you heard him spouting off his Edinr Logic on Carlyle!—with no more respect for his superior years and wisdom than if himself were the Archangel Michael! or if you had seen him the other night dashing in with the rudest questionings and contradictions into the talk of Lady Harriet9 who unluckly had come to tea—you would wonder we have let him continue to breathe so long! One comfort is that he is in the fair way of going home with what he calls his Principles entirely subverted—for the first few days I was bored to death with the free kirk10—and the respectabilities and “the three thousand punctualities”11—and now—today for example—Sunday (the better day the better deed) he is stretched out on the green (thank God) reading—Zoe!—with intense enthusiasm—feeling he says as if it were “to constitute a new era in his spiritual existence”— He saw Geraldine on her way thro' and she gave by her profane talk the first shock to his principles but the Book is still more effectual— I told him a few minutes ago that “having ascertained the slight tenure by which he held these respectabilities of his; it was to be hoped he would henceforth cease from twaddling about them,” and he took the advice quite gaily— Geraldine was two days in London and spent most of her time here while the Brother and Sister in law12 went after Sights— I received her very coldly but there is no quarrelling with that creature! before she had been in five minutes she sat down on the floor at my feet and untied my shoestrings— What are you doing I asked?— “Why my dear I am merely going to rub your feet— You look starved— I am sure your feet have not got well rubbed since I did it myself last year”!! and all the two days she did not leave off rubbing my feet whether I would or no for a quarter of an hour together— I never saw her look so well—she actually looked like a woman—not as formerly like a little boy in petticoats— Whether it be her love affair that has developed some new thing in her I cannot say; but their was now and then a gleam on her face that was attractive— I could now fancy a man marrying her! She had not left this house two minutes on the Sunday night when Robertson came! I was so glad they had not met here—and an hour after Robertson Gambardella13 rushed in like a madman “had a cab at the door to take us off instantly to see a comet thro his Telescope—we went and saw the Comet and various stars14— He comes occasionally—not too often—and is always good for me as ever—which is a miracle—and really his attentions to Carlyle are most goodnatured he came the day before yesterday “to take Carlyle to bathe him and give him a swim”—but C had fortunately gone to ride. He has a horse now and rides every day— Ah how well I should like to run alone down upon you for a week—even without that sugar plum of having my costs cleared!!—but C looked grim and utterly held his peace when I put out a feeler on the question— Tell my Uncle that I think a still more judicious application of his windfal were to pay his own expences up here— It is a perfect shame for him never to have seen the metroplis of his own kingdom I have breakfasted at Rogers's this morning where was Thomas Moore15— I have many things more to tell you but enough for one

Ever your own