January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 20 August 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450820-JWC-TC-01; CL 19: 157-160


Wednesday [20 August 1845]

[My Dear Husband,]

I “did intend” that you should have had plenty of letter today but the pigs have run thro it1—and be hanged to them— A letter is come from Jeanie which I have had to answer in the first instance and the post leaves so ridiculously early— Jeanie might have waited so far as herself was concerned; so that my Good had the benefit of her waiting—in her present apathetic phasis anything like “anxiety” might have been a wholesome emotion for her—but my Uncle had taken it into his head to be anxious about me—had ordered her to beg that I would send “one line”—which of course means many—and my Uncle takes impatience after the true Welsh-fashion—so as to be tormented with it himself, and to torment everybody about him—besides he is an old man—and my one Uncle—and very fond of me withal—So I have written them a satisfactory letter and my Good must content himself with a hasty one—

This is the Fincham day and according to use and wont I have broken down—thanks to Geraldine chiefly—who put me in such a passion yesterday afternoon when—“for reasons which it may be interesting not to state”—a passion was peculiarly hurtful to me—that I could not sleep for hours after I went to bed—the first sleepless night I have had since I came here. Up to yesterday she had behaved like an angel—but verily yesterday she ‘had a devil’ and as usual selected me for the object of her fury—“because”—as she tells me when it is over—she “loves me better than all the rest of the world put together!” I had my experience of last year to guide me in this last emergence—ignoring her impertinence then only served to prolong it for three days—so this time I put her down par vive force [by main force] So long as she merely cried and sulked in rooms by herself looking daggers at me whenever I appeared I took no notice; but when she set herself down beside Mrs Paulet and me in the evening—and fell to speaking at me the most inconceivable rudenesses—I rose up abruptly and said in a good hearty rage “Geraldine until you can behave like a gentlewoman—if not like a woman of commonsense, I cannot possibly remain in the same room with you”—and walked off to the Library— Mrs Paulet also left her— And in half an hours time she came to me drenched in tears, and making the humblest apologies—I had “hurt her feelings” in the morning—she would not say how—“if I were told ever so particularly I could not understand it—nor Mrs Paulet either—it was a something in my manner that grated on her soul—”!! When I saw her penitent I felt no more angry but I told her that I could not pretend to feel towards her exactly as if this new folly had not occurred This morning she has been making new apologies such as I really could not bring myself to make except to God Almighty—and covering me with kisses and tears— Decidely she is more ldquo;powerful” in the christian virtue of humility than I am!— But all that does not give me back the sleep I lost thro having had to get in a rage— Now as I do not sleep the first night in a new place—and felt little mission for doing a glass house today I took the resolution to stay at home provided the rest would go without me—and Mrs Paulet always does the really polite thing in every case—lets one have ones way whatever that may be—

The “pierced letter” you sent on Sunday bearing the post mark Bishopgate Within was nothing less than a Plague-letter from Cairo—from the Egyptian2 of all people on earth! He writes to express his “favourable sentiment” and to continue (“with the reciprocity all on one side”3) the conversation ‘memorable’ which he held with me at his last visit—and to request with due modesty that I would—write a book on “femme; degagée de toute influence masculine quelle qu'elle puisse être”!!!4 He demands also “des nouvelles de l'excellent Monsieur Carlyle a qui je vous prie de faire agreer mes salutations les plus affectueuses. Parmi mes amis il y a beaucoup de personnes qui le connaissent maintenant et leur admiration lui est acquise”!5 If your head can stand that it must be superhumanly strong!

The letter is in the palest of ink—very long—and very—what shall I say?—egyptian— I need not send it as you would certainly not read it for yourself but it may amuse you to hear it read—

The note from Robertson contained three notes from Miss Bolte about Vulorea[?]6—and stated that “The flames of fever seized on him six weeks ago”—one of his phrases in a letter to Mrs Paulet after the Manchester massacre was “horrors seem the prints of my foot steps”!7

I was sitting at dinner alongside of Geraldine when your packet came that day—and as she keeps a sharp lookout on everyone's correspondence— she recognized first the letter of the Egyptian her declared lover for the moment, and then the note of the other; while I was innocently reading your letter thinking only of that—I was startled by Mr Paulet exclaiming “Miss Jewsbury what have you in the name of God? She had turned first pale as milk and then all over crimson—while her eyes were fixed on the Egyptian's letter as if reading it thro clairvoianc who can that be from said I— I can tell you gasped Geraldine—it is from the Egyptian—and why he should have written to you instead of me is a mystery I cannot pretend to fathom— And can you tell me who that is from said I handing her Robertson's note which had no signature as usual, and I could not for the moment tell whose handwriting it was only that I ought to have known—“yes it is from ROBERTSON”! the whole of us even to little ‘pup8 burst into laughter—such a complication!—next day she also had a letter from her Egyptian but it was short “because he had spent all his time in writing to Mrs Carlyle.”— We fancy this because was at the bottom of the phrenzy of yesterday “I could understand said Mr Paulet that if I made much courtships to a particular Lady my wife might be jealous—but to be jealous of a little old decrepit glass eyed Egyptian with one wife already—that I can not understand”

Your own—

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