January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 21 August 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450821-JWC-TC-01; CL 19: 162-165


Thursday night [21 August 1845]

Dearest—I find a great fire in my bedroom tonight—“because it rained yesterday”—and it strikes me as a natural thing to scribble you a line or two before I go to bed—it is the only leisure time I have had since I rose in the morning—while at breakfast “a sudden thought struck me” to ‘put down’ a Crucifixion which Mrs Paulet had hung-up in the Diningroom on the day of the fat party!—it has been shocking my religious feelings ever since—and Mrs P had owned that it was “rather out of place”—but her motto being like Mrs Wedgwoods1 “never to do today what can be put off till tomorrow” it might have hung there till the day of judgement had I not set Mr Paulet on it this morning in her absence— We got a beautiful landscape hung up in its stead and by the time this operation was over it was late enough for going to Liverpool to meet her and Geraldine at the railway— As the day was fine—and the carriage going at any rate I had thought I might as well take the good of it— They were to have come at half after ten—but a train came in then without them—and no other being expected till twelve I drove with little Julia and Pup to Maryland Street and spent the interval there— On our return to the Railway I had got out of the carriage and was walking backwards and forwards with my two children when two gentleman passed,—one of whom I felt to know quite well, and after a little consideration I decided it was Mr Storey of Roseneath!!2 Back I ran and laid my hand on his arm— “See I said how much better my memory is than yours”! “I know your face quite well said he but for my life I cannot tell who you are”— “Why I am Jeanie Welsh to be sure”! If you had only seen the man! his transports were “rather exquisite”— I do not remember to have seen anybody so outrageously glad to see me in all my life before! It was only after he had played all manner of antics that I recollected he had once been in love with me— The man with him proved to be James Grey—looking the picture of woe— They were still with me when Mrs Paulet and Geraldine finally made their appearance—and they both perceived in the first instant that the gentleman I introduced to them “had once been my lover”—two women alike gleg [perceptive]!—in consideration of which good taste on his part Mrs Paulet on the spot invited him to go home with us to dinner!—but that he could not do—was just about starting for London—where he had meant to seek me out. He told Mrs Paulet that he had last seen me at an illumination during the Peninsular War!!!3 whereupon Geraldine asked him “if he and Jane were wandering Jews, then?”— But looking better to his dates he found it was at the illumination on account of the Kings visit to Edinr4—twenty five years ago—quite long enough— It did me great good to see him—especially as he looked so glad—not for his own sake particularly—but as an authentic piece of old times—

We had not been at home three minutes when James Martineau arrived to early dinner—by appointment— I told him today quite frankly that he had better cut Unitarianism and “come over to us” He had given me a good opportunity by admitting that he “hated the Unitarians as individuals”— He asked me who I meant by ‘us’—and I said Carlyle— He sighed and shook his head—and said something about a man being bound to remain in the sphere appointed to him until he was fairly driven out of it by his Conscience— He went at four, and then came Mrs Ames who I was almost thankful to find had ‘got a cold’!5— Then Mr Paulet and the chess— which brings me to the present moment—


Friday morning [22 August 1845]

At the last word the paper of my candle took fire and I had no choice but to get into bed— I was going on to tell you that if you come here Mr Martineau will show you something we fancy you might like to see—Oliver Cromwells writing desk—“perfectly authenticated”—a quee[r] old wainscoat thing ornamented with plates of gold— It belonged to Charles 1st originally—then came into the possession of Cromwell and was given by him to Ireton6 whose name is on it—it is now the glory of one Dr Shepherd7

What do you think now about coming here on your way to Scotland?— I can answer for the strong desire to have you and to entertain you like Beauty in the Castle of the Beast!— “Speak your wishes speak your will / Swift obedience meets you still!”8 I fancy you might spend a few days here—until you were “detected”—agreeably enough—nevertheless I would not have you put the least force on yourself to do it by way of obliging me— Only if you are not coming I must know in time to spend some days at home with you before you leave— I have already been absent a month past on Tuesday They are not tired of me here nor I of them— I could remain another week or two in expectation of your coming—but if I am not to have a deliberate view of you here I must have it at home— In any case I should not leave Helen long by herself— There is plenty lying for me to do at home and I cannot go on long in idleness however speculative and ornamental— You may say my life at home is vastly like idleness so far as you can see into it—and in truth it might be busier—at least busy to better purpose

I promised Geraldine to go home by Manchester and spend a day or two with her— —her Brother being in Irland— — For the Wales visit I am afraid it must remain a devout imagination— The enthusiasm which enabled me to regard it as possible has gradually evaporated— I should need first to have it viz: my enthusiasm lighted up again by a new interview with Miss Wynn or a letter from her— Darwins ominous statement that “all the men of that family are Brutes” has throw[n] “a dark brown shad9 over the Welsh Mansion—

Here is your letter this instant come—and with it news that the gig is waiting to take me a drive—I also being in the valley of the shadow10 of headach today—

Had not I better come home to you dear?—my “human speech” is not the most edifying that might be desired but it is better than none— I feel quite comfortless in thinking of these carrots—and going out to seek Craik and all that—

God keep you

Affectionately yours /

Jane Carlyle