October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 5 October 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18451005-JWC-TC-01; CL 20: 12-14


Sunday Night [5 October 1845]

Another evening pretty well lost for writing!— On Friday John came to tea and then—Krasinski!—who was let in—par malheur [unhappily]! Neither of them staid late; but when the last had gone I found myself too “detached” for anything but clipping stars!— I would write on the morrow— but on the morrow I was—‘vaixed’—my devout imagination of the Stars had proved an unrealizable Ideal—at least could only be realized at the expense of YOUR eyesight!! Mazzini had told me, with a certain derision, that I was “opening for Carlyle a whole course of Astronomy in twelve lessons”; to that I had answered with considerable heftigkeit [vehemence] that to be sure the rehabilitating of ones house was not so grand an employment as the revolutionizing of Italy—but the one thing I could do and the other I could not do—and it would be a prettier world if every one would keep within his sphere of possibility”! When I perceived however that I was “opening for Carlyle” not “a course of Astronomy”—but a course of total blindness, I took water and a sponge and in a few instants annihilated the labour of several days—thereby proving myself a woman of true Genius! for it is only your true Genius that can weigh its most brilliant inspirations in the balance and—find them wanting! Still I would not be beaten—must find a substitute which would not put out your eyes—and all the forenoon of yesterday I was hunting after that, as restless as a hen with its first egg! In the evening I dined at the Helpses—dining at the Helpses is like seasickness—one thinks at the time one will never never encounter it again, and then the impression wears off and one thinks, perhaps one's constitution has undergone some change—and this time it will be more bearable— They had been sending me invitations ever since I came home, and this one could, I thought, be accepted in even an economical point of view; as Craik was to be there and could escort me on foot. And on this principle was the thing tra[n]sacted, with no harm done, except the dreadful boring while it lasted— The only thing I heard worth mentioning was that your horse was lately seen in good health, “living upon apples and pears”!—they thought it “much out of condition when it arrived and that it would take a while to get up its flesh again,” The favoured Individual who had made your horse's acquaintance “quite promiscuously” was Spedding, He dined with us yesterday (of course) and the Christies, male and female, and a Mr Roupelle the son of somebody and Brother of somebody else1—“a man of immense humour” but unluckily “not in force” when I saw him who ever is in force in that house? Thomas Wilson perhaps who “sways a leaden scepter in society” might “come out strong” in the Helps element—nobody else!— Fancy me in the Drawing Room with Mrs Christie and Mrs Helps! talking the whole while of their children! My old idea of vanishing in a clap of thunder was getting to be a fixed idea, when the men came up and introduced a bagatelle-board. At a quarter before ten I waved my lillly2 hand and took the road— Mrs Christie told me with a charming air of condescension that she “had been so long meaning to call for me—if she were not such a sad cripple!”— “Indeed”!—said I and snatching up one of the small Helpchens carried it off to romp with it in the back Drawingroom— Mrs Christie is some dozen years younger than I— a hundred years stupider—is new-married—whilst I am old-married—in fine is Mrs Dugald Christie whilst I am Mrs Thomas Carlyle—for all which reasons she had better wait to be called upon!3 Did you know that Alfred Tennyson is to have a pension of two hundred a year after all?4 Peel has stated his intention of recommending him to her Gracious Majesty and that is considered final—“à chaqu'un selon sa capacite!5

Lady Harriet told me that he wants to marry” must have a woman to live beside—would prefer a Lady but—cannot afford one—and so must marry a maid servant”6— Mrs Henry Taylor7 said she was about to write him on the behalf of their housemaid who was quite a superior character in her way.

Will you write a note to Mrs Russell before you leave; they might think it mere forgetfulness, if they heard of your having been at Dumfries without going to see them—

John has been here at tea tonight again, and kept me from writing till too late—He had Scott dining with him yesterday—“on mutton chops at half after one”—he tried to represent to me how very suitable in every way it would be for me in your absence to invite Scott to dine here! And when I told him flatly I had no thought of giving dinners to any mortal until the carpets were down again; he flushed up a spirit and invited him to his own house— He (Scott) has seen his translation of Dante8—and finds it “quite a surprising thing”— I also am to pass judgement on it

Darwin is returned; was here the Day before yesterday—“most thankful to find himself in London again after HIS Country experiences” “Two such months! Good Heavens”!!—

My pen somehow refuses tonight I suppose for want of ink enough

Ever yours