October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


JWC TO HELEN WELSH ; 16 June 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460616-JWC-HW-01; CL 20: 203-205


[ca. 16 June 1846]

Dearest Helen

This is certainly small encouragement for you to “carry out” your good resolutions. but alas! my Dear such is the usual fate of good resolutions in the world!— No encouragement for them to speak of! Nay in the teeth of every sort of discouragement must they get themselves carried out—if at all—it is all very well to tell children about virtue being its own reward; their weak volition cannot have too many motives given it for being virtuous: but grown people with the least faculty “How to Observe,1 soon get to see thro' all that sort of twaddle, and have to go ahead at Virtue with a prospect of being knocked on the head rather than rewarded— Still virtue is, as the country man said of Taglioni “a bit of fascination” somehow—and those of good taste among us cannot do other than go after her—so help us God!

As to my individual agency in accomplishing the will of Destiny in your particular instance—I have only to say in Carlyles favourite phraseology “Ah! if you knew how I have been situated!”—certainly my situation for some weeks has been exceptionally severe—bilious to death with the warm weather—floundering in an element of uncertainty—and “troubled about many things”2 (as women who have more imagination than good sense are apt to be)— All talk of taking or building a permanent house in the Country is over again for this season—and I now feel pretty sure that we shall not give up this house till the Landlord raises the rent which he will probably do in two years—so long, he is under written obligation to leave it to us at the actual rent, but the uncertainty about the next months is perfectly awful; when the heat is intense there are fervent wishes that a certain American Bookseller would send a certain letter that is expected; that we may “bundle off”—“Where?”—“Oh any where”!— There are plenty of towns and villages in England where one may be out of this”— Then comes a cool day like the present and all assumes an air of durability again—but these are but little worries, which like the pigs one is used to— The great misfortune is that I have a shocking bad liver, and am also very much of a fool! cannot take the world as it comes to hand and make the best of—but am always wishing in a moral sense as C in a material one that I were “out of this”—into “any where”!— Well! one shall have ones wish to that extent any how—with time—

On Sunday we went to Addiscombe to stay over night— You know what a day of heat Sunday was—well we first stewed about an hour in a crowded Steamboat—then on reaching the Railway-Station we found ourselves just five minutes too late for one train, and that another would not start for fifty five minutes and all that time we must hang about on our legs in the burning-sunshine the Station being closed on Sundays except at the times for starting—at last we got off—but there our contretemps did not end for on arriving at the Croydon Station no fly was procurable to take us to Addiscombe and Carlyle was quite desperate so I declared magnanimously I could walk—and I did walk and up to my bedroom too—and there, struggling with illness, washed and dressed myself, and when all ready, had like the cucumber to be thrown—not out of window but into bed where I remained till next morning with a splitting headach—without sleep—the most wretched of mortals—for I fancied myself taking a fever—and Lady Harriet has “a perfect terror of infection.” Why had I not stayed at home?—I did get home3

Mr Darwin has come in since I sealed my letter and the sight of him has reminded me of something I meant to say and had forgotten

Mrs Wedgwoods little daughter Snow is at Miss Martineaus School in Parliament Street Liverpool4—and I am sure Mrs W would take it kind if some of you would call for her— She is coming home for the holidays next week but on her return Mrs Wedgwood was very attentive to Jeanie—who if at home I am sure would have liked to look a little after Snow5—so perhaps you will go in her stead on her return to school