August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


JWC TO HELEN WELSH; 5 February 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470205-JWC-HW-01; CL 21:154-155.


Bay House / Friday night [5 February 1847]

Dearest Helen

I had just reached the Ultima Thule of my patience when your letter arrived and was on the point of making my individual protest against your negligence— Poor little woman! you were not negligent the least in the world—only still over-ridden with the Curse of Servants—you may think whether my own so recent and striking experiences do not enable me to give you intelligent sympathy!— I saw advertised in the newspapers since I came here a book entitled “Search after a good servant by one who has been nearly driven out of her senses by bad ones”1 I mean to get it so soon as I return to London—and perhaps I may find it practicable to embody some of my own ideas on that great topic in a review of it!— The last I heard of Tadpole2 was satisfactory thanks God— Mr Fleming went to see her last Sunday and give her some money for me—and he said she looked very well-doing and quite content in her solitude, with “one lover and one female friend” her case is not bad—still if she were a fool she might easily think it so. I had a letter from Susan Hunter a week ago who had been to see Betty and was told by her that the reason Isabella gave for going away was that we received visitors on the Lord's day!!!3—which Betty was extremely sorry to hear—and which explains the pious exhortations in her last letter to me that I would remember the Sabbath! “The devil fly away with” hypocrites! I had a sore bout of illness after I last wrote to you—was confined to bed several days with a feverish sore-throat—so ill that Carlyle fetched Sir J Richardson (the man who shot the Indian) to see me— If he had prescribed that I should be carried out and flung into the sea, I would not have offered the least resistance, for in my life I never felt more desolate than lying here in my exposed French bed—at the mercy of the housemaids who did not find it “in their department” to attend to sick visitors— Lady H of course never once came near me—and it was by a sort of continual interposition of Providence that I could get a cup of tea or any thing I needed—one morning my breakfast was brought in and placed on my bed by one of the footmen!!! who had been entreated by C to see after it, and who could not find any woman servant at leisure! But when I got down to the drawing room again—which of course I did as soon as possible—nothing could be more gracious than the Lady's reception of me—and in a few days she managed by her kind manner to make me quite impute her neglect to the manners of her sphere— Thank Heaven I was not born in a sphere where it is made a point to ignore all sickness and sorrow so long as they do not touch oneself! Poor Dr Christie Mr Hawes “has no more work for him” and his poor wife died last monday— I have had the sorrowfulest letters from him— What to try next I know not— I got Lady H to write to C Buller about some customhouse or other work—but C Buller replies he is “obliged to save all his influence for his own Constituents”4— I talked to Mr Charteris about him till tears came into his eyes; but none of these great rich people dream of doing anything for any body—except their “own Constituents” (literally or figuratively speaking)— And all that I can do is to lend or give him some money— Ah me. We continue very quiet—Mr Baring mostly in London— But tomorrow there will be an influx of people which will last till Monday— Certain daughters of the Marchioness of Clanricarde (very dowdy young ladies) come to lunch5—then by the evening train Mr Baring—Buller, the Marquis of Landsdowne and Earl of Clarendon— They were to “get over a cabinet early so that they might be here to dinner” if the nation knew how its affairs are managed! The “green chimera” continues much in C's way—and he meets with other little contradictions which I cannot pretend to be sorry for— I cannot make out what Lady H is after—but to look at her one would say she was systematically playing my cards for me. Please do not read that aloud—

To be sure you sent your account with five shillings marked for the cuffs and the other things with merely a stroke after them which obliged me to write to Elizabeth Pepoli for some other little things I wanted which you could have done better— Now that I know you did not mean to be so injudicious I may ask you to send me two skeins of stout goldcoloured purse silk and a skein of pink sewing silk—and a right bill please—love and kisses to my uncle and the rest Ever your affectionate JC