July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 9 October 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471009-JWC-TC-01; CL 22: 122-125


Saturday [9 October 1847]

Oh my Dear my Dear I am so—busy! which is better than being “so sick”! When Mrs Piper came this morning and found me on the steps she looked quite aghast and said “you will lay yourself up again”! “Not a bit” I told her “I feel quite strong today.”— “I am afraid Mam” suggested the little woman “it is not strength but the false excitement of Mr Carlyle coming home”! Anne remarked, “Whatever it was”; it was no use stopping Mrs if she had any thing on her mind She was an example!—she wondered where there was another Lady that could stuff chair-cushions and do anything that was needed and be a Lady too”!— So now I think I am strong enough in Annes respect to even smoke in her presence. The worst of it is, that my work in these days has been Cromwellian work—makes no show for the pains—consists chiefly in annihilating rubbish—annihilating worms for one thing. Only think of Henry Taylor's famous chair1 being partly stuffed with dirty old carpet shorn small, which had generated, naturally, ten hundred thousand millions of “small beings” (as Mazzini would say) Mrs Piper saw some of them outside when she washed the covers, and I understood thatindication” at all events. So I had hair rubbish and worms all boiled together in the cauldron and then the clean hair picked out, and then I remade the cushions “with my own hands.”2 Besides this; I have been in a pretty mess with Emerson's bed—having some apprehensions he would arrive before it was up again— The quantity of sewing that lies in a lined chinz bed is something awfully grand! and I have been able to get next to no help—all the sewing women I knew of being unable to come tho' “sorry to disoblige” &c— One had “work on her hands for three months,” another was “under a course of physic” another “found it more profitable to sew at home” Postie realized me a little woman who, having a baby a month old, could only come for three hours in the day—and one day she came, and had sense more or less, and was to come every day for three hours till we had finished; but on going home she found “her Baby had never cried so much since it was born,” and she came in the evening to say she could leave it no more. So there was nothing for it but to fall on the thing like a tiger myself—and it is now well forward—tho I fear it will not be up as I wished to delight your eyes when you come.

For the rest; my life is as still as could be wished—Mr Irland called last night—and told me much of your sayings at the Brights!3

Lady Harriet called on Tuesday afternoon— She had actually ridden from Addiscombe to London the day before—on the spanish horse— “The coachman put Mr Baring on one of the carriage horses” neither the Cangaroo nor the chesnut being judged safe company. “he rode half way on that and then the Helper came up on Muff (the pony) and he got on Muff for the rest of the way.” Good Mr Baring! I showed Lady H the book of the “Young Heart”4 and she wrote marginal notes all over it for you, which she said might, along with the list of books she had sent, stand very well for a letter. I could not but think from her manner that day that she had bethought her I had been rather roughly handled on my last visit— She even offered me “a tonic” which had been given to her by Sir J. Clarke5— “Certainly I ought to have something to strengthen me—something to make me eat! she never saw a human creature eat so little!” And a great many more unsayings of things she had said at Addiscombe. She was going to dine at the Greys—and next morning to the Grange—where were Croker and his women and—Miss Mitford!!!6 Charles Buller came on Monday and is going into Normandy. Miss Mitford reminds me of Miss Strickland— Craik whom I saw yesterday told me that the book which is the most decided Success at present is The Queens of England!7 Colbourn has made some twenty thousand pounds by it!8—and the Authoress too is enriched! She goes to the Duke of Clevelands &c (Lady Clare told John) and is treated there like a High Priestess, every body deffering to her opinions9

But what is the use of all this writing—and with such a horrid pen when you are coming so soon— On Monday I hardly expect— But I shall hear— Thanks for your long letters in such a worry— The Hunts give splendid soirées!10——

Ever yours faithfully