July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 17 January 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480117-JWC-TC-01; CL 22: 216-217


Monday [17 January 1848]

Well, Dearest, I have written what I have written,1 and what I have written I will keep to; If I am spared on foot till Thursday I will go on Thursday, and accept the consequences—if any. This time; I am under engagement to go, and it is pitiful to break one's engagements for any thing short of necessity. But I will never, with the health I have, or rather, have not, engage to leave home for a long fixed period another winter. One of the main uses of a home is to stay in it, when one is too weak and spiritless for conforming without effort to the ways of other houses. Besides is not Home—at least, was it not “in more earnest Times” “the Womans proper sphere”?— Decidedly; if she “have nothing to keep her at home”—as the phrase is—she should find something—“or die”! That is my idea in these days of solitary musing. Amusement, after a certain age is no go, even when there are no other nullifying conditions; it gets to be merely distraction, in the Gambardella-sense,2 between which and distraction in the general sense there is but a thin partition, so thin that one can hear thro' it, whenever one likes to listen, the clanking of chains and shrieking of “Mads,” as plainly as I am hearing at this moment the Chambers-piano-forte3—oh yes—I had found out that “by my own smartness” before I took to reading on Insanity. To be sure it is hard on flesh and blood, when one “has nothing to keep one at home,” to sit down in honest life-weariness and look out into unmitigated Zero; but perhaps it “would be a great advantage” just to “go ahead” in that—the barefaced indigence of such a state might drive one—like the Piper's Cow—to “consider,”4 and who knows but, in considering long enough, one might discover what one “has wanted” and what one “wants”—an essential preliminary to getting it! Meanwhile here is Hare's Sterling-book come for you5—late—for Miss Wynne had read it four days ago—and “with the Publishers compliments.” No copy had been sent to Anthony when I saw him! he had bought it, and said if you did not feel yourself bound to place his Brother in a truer light he must attempt it himself. I will take the book to Lady Harriet or send it. The letter you sent was from Bölte. Maggie writes to me this morning that the talk of failures in Liverpool6 is now given place to talk about robberies, that you “cannot at night walk thro' a quiet street without imminent risk of being not only knocked down and robbed, but beaten into the bargain.

By the way what a fine fellow that Mr A Holmes is! “a sort of man that one would like to see!” and Dr MacEmmery; did not you find his letter had a sort of Cromwellian sincerity and helplessness—“not without worth”!7

John is to dine with Darwin today, so I shall not have him in the evening. He has been very kind—coming early every evening and reading to me when I could bear it— Miss Wynne was here two hours on Saturday, and kissed me when she went away—that was nothing, but, having done it, she blushed up to the very roots of her hair, and that was lovely!8 My head aches a great deal—which is natural—for, except the first night after you went, I have slept little—some three hours a-night and that in small pieces—but I am able to lie quite peaceable, without reading

Forster brought me the Examiner himself yesterday, unstamped—provoking about the other.

We have rain today and a good deal of wind—

“And now to Father son and T'olly Goast9—for my head will stand no more writing

yours faithfully /

Jane W. C.