April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


JWC TO HELEN WELSH; 23 October 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18481023-JWC-HW-01; CL 23: 140-142


5 Cheyne Row Monday night [23 October 1848]

My dear Helen

If you were a Socinian,1 duly inspired by the precept “Let your care be the welfare of others” you would not give way to those long fits of silence; for a letter from you always promotes my welfare, considerably, for the time being. You write very nice letters and you are a very nice cousin, and I have no fault to find with you but that you are not sufficiently sensible of your own importance to me.

For me; I am incorrigible as to “the welfare of others”—at least in the matter of letter writing the idea of giving pleasure cannot prevail with me to write and I write always from one of two motives, from a need to receive a letter, only to be extracted by giving one, or from gratitude for what is vouchsafed me “on the voluntary principle. The latter motive sets my pen agoing just now—and an exceedingly bad pen it is!— Jeanie having been a better correspondent lately has kept me up with the current of your affairs, and I trusted to her to keep you up with the current of mine. All the five weeks I spent at the Grange I was kept in a whirl of things amounting to what Anthony Sterling calls “a state of mind”— I wrote few letters—and those were not worth having— I was very glad to get back to Chelsea again where I might find some work however humble, and call my soul my own—to a certain extent—and it was full time! for I was got so habituated to the vastness and splendour of the Grange, and the luxury of all sorts; that for the first time in my life my own home looked excessively small and poverty-stricken to me on first returning to it!— Part of this impression was owing I suppose to the new paint and paper, which impaired that familiar face of Home which on other occasions had always compensated for difference of size and decoration— my room was clean and tidy to a degree! but it was a room without associations for me till I had got all the little pictures, books &c replaced and various incongruities reconciled; for instance, there was a splendid mirror over the mantle piece a present from Lady Harriet; and that threw the home-made chintz window curtains quite out of keeping; we have now got regular red stuff curtains with brass poles—only think! and things begin to feel straight again— But what is all that to you who live according to Helen Mitchell “in the very beautifulest house in the whole earth— no! there's not the match of it!— On the mantle piece of every bedroom a pair of candle sticks: real china the very pattern of some in Christy's shop!!2—six and sixpence the pair!!—” In fact since Helen came to hand she has done nothing but talk of this house and the beautiful Land (Lawn?) before it—and the “grawn dinner” that was cooking and the “grawn dresses on the bed”!— She arrived last night having been expected since Saturday and in crossing the threshold her first words to me were—“I'm afu late!” her second—“Eh! sic a bonny hoose ye ken!”— I thought she meant my own ‘hoose’ and wondered what she saw of it in the dark—at the door step—but it was “Miss Welsh's hoose” I soon found—Heaven knows how she will prosper—she has a strange half-witted look after the calm rational Anne— But to each their merits and demerits—time will show how the balance lies. Anne is still here—doing the work—while Helen hems towels— She (poor Anne) tho married is anything but joyful to go away—she seems taking it to heart more than Helen did—has in fact in these last weeks developed herself into one of the most affectionate little beings I ever saw— She is to stay some days yet—“and then we must part” she says “if I staid a week longer it would be as bad at the end of the week”!— If Helen can go on at all; it will be a great escape for us from a new Isabella and Slow coach3 period— As I mean to continue giving out the washing I do not see if she avoid liquour where she can break down— Mrs Piper has turned out a most double-faced mischievous little woman—and I believe now that she did great harm to Isabella in putting her up4—her object seems to have been to keep me in a continual mess that she might be of importance and get presents by it— Her conduct with Anne has been most disgraceful saying every thing to make Anne a disobedient discontented servant—while abusing her to me but Anne had the sense to see thro her and pay no head to her false talk— The Devil is busy still you see—

The town is dull as ditch water—nobody almost to call— The Pepolis have come back to sell off and return to Bologna for good and all—or rather for ill and all— She has not one friend there—not a single english acquaintance—and Pepoli has so many old friends and old loves that I fancy she has little of his company—she looks worn and miserable but makes little or no complaint I see however all how it is and will be, and pity her from the bottom of my heart

God bless you love to Walter and Mary Ever your affectionate / Jane Carlyle