April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 14 September 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490914-JWC-TC-01; CL 24: 228-229


Maryland Street / Friday [14 September 1849]

Oh my Dear my Dear! How thankful I may be that I knew nothing of that cholic1 till it was over! A cholic in these cholera-times would have alarmed me in any circumstances, but there! remembering as I still do, “rather exquisitely,”2 my own sore-throat transacted at Alverstoke three winters ago,3 and other little attacks of my own under the same regime; how could I have staid in my skin, with no certainty that you would be able to get so much as a cup of bad tea, never to speak of hot water to your feet, or human sympathy. You were not, it would seem, so wholly left to Providence as I was—still it is a great mercy that you were not long laid up in that house or any other of their houses— As my Aunt Grace told me very often during my bad day; “there is mercy mixed up with all our afflictions!—it is a great comfort to think you are in even better hands than ours. I mean in Jesus Christ's”— “Oh Ay,” said dear Betty—“Christ has care of my Bairn awheres [everywhere]—even on the railway! and a great comfort that is for me to think, now that she gangs sae muckle be [so much by] them”! But of all that some quiet evening at Chelsea—

I have to tell you now that a note from Elizabeth lying for me here stated that she continued better, but not strong yet—and that her Sister was still with her and would stay till I came—a great luck that this Sister happened to be out of place just now— I fancy the poor girl had been in a very dangerous way before we heard of her illness—now that I know of this sister being with her, I feel in less breathless haste to fly to her rescue—can yield to Jeanies wish, which is indeed an obligation of duty on me, with a good grace, that I would stay here over Sunday to give her my advice about Helen—she (Jeanie) being to arrive from Auchtertoul tomorrow night, to look after poor Helen, who has been very ill indeed, and I am afraid has a disease on her that may end fatally sooner than any of them are aware—

I was dreadfully shocked with her shape and emaciated look—still she can go out for exercise and protests that she is getting better—but there is death in her face— We wish John to examine into her case—but she is extremely nervous about him—and it must be gone about delicately—when Jeanie comes— I am glad dear John came with me— When I have talked with Jeanie I can be of no farther use here—only a trouble in fact— So on Monday I mean to go to Manchester to make amends to Geraldine for the vexation about me caused her by that foolish Harriet Martineau4—and to London straight next day that is my present programme,—if it receive any modification I will write again to Scotsbrig where I hope this will find you safe and slept—if you get as nice porrige and nice coffee and nice everything, with such a seasoning of human kindness as I got there; you will need no more pity.

John went out with Betsy5 last night, there being no bed for him here unless he had chosen to sleep in a little one in my room which I told him he was welcome to do if he liked!! but he declined—he promised to come today about one and stay till night—and tomorrow Betsy is to bring the carriage and take me to Seaforth for a few hours just to satisfy her that I have not “registered a vow in Heaven” never to set my foot in her house again— But a few hours will be enough of that—she looks to be more than ever in a state of “mild delirium”—

And now I must end and go to Helen—

Kindest love to your Mother and all of them and tell Isabella I forgot the woodruff—and she must stuff some into your carpet bag6

If you write on Sunday or Monday (in time for Tuesday morning) address to Geraldines you remember Carlton Terrace / Green Heys / Manchester

Ever affectionately yours

Jane W C