The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 28 April 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500428-JWC-JAC-01; CL 25: 73-74


Sunday [28 April 1850]

My dear John

It was full time you should write! I had just settled it in my own mind that you were fallen ill, and could not write—and had romantic little ideas about setting off to help to nurse you!— It is “all right” however, and the rightest part of it is that you are coming back— I assure you your absence made a great blank in my existence, such as it is, and I have never even tried to fill it up—expecting from month to month that you would return to occupy my vacant ‘first floor’ (morally understood) It is amazing how much good one fancies one might get of an absent friend compared with the good one takes of him when he is there! So many things one says to him mentally at a distance, which face to face one would never utter a word of!— I hope you will find Nero all you could wish in a dog connected with the family; I shall take care that he be well washed to receive you—and not over-full; when he is apt to be, I will not say less affectionate, but less demonstrative than one likes—in a dog. Mr C said he wrote that the upstairs room was or would be in great beauty I have indeed been doing a little Martha-tidying1 there, the results of which promise to be “rather exquisite.” God defend me from ever coming to a fortune! (a prayer more likely to be answered than most of my prayers!) for then the only occupation that affords me the slightest self-satisfaction would be gone! and there would remain for me only (as Mr C said of the Swiss Giantess who drowned herself) “to summon up all the virtue left in me, to rid the world of such a beggarly existence.” Speaking of suicide—a woman came to me the other morning from Helen2—a decent enough looking person respectably dressed and the only suspicious looking feature in whose appearance was the character she gave herself for sobriety, charity, piety and all the virtues, Her business was to ask me to give the said Helen a character that she might seek another place. Otherwise she (Helen) “spoke of atempting her life”— “She has been long speaking of that” I said—“Yes—and you are aware maam of her having walked into the Thames, after she left the last place you found her? Oh yes she got three months of Horsemonger Lane jail for the attempt—and if a waterman had not been looking on and taken the first opportunity of saving her she would have probably been drowned.” I said it was well if she had not been in jail for anything worse— Ever since coming out she has lodged with this woman—her Brothers in Dublin sending her money—“but very little”—from time to time—but they seem tiring of that, and so Helen thinks she will try service again— I recommended that she should as a more feasable speculation go into the Chelsea Work House where they would take care to keep drink from her, and force her to work— As for recommending her to a decent service I scouted the notion— And the woman herself said she “seemed to have no faculties left,”—and was always wanting “sixpence worth of opium to put an end to herself”— The object of the womans coming was more likely to get some money out of me—but I said I would give nothing merely to put off the necessity of taking a resolution— Let her go into the workhouse and conduct herself decently there and then I would see what I could do for her— Every sense I hear of this creature it vexes me for days—going after her seems so hopeless—and leaving her to Destiny is against my feelings— But the sun is shining brightly outside—and inside my stomach it is very dismal—so I must go and walk You will write when you have fixed your time

Love to all

Your affectionate /

Jane Carlyle