The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH; 5 March 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510305-JWC-JW-01; CL 26: 40-41


5 Cheyne Row / Wednesday [5 March 1851]

Dearest Babbie

I am in poor case for writing, having been laid up in bed for pretty well three days. I suppose it is an unpronounced cold—if not the effects of—poison! not that I suppose my Life in any one's way—or have been attempting it myself—at least voluntarly. I merely wished to get myself some sleep after having gone without it for three nights, and took about four of the third morning a doze of Morphine which might or might not have been the right quantity—for the little black pills had melted and run all together and I had to divide them with a pen knife! All next day I felt quite dead—as if I were only kept going by Galvanism— Mazzini dropt on me from the skies,1 and even that surprise did not awake me—and at night I took to fainting and having horrid spasms— It might be that the morphine, so useful sometimes, had merely on this occasion had a quarrel in me with the ailment, whatever it was, that had been taking away my sleep—certainly the effects of that must be quite over now. and I still feel sick and sore and miserably all overish

Yesterday I got up about four in the afternoon, and came down to—engage a new servant! a thing very repugnant to me ever in a perpendicular position—and horrible to think of on the flat of my back. I told you I think that the last new one had gone deaf on newyearsday— She has never recovered yet. and has been a very heavy handful latterly; as I have had to do all the door-answering in the first instance, (having to go to seek her to open it) How it gets opened when I am out of the house, I have no conception!—then instead of exerting her other faculties to make up for the defect of hearing, she grows more and more nervous and helpless—not to be wondered at poor thing! having a most delicate fine-Lady organization to begin with— Still I thought if I who was used to her and so hated new faces and new ways could not make shift to go on with her who would be likely to begin with her?— And nobody knows how long it would have been before I should have mustered inhumanity enough to give her warning on account of her deafness. to say nothing of courage enough to front another change— But a week ago she took the initiative and told me with the most placid indifference that she “meant to leave in a month” as she should certainly “die of grief” if she went on “listening to bells and never hearing them”! But what will you do? I asked— ‘Oh’ (she had it all cut and dry) “I will go into a kitchen where I shall have fellow servants to speak loud to me and, have nothing to do with the bells, or the up stairs.” I could not but approve her purpose—provided she get it “carried out”— So yesterday I was engaging another—equally refined—less sensitive looking but more sentimental—with I should say a great tendency to “George Sandism2 and all that sort of thing”— I remarked that she did not look very strong—the answer was “perhaps I look more delicate for being in mourning—mourning (for her mother) is such a DENIAL to a young person! everyone, I think, looks best in colours.” But she has a three years character and can cook—especially fish her Mistress said—“all sorts of fish in all sorts of ways”—pity we never eat fish hardly— I suppose I shall get hardened to change like other people—certainly I am taking this one easily— To be sure there has been no row—the general accompaniment of change—and which puts one all bilious at the outset— I really am very sick Babbie dear!—and must not begin another sheetkin— Kindest love to Uncle and all the rest

Your ever affectionate

Jane Carlyle