The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO HELEN WELSH; 6 December 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511206-JWC-HW-01; CL 26: 252-254


The grange / Alresford / Hants Saturday [ 6 December 1851]

Dearest Helen

Your note followed me here without delay and now here is the direct address for you— Recollect moreover that when one is on a visit, the time seems always much longer than when in the monotonous routine of home—so by next week it will be seeming a month since I had news of my Uncle— Also to touch your heart as much as possible; let me add; that the very day after I arrived, I took cold which, has been keeping me in doors till I am grown quite low, and imaginative, after my bad fashion, to an even unusual degree— Happily there are no visitors here except the old Countess of Sandwich Lady Ashburtons Mother, and the days pass quite calmly in—dressing dolls! If I had to sit thro long dinners and take part in “wits,” I could not hold out on my legs 24 hours— But that doll-dressing suits me entirely— There is to be a fine Christmas tree for Lady A's school children and seven dolls form part of the Gifts— They were bought naked, except for a wrappage of silkpaper and a piece of cotton wool on each of their noses to prevent damage to that interesting feature and Lady A, tho not much given to a credulous faith in her fellow creatures, actually hoped that her Lady's Maid and the Housekeeper, and their numerous subordinates would take an interest in these dolls and dress or assist her to dress them— But not a bit—not only did they show themselves impassive in the dressing question but not a rag of ribbon or any sort of scrap would they produce so that Lady A had to insist on the Housekeeper giving some pieces of furniture chintz to make frocks for the dolls and to write to London—to her ci devant [former] Lady's maid for some scraps!!— The very footmen wont carry the dolls backwards and forwards!—when told to bring one or to desire Josephine (the Lady's maid) to bring one they simply disappear and no doll comes!— I remarked on this with some impatience yesterday, and Lady A answered “perfectly true Mr[s]1 Carlyle—they wont bring the doll!—I know it as well as you do—but what would you have me do?—turn all the servants men and women out of the house on account of these dolls? for it would come to that—if I made a point of their doing anything in the doll line!— Perhaps it would be the right thing to do—but then what should we do next week without servants when all the company come?” Such is the slavery the grandest people live under to what they call their “inferiors”!

Ask my Uncle “why does a duck put his head under water?”

Answer—“For diver's reasons”


Lord Ashburton is gone into Devonshire till this day week when plenty of company comes—among the rest Mr Carlyle and Mr Twisleton— Then we stay on together till after Christmas—betwixt the 18th and 22d the house is to be as full as it can hold—Macauly, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord and Lady Grey2 the Humphrey Mildmays &c &c God grant my cold be gone before then— I have kept myself quiet hitherto by one internal resolution, that should I grow too ill for taking part in the treadmill of society,—have to go to bed and that sort of thing—on no account to do it here but put myself on the railway at all risks and go straight home to my own house where I might at least die without being considered a bore— There is a book I am going to send my Uncle for a Christmas present—if he have not already read it—Craik's Romance of the Peerage3—it is good reading for anyone that likes something a little more substantial than Novels—tell me if he have already read it— There are nice books by the American Hawthorne—The Scarlet Letter &c &c4— Read?

What work in France again— The President's audacity astonishes me—nothing else— I want Ledru Rollin to be President because he will withdraw the French troops from Italy—and because I have bet—five shillings with Lady Sandwich on his head— Send my Address to Jeanie

God bless you all Your affectionate