The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO HELEN WELSH; 17 December 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511217-JWC-HW-01; CL 26: 269-271


The Grange / Wednesday [17 December 1851]

Dearest Helen

Thanks for your letter—it was a drop of comfort in a raw grim morning when a long continued headach was driving me to despair— This visit has been very successful in one sense— I have been of manifestly great use to “others”—but so far as myself is concerned nothing could have turned out worse— I cannot get accross the threshold for the unlucky cold I caught at the outset and the confinement tells dreadfully on my head and my sleep— For the last ten days I have had a constant headach! and under that condition have been required to keep up the spirits and watch over the health of both Lady Sandwich and Lady Ashburton who have also been ill with colds and keeping their rooms in opposite ends of the house so that I have been always catching fresh dozes of cold in passing along some quarter of a mile of corridors and staircases—only one day I had fairly to give up and lie in bed with a crisis of headach—and that day I was so admirably “Well let alone”!—that I saw distinct prospect of being STARVED to death—if I continued unable to take my victuals in the great dining room, all alone with a pack of men servants hovering over me like a flight of crows!— Let nobody wish to possess forty thousand a year! I assure you the real advantages are few and the intolerabilities many and indisputable— For real comfort—even for the goodness and wholesomeness of the things one eats—I think my own little house—never to say yours—infinitely before this one with its tremendous state and French Man Cook at 100 ayear—

On the 13th when the first detachment of visitors arrived Lady A and Lady Sandwich were still confined to their rooms—and I who was quite as ill as either of them had to do all the company myself—show them their rooms— make tea for them before dinner—&c &c Carlyle being among them however was an immense comfort—for I knew that if I should again be reduced to bed HE would bring me some food!!— The Ladies appeared next day however and are now up to any amount of “wits”

We talk the French revolution from morning till night; till I am perfectly sick of it— All agree—that is the Statesmen here agree—that the success of Louis Napoleon is inevitable and “necessary for the preservation of order”— Every body gets letters from Paris with the contents of which the rest of us are favoured— Even I had a letter from my one correspondent in Paris—Charlotte Williams Wynn—which I will enclose to amuse my Uncle— And we are living in daily or rather hourly expectation of the arrival of Thiers! who was to be in London last night they said—and would find a letter from Lady A inviting him here instantly—moreover Valeski the French Ambassador is Lady Sandwich's son in law and his present wife writes to Lady S daily1— So figure how one is over head and ears in this Revolution! One of the French letters tells that Cavaignac having sent to his ‘fiancée’ the letter containing her freedom from her engagement, in consequence of what had befallen him; the young Lady not only refused to avail herself of it; but her Parents immediately set out for Ham with her; that she might be married to him in prison—quite right2— I astonish the Statesmen now and then by coming down on them with intelligence from the ‘Reds’! Mazzini and Saffi writing to me often— Oh dear what a life of clatter and idleness it is!—now that the dolls are all dressed and the company come!— I am not sure of getting home even the day after Christmas as I expected Lady A wants me to stay till after newyears day—“even if he should go home”—to help her with Thackerays children who are coming with their Father for three days that week—

They are reading here a novel called THE JEW translated by Mary Howitt and praising it3— Mrs Troloppes Mrs Matthews is not bad4

Send me back Miss W Wynn's letter— Macauley comes to day— Tomorrow the Greys and Lord Lansdowne— Besides all we have already— I shall send you a description of the Christmas Tree—and the rest of it—

God bless you all— I am writing in the drawingroom in the midst of people—my own fire not being lit yet and—my matches all done! I wish if you be down the streets you would buy me a yard of claret coloured velvet ribbon as narrow as it can be got—the breadth of penny ribbon in fact and send it to tie something round my unfortunate neck kisses to my uncle and the rest

Your affectionate

Jane W Carlyle