The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO HELEN WELSH ; 6 May 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520506-JWC-HW-01; CL 27: 104-106


Thursday [6 May? 1852]

Dearest Helen

I cannot bear that you should think me slow in answering your kind and I cannot tell you how welcome letter—so I sit down to write just risen out of my bed, and holding my face with one hand; being in severe pain with the faceach— It is four or five days that I have been in and out of bed, kneeling before chairs, walking desperately about the room, trying all ways of bearing this gnawing pain which prevents me from either eating or sleeping— Lady Airlie (Blanche Stanley whom you remember) made me go with her last Friday to Camden town in an open carriage to call for Miss Mulock the Authoress of the Oglvies, Head of the Family &c1—from whom the romantic and not very wise young Countess had taken it into her head she could extract “the secret of the Universe”! Miss Mulock was much amused seemingly at this aristocratic vagary, looked down on the Lady Airlie who like all romantic women had chosen to sit on “a low seat” beside her, with an expression of humourous condescension! and answered her questions as if she had been some precocious child! I keeping silence till Blanche got on the subject of “Husband[s]2 who have married women of superior minds to there own”—and then I told Miss Mulock “not to let that young Lady talk nonsense about her husband to her—that her Husband was quite a different person from what she led people to suppose”!!! “Let us hear” said Blanche quite goodhumouredly—“do tell us what he is!!!” “He is young and handsome and gentlemanly” I said—is very unpresuming, very affectionate looking, very silent and shy—but what he does say is sensible!” “Dear me interrupted Blanche I shall tell him all that—he will be quite pleased!” Did you ever hear of such a foolish creature?

On the way home she put her arm round my neck and begged me “not to be angry”—that she “didn't mean to speak against Airlie—only against the Sportsman class generally”! But I can give you no idea of her indiscretion nor of the charm of beauty and childlikeness that makes one always pardon her— What we have to do with her here is as the involuntary cause of all this pain in my face—and teeth—

I shivered all the way home and in the course of the night awoke wild—and have been going on more or less wild ever since—obliged to give up a great party at Bath house last night—but that was the compensation rather than a sacrifice—

Indeed dear Helen I was heartily glad to see your clear, Lady like, handwriting on the back of a letter to me again and very grateful to you for writing at such length tho you were quite mistaken if you made a point of saying next to nothing about your health from the idea that anything else could be more interesting to me— Understand this another time—that what you think and feel about yourself, if it do yourself no harm to write it, is just what I should like best to read, and sometimes it does one good to speak ones inmost feelings—tho oftenest harm I believe—

The German scheme is lying quiet only now and then such phrases as “it will do till we go to Germany” “When we go to Germany we will &c” strikes a sudden terror into my mind— For a little while well and good—but for a whole year to have nothing to fall back upon under his and my own gloom! Mercy that will be awful!—

Geraldine desired me to tell you “how very sorry she was to hear of your having been so ill again”— I hear from her but seldom at present, she has been in one of her perverse phases. which however is passing3— “The fact is I believe” (as Darwin said the other day when I complained of some man being grown disagreeable) “The fact is I believe we are all getting rather old!”— And the wind has also been very long in the east—and that I observe makes everybody quarrelsome—

I have been in rather intimate relations with the Sketchleys lately—Pen was very officious in seeking superfluous charwomen after I had suited myself in Helps—and now Ann being found equal to the Work I have made over my little girl4 to them—until they get a grown servant—they had been without a servant or anything instead for ten days—had parted with the large woman because “she lied,” and “was curious,” and “read novels”— Pen is painting she says to order at a great rate—but the fact is dear Helen, these people live on their—“difficulties”—their difficulties are all their “visible means”— Penny is kissing-kind with me just now and has asked as a favour that I would sit to her! she “wishes to give me my own picture as a proof of her gratitude”— I shall sit because if the picture has a shadow of resemblance it will be a great Heavensending5 to the Countess von Reichenbach

Ann is much more effective and obliging than for long before she went away and will do quite well “until we go to Germany” Especially as I know now of an adorable cook to assist whenever I want her—the woman who was with me daily at dinner time and whom I got quite fond of—as for Mr Carlyle he will lament her loss I think all the rest of his life

Good by now dearest Helen and dont forget the position in which I have had to write this letter; that you may excuse the illegibility and stupidity— Write soon again like a Dear

Your affectionate Cousin

Jane W Carlyle—