The Collected Letters, Volume 28


JWC TO KATE STERLING ; 28 January 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530128-JWC-KS-01; CL 28: 20-22


Friday [28 January 1853]


Your letter found me tending slowly but surely to the point of writing you some reproaches that you had not written a second time! Such a large and liberal view do I take of my own “rights”!—Now however the intended reproaches are converted into thanks and praise— Bless you my child! Your little letters are little out-bursts of sunshine in the general London fog of my heart— I wish they came oftener, or rather I wish yourself came oftener—when that confounded room upstairs is papered and painted and a spare bed once more mounted in it, surely it will not be so impossible for you to come to London now and then.

What a pity it is that nobody can pour out Mr C's coffee entirely to his mind except myself—and nobody but myself keep a steady enough eye to his buttons! otherwise I might, for anything I see, go and be myself that anomalous “Lady” required in your establishment—but that “otherwise” is a useless element to think and project in—one may go at once to the beginning of all and say “pity Eve would eat that confounded raw apple; ‘otherwise’ we might all have been running about naked in Paradise still! and living on uncooked vegetables Ach gott!— Here, just now it is liker the other place!— Wherever I look there is misery of ‘some’ sort—or what strikes me almost more painfully—the dead grimacing incapacity of being miserable when one ought TO!

By way of what my old servant Helen1 used to call “a fine change” I rushed off the other day to call for a young actress— She was introduced to me last summer by Geraldine Jewsbury and Dilberoglue, the Greek who gave me Nero (blessing unspeakable and only comfort sometimes!) and her gaiety and humourous and dramatic views of life amused me immensely— So now she had got an engagement at the Olimpic and returned to London2—and I went to see her at the Lodging where she is with her Mother—but even she made me liker crying than laughing—she had been four days violently ill with dysentery and must crawl off her bed in the evening and go to act all the same!—not to “interrupt the Piece”—which “would be a great loss to the Manager” she is a little little creature neither pretty nor graceful, an actress so far as she goes by force of will—the same by the way whom Edward3 saw here or rather whose flower basket he saw too natural and good for her vocation—and she made me heartily sorry lying thin and spent on her sofa there, with her simple old greyhaired Mother looking so out of her element, and gazing ever at this daughter actress with the half scared half admiring look of a hen that has hatched a duck! The little Actress is also a Writer I have a MS of hers at present in my keeping which tho full of faults gives promise of great things in the Novel-way She will probably turn from Actress into Authoress before long4

Madame Reichenbach has been very ill for many weeks— I go to see her almost every day—but can do her no good for want of a mutual language It is her old liver complaint which gets worse and worse—I fear she will not last very long— Her friend Baroness Brünen that adorable heroic Woman who got herself exiled for giving Kinkel the money to escape, and who has been the Providence of her exiled Countrymen ever since, was buried at Hygate last Tuesday; dead in her beauty and strength, from disease of the heart.5—I met her at Dalwig's party—and some one remarking there were thirteen of us, Countess Reichenbach said in her suffering way “Ah it is I who will die”! Dr Lowe6 said “No Madame! for it is the stoutest—and that is I— Baroness Brü nen looked smilingly across to them—and said “hush hush! I am the stoutest person here—you others are safe—!” I wish I had not seen her that night I should not have felt her death so painfully—

Your Uncle is busy making talbotype pictures—he has made a great many from Lawrences portrait of me,7 and you shall have a good one when he makes a good one—but those I have seen yet are failures—

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Frontispiece, CL Volume 9

Chalk portrait of Jane Welsh Carlyle by Samuel Laurence, circa 1838 [1849].

From the original at the Carlyle House, Chelsea.

I am asked to a party at Mrs Senior's next Wednesday— “Are you going? the Capt said— Mrs Sterling is going”—“that is no reason why I should stay away surely?”— I believe I shall go just out [of]8 the spirit of contradiction— Write to me soon again—love to your Sisters and Edward— Affectionately yours