JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 26 October 1835; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18351026-JWC-TC-01; CL 8:242-247.
JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE
[26 October 1835]
Caro e rispettabile il mio Marito!
Mi pare, che voi siete assai irrecordevole della vostra povera piccola! questi vostri lungi silenzi, questa la vostra lunga assenza mi divengono noiozi. Ritornate Mio Marito Ritornate, in nome di Dio, alla vostra casa! In vano Stimabili Signori vengono in gran numero mi far' adorazione! In vano mangio carne di porco e recomincio esser una bella Gooda! In vano mi sforzo m'occupare, mi divertare, mi facere contenta! Nell' assenza del mio Marito rimango sempre inquieta, sempre perduta! Si pero, voi trovatevi meglio nel' paese, si la preziosa vostra sanita diviene piu forte, la vostra anima piu chiara piu tranquilla non avete pensiero di me— Bisogna ch' io sottometto la mia voglia alla vostra prosperita e faro il piu meglio possibile esser paziente. Ecco come sono stata studiosa mio Marito! Tutta questa bellissima Italiana e scritta senza dizionario, senza studia, con penna corrente. Il Conte de Pepoli se ne maraviglia al divino mio talento; lascia i suoi alti complimenti, e dice salamente in sotto voce “Ah graziosa! Ah bella bella. Ah Ah.”1
Dear my Husband— You have probably enough of this, as well as I; so now in English I repeat that I expect with impatience the letter which is to fix your return. So long; I have reason to be thankful that I have been born[e] thro with an honourable thro' bearing2[;] except for too [sic] days before your last letter arrived I flatter myself I have been conducting myself with a quite exemplary patience and good nature towards all men women children and inanimate things. Ecco la bella prova di che, Sereetha sta sempre qui; e la mia Madre ed io non sono ancor imbrogliate.3
What a world of beautiful effort you have had to expend on this matter of the servant! Heaven grant it may be blessed to us! I do not know well why; but I like the abstract idea of this woman4 much better than the other— It seemed to me rather an objection to the other that she had a Brother a Baker— The Bakers, you know, trade in servants here, and he would probably have soon been reccomending [sic] her into a more exalted place. Moreover it was a thought displeasing to me, that she had been educated in the school of country gigmanism—Macturkdomism and Gillenbierigism5 is just as hateful or more hateful to me than Devonshire housism.6 the “UZ”ing woman, of tarnished virtue, will suit I think much better.7 In fact, it would be difficult for ME to say that an Annandale woman's virtue is the worse for a misfortune— I am certain that in their circumstances, with their views and examples I should have had one too if not more. And now that the best is done, which could be done, let us quiet ourselves and look with equanimity towards the issue— If she does not do better than those that have gone before[,] if NO grown servant any longer exists on this earth why we can certainly manage with an ungrown one—Sereetha has hardly been a fair trial of the little girl-plan—but she has been a trial—and I am confident of being able to get on quite peacably [sic] with one of SUCH little girls as I doubt not are to be found in plenty. With only a giving up of a few hours of my own time which might easily be worse spent and the sacrifice of the beauty and ladylikeness of my hands. For ECONOMY, little I find is to be gained by the substitution of a child for a woman. The washing runs away with all, the difference in wages and their consumption of victual is much the same—but then the things ARE washed beautifully and I clean beautifully, when you do not dishearten me with hypercriticism. So never fear dearest—never fear about that or anything else under Heaven. Try all that ever you can to be patient and good-natured, with your povera piccola Gooda [poor little Goody],8 and then she loves you, and is ready to do anything on earth that you wish, to fly over the moon if you bade her. But when the Signor della casa [Master of the house] has neither kind looks nor word for me what can I do but grow desperate, fret myself to fiddlestrings,9 and be a torment to society in every direction?10
Poiche i giorni divengono si freddi; la rispettabile mia Signora Madre diviene infeli[ce] assai, e di molto cattivo umore. Ma io sono a presente dun umore divino! e tutto va mediocremente bene! Mr Gibson comes tomorrow to take us—to prison! I believe—the Kings Bench &—. Quello Signor e per mia Madre il solo angelo di bonta qui, nella nobile citta.11 Tutti i miei signori e signore (a meno il leggiadro Conte)12 Sono per lei fastidiosi. ed ella divene per consequencia (mi pare) [word deleted] fastidiosa per loro.13 Other sights we have seen none except the British Museum and the King and Queen. Their Majesties very opportunely came to visit the college14 and the fact being made known to me by the beggarwoman from Jewstreet (with the cobweb shawl) I hurried off my Mother to the place, where without having kept waiting above five minutes we saw them walk past our very noses— My Mothers enthusiasm of loyalty on the occasion was a sight for sore eyes—! —“Poor Queen after all”15— She looked so frost-bitten and anxious, curtseyed with such a cowering hurriedness to the veriest rabble that ever was seen. I was wae to look at her—wae to think of her when I heard that the very same night they hissed her at one of the theatres!— Poor thing! she would [have] done rather well I do believe, looking after the burning up of her cinders!16 but a Queen of England in these days! The British Museum charmed my Mother—and I myself was affected beyond measure by the Elgin marbles17—we went after to lunch with the Donaldsons18—“The kindness of these people”! On that day I came saw and bought—a sofa!19— It is my OWN purchase but you shall share the possession—indeed so soon as you set eyes on it and behold its vastness its simple greatness you will perceive that the thought of you was actively at work in my choice—“It was neither dear nor cheap”20 but a bargain nevertheless being second hand—and so good a second hand one, is not I should think often to be met—O it is so soft!—so easy! and one of us or both may sleep in it should occasion require—I mean for all night— It will sell again at any time, it is so sufficient an article. With my velvet gown I shall need no great outlay for puzz [putz: finery] this winter; so I thought I might fairly indulge ourselves in a sofa at last.
The ‘Stimabile’ conducts himself in a quite exemplary manner since you went—coming but once or at most twice in the week—I fear however we must not give him too much credit for his self denial but rather impute it in fact to his impossibility of getting at ease with my Mother and also to some rather violent political arguments which he has had of late with myself— All the men take fright sooner or later at my violence tant mieux [so much the better]!—John I seldom see—he is so occuppied [sic] in WAITING UPON his wife. He came one night last week with his Mother to meet the Cunninghams— Mrs S wished to know Allan— It went off wonderfully well considering Sereetha was our sole waiter!!
My dressing gown “likes me very much—”; a thousand thanks and the hams!—O I am glad of them—this is near done. Think you one could have a little keg of salt Herrings!! sent at the same time?
Mrs Cole came for a day—her Husband in the evening—talkative niceish people.21
The meal will soon be done. John's note22 came before your letter and I sent to Fraser for the box as he desired— There is nothing in the note.— Miss Elliots address was written on it in Pencil which I interpreted to express an expectation that you would call on her. I wrote her therefore a courteous little note stating that you were in Scotland &c that I &c &c would be glad to see her here &c.
Mill told me it was next to impossible for him to realize a frank so I need not waste time sending him this—I have hardly room to send love to them all—and to you dear, kisses senza mesura [without measure]—
Special love to your Mother—and a kiss to my Jane (piccola)23
Mothers love of course— Can you bring her from Duncan Dumfries24 one gross of pills— He has her prescription
My head has troubled me a little of late days but I continue generally much much better25