The Collected Letters, Volume 12


JWC TO JOHN FORSTER ; 16 October 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401016-JWC-JF-01; CL 12: 287-288


[16 October 1840]

If you had come last Wednesday! Verily it would have been the wonderfulest realized Ideal that you ever assisted at in this world! Not a morsel of victual was cooked in the house that day: my Husband had to seek his dinner at a Tavern, and I—oh think of it—I had to glide stealthily to the nearest cook-shop and buy myself all-blushing a few ounces of cold beef!! And if you would know the meaning of all which questionable phenomena; it was, in plain prose, that my maid—my only Help was thro'out that whole day, and part of next, lying dead drunk on the kitchen floor, amidst a chaos of upset chairs, broken crockery, and heaven knows what besides, “fragmenta rerum non bene puncturam [fragments of things not well broken up]”—in fact the sunk-story of this respectable aesthetic house was by one of those sudden yawnings of “the universal volcanic gulf underneath our feet,” converted into a lively epitome of St Giles's1 or, to speak more accurately, of a place one may not name.

Now the poor little Disgraziata [disgraced female] is on her legs again—for a time—and I embrace the favourable moment to ship her off to Scotland where she will at least get drunk on genuine whisky instead of blue ruin— So next Wednesday, God willing you will find us all sober and most glad to see you.

Carlyle is gratified (as he could not but be) with your “kindest regards” intercalated so mindfully into your wishes for my success in emancipating myself— Ah poor Marie Capelle!2—I mean to propose to dear Mrs Macready that we married women shall by round robin or otherwise, make some public demonstration of our sympathy towards her and our approbation of her strenuous and well me[a]nt tho' ill-fated exertions in the condition-of-married-women-question. Meanwhile I have her picture hung on my wall, beside Goethe John Knox and other great souls, who have recognised the grandeur of their “mission.” “Why do women marry”?— God knows; unless it be that like the great Wallenstein they do not find scope enough for their Genius and qualities in an easy life— “Night must it be ere Friedlands Star shall burn”!3

Dont you think that considering the distracted state of my menage [household] I write remarkably long notes?

Truly yours dear Mr Forster /

Jane Carlyle