JWC TO FRANCES WEDGWOOD ; 27 August 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410827-JWC-FW-01; CL 13: 224-226
JWC TO FRANCES WEDGWOOD
[27 August 1841]
Certainly, Darling, I am not “virtuously disposed” today—since I came into the world, I do not remember to have been ever more vicious than for the last four weeks—but virtuous-looking actions proceed often enough out of the purest egoism; and so I write to you today simply because my desire to know what you are all doing and where you all are begins to be “rather exquisite.” In my “cottage by the seaside” I lost all definite notions of time; and in the confusion of removal I put your letter, along with most other things which I needed to bring with me here, into the trunk that was left to be sent direct, to London. So that I have not your programme to refer to with such exposition from maps and dates as were now attainable— I write then to beg that you will give me a new programme—and shall address my letter to the care of the only one among us who preserves himself calm and clear in the midst of all terrestrial confusions and commotions,1 and has always some practical sense in him for the service of his infatuated friends, beyond what is needed for the preservation of his own life and fortunes.
I need not tell you of Newby; you seem already to have been sufficiently well instructed in the particulars of that grotesque location—enough that we have quitted it, and hope never to look upon its like again! never! Even Carlyle who viewed it thro'out thro' that extenuating medium, thro' which a man naturally views his own “realized ideal” joins I believe most cordially in my thanksgiving at having quitted it, and my hope never to set foot there anymore—and Helen has gone back to Cheyne Row declaring it to have been “poor pleasure as ever she tried—a really miserable job”— On my arrival at my Mothers, the first thing I did was to go to bed and be very ill for two days—and the comfort of these two days was indescribable! To feel myself so intensely once more in the region of white sheets, and pretty chintzy curtains and soft carpets and green waving trees!—and to have one's clean nice-looking mother bringing one little seductive-looking white-napkined trays, which one had the firmest, most consolatory assurance would not contain—a flounder! And to have no Sea moan-moaning under ones window—no cat followed by a stream of kittens invading ones privacy—no “industrious fleas” constraining one to light Lucifers in the dead watches of the night—no anything to disturb one's exquisite sense of quietude and cleanness and maternal blessing—oh you cannot figure what a “rehabilitation of the flesh” all this was for me! Now I am up again—running about looking at every thing, and extacizing over every thing as if I had been just imported from the backwoods—actually I have looked at myself in every mirror in the house with a sort of childish exultation in beholding the face of me once more all of a piece!—at Newby I never saw myself but “with the eyes all about” and divided into sections— Carlyle too I observed looking into all the mirrors with a singular, tho silent complacency,—. But he is off again!—alas is he not “made like unto a wheel”?— He might have done so well here for a little while—if like Macready2 he would but have “tried”—he had two rooms to himself—and my two cousins who are here, were ready to smoke with him whenever he liked—and a third Cousin—in Helens phraseology “a bonnie white-skinned Missie—just a wee angel” was ready to sing him “Eves farewell to Paradise”!3 But nothing of all that could sooth his spirit of unrest—and so he is off again to Scotsbrig where all is “hubbub wild and dire dismay”—and thence he goes he knows not yet very well where— Probably into Cumberland to the Speddings—where I have protested against accompanying him—feeling myself really too ailing at present for doing formal visiting— He was to write so soon as he “had come to a resolution”—and then I shall make my arrangements accordingly— I should like to be in London a day or two before him, that he might find things in their places again—but for the rest I am not wanting to go—I am so much better of[f]—being made of a great deal! and here I am made of “to a degree”!— From here I intend going straight to Tynemouth—and home by railroad—perhaps about ten days hence—but I shall not write to Harriet4 till I can say positively the day— Is there a hope of finding you there?—or Erasmus
Do write me a single line Your handwriting—the beautifulest and most illegible going—always makes my heart glad— In fact I love you considerably
God bless you and all that belong to you—
Ever your affectionate /
Friday—day of the month unknown—
My Mother begs to be remembered to you— She thought you “the most loveable person she saw in London” but “Mr Darwin always terrified her to death he looked so sarcastic”! !
I have found your letter after all in my portfolio so I need not inclose this to Erasmus—