JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 14 August 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420814-JWC-JW-01; CL 15: 16-18
JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH
Sunday [14 August 1842]
My “blessed Babbie”
Another long letter—so far I find you perfect!—go on in this laudable course and not only will it sooth my pains of absence, but tend much to the good of your own soul. “The devil,” they say, “is always at the elbow of an idle man—still more of an idle woman—and to think of the devil at Babbie's elbow! and I not there to exorcise him! My dear, it would give me serious apprehensing.
But with the daily letter to me—and don Carlos—and Helens1 wants—and such Himmel-sendungs [gifts from heaven] (look your German dictionary) as the immortal Creek I have no fear but you will be “born thro with an honourable thro-bearing”2—
For myself I expect to return to you “improved physically at least” (to use Mazzinis words) The first day things looked very black about me, and twenty times, like John's Mr Ogilvie, “I wished to God that I had stayed in London”!—but I have been better every day since— The place is all that a visitor could wish it—green as emeralds—with plenty of fine old trees—and just that amount of picturesqueness which is compatible with comfort and “elegancy”— Some people would object to the little church-yard so near—but in these bright days I find it rather comforting to look at than otherwise: It is a relief after the horrible London Cemeterys to see a quiet spot like this where the wicked really cease from troubling and the weary are at rest3—every time I step out of the window, I go over to the little church yard, and draw in a sort of breath of quietude from it—and think to myself “just so will the church yard of Crawford be looking in this blessed sunshine.”
For the people; they are what I have always known them for, the politest best-bred people alive— They make you feel in their house exactly as if you were in your own, which is the perfection of hospitality.— I get up about eight—when I hear the man knock at Mr Reginalds door—dress with a deliberation!—my hair has not got as much combing nor my neck as much washing for I know not how long—not that I am more caring about the effect I produce—but that it is a pleasure to dress slowly in such a large bright room, looking out on such charming “natur”!— I descend to the breakfast room about nine—where the letters await me beside my plate—and then Mr Buller prepares the coffee—and we breakfast according to the “simplest expression” of that meal—toast and butter just as at home—after breakfast out at the window—in again at the door—and up stairs to my own room—where I have both a beautiful sofa and an easy chair—white all covered over with coloured birds—in the center of my carpet are two white swans kissing each other among reeds! round them a hexagonal field covered with pagodas and indian trees—and round that a border of green and rose-coloured dragons tied together by the tails! and separated into pairs by a square of hierogliphics— You never saw such a strange carpet in your life!—I am sure there is witchcraft in [it],4 which I shall not rest till I have found out— My bed is of bamboo—shaped like a tent—the curtains, as also the window curtains and toilet, white indian muslin—embroidered—and lined with strawcolour—the whole thing has an exotic character which produces an effect on my imagination little as I care for fine furniture merely fine— There is a mirror over the chimneypiece which shows me myself in the bamboo bed! I wish it showed me something lovelier— Mrs Buller does not come down till about two—so all the fo[r]e-noon5 I may write or read, or think, or run out and in, according to my own sweet will—hitherto what I have done is not capable of being embodied in words—
There is no lunch—happily—but dinner at three—no fuss about it—but every body getting up so soon as enough has been eaten—then to the sofas for half an hour—then out for a two or three hours drive—at eight we all make an excellent tea—last night I came in mind of poor Alick's6 “Aunt Jeannie me's a teibble eater”!— Before going to bed I play a game at Chess with Mr Buller—and last night to my own astonishment and still more to his I beat him! Mrs Buller retires at ten—and after that I may read if I like in my own room. Such Babbie is my life—very harmless at all events—and farewell— I do not mean to write two such long letters every day for I am here not to write but to run about—and meditate—bless thee my babbie—give my kind regards to Helen and take care she does not hurt her leg.
Please to enclose me a dozen or two of stamps—