August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 12 December 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421212-JWC-JW-01; CL 15: 226-227


[12 December 1842]

Dearest Babbie

I observe both in you and in myself a tendency towards the tutto o niente [all or nothing] system—which in these days of penny-postage is surely quite erroneous— One should not let ones laudable wish to write long letters, prevent one from writing very often a short one rather than none at all— It takes but a few minutes to write a bulletin of ones state and a “God bless you”—and neither you nor I with all our occupations and interruptions can ever be hard put to it to find “a few minutes” disengaged— But the misfortune is; one regards one's few minutes as incapable of being turned to any better account than warming ones feet or the like—and the few hours come to hand more seldom— People would do well to apply the proverb “look to the pence and the pounds will look to themselves,” to their time as well as their money—for the squandering of moments has more bad result in the long run than the most James-Bailliesh scorn of “coppers”—

It is with an awakening of Conscience on this time-subject that I snatch a pen to scrawl you such a “scrap” as circumstances will allow of—not that I have any thing more vital or more pleasant to do this morning—but that I am feeling very unable to do anything whatever—

I do not know what sort of instructions Carlyle can have given to Morah about coming to see me—but the result is he has not arrived yet—which is not after the usual fashion of Drs who are generally ready enough to go after patients Meanwhile John is returned and has taken up the matter of my side exactly as I predict—had not the slightest recollection that I ever spoke of it to him before— When he asked me “where is it at all?” I could hardly help taking the poker to him— Having given him however without minding his unmeaning questions as particular an account of it as I could he told me with supreme indifference that I “seemed to have got some disorder of the liver and might try a blue pill for it”!

He did not even write me a prescription for the pills that night—not till last night—when he dined here— I will try his blue pill for a week or two longer and if it does me no good I will go to Sir James Clark—as Elizabeth recommends and who will go along with me— The rest of Johns advice was that I should walk a great deal “without minding the pain—it was probably good for me in the long-run”—

Here has been Elizabeth for an hour and half—and since I am to walk “without minding the pain” I had better go now before “the day turns off” as Katy Macready1 phrases it

Bless you— — I shall hear tomorrow?

Your affectionate /

Jane W C