January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 9 March 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430309-JWC-JW-01; CL 16: 72-75


[9 March 1843]


I was very disappointed yesterday forenoon, when no letter arrived from you—and over and above, a little out of humour—but my humour was quickly restored to its natural calm, by what was meant to aggravate it. The fussy officiousness and superfluous enthusiasm with which Geraldine struck into the concern, wondering how it ever should happen that “any one whose letters I was at the pains to wish for should not feel it worth the pains to write” &c &c produced a speedy reaction in your favour, just as the wife who getting herself beaten by her husband—fell foul of the stranger who interfered in her behalf—demanding what it was to him if her husband chose to beat his own wife”?— After dinner came the parcel—truly a beautiful and most luxurious wrapage! but in spite of my admiration of it, I did not willingly leave off shaking it, and shaking the books, in hopes that a letter would fall out— “Perhaps, I said the letter will be coming by tonights post”—and at this same moment Helen who had come in without my noticing her, my attention being absorbed in the shawl, put the letter into my hand—then finally my contentment was complete! When I had finished reading it I put on the shawl drew the delicious little hood over my head—and stretched myself on the sofa to be supremely comfortable— I had been in the forenoon to the Chinese exhibition1—which like all exhibitions had tired me dreadfully— I was soon asleep— Carlyle was stretched on the green chair and two others—he had yesterday finished his book! he also slept profoundly—as he had good right to do— Geraldine makes herself a bed with the priedieu [prayer desk]—chair and a sofa cushion and the hearth rug—every day after dinner—and sleeps like a person under the influence of liquor—or drugs—a singular phasis of a young lady—yesterday evening she was stretched out and sound as usual!— Into this enchanted looking room walked Garnier—considerably distracted—singling out me to chatecise he asked “why do you tender yourself in this way? or are you really not well?”— Geraldine who had got on her end, and always bursts out of sleep into volubility—poured forth a torrent of words a[bout] “the poor creature having been to that confounded Chinese exhibition &c &c”—but she was cut short by Garnier's uplifting his two hands, and saying to me with an affectation of dismay—“Oh my goodness! how fast that Lady does talk! it is quite impossible for me to follow her! Mrs Carlyle is she a relation of yours”?— She pretended to be vastly amused—and vastly amused with the quizzing which he carried on the whole evening—but I believe she had her own private misgivings about it! After tea Carlyle and Garnier went down to smoke—and in the interim a gentleman sent in his card—Helen whispered it was the gentleman of next door2—and that you may understand all the awfulness of this announcement for me—I must tell you that Carlyle had yesterday put into effect his long matured purpose of trying the fair musician with a letter! I was out at the time and did not see it—but he gave me to understand that it was of the most chivalrous discription, professing his conviction that “a young beautiful female soul working in the most beautiful element that of music would not willingly give annoyance to any fellow worker”!! &c &c &c— What he required of her practically to do—or rather to not do was to refrain from playing all days of the year till after two oclock!!!—a modest request to a young lady whose whole existence seems to be in practicing!— I feared “the gentleman next door must be come to make a shine [scene]. But the first glance at him as he entered, hat in hand, reassured me— He lookd at me most benignly from head to foot—sat down on the chair I motioned him to and then observed “We have had a delightful day Mam”!— I myself led the conversation to the piano—saying that I understood my husband had been invading his house today with a most unheard of remonstrance—but the amiable gentleman would not let me finish—he bewailed the annoyance his daughters must have given us—bewailed our patience in having suffered so long without protest—would do unheard of things to spare us in future—the piano should be drawn into the middle of the floor—the top should never be opened—there should be no playing in forenoons unless when the mistress came on Wednesdays—and if she could possible change the hour it should be done—in short there never was such a complaisant gentleman as “the gentleman of next door” since this world began!— When Carlyle came he seemed ready to fall on his knees before him to implore his forgiveness for having daughters who played on the piano— I assure you we were quite melted by his superhuman politeness and he seemed to find himself quite melted by our greatful sense of it—and he staid talking—till suppertime!—and then there was such a shaking of hands—and repetition of civil speeches on both sides—nobody knows what he can do till he tries! the putting down of a piano under such circumstances would have seemed desperate even to me!— Today the faintest sound of it was heard as if for trial for about a minute—it was hardly audible— Heaven knows how they have deadened the sound— So pray my dear have a fly at your chimney cans [pots]!—that is an insupportable thing and ought not to be tolerated for twentyfour hours—

Geraldine goes on Saturday thank heaven3— — I did not absolutely give her notice—but I took precious good care to avoid uttering a word that could be a second time misconstrued into an invitation to stay longer.— On monday she said “I must write to that horrid Mrs Green4—to say when I am to pay her the long visit— She wanted me before tomorrow evening for a music party”—the “horrid Mrs Green you should know is a pretty, gentle—rather silly—but very innocent and goodnatured looking young woman who has shown her first and last a deal of kindness—and who when she came here the other day was caressed and flattered all over by Geraldine—just as she caresses and flatters me! before my face too—but that I think was an oversight, she afterwards bethought herself of—certainly it was a sad oversight, for the credit of her sincerity considering the atrocious things she had said to me of the poor young woman— I was reading when she began to speak of her visit to her— I turned over a leaf and made no answer— She scribbled a few lines—then looked up to me pen in hand—and asked—“well! when?—will you tell me when you would have me go”?— I answered dryly—“surely it is for you to decide on the when not for me”—and continued my reading—she wrote a note naming Saturday then handed it to me to read— I glanced it over, and giving it back said merely—“it seems all quite right”!— This I think was the next thing to “giving notice”!—but indeed I am sick to death of her—and I have not her gift of showing kindness where I feel only annoyance and disgust— Your own JC

A passionate kiss to my uncle for the shawl and dozen for abstract affection Love to all the rest— Mary's note was too short to entitle her to any special thanks5 The devil fly away or rather fly home with Gambardella—home first and then away after—beyond the realm of chaos and of night6 if he like