January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 14 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430714-JWC-TC-01; CL 16: 273-276


14th [July 1843]


Even if I had not received your pathetic little packet,1 for which I send you a dozen kisses; I meant to have written a long letter today— but there is one from Geraldine requiring answer by return of post— and it has taken so much writing to answer it that I am not only weary, but have little time left— Geraldine is like the broomstick that was let to carry water2—she threatens in spite of all I can say to the contrary to keep me in a deluge of Mudieism to the end of the chapter— Then has she been writing herself to the woman3—reproaching her (for she sends me a copy of the letter) with her “folly, ingratitude, and exceeding stupidity” and ordering her to come and implore me not to throw up my charge of her family—this was indiscreet to say the least—without having asked my leave but it must be allowed she has made great exertions for them and has some right to be provoked at the idea of these being all thrown away. She has collected £14.12 first and last and writes to day of a place ready for Juliet— But will she take it?—we can lead the horse to the water—but not make it drink— It would be good still could one save the girl or both the girls from the streets their only open field—let come of of4 the Mother what likes—

Yesterday evening I received a most unexpected visit from—Kitty Kirkpatrick!!5 A Lady sent in her card and asked if I would see her— Mrs James Phillips—I supposed it must be some connection of Kitty's and sent word “surely—if the Lady could stand the smell of the paint”—and in walked Kitty looking as tho' it were the naturalest thing in the world!— When I expressed my surprise at her sudden return she merely said that “she had found coming up before so easy”! there was something rather dandaical in that answer for I suppose the fact was she had come up to her Cousin's marriage6— Oh my dear she is anything but goodlooking! very sweet however and says such flattering things— She told me that two friends of hers a Mrs Hermitage (or Hemorrhage) and a Mrs Daniel (“wife of the great east-india merchant”) were “dying to know ME (?)7—they had seen I think she said some of my—letters! (ach gott!) and had heard of me from so many people and lastly from our Rector Mr Kingsly8 (! wolf in sheeps clothing that I am!) that I was “quite an angel”—and of course the thing to be done with an angel was to ask her to a seven o'clock dinner—at Fulham—where she Kitty was staying with Mrs Daniel—and for this day— Impossible—I said—too late—too far and you absent &c &c— “But said Kitty, what can I say to them?—they will take no refusal, and I promised they should make your acquaintance—in fact they are now in the carriage at the door”!—a shudder ran thro my veins—the fine Ladies—the dismantled house—the wet paint—good heavens what should I do?—a sudden thought struck me—my courage rose superior to the horrors of my situation— “Well I said—I will go, if you wish it, and make their acquaintance in the carriage”! “Oh how obliging of you! if you would be so good”!— I jumped up instantly lest my enthusiasm of desperation should evaporate, walked along the passage under the fire of all the enemies eyes—peremptorily signaled to a blue-and silver footman to let down the steps—and to the astonishment of the four fine Ladies inside, and my own, mounted into their coach and told them here I was!—to be made acquaintance with in such manner as the sad circumstances would admit of!— Kitty stood outside meanwhile throwing in gentle words—and the whole thing went off well enough. I should not know one of these women again— I saw nothing but a profusion of blond and flowers and feathers—it was an action equal to jumping singlehanded into a hostile citadel— I had no leisure to notice the details—mercifully—as it happened—I had dressed myself just half an hour before—and rather elegantly—from a feeling of reaction against the untidy state in which I had been cinderellaing all the day—so as Grace Macdonald9 said when she broke her arm and did not break the glass of her watch—“there has been some mercy shewn for a wonder”!

The evening before, instead of Forster who again puts off till Saturday, I had little Mr Hugh Ross and your disciple Mr Espinasse—a painful youth—whose “conversation does not promise to be a treat” I gave him some tea and what comfort I could—but I question if he were capable of receiving any.10

Tell John when you write that Mr William Ogilby has left his card for him— Jeannie with a kind letter and a pretty pincushion sends me word today that I will receive from my Uncle a tasting of some new Madera he has been bottling—I will not drink it all before you come—see what a deal I have written after all— Again bless you for your thoughts for me—the Umbrella was no failure however11—do not think that—

Ever your affectionate /

J Carlyle