April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 5 August 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440805-JWC-JW-01; CL 18: 170-171


Monday [5? August 1844]


Harriet Martineau has clearly shown in her Life in a Sick Room that to accept more sympathy than one's accurate due is a turpitude little short of stealing a purse. I hasten to tell you then, that I am now in my usual, can eat and sleep again in a reasonable sort of way, and if there be any truth in looking-glasses have changed my colour from seagreen to a modest yellow. At last I shall receive those compliments on my “improved looks” which even the force of habit as respecting persons who have had “change of air” had not yet obtained for me from an observant public. But then alas— “The wished for comes too late”1 now as always—for the public is all gone or going “into the country”— Only two or three scattered individuals still remain to one, left by the ebb of fashion like weeds on the beech tant mieux, for moral purposes. The soul gets leisure to listen to itself in this silence—and to form “good intentions”—if it could but keep to them!

With my improved health the standard of my occupations has proportionately elevated itself. I sat down the other day to a determined critical reading of Voss's Homer—the only translation which gives a person ignorant of the Greek any adequate idea of the real Homer— I am horribly rusted in my German I find so that I get on with it very slowly—but the task is well worth the pains— That employs two or three hours in the morning— Then I am translating—or to speak accurately I have bought foolscap for translating Something which I did one half of years ago and which I should like to see in fruit before I die.2 Then I am making extensive and enlightened repairs of the household linen!— I mean to have a piano!—and I think a great deal!— Perhaps like the old woman at Haddington I also “repent a great deal”3— But I do not cultivate that branch of morality— I have always indeed considered remorse the most wasteful of all the virtues devouring a great deal of good faculty which might be turned to practical account—

I have written to Geraldine since my return but had no letter from her— I suppose she is over head and ears with her manuscript and her Loves with the Painter—who was to be in Manchester at this time.4 Her Publisher5 has just been here with me for two hours— —unmerciful human being! Boring me about alterations to be made—I had better have written the book all over myself than have had so much intermediation to transact!—

I am very glad that poor Margaret is back with you again—and that the Cook looks promising—give my kind regards to Margaret and say I have deeply sympathized in her affliction I will look when I go up stairs for some little thing to send her just to show her my good will love to them all—kisses—

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