April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 17 September 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440917-JWC-TC-01; CL 18: 211-212


Tuesday [17 September 1844]


I have absolutely no composure of Soul for writing just now— The fact is I have undertaken far more this time than human discretion would have dreamt of putting into one week— Knowing your horror of sweeps and carpet-beaters and “all that sort of thing” I would, in my romantic self-devotion, sweep ALL the Chimnies and lift ALL the carpets before you came and had you arrived this day as you first proposed you would have found us still in a regular mess threatening to thicken into “immortal smash”

But by Thursday I hope to have “got every thing satisfactorily arranged” as poor Plattnauer is always saying— And there have been so many other things to take me up besides the sweeps &c Almost every evening somebody has been here— The evening of the Bullers departure Jenkin's Hen came pale as a candle with a red circle round each eye which was very touching—he had evidently been crying himself quite sick and sore— Lady Lewis had invited him to dine with her— but “he could not go there—he could not eat any dinner—he was afraid to go home to his own silent house—he thought I could understand his feelings and so had come to pass the evening with me”— What a gift of understanding peoples feelings I am supposed to have—moi— Oh my Dear the Cat produced two kittens in your bed this morning—and we have drowned them—and now she also thinks I can understand her feelings and is coming about my feet mewing in a way that quite wrings my heart—Poor thing! I never saw her take on so badly before— Well! but on Saturday night Helen had just gone to seek sugar for the tea when a rap came which I prefered answering myself to allowing Plattnauer to answer it—and Oh Heavens—what should I see in the dark opening? a little human phenomenon in a triple cornered hat!— Bishop Terrot again! I screamed a good genuine horrified scream! whereupon he stept in—and, as the devil would have it, on my bad toe! and then I uttered a series of screams! which made Plattnauer savage with him for the rest of the evening— He had come up to seek himself a new assistant—the old one being promoted— There is no end of his calls to London! But he was plainly mortally afraid of Plattnauer—who as good as told him that he was “one of the windbags”— and will not trouble us again I think while he is here—

Yesterday afternoon came Henry Taylor but only for a few minutes—he had been unexpectedly “turned adrift on our shores” and could only wait till a Wandsworth steamer should come up— I was very kind to him, and he looked as if he could have kissed me for being glad to see him— Oh how old! I put on my bonnet and went with him to the boat—and he complimented me on going out without gloves or shawl—I was “the first woman he had ever found in this world who could go out of her house without at least a quarter of an hours preparation”!— They have taken a house at Mortlake near Richmond—

But there is no possibility of telling you all the things I have to tell at this writing.— They will keep till you come— Only let me not forget to say there is an American letter come for John which I send on by this days post

Your letter written apparently on Saturday evening was not read by me till yesterday afternoon. The Postman came so long after twelve, when I had been under an imperative necessity to go out.— Give my Love to Mr Baring

Ever your /

distracted Goody