January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 9 July 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450709-JWC-JW-01; CL 19: 92-94


Wednesday [9 July 1845]

Dearest Babbie

Heaven be praised for all its mercies! except for those recognized in the Annandale man's grace “the blessings made to fly over our heads”1— I am to see you! I am coming! I am going!—my Husband would not let me not go now if I were even indisposed to go!— I wish I were already there to tell you all about it— The fact is I have been in a sad way for a long while, and was not saying anything about it to any one—indeed I was ashamed to talk of illness which had taken the form chiefly of frightful depression of spirits—giving me occasional apprehension that I was going out of my sane mind— I knew that the thing was physical but that consciousness did not make it the less painful and alarming for me—on the contrary the feeling that this illness lay in a part of me, viz my body, which was quite beyond my own controul made me only the more afraid. But every bodys fortitude has limits, and so my determination never to tell Carlyle or anyone what I had been swallowing down and was still swallowing down in the shape of suffering did not hinder me the other day from giving way to a dreadful fit of crying and telling him all about it— He was not a little horrified at my revealations and immediately declared that I must get away into the country as fast as possible— But where— To Dumfrieshire with him or before him?—impossible—he may call it “weak” “unworthy of a rational creature”—I cannot help it—I cannot go there yet—it is just weakness and irrationality that I complain of—if I were strong—rational there would be no need for my flying out of London at all— To Haddington—to the Miss Donaldsons?2—that also were painful enough—but I felt as if after the first horror of it I should rather like being there—many places were spoken of— but in every one a lion was in the way3— Haddington remained the most possible looking—when I had to dry my eyes and go off with the Lady Harriet to Addiscombe4 for four mortal days! Fancy it!—in such a state of mind—having to get up fine clothes and fine “wits”! having to proceed with my first season of fashionable life while I was feeling it the dreadfulest problem to live at all! In the whole three nights I lay in bed at Addiscombe I slept just one hour and forty minutes by my watch! the first night an hour and half—the second none at all—and the third ten minutes! Oh dear dear what do the glories of Upholstery help one when there is no sleep to be had—how gladly would I have exchanged my Throne—like bed—with cambric sheets bordered with lace (!) to have had the deep sleep of a Peasant on the top of a dung cart! The house was full of fine people among whom there was only one (Lord Ashburton)5 who did not feel it his duty to make “incessant wits”— These said “wits,” in my sleepless state of nerves, grew to look like a shower of fire sparks falling falling for ever and ever about my ears till I had not a grain of common sense remaining— One night that I walked in the dark for an hour with Lord Ashburton I felt myself human again—able to talk—and it was a mournful little satisfaction for me that he at least might recognize me for something a few degrees above an Idiot— At Addiscombe I received your letter— Carlyle brought it with him when he came to spend his Sunday (as usual) (he has established a small permanent wardrobe there!)— Your letter decided me what I would do and I have unfolded my plan since I came back and it finds acceptance—

He is going to Scotland—in he expects a month hence—not for any long time—Lady Harriet will need him at the Grange6—at various places—now I should not like to be absent all the time he is absent— The carpets must be lifted and various things done which need my superintendence—besides Helen would go mad if left long without us both—and I know not where to find a man to sleep with her—who would be more trustworthy than the thieves— That is one reason for not going to Helensborough7—another lies in the sea voyage—which I am not strong enough just now to encounter—to be sure I might go by land—but then I should have to pass thro' Dumfrieshire and “spend a few days at Scotsbrig” I am not strong enough for that either— Scotsbrig! and no further to go!—my heart stands still even thinking of it here at this distance!— So I will get off as soon as I can—having set my house in order for the thieves—so as to be a week or so with you before you go—and then for country air I will take a week with Mrs Paulet and so come back to Chelsea and look after my affairs— This will be easily managed—altogether pleasant—and I know I shall get as much good of it as of a more laborious expedition—

All the rest I will tell you when I come—

I enclose a letter which came this morning (can you imagine any thing more heartbreaking than that address)—you are to give it to my Uncle—and ask him if the person it is from is a proper person to help—she seems so from her letter—if there is no reason to disbelieve her story I will send her five pounds—and be very glad of an opportunity to do a kindness which she assuredly would have done8— Answer me this immediately—for the letter has been long on the road doubtless Oh it had far to seek! I have seen John Greig9 too who cried like a child— Oh me I wish I could sleep for six months

Send me back the letter

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