January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 25 July 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450725-JWC-TC-01; CL 19: 107-109


Friday [25 July 1845]


You have interpreted the Library-note1 too ironically—it is a polite bona fide offer of the book to read— I applied for it some six months ago without result; the copy I had was lent to me by Darwin—

Tout va bien; le sommeil manque.2 The Cat-Operas are a fixed thing—they too it would seem have their Thursday night—last night it was Der Freyschutz3 or something as devilish—and the performance did not cease till two in the morning—when the cocks took possession of the stage—“bits of fascination”!4—and carried on the glory till breakfast time. add to which occasional explosions of bad feeling from the Dog, and an incessant braying of carts, from early dawn, going to and from the quarry—and, thro' all, the sensation of being pent up in the foot of a boot—! You may fancy the difficulty experienced by a finely organized human being like me, in getting even A Scotch “POOR'S5 minimum of sleep under such circumstance! Nevertheless, and altho' the wind here is constantly in the east, and a[l]tho' the eternal smell of roast meat in this house is oppressive to soul and sense; “it is but fair to state”6 that I feel less tendency to “dee and du nought ava”7 than when I left London— Elizabeth Pepoli would impute the improvement to “the greater variety of food”—Oh Heavens!—and above all to the excellent porter. I, who, tho my Sylphide's wings have long fallen off, can still manage by stilts and other means to keep myself above such depths of prose as that comes to, find “the solution” elsewhere—namely in “the great comfort” which it is somehow to be made sensible from time to time, that if oneself is miserable others are “perhaps more to be pitied that they are not miserable”!—here, sufficient for the day is the marketing, and eating, and dressing thereof!8 and a new satin dress can diffuse perfect beatitude thro an immortal soul! the circulating Library satisfys all their intellectual wants—and flirtation all the wants of their hearts—it is very convenient to be thus easily satisfied!—one looks plump, digests without effort, and sleeps in spite of all the cats and cocks in the world!—but somehow, “I for one solitary individual”9 would rather remain in Hell—the Hell I make for myself with my restless digging, than accept this drowsy placidity—yes I begin to feel again that I am not la derniere de femmes [the last woman]—which has been oftener than anything else my reading of myself in these latter times—a natural enough reaction against the exorbitant self-conceit which put me at fourteen on setting up for a woman of Genius. Now I should be only too pleased to feel myself a woman—“without the Genius”—a woman—not “a chimera” “a miserable fatuity”!

But this is fully worse than a description of scenery—descriptions of one's own inside!— Bah! who likes one well enough to find that other than a bore!

Well! I did the Great Britain. It is three hundred and twenty feet long and fifty feet broad—and all of iron—and has six sails—and one pays a shilling to see it—and it was not “a good joy.” All these prodigious efforts for facillitating locomotion seem to me a highly questionable investment of human faculty—people need rather to be taught to sit still— Yesterday I went with the girls and Mr Liddle (the man who is so like a doll)10 to a flower show in the Botanical Gardens— The flowers were well enough—but few of them—the company shocking bad—really these Liverpool Ladies look two thirds of them improper—the democratic tendency of the age in dress has not penetrated hither I assure you—not a woman that Helen might not stand in admiration before and exclaim “How expensive”!11

Today we are going “accross the water” with my Uncle— I make a point of accepting every lark proposed to me however uninviting— I am here for what Helen calls “a fine change”—and the more movement the better— If I do not get good of the movement—I shall at least get good of the sitting still after it. My uncle is very kind to me— Alick is rather improved speaks not at all on politics in my hearing12 Johnnie I have found a use for!— I play one game at Chess with him every night—“she beats us a' for a deep thought”!13

Kind regards to Helen—and compliments to the Leech— Do not work too hard—

Ever your affectionate

Jane W C

“Note Bena: I have got no bacca!”14