January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 10 August 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450810-JWC-TC-01; CL 19: 137-140


Seaforth— / Sunday [10 August 1845] / before post time

Monsieur le President! I begin to be weary of the treatments I experience here”!1— Always my “bits of letters” and “bits of letters” as if I were some nice little Child writing in half-text on ruled paper to its Godpapa!— Since Jeffrey was pleased to compliment me on my “bits of convictions”;2 I have not had my “rights of WOMAN” so trifled with! He payed the penalty of his assurance in losing from that time forward my valuable correspondence; with you I cannot so easily cease to correspond, “for reasons which it may be interesting not to state”:3 but a woman of my invention can always find legitimate means of revenging herself on those who do not “treat her with the respect due to Genius”—who put her off with a pat on the head or a chuck under the chin, when she addresses them in all the full-grown gravity of five feet-five-inches-and-three-quarters—without her shoes! So let us hear no more of my bits of letters, unless you are prepared to front a nameless retribution!

We have had two days of what Helen calls “pouring down hale [flowing] water”! the chief nuisance of which is, that it prevented us going yesterday, according to programme, to Holywell to stay till Monday. All was prepared, even to the packing of a basket of provisions to be eaten in the open air—but the rain falling in torrents and (what Mr Paulet considered more decisive) the glass having fallen five degrees, we were obliged to stay where we were, and thank Providence for the blessing which he had made to “fly over our heads”— If the glass rises before Mrs Newton returns the Holywell sepeculation may still be “carried out”—or we may catch “two goose” in some other equally “outlandish spat [spot]”— There is nothing particular about Holywell in the way of scenery, I am told, except a well, called Funueellian,4 with this curious virtue; that if you write the name of any one you wish ill to on a stone, and drop it into this well, the owner of the name is made miserable for life!— Mrs Paulet merely wished to take us somewhere for “a nice change”; and her Mother being at Holywell we gave that place the preference.

On wednesday we called for the Martineaus in their new house in the Prince's Park—the extreme West End of Liverpool— A pie-crust sort of house, with all the “curiosities and niceties”5 that a Unitarian Minister could wish. including a magnificent Broadwood Grand Pianoforte—“presented” as Mrs M.6 made haste to tell us “by the congregation.” The People themselves were “as I had known them—methinks better—certainly not worse”— Mrs Martineaus beard, all over the chin, had grown indeed some half inch longer since last year, but that is quite an extraneous circumstance. James appeared to be still fighting it out with his conscience, “abating no jot of heart or hope”!7 I never saw a man whom I felt such an inclination to lead into some sort of wickedness—it would do him “so much good”!— If he were beside you I am persuaded he would soon become the sincerest disciple that ever you had—he seems so very near kicking his foot thro the whole Unitarian Concern already!— He was arguing with Geraldine that day about “the softening tendencies of our age” “the sympathy for knaves and criminals” “the impossibility of great mind being disjoined from great morality” “the stupidity of expecting to be happy thro doing good”— Nothing could be more orthodox! But what would have ingrushed [ingratiated]8 him with you more than anything—was in talking of Cromwells doings in Irland, “after all” he said “people make a great deal more outcry over masacres than there is any occasion for—one does not understand all that exorbitant respect for human life, in overlooking or violating every thing that makes it of any value”! He is coming here to dine at two on Wednesday. with his wife and his “little ones”—

Mrs Martineau told me that when Harriet published her life of the sick room; James wrote to her—“Well—now the sick room has PERFORMED ITS MISSION! and I am curious to know what will come next”!9

My cousin Maggie spent Friday here—and looked so alive and happy as I never saw her before— Mrs Paulet, with one of her inspirations of Genius, sent off for a Miss Jessy Powles in the neighbourhood,10 who was “such a sweet pretty girl”—had been to “a London boarding school where they paid three hundred a year”—was “just what she fancied little Miss Welsh would like”—and so it proved—the two girls swore everlasting friendship in the first ten minutes—went to eat grapes together—and to admire nature together—on the leads—and when Maggie was getting ready to return, she could not repeat often enough “What a nice girl Miss Powles is”! And when the other was alone with Mrs Paulet she exclaimed with equal enthusiasm “what a nice girl Miss Welsh is”!— Warum danzen mädchen mit mädchen so gern [Why does maiden dance with maiden so happily]?”11— It is a great talent that of Mrs Paulets of making two negatives into an afirmative—or at least use each other up!—

Poor old Sterling!—it is shocking to be so deserted— If he be still in Manchester when I go there I will go and see him—one cannot “keep up one's dignity” in the face of death!

Here is my letter from the post office at last— The Seaforth Minister does not allow the postbag to be opened till after Church time—“that peoples thoughts may not wander to their letters during service”— I should fancy ones thoughts likely to wander much more after a letter in the bag than out of it. Now I must send this off, without further chatterment—the post hour being two— I like Helen not showing my letter! taking it “all to herself,” with good-child-like spirit of appropriation! it is worth twice as much to her that way than any other— Poor little Bee!—tell her to write to me herself— I forgot to say so in the letter— —it will be an interest for her—

Has Robertson ever been to Chelsea?

Ever your / Affectionate


I wrote to your Mother the beginning of the last week