January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 13 August 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450813-JWC-TC-01; CL 19: 143-145


Wednesday night [13–14 August 1845]


When one has wearied oneself in riding, the best way of resting I have been told is to walk—which brings another set of muscles into play—on the same principle having talked myself nearly to death, I shall now write a little—instead of going at once to bed as I was preparing to do, when in winding up my watch I made the discovery that it was precisely half past nine o'clock! There need be no reflections here for want of early hours!—we are never out of bed after ten—and I am sure it is very good for one's soul to live in this primeval fashion— Tonight we all fancied it eleven when we came up stairs having had the Martineaus on hands since two! I wish they may ever recover from the things they have heard this day! The flowers and fruit and peacocks feathers which were lavished on them at their departure would hardly make amends for the cold blooded systematic persecution which their terrified consciences have this day been exposed to. As for James he would certainly have taken a fit at last, if a violent perspiration had not come to his relief! three women “all alike gleg [spirited]” pitching light—(of nature) into him all at once!1 To night he will dream that he has “made a great crash amongst the ten commandments” and even to dream it will be something!

We are to see him again—if he dare—on Friday night at Mrs Ames's who is giving a musical party to my honour and glory. I shall endeavour to get a seat next the door; for I was all but boiled into jelly at her last year's party— On Saturday your admirer Mr Charles Rawlins is to be here with his massive wife2—he had been making anxious enquiries after me—the day that “has lived near the rose”3— I like best that nobody should come—but this man was a sort of moral necessity—next week—on Wednesday I believe we are going somewhere—a great many miles off to spend to day and night with some people of the name of Fincham4 I refused in the first instance but another invitation came more pressing than the first and Mrs Paulet seemed to wish me to give in— They are not admirers of yours—never heard of you evidently!— They are the first manufacturers of plate-glass in the world—and Mr Paulet says their “establishment” is worth going all the way to look at—it may easily be a great sight for me, who never saw a glass house great or small— Their “cuisine” is said by the same authority to be also something transcendent in its kind—“and altogether” it is good to “see how the[y] ack in the various places”5— So long as it is in my head, let me tell you of two new isms—Theodore Parkerism and Dawsonism— James Martineau is called here by those who have a pique at him a Theodore Parkerist!—Theodore Parker being neither more nor less than that little dreary snubnosed american with the long hair over his coatneck and who always had a hand like a frog when you touched it.6 Such a one it seems isup to originating an ism! The other ism takes its name from a young Scotchman—(five and twenty!) who is preaching at Birmingham according to the gospel of you!— An Anabaptist church had gone all to pig's and whistles,7 the Trustees applied to this youth who had a reputation for some talent—he told them—‘Yes—he would ‘make them a congregation’—but he must be perfectly unshackled by any formulas—would absolutely sign no articles whatever— The trustees at their wits end said; “be it so”— And Mr Dawson proceeded to preach; “there is but one God and Carlyle is his prophet!” and all the debt of the church has been paid off in one year—and it can no longer contain his congregation— If Carlyle himself would take to preaching I should think from such example that HE might soon pay off the National debt besides keeping “a fly to go out at nights with”——

Thursday [14 August 1845]

A delicate attention

This morning the bell for getting up did not ring— I lay awake till near nine expecting it— Then I thought I might as well get up and see into the time of day—when I came down everybody had finished breakfast—“but the bell did not ring” said I quite shocked— “oh no Madame”! said Mr Paulet— “they told me you were so witty at dinner yesterday, that you had better be let slumber this morning as long as possible—in case of your feeling a little exhausted”!! And so actually the bell had not been rung in consideration of “my incessant wits”!

I had a long and really excellent letter from Helen yesterday containing a little box of salve for my bunions—she had ‘tried it on herself first’ and found it quite satisfactory— Tell her that her letter was “quite a treat” for me—so copoious and sensible and not without wits even!— She tells me that “the child the leech gets always more lively” and she is becoming “rather fond of it”— She suggests also very sensibly that I should bid you give her timely notice when you leave—“as she would like to have all you things nice for you, and you might never think of telling her till the very day”!

I have your letter— Sometimes the post man prefers taking them to Dale Street and I have to wait all day in uncertainty—and then I am vaixed— No address seems able to secure us against this contre-temps— I wish I were there … dear Good to baiser you “a la front [kiss you on the forehead]”— I could not reconcile myself to folowing my pleasures or at least my eases here while you are so hardworked and solitary; if it were not that my health is really improving and I look forward to being less of an Egyptian skeleton Lady for you thro the winter by this egoism I am indulging in at present—

Mrs Buller got no letter from me—what with eating and sleeping and walking and driving and having my feet rubbed and settling the general question I have really no time for writing except to one's Good— Every night too after Mr Paulet comes home I play one or more games at chess—which is using him up famously— He is wonderfully patient of us all—and “not without glimmerings of intelligence”!— My paper and everybodys is done—so you must put up with scraps—

Your own adorable wife