candlestick

January-September 1845


The Collected Letters, Volume 19


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JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 15 September 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450915-JWC-TC-01; CL 19: 193-196


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE

Monday [15 September 1845]

I was sure you would have a wretched voyage—the very smell of that boat made me sick for all the rest of the evening— We “did intend” to have waved a handkerchief to you, in passing, from the roof of the house—but the fog was too thick “for anything”1

Great efforts were made to keep me longer—but it is my principle always to go away before having exhausted the desire to keep me; besides that I pique myself on being a woman of my word—and so me voila [here I am]! in Cheyne Row once more!—

The journey back was a considerable of a bore—the train I came by starting at eleven, and supposed by Mr Paulet to answer to that which leaves here at ten did not land me at Euston Station till half after nine!—and all that while, except a glass of porter and a sandwich—“the chief characteristic of which was its tenuity,”2 I had no support to nature—for I saw no sense in dining at Birmingham when I expected to be in London at six.

John3 had sent a note the day before, proposing, as he proposed the senna for Mary's children, that I should appoint him to meet me “or perhaps I had better not.” Not having got the letter before setting out for Crosby I had of course no option—“which was probably just as well”— Arriving here a quarter after ten—I found poor little Helen half distracted at my lateness—“if it had been the Master she would never have minded but me that was always to a moment!”—and so she had been taking on at a great rate and finally just a few minutes before I arrived got John dispatched to look for me (!) at the Station—in case as he fancied I had prefered coming by the Express train—and thro these good intentions, highly unfortunate,4 I was kept up till half after one—John not coming back till half after twelve—and I too polite to go to bed without awaiting his coming— Moreover the carriage I came in had pitched like a ship in a storm, so that I was shaken into an absolute fever—“the flames of fever had seized on me”—and what with all this fatigue and the excitement of feeling myself at home I could not sleep “the least in the world” and have not recovered myself to this hour— All is quiet about me as quiet can be, even to John's boots—but what signifies that if one have like Ann Cook's Soldier “Palpitation”!5 I have found every thing here as well or better than could have been expected—the leech alive and “so happy”!—Helen radiant with virtues own reward!—the economical department in a very backward state, but not confused; for it is clear as day that not a single bill has been paid since I left. Helen seems to have had four pound ten for the incidental expences—which I shall enclose her account of, to amuse Jamie—and there is a national debt to the Butcher Baker and milkman amounting to about five pounds—so that the house keeping during my absence has been carried on at some six or seven shillings a week less than if I had been at home which is all as it should be—for I defy three people to live as we do on less than thirty shillings a-week. I do think the little creature is very careful—as for honest; that I have been sure about long ago—

Nobody knows yet that I am here except Helps and Elizabeth Pepoli who had called and been told by Helen last week—accordingly I was surprised by a visit from Helps yesterday forenoon—and in the afternoon I walked myself with John to see Elizabeth— He (John) went on to Mrs Frasers to tea— What a pity he cannot get married to Mrs Fraser—she seems the only woman he cares about—

But you will be wanting to hear the result of our househunting at Crosby—as near as possible to what you predicted—“Nothing”!— “My poor Dear” (as Mr Paulet calls his wife) had let her devout Imaginating run away with her—there was no vestige that I could find that day of “excellent houses at ten pounds a year”— To be sure one does not come much speed merely driving along the shore and seeking with ones eyes— There is a row of cottages, with ivy, beyond Waterloo—Brighton they call them—let as bathing quarters—already furnished of course—at reasonable enough rate— They are twice as large and comfortable as the cottage at Newby6 and just the same price 2 pounds a week during the Autum months in the heat of summer they are three pounds ten— The rent of these houses to the people who take them unfurnished seemed to be twenty or five and twenty pounds a year—decidedly a bad speculation unless one meant to constitute oneself a letter of Lodgings— But there is the tower or “rook” on the shore under repair, and, “for to let” when finished—it consits of two little half octogon rooms; and three bed rooms—less I thought than our china-closet—decidely a place one could pig into for a month or too in fine weather with satisfaction—but not realizing any thing to my notions beyond your ideal; of “a hut to creep into”—and likely to get insupportably stiffling after a while— “To be sure” as poor Mrs Sterling used to say; “if there were any obligation you know!”—I suppose in that case I could live in a closet as well as anonther—but the tower is not a place I would prefer to stay in—except as I have said just for a month or two in fine weather— At all events it can be no harm to learn the rent when it is finished— Mrs Paulet fancys it will be cheap because the owner is rich but that natural logic does not hold Good in a general way—disheartened with “looking into the inside” of “huts,” I went in the afternoon to look at really good houses just for curiosity—you remember those handsome villas in front of Seaforth House two and two, together—well—they are as large handsome houses as heart could desire with stable and coach house and all sorts of “curiosities and niceties” and the rent of these is only sixtyfive pounds—if these were within twenty or thirty miles of London I should vote for making “a venture of faith” to the extent of that sum even—one cannot have every thing or even a good lump of every thing in the way of material comfort in this world without paying for it—but a house of that sort at the distance of Seaforth would involve cutting off from London altogether, and that were questionable all things considered— So far as I “can see my way clearly”—we should either try to get a house out of London and not far out of it—making up our minds to pay more—or else to keeping the house we have and taking a furnished lodging at Seaforth, as other people do, for so long as we could do with hugger-mugger—compensated by “change of air” seabathing and “Silence”—the Paulets could find us such a lodging at any time on as reasonable terms as it is to be found at any other seabathing place—

No letter has come for you—

There was one lying for me from Plattnauers Mother in law7—declaring him quite sane—the Drs mistaken in ever having supposed him other than in a fever—thanking us again for our kindness to him—and finishing with a statement that of course he would return to England and follow his own plans—and “could be suffered to do so without any anxiety about a recurrence of his malady”—cold hearted solemn Goose!—not a word about doing anything for him in the way of money! I keep the letter to translate it for Miss Clayton— No wonder poor Plattnauer prefers the risk of Bedlam to dependence there!

I find that with Servants, washing and one tag rag and another my journey has cost me ten pounds and some shillings— The rest of the handsome donation you made me may lie over for future travel or if I should take a notion to have a “Zwiete fliege [second flight]”8 in your absense I shall let no prudential terrors withold me—or perhaps I may dip into it for some little matters of household rehabilitation.

Poor Isabella!—for once I do wish a trial of animal magnetism could be made on her—what a life for herself—and also for poor Jamie who deserves all sorts of good things in his lot!—

Give my kind regards to them all—John seems quite peacable—with no “plans” for the present so far as I hear—

I must write a note to Duffy—to thank him for his beautiful little book9—and still more for his “sincere respect and regard”— To be respected by Young Irland at two seeings is a compliment I feel duly touched by! And so good by to you for the present— Mr Paulet was waiting for me in Liverpool with a bottle of eau de Cologne—his last delicate attention— How kind they have been to me from first to last!

Ever yours

J C