August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


JWC TO HELEN WELSH; 20 January 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470120-JWC-HW-01; CL 21:141-142.


Honble W. B Baring / Bay House Alverstoke / Hants Wednesday [20 January 1847]

Dearest Helen

Here I am then—not dead—nor dying—just yet. On the whole better every way than I had room to expect. My nervousness at starting was “rather exquisite”— Every body had taken such solemn leave of me that I felt much as tho getting into a fly for the purpose of going to be executed—then the feeling of a bonnet on my head. &c &c all that was so new to me—and the thought of what would become of me if I arrived unable to keep up appearances and the thought—worst of all alas!—how things would go on in another department! —But all has gone better than I expected— My black blanket coat-cloak—with the woolen jacket under it effectually kept all cold from my body and my respirator hindered any from entering in— In fact before I had been half an hour on the railway—what with the movement and what with being worn out by THE VIOLENCE OF MY EMOTIONS I fell fast asleep and slept to the station!! I who could not sleep like a christian in my own comfortable red bed!

I arrived here hardly so tired as I have been on getting up from the sofa of late weeks to make tea—

Lady H received me most kindly with a certain recognition of my weak state—hardly to have been hoped from her— She actually ordered me some hot soup—before dinner—and had assigned me the largest bedroom this time and C my old little one— There is no soul here but herself— Lady Anne Charteris is in the neighbouring house and comes in during the HEAT of the day—but she is a prisoner after sunset— — Mr Baring and Mr Charteris went up to London yesterday morning—not to return till the end of the week— C Buller will come every Saturday and stay till Monday—

—I do not go out here either—it feels quite as cold as in London and I have got some cold in my head but that is nothing to cold in my left lung. Nothing can exceed Lady H's TACT so far—and I feel very grateful to her—as I am not up to much agitation just now— Many thanks dear for your punctual discharge of my commissions—satisfactory in all but the drawing out of the bill which cannot stand as it is—the beautiful blue and white ribband I will take as a present and be thankful but that is all I can take on that principle— Never mind the auricolas—I shall get thro the thing without them— I do not know how long we shall s[t]ay1 Lady H does not mean to go to Town till the 1st of March—and “really does hope that now I am here, I will stay—and let Mr C go back by himself if he wishes it—he might surely spare me a while for my good.” She will read no german with him—“Now that her health is so improved she has no longer any pretence for giving up society—and she cannot carry on that and find time for studying languages”— Moreover she has got a green parrot—to which she pays the most marked attentions even in spite of his calling it a green chimera— And the Parrot does not mind interrupting him when he is speaking—does not fear to speak thro him (as that phrase is) and her Ladyship listens to the parrot—even when C is saying the most sensible things!— By Heaven she is the very cleverest woman I ever saw or heard of—she can do what she wills with her own— I am perfectly certain there is not a created being alive whom she could not gain within twenty four hours after she set her mind to it— Just witness myself—how she plies me round her little finger whenever she sees I am taking a reactionary turn—

Lady Anne is a dear little Soul—true to the back bone—and so beautiful! How ridiculous my life is as a whole! such shifting scenes—such incongruities,—material splendour alternating with material squalour—one time unable to get a cup of tea without two or three men-servants mixing themselves with the concern—another day advertising in the Times for a Maid of All-Work—and thankful to get one who can boil a kettle! Ach Gott! I like more “even tenor”2 in ones life—it requires a versatility of genius to adapt oneself to these abrupt changes—which if I have it—I should prefer not being required to use it.— My mind at all events keeps on the even tenor of its way—always with more weight on it than it can well bear always envelloped in London fog (figuratively speaking) burn this letter of course— Thank Mary for all the trouble she has taken for me—the cuffs are charming the ribbands in the best taste thanks in the mean while My two Ladies are just come in from their walk—

A kiss to my Uncle

Love to all Yours ever