August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH; 28 January 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470128-JWC-JW-01; CL 21:149-150.


Bay House / Thursday [28 January 1847]

Dearest Babbie

“Every age is an age of Miracle”1—and that is the only account I can give of my silence towards you this long while— During the time of Helen's deplorable visit at Chelsea, I trusted to her telling of me the little that was to be told—that I was ill namely—a thing which one gets weary of telling of oneself—ring what changes on it one will. Then her departure was followed up by the introduction of a new element into our life in the shape of one Anne Brown (A harmless name enough) and every new element into our life produces the result of a spoonful of tartaric acid into a tumbler of carbonate of soda-water—the everfescence for a time is prodiguous!— A mercy if it do not split the tumbler! In The present instance however the combination has effected itself and settled down sooner than could have been hoped—Anne Brown is a very orderly, docile, good humoured and I think well conducted little woman—whom I may be able to get on with in peace for many years—not without a great increase of expenditure—as she does not do the washing—but if we have money enough to be rid of that complication I do not see how it could be better employed—It was little I could do in the way of setting her a-going—continuing so weak—and unable to face the cold even in passing between my own bedroom and the Library—still my mind needed to be always at work upon her for the first week—and just when I was beginning to feel less fussed came new invitation from Alverstoke exciting all manner of agitations The idea of setting out for this Place to lead the life of last winter—in my actual state of weakness—to fall ill perhaps and be laid up in bed here! was too awful— nevertheless after several refusals I had to give in—for the Lady being all alone in the House for most part—(Mr Baring only coming down—with Charles Buller and others for the Saturdays and Sundays) she could not have C to stay with her alone by their two selves without me—and when she gave him so to understand he made a sort of point of my going—and I was too proud to stand in the way with my sickness or anything else. So here we are! I walked straight out of my two hot rooms into a fly which deposited me at the Railway and Lady H's carriage met me at the end and brought me safe here— For the first two or three days I thought I had reason to congratulate myself on having caught no new cold and on having had nothing to encounter which I was not quite up to— When Lady H likes to manage me she is always able to do so—and a greater proof of her diplomacy could not be given than the fact that she can wind me about as she pleases—even now—— Well! I thought it was good to have set out so desperate—a desperate person is never disappointed and my chance on a grain or two of good he did not expect! On friday night at the door of my bedroom I said to her Ladyship I feel strangely well and calm. I could not have believed I should have been so well in three days—and I went to sleep in my magnificent Canopy-bed—without curtains where one lies exposed to the whole world—and in half an hour's time I awoke with strange sensations in my throat and everywhere And the rest of that night I spent in absolute torment— In the morning when daylight came I found that I had got as pretty an ulcerated sore throat as one could wish not to see—and all these days I have been mostly in bed— Now I am better again— And Sir J Richardson (the man who killed the Indian)2 whom C fetched to see me tells me it seems to be chiefly indejestion that ails me the throat &c being merely s[y]mptoms3 of that— I knew that before—but can anyone tell me how to get my digestion set to rights—under the circumstance I do not know how long we shall stay—her Ladyship invited me for so long as she should be here herself that is till the first of March—but seemed to expect that C would go back earlier and leave me!! Not likely—nor should I think of staying behind him—setting his comfort at home out of the question— But for the idea that it would have been a grievance had I refused to come when he could not get [here]4 without me I should not have dreamt of leaving home in such a state While I was ill in bed he seemed to see the need of my getting back to my own bed out of the Canopy one as soon as possible—now it is all in the vague again— Best write to Chelsea in any case as my letters are forwarded from there the same day— Ever your