July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


JWC TO HELEN WELSH ; 19 November 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471119-JWC-HW-01; CL 22: 162-164


Friday [19 November 1847]

Dearest Helen

As my letter to Jeanie would give you news of me the very same day that yours arrived here, I thought it best to wait till you should have returned to Maryland Street1— Letters are never more welcome, I think, than just on one's first home-coming—it is the first thing that gives one the feeling of being settled.

For two weeks we had been living in that extraordinary substance called November-London fog, which, not being born to it, I can never reconcile my mind to, any more than my body. But this week we are suddenly dried up into frost—and the suddenness of the thing has all but laid me up already. I am determined to take all possible care of myself this winter having not yet forgotten the horrors of the last,—so yesterday instead of going to Notting Hill to see a bust of my Husband which Weigall had finished, and appointed four o'clock for showing me—I lay on the sofa, wrapt in a horse-cloth—and so soon as tea was over went to bed— It looked shockingly unfeeling not to rush off in omnibuses to see my husbands bust, under the condition of having to return thro' the cold dark night—but it would have been still more unfeeling to have thrown my Husbands wife into an inflamation of the chest, under which no woman however well disposed can discharge her household duties— Today my portentous sensations which I have learned to know pretty well by this time, are subsided but I do not mean to quit the house, till I feel that it will be good for me.

We dined with Forster in chambers one day last week, and I selected from his large most miscellaneous Library a great cargo of books—as it were in the spirit of divination; that I might have reading enough for a whole shut up winter! Among the rest Antidotes against the Causes that abridge human Life (which Forster read Means of abridging human Life) Hints for the formation of character and The Human body in health and disease!2 These three at least will be appropriate reading. Speaking of Books—my Uncle will receive a copy of the new edition of C's Miscellanies, in the beginning of the month— If I had known sooner that you were without that, the want would have been sooner supplied— I will enclose today a little topographical paper which C ‘shot’ out of his “rubbish” heap, the other day, into the Dumfries Courier3— My Uncle is one of the few human beings who can be expected to take any earthly interest in it.

At the same moment yesterday that a ‘Devil’ came to the door with a proof for C of a paper he is publishing in the next Fraser, another Devil handed in a proof addressed to me! The first sheet of Geraldines Half Sisters. Forster who has4 kindly charged himself with the getting out of this book for her, insisted that if I would not absolutely correct all the proofs for her myself. I would at least read them carefully over and “score out or alter any exceptionable passages as my own great good sense (!) should suggest.”— Bother!5— … . Bölte is returned from Germany all agog with something that she calls “the new ideas”—above all quite rabid against marriage. Varnhagen, Bettina,6 all the Thinkers of Germany she says have arrived at the conclusion that marriage is a highly immoral Institution as well as a dreadfully disagreeable one and that the only possible