April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 28 September 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480928-JWC-JW-01; CL 23: 123-126


[28 September 1848]

Dearest Babbie—

I remember I was called away before my last letter to you had reached its natural termination; or I should have told you my news of Helen (Mitchell) which are much more precise than yours. The week after I came here I received a letter from her via Chelsea, to state that her “small shop” was no go,—that her Sister1 had taken “the whole contents” off her hands,—that she “would prefer being in service again to anything else on earth,”—that she was about to start for London on a visit to one Sarah—(formerly “No 21,” since married) hoping to find a place, and if I knew of any for her she would be glad— The letter looked to me a feeler put out to ascertain if I would put away Anne and take her back—that I would not have done—Anne having grown to suit me better than Helen did with her little wild temper, and ups and downs, and latent tendency to spirituous liquors—but Anne being to go at any rate, and my outlook into the future still blank enough, the question was should I risk the Old Helen with her great faults and great virtues—two years older, and too probably spoiled as well as rusted by two years idleness and self-dependence Knowing my cowardly feeling about strangers you need hardly be told how I decided—I wrote to her that I had misgivings about taking her back—but nevertheless there was her old place vacant, and she might take it if she liked—and of course she liked—tho her letter indicated already a strong jealousy of Anne! So she would not go to London she said until I fixed when I should want her—THAT I cannot tell till I get home again and have questioned Anne. SHE studied my convenience about going so I must in return study hers rather than Helen's— Meanwhile I wrote to Helen that Miss Welsh was at Auchtertoul and I wished she (Helen M) would walk over and see her—she will hardly have the courage I fancy. So tell our Helen not to miss an opportunity of calling at Mrs Black's and seeing as much into the real state of the case as possible—it may have been a dram-shop after all—and Mrs Black may have bought the remaining whisky—to drink it—the shop being discontinued before they inquired, they cannot tell what it was not, till they know what it was— I am glad and afraid at the same time. My hand is out in the managing of a wild servant—and I do not know whether I shall get the mastery over her again—and if I dont—we shall have to part “avec explosion” as the French Dramas have it— The Parlours are painted and papered I understand—and it is to be hoped will not smell too bad when we return—in ten days I expect— “Alls well that ends well”— For this time nothing is settled or even strongly proposed about “The intellectual gate2— Lord A finds so many unexpected drains on his fortune—large as it is—just at the first coming into possession that they are not indulging in any fancies this year—and other years it is to be hoped will bring their own requirements—it is much more agreeable for me that the project should sink away thus than that I should have put a veto on it or he for my consolation— But anyhow he could never have been mad enough to dream of letting that farm-house be fitted up for him!—as unless the Genii could have carried it a quarter of a mile from its offices and farm-yard—sleep for him—never to say for me—would be perfectly impossible there—it is no poetical-farm—with the farming left out—but the place where all the cocks and hens and geese and ducks and pigs and cows and horses and carts requisite for the maintenance of this immense household are kept—and the noise is something too dreadful! I question if that which greeted the ears of Adam amidst the first Creation of Animals came up to it— Lady A got a bad cold in going up to London last week to see her Dr and could not return next day as she proposed, and only came the day after to go to bed; where she remained, at least in her bedroom, for several days—even now she is only a few hours in the day in the Drawingroom—does not dine with us—but I play chess and talk with her in her private sitting-room—which is the beautifulest room you can imagine and opening into a large conservatory with a glass door. Most of the Company were gone or going when she fell ill—and there now only remains her Mother Lady Sandwich—who is very agreeable and a good sort of woman to my notion tho her daughter can hardly endure her. SHE goes on Saturday and Lady A proposes that next Monday she would take Mr C and me to Freshwater in the Isle of Wight for a week while Lord Ashburton is doing his Yeomanry in Winchester— After that I rather expect we shall be allowed to go home—as she has a great houseful of people coming on the 16 of October and will need a few days of Alverstoke to put her up to them— I have not been so well latterly as in the first week—the sickness or more properly a sense of suffocation has given me many bad hours—but it is wonderful how one gets used by long endurance to sufferings which in the first moments of them drive one beside oneself— To see me here nobody I am sure would suspect that I am not quite healthy and content—I know better—but the less one meditates on ones own miseries the better

I have made two new acquaintances whom I mean to keep up in London—a male and female acquaintance the female One has already reached its culmination—and no more can come of it than has come—pleasant superficial intercourse—with the male one it is better—that may develope itself into a real friendship—the name is romantic enough Aubrey de Vere— and the man who bears it romantic enough—very handsome—young, religious—to the extent even of eating fish on Fridays and fasting in Lent— A Poet—highly accomplished every way despising “wits” (wonderfulest of all) and in short a rare mortal as men go3— But I must stop— “Her Ladyship expects me in her sitting room”— God keep you my Babbie

Ever yours

[no signature]