April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH; 29 January 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490129-JWC-JW-01; CL 23: 209-213


Monday [29 January 1849]

Dearest Babbie

Thanks for your letter, notwithstanding the apologies— Bless your life, my child, we are got long beyond apologies you and I! I should as soon think of returning into tuckers and bead-necklaces for my part— I have been and am, and look as I would continue to be pressed for time— “Oh my!”— Really the business of society gets to be quite business enough for me without aiming at any other so long at least as I have no carriage to help me thro' it— I never go out in the evening, indeed there have been no evening invitations for me yet,—excepting one to Lady Lyell's—Mrs Lyell not long ago one of “the little Horners” that Darwin used to speak about—this one “put in her thumb and pulled out a plum,” it would seem1—but the Lyells are not highbred enough for Mr C and so we did not go— But the forenoon irruptions of people are endless—the other day I had poor Tom Jewsbury Geraldines rough brother, who was so very kind to me in Manchester and had never been in London since— I was quite glad over him, he seemed so enchanted to see me: but William Forster (Mrs Paulets Forster) came in and drove him away2— My chief social occupations however have been Mrs Buller and Lady Sandwich— The former I go to from a sense of duty the latter because I like it—for Lady S. amuses me more than any woman I ever heard speak more than even her daughter3She is going off to Paris again however presently and there will be an end of that. The Ashburtons have been in town for a week, returned today to the Grange for another week and then back to London for the Season— Lady A came to see me on her arrival with an armful of shawl which she laid into my arms, saying “there, dear Mrs Carlyle—there is my late newyear to you—at newyears day we had so much to think of else!” and she kissed me— It was well and graciously done—still, valuable presents, for which I can make no return, distress me always from that quarter—there are people from whom I can take things without any spoiling sense of obligation, but then I feel that I can repay them with love—now Lady A. can do perfectly well without love of mine—love from me beyond a certain point would bore her rather than otherwise— She looked quite herself again—all her wild grief over C Buller crushed down out of sight into the bottom of her heart, or perhaps out of it altogether— She spoke of him with supreme composure—and was in a racket of company all the time of her stay— Poor Mr C will never succeed in making her “more earnest,” dear, gay hearted, high spirited woman that she is! God bless her for her seeming determination not to be ‘earnest’ for his pleasure, or anyone else's, but to be just what God has made her, the enemy of cant and lover of all mirthful things— It is a great faculty that of being able to throw off grief— I would not somehow care to have it, and yet I see well enough how much better people, who have it, both enjoy their life and contribute to the enjoyment of “others”— The Anthony Sterlings are living at the Knightsbridge house at present—he intends that Mrs S—should henceforth remain there, and the children and Governess at Headly where he will spend most of his days, out of the tear and wear of his Wife's incompatibility4—it is a great pity she will not separate from him—it would be better for herself as well as for him—for he cannot conceal the worse than indifference which all that is past between them has left in his mind towards her, One cannot blame him—he was the most devoted husband for sixteen years—and even her madness did not estrange him from her—until she got into that horrid state in Rome and exposed her person before the male servants—no man's love could stand that—his died of it, and cannot be brought to life again and he is not a man to make-believe what he does not feel. and she hates him (naturally) because having loved her so long and passionately he now shies away from her— You may fancy the little domestic hell of all this!—a little of “the new ideas” might really be introduced into English married life with benefit5

But what I took up my pen to tell you is that little Lewis—Author of Rose Blanch &c &c is going to lecture in Liverpool—one of these days and I have given him my card for you—and you must try and introduce him to my Uncle for he is the most amusing little fellow in the whole world—if you only look over his unparalleled impudence which is not impudence at all but man-of-Genius-bon-hommie—either you or Helen saw him here—and his charming little wife6— He is best mimic in the world and full of famous stories, and no spleen or envy, or bad thing in him so see that you receive him with open arms in spite of his immense ugliness— What nice people these Manchester Schwabes of Geraldines turned out— I quite took to the Lady and she to me— I had a kind letter from her this morning swearing everlasting friendship “and pressingly inviting us to visit them—I will certainly go the next time I am in Lancashire7— When that will be God knows— They were staying with the Cobdens8 here and Mrs Cobden took the opportunity of calling for me— I was out and when I returned her visit today she was out— I suppose the next thing will be an invitation to dinner—which will be accepted as Cobden is not absolutely nobody for Mr C.

Is n't it great work that I have not had the least bit of cough, or chest-devilry this whole winter?—and very few headachs really I seem to be “looking up” as they say of the funds—

Robertson who has again appeared on our horizon—is to bring Louis Blanc to tea here on Friday night— He (Robertson) was trying to make me get up an interest about it, and when all else failed, he said— “I am sure you will like him—he was talking to me today many things that would have interested even you— It was in his arms, he tells me that Godefroid Cavaignac died”!9— I started as if he had shot me—the thing took me so by surprise. and I could not answer one word—this man was coming on Friday night! I felt as if he would transmit to me even thus late Godefroid Cavaignac last breath! And Robertson was watching the effect of his words!— I cared not—why should I?— I had my boa gloves reticule &c in my lap, I flung them all violently on the floor—why. I dont know— I could not help it! Robertson went on to say that he Louis Blanc talked of Godefroid as of a Divinity that General Cavaignac was very inferior to him in Blanc's opinion—and then, seeing that I was not even going to make an effort to converse on this topic he stooped and gathered up my things saying with a significant look—“that, I suppose, is not the place where these articles are meant to remain, Mrs Carlyle”— I took them out of his hands and left the room— I could have killed him— I cried a little up stairs then dressed myself, and returning to the parlour where C had by this time joined Robertson, I said to the latter with proud defiance enough; “now, Mr Robertson I have thrown off my spattered gown and everything that made me unfit for enjoying your agreeable company”— He looked hard at me with his diabolic look, and said “the metamorphosis is really astonishing! I never saw you so magnificent before” “Yes,” said Mr C, “it is a smart gown”! I believe Robertson said that about Godefroid, in the devilish intention of watching its effect on me— I know he has been heard to speculate on my intimacy with him— Well! let him draw his inferences—it is no disgrace to any woman to be accused of having loved Godefroid Cavaignac. The only reproach to be made me is that I did not love him as well as he deserved— But now he is dead I will not deny him before all the Robertsons alive!—

I hope Sophy's10 little fright is over—she ought to be strongly remonstrated with in giving way at her age to such fancies—they grow on one, and what a prospect for Alick if she let them grow—

Love to them all

Ever your affectionate

Jane C