April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH; 15 June 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490615-JWC-JW-01; CL 24: 65-68


Friday / 5 Cheyne Row [15 June 1849]

Dearest Babbie,

I have been putting off writing from day to day, in expectation of having either to notify to you my final death and burial, or some energetic resolution taken to deliver myself “out of this”— You are to know that with the first warm days back came my sickness with all its hideous accompaniments, depression of spirits, incapacity of exertion, &c &c &c—enough to make a woman poison herself if she had only the courage; for I can never join in with the high flown twaddle about killing oneself being “a piece of cowardice”—

John who was still here, seemed quite hopeless of any remedy, did prescribe vitriol before breakfast—thought blue pill might be “no harm“—but evidently considered that nothing remained for me but patience—while I again was of opinion that I had exploited patience quite long enough. In fact this is the only remnant of health and sanity I find in myself, a certain beginning of Volition—a perception almost amounting to a feeling (and feelings with me become determinating fast enough) that I must not sit here suffering and doing nothing earthly else, thro' all this summer as I did thro all the last;—must stir, in short, under my burden—if it were only turning it from one shoulder to another— If change of air, or the mere movement do not help, I know by experience that getting one's vicious circle of ideas broken up by the necessities and contingencies of movement is better for me than either blue pill or vitriol before breakfast— And so—I must try to try this remedy—

Mr C has been talking for many weeks of a tour in Ireland sometimes it seemed quite near at hand, and then again fell back into the vague—and when the idea of going somewhere myself came into my mind I postponed the practical consideration of it till he should have fixed his time for going—or decided he was not to go at all— There will be some difficulties about leaving the house with this new maid who is very trustworthy but dreadfully timorous, and hating loneliness—but one cannot sit always taking care of ones maid-of-all-work— So I must just risk the driving her into giving warning—tho she is the very nicest servant I ever had. Once I thought, if Mr C went; to stay still here, and ask Helen1 to bear me company—and that would have been very nice for her and me if—I had been in tolerable bodily case—but as it is I could not make her visit a bit more agreeable to her than the last was2—and should be losing an opportunity of making myself a little more fit for the place I still hold among the Living— Now for the where?—that is just the difficulty— Bölte is strong for me going with her to Germany, and she would be a capital person to travel with combining the protecting powers of a man with the nursing ones of a woman3—but travelling with any comfort in foreign countries is expensive (tho Mr C would give me whatever money I ask for) and I fear the fatigue of such a “stirring up” would extinguish me altogether—if that be a thing to be feared! Invitations I have in plenty—to Rawdon Seaforth Barnsly4 &c—but I could not properly stay long at Rawdon with no woman in the house—and Seaforth!—I have had enough of Seaforth!—Scotland poor old Scotland! am I up to that? If I were only once there I fancy that were the best place for me— It would do me good to see Haddington, and the house I lived in and my Father's grave, and all the old faces that are still extant—and to see Walter and you in that unknown Scotch home5—for I suppose you would take me a little while?—the Liverpool people6 are not going down very soon are they?—then, there would be enough without me to complicate your difficulties— Write me how it is, whether Walter and you would really like me to come—that is to say—for I don't doubt the affection the least in the world—whether there would be houseroom for me—whether your own arrangements would not be interfered with &c— The worst thing in going to Scotland is, that if there; Mr C's relations would feel it to be extremely unkind should I not visit them and going into Dumfrieshire looks quite horrible for me somehow— But if I look at all lions in all ways; I shall never move a step but just sit still in Cheyne Row and die “the death of Jenkins hen”7 So I shall try to think nothing about Dumfrieshire till I have your answer at all events—

I could not have managed to write so long and apparently purpose-full a letter if I had not been less sick for some days back—whether it be the cold weather, or a dozen of Quinine powders I have swallowed on my own prescription—having found them lying in my toilette drawer (!) and thinking that if they did not do harm, they might perhaps do good!! and that anyhow they would be well used up!—the fact is certain that I have seemed to get more good of them than of any medicine lately given me.— What a discovery it would be any thing to stop that horrid sensation of dying always8— But enough of moaning for once— Write presently

Your affectionate

Jane W Carlyle