April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH; 6 November 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18491106-JWC-JW-01; CL 24: 278-279


Tuesday night [6 November 1849]

Dearest Babbie

A question if I should write even now, had I such a mirror as that which Beauty had from the Beast,1 and might, by merely looking in it, inform myself of all your wellfares—and Helen's in particular who is at present the interesting member of the family— In fact I do every thing and any thing just now rather than write letters— For the last two days I have been wholly occupied in reading—a novel! Shirley2—not that the interest was so very ‘absorbing’ but I had it from the London Library in an unlawful manner on condition of returning it as fast as possible—the fact that I made this effort to get a novel was wonderful enough—but you see I get the credit with certain CRITICS IN STYLE of writing these Jane Eyre books myself—and I was curious to see whether the new one was up to my reputation!— besides Anthony S3 had told me Shirley (the woman) was so ridiculously like myself that the Author must have drawn it from me feature by feature— I was curious to know what he thought ridiculously like “me”—and have reason to be satisfied! especially with the age of my likeness— For the rest, I am not satisfied at all with anything in heaven or earth—unless perhaps with the new black cat I have got which seems full of good disposition— Did I tell you I had a call from the Sketchleys4—I laid by their card to send you—I fancy IT so “ridiculously like” the old Lady. Both Mother and Daughter looked extremely well and in good spirits the old Lady had quite a “spicy” bonnet with a feather in it—green I think— They have got a very pretty little house in a new square opposite Elizabeth Pepolis old house in Gloucester Road— When I returned their visit Miss was out—Mrs sewing window-curtains with a great many caps of different colours on her head— I sat a good while and found her ‘a capital talker’—that is to say—listener— She has the art of seeming so charmed with one's conversation— Gambardella and they might blow kisses to one another from their several windows but catch him letting himself be seen by them— Did I tell you moreover—I have forgotten all about my last—that Mr C actually went with Gambardella one day on the same velocipid to Wimbeldon!—three hours that strange pair were toiling along the Highways on a great sprawling velocipid!! And one day Gambardella brought to the door the loveliest phaeton and white pony and laced-hatted tiger all as small as might have suited Queen Titania and in it the loveliest—child! about 3—dressed like a miniature Garibaldi—another Spiridione—I supose, not, it is to be hoped, to “go to the undertaker“—this one.

Another thing I laid by in my head to tell you—I met one day since my return the Capt who lived with the Liverpool Actor—no longer in the queer green and red carriage—no longer side by side with the little Actor but walking sorrowfully along in the deepest mourning—as for a wife—and a Lady in deep mourning, whom I saw by her nose must be the Actors sister leaning sorrowfully on his arm. Whence I inferred that the poor old foolish rich Actor must have passed away—and the poor companion was left on his own sad basis— But the strangest thing of all—a rap came to the door one evening a week ago which I did not know—“that” I said to Mr C “is nobody that comes here at present but it has been here often”— “What an odd faculty that is of remembering peoples raps” said Mr C—and the door opening there walked in—Pattnauer!— Mazzini would have surprised me much less. I received him with a scream—of real terror— He had tired of his situation—been unsettled by seeing Mr C at Ballyare I think—had got some notions about his time being come—and suddenly left in spite of the tears of Lord George— He was to send a substitute—but has not succeeded in finding such—had had letters from Lord George and the little children that touched his heart— I have persuaded and remonstrated and finally he has written to Lord G that he will return—Thank god—for tho he appears quite sane—a little while starving in London would soon have sent him to the Madhouse again— news of Helen please?— Love to her and all of them ever your / affectionate Jane Carlyle