The Collected Letters, Volume 25


JWC TO HELEN WELSH; 6 December 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501206-JWC-HW-01; CL 25: 303-304


6th December [1850]

Dearest Helen,

“The Immortal Gods” are not favourable to writing this day. Firstly, we have ‘a London Fog’ coming on, and if it advance at the same rate in half an hour more I should need candles to write by; secondly my morning hours have been unavoidably taken up in rehabilitating my chief winter-gown, and now I am in momently expectation of Miss Williams Wynn who is in town for two days and has written that she will come today betwixt 2 and 4—and then, today I must write to John Carlyle who asked last night in a letter to his brother that “Jane would write to him herself about that accident”—with all this bearing me away from you, however I feel as if it would be a sort of sin not to tell you at once how grateful I feel for your and Jeanies letters containing such kind and also—oh how rare in this world! such judicious sympathy—and to relieve you also from any painful speculating about my accident more than the occasion requires— The day before yesterday I was sensible, for the first time, of a considerable diminution of the pain, it has been growing less and less ever since; I really think it is going away altogether; I hope there will be no return of it; and from the first minute I could assure myself it was beginning to feel better I begun to cheer up my heart— Oh God forbid that I should die a lingering death, trying the patience of those about me; beside a Husband who could not avoid letting me see how little patience his own ailments have left him for any body else's—should such a thing come upon me in reality, I should go away from here, I think, and ask one of you to tend me and care for me in some little place of my own—even my low spirits about the thing which in the first days I could not conceal from him—nor in fact did I think there was any obligation on me to keep up appearances with him brought down on me such a tempest of scornful and wrathful words, such charges of “impatience” “cowardliness,” “impiety,” “contemptibility,” that I shut myself up altogether and nothing should ever wring from me another expression of suffering—to HIM— The more thankful did I feel for your and Jeanies kind toleration of my anxiety— So well both of you just hit the right tone of treating such a state of mind, speaking hopefully to me and at the same time not making light of my accident, nor mocking at my fears— I wonder after all how I come to be grown such a coward, for I was certainly one of the bravest little children alive—used to bear pain like an Indian—take hissing Ganders by the neck—and show myself up to every emergence— I suppose my bravery active and passive must have been like most of my other good qualities “for the occasion got up”—assumed to gain my Fathers approbation, to be praised by him, and kissed, and “loved very much indeed”— Oh! that was the right handle to take me up by—not “shoving me out of creation” for my faults and weaknesses, not trying to make me heroic by abusing me as “contemptible and impious”!—

How much in these two weeks past I have thought of my Aunt Jeanie and of my “aunt Mary”—your Mother—the latter I never saw in her illness but I heard often of her Roman fortitude,—and my aunt Jeanie Oh! her I was with in her last weeks, and was the first who found out about her breast—and Oh if ever a woman behaved like an angel it was that one When I think of her sitting whole days altering at my ill-made marriage clothes, with her sad but ever gentle loving face, and trying to keep up every body's spirits, while she was already suffering agonies day and night—when I think of my Mother finding fault with her for always “using her left hand” of myself laughing at her because when I galloped my pony and hers followed, she screamed (with pain she told me long after) Oh God when I look back over that whole time I feel such love and veneration for that woman! I think if I had her again for one day one hour that I might fall at her feet and ask her pardon for never having enough recognized the angel in her, till I came to realize thro selfish fears all she had to suffer and triumph over! Do you know what she said when I had by a sort of inspiration discovered her state and insisted on telling my Mother that she might be brought immediately to Edinr “Oh no dear Jeanie! for Gods sake not yet—not yet—just wait till Mary and the children are gone back to Liverpool—dont spoil the poor childrens visit for them—it does them so much good to be here”! And the night before that on which she died—when I had gone to her bedside when she was in a paroxysm of pain, as soon as she could speak again—she looked to me and said “Oh Jeanie do go to your bed—you are sure to have such a headach to morrow”! But I am writing myself into a fit of crying—and Miss Wynn on the way

God bless you all—this letter is half for Babbie

Your affectionate /

Jane Welsh

You may tell Babbie for her comfort as I know she never liked him that I have had a row with Anthony Sterling which I intend shall be final— If you would like to know the outside quarell I will tell you another time