The Collected Letters, Volume 26


JWC TO HELEN WELSH; 24 September 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510924-JWC-HW-01; CL 26: 183-185


5 Cheyne Row / Wednesday [24 September 1851]

Upon my honour dearest Helen you grow decidedly GOOD— Another nice long letter!—and the former still unanswered! This is a sort of heaping coals of fire on my head which I should like to have continued—

All the time I was in Manchester I aimed at writing to you—even before I got your letter I was wanting to write, to tell you what a hospitable reception we got in Maryland Street—and how little Mary bloomed up in ‘the mantle’ of her Progenitors!—doing the Hostess even a little too showy it seemed to me for she regaled us with desert over and above the necessary viands—actually developed herself in a fine dish of Peaches, the extravagant little thing! And then so willing she was to get up at any hour—at four in the morning if we liked—her self martyrdom was quite touching—in that and several other particulars—

I hope Mr Macgregor also told you that when Sophy offered me brandy negus on our return from New Brighton1 I asked to have—a shower bath instead!—and the first day we called I had a cold plunge bath—and washed the dogs! What a blessed supply of water they have got besides all their other comforts. It was very provoking to miss Johnnie by so few days—

But I must tell you news— — Well!— I lived very happily at Geraldines for the first week—in spite of the horrid dingy atmosphere and substitution of cinder roads for the green Malvern Hills— We made a great many excursions by railway into the cotton vallies— Frank selected some cotton spinner in some picturesque locality and wrote or said that he would dine with him on such a day at two o'clock and bring his Sister and a Lady staying with him— The cotton spinner was most willing!—and so we started after breakfast and spent the day in beautiful places amongst strange old world highly hospitable life—eating I really thing more homebaked bread and other dainties than was good for us—the air and exercise made us so ravenously hungry— It was returning from the last of these country visits rather late thro a dense fog that I caught my cold—and then came the old sleeplessless nights and headachs and all the abominable eeteras I was still stuffed full of cold when I had to start for Alderley Park and the days I spent there were, in consequence, supremely wretched; tho' the Place is lovely and there was a fine rattling houseful of people—and the Stanleys even to Lord S, who is far from popular, as kind as possible—alas too kind! for Lady S would show me all the “beautiful views” “and that sort of thing,” out of doors—and Blanche would spend half the night in my bedroom!— Lord Airlie was there and his sister2 and various other assistants at the Marriage—and I saw a trousseau for the first time in my life—about as wonderful a piece of nonsense as The Exhibition of All Nations Good Heavens! how is any one woman to use up all those gowns and cloaks and fine clothes of every denomination? and the profusion of coronets!—every stocking every pocket handkerchief everything had a coronet on it! Lady S is nearly out of her wits with joy at having at last got one daughter made—a Countess and off her hands!—

Poor Blanche doe'snt seem to know, amidst the excitement and rapture of the Trousseau, whether she loves the man or not— She hopes, well enough at least for practical purposes— I liked him very much for my share—and wish little Alice3 had the fellow of him—

But oh how thankful I was to get away—where I might be in bed—“well let alone,” and do out my illness!—

We found Anne very nice and glad to see us—she is a thoroughly good respectable woman—the best character I ever had in the house—but she is soft in body and sadly entangled with daughters, also very soft—always getting out of Place or having to go in the Hospital! I think she wishes to remain with me—and tho I could desire a more rapid servant with a little more knowledge of cookery I should be thankful to go on with her for an unlimited time—but it will all depend I foresee on the state of Anne and Sarah and Maria— Perhaps she will be obliged to go into the country with them—but not this winter I hope in Heaven

Kindest love to my dear Uncle and the rest—

I have heard nothing of the Sketchleys4 since the week after you left— Ever your affectionate


A S5 has swapt his Yacht for another which he has christened The Mazzini— Mr C starts for Paris Tomorrow for ten days or a fortnight I suppose