The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO HELEN WELSH ; 8 February 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520208-JWC-HW-01; CL 27: 32-34


Sunday [8 Feb. 1852]

Dearest Helen

For Heaven's sake let me have a line from some of you about yourself—you have been very good indeed, latterly, in telling me about my Uncle; but my Uncle dearly as I care for him is not the only person in the house whom I care for; you have been very ailing Jeannie wrote to me, and I am getting quite uneasy at hearing nothing in the direct line—so pray write to me yourself or make Maggie or Mary write to me, a simple statement of how you now are. This continually changing weather is very trying for all us delicate creatures, especially for those of us who cannot get decently along without exercise in the open air— When I can no longer sleep I rush out frantically with an umbrella and come in with pounds of mud at my skirts, and next day get up with fresh cold in my head—so long as it is only there however I may be thankful.

For the rest; there is little to tell. Yesterday I went with Miss Farrer1 to buy some pots of flowers, and when she had terminated her bargaining with the man—(she has a mania for beating people down in their prices, that young Lady!) I perceived that I had lost—Nero!— After looking all about for him, I hurried back home and when the door was opened he bounded out into my arms. Ann said “he got a Lady to knock at the door for him!”—“The Lady said “wasn't this our dog, she had found him very unhappy in the streets”—I said to Miss Farrer “I wonder he followed a stranger Lady home”—“Pooh! says Miss Farrer, depend on it the Lady followed him home, by way of looking obliging!”— The half hour's fright however had given me what Ann called “quite a turn”— I could stand the creature's loss now less than ever. Tom Taylor has made a poor thing of the stealing of Mrs Bakers Pet— Mrs Baker is not half miserable enough—only very foolish2— By the way how is Mary's blessed Tear-em? Her attachment to that I must say not very lovely dog was quite beautiful, so superior to both abuse and ridicule

I went to call for the Sketchleys the other day, Mrs S was up stairs with the erisiplis3 in her face, for which she had, by the light of her own intelligence, applied a blister on her breast—“to draw it down”— Penny seemed under no apprehension about her—and was carressing to the last degree—and flattering.— I dont recollect whether I told you that before I went to the Grange I took Arthur Clough to call for them—rather against his will; for his recollections of “sitting in the Old Lady's lap” seemed neither very lively nor very tender.4 Their reception of him was anything but courteous, tho' doubtless meant to be kind—assailing him with a minute cross questioning, and accusations for not having “found them out” sooner. to crown the discourtesy; Penny who had on a former visit been tormenting me in her sturdy-Beggar fashion, to “bring Mazzini that they might see him”—a hope I told her perfectly desperate; Mazzini being too busy to let himself be shown about.—turned round from Clough to me, and said I saw you from the window up stairs with a gentleman, and I said to myself “Oh what a good creature she is! there she has brought Mazzini! and came running down so glad.”— To which I answered I hope you are glad at what I have brought you—so giving her an opportunity of covering her impoliteness, but she merely said in a lower voice “I wish it had been Mazzini”!! After I left town they sent Mr Clough an invitation to tea and he had actually the good nature to go and be bored with more cross-questioning— He came to the Grange after, and in giving me an account of his evening he said both Mother and Daughter had expressed themselves “extremely anxious about his opinions—which they were afraid were enda[n]gered5 by his intimacy with such free thinkers as Mr Carlyle and his Wife”! That was my thanks for taking him to them! Nevertheless I went to call all the same; not caring one pinch of snuff whether the Sketchleys thought me good or bad—and Penny could hardly be kept from kissing me every minute! Lady Ashburton has been in town for a few days on her way to Windsor to visit the Queen— She had just laid by all her fine clothes till they should be needed for the London Season—the Company at the Grange being all over—and had got a couple of gowns packed to go with to Addiscombe when the invitation arrived—the Carriage already at the door to take them to the Train— So she left her French Maid behind to get out the necessary finery and came up to town without a maid, and “d[r]ove6 about Islington all the forenoon seeking up a former maid to help her in getting a new gown”—(as if she hadnt enough) and next day The French woman arrived, having left half of what was required behind her!! “The troubles that afflict the just”7 &c The old Countess8 is also come to town—going back to live at Paris, which I am sorry for—at 72 she is decidedly one of the very most entertaining and agreeable people I know. I was talking to her of Emily Baring Lord Ashburtons Sister9 saying I wondered that she didn't get married, with sixty thousand pounds—“Married! said Lady Sandwich—what are you thinking of—who would marry anything so ugly?”— “But really” I said she is not after all so very ugly—she is Lady-like has a very nice figure, a good skin and hair—is not too old—is accomplished amicable; men dont need all that usually to help them to marry sixty thousand pounds!”— The old Countess sat staring at me till I had done and then exclaimed almost indignantly—“Great God Mrs Carlyle what nonsense you are talking! just imagine THAT nose on a pillow!” but unless you had seen the nose you cannot enjoy the fun of this speech.

thatis the style of the thing—.

Centered profile caricature drawing of Lydia Baring

I had such a laughable note from Lord Ashburton the other night which I will send you—but let me have it back for it contains a riddle which I have not yet been able to solve—where has he put my cushion?— When I was at the Grange I had some wool for crotcheting—by way of drawing-room work, after the dolls were dressed—I had chosen it myself and nothing could well be uglier—everybody cried out, “what a frightful piece of work!—what are you going to make of it?” One night amidst the general reprobation I had spread it on my knee and was looking at it quite disheartened, when Lord A who never attends to what is said or if he does, forgets it in an instant, said suddenly; “that is very pretty”! “you really think so?”—“Yes—certainly!”—“Then you shall have it! I will finish it after all—for you”! He looked quite terrified—every body laughed at him, and Lady A said—“Mouse, I pity you with that cushion! you will inevitably get it! and whatever you are going to do with it Heaven only knows”! A fortnight ago I made it up—and left it at Bath House for his coming—with a ridiculous note inside of the paper cover— When I saw him on Tuesday evening he said not a word of the cushion and on Thursday night came this note— Read it and tell me if you can where has he put my cushion

And now I have written enough to make your eyes weary— Good night dear Helen— Kisses to my Uncle and God bless you all—

Yours affectionately

Jane Carlyle

Lady Sandwich's note you can burn