The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 16 July 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520716-JWC-JN-01; CL 27: 169-170


5 Cheyne Row / 16 July [1852]

Oh dear Mr Neuberg! Did I ever tell you of the Anan Baillie who when his health was drunk at a public dinner, and he had risen to speak, could find no words to express his feelings but “Oh Gentlemen! I am but a MAN! of like form and passions with yourselves!”1 If I did not say the same words, or some words very like them on receiving your birthday cup2 it was only because you were not there to hear! Upon my honour I was never more surprised in my life or more touched! tho' I have a natural tendency to being touchedmoi! Your remembrance of my poor little Birthday for so long a time and at such a distance, made visible and palpable for me in the form of that most beautiful of cups, was indeed something to stand amazed before “as in presence of the Infinite”! and something for which to thank my husbands friends “the Gods”—something to almost reconcile me for the moment to the questionable fact of having been verily BORN!—thanks then to Joseph and Rosetta—the heartiest thanks! And they are to know that their poetical intention was punctually and safely “carried out”—the cup and saucer were placed in my hands on the 14th, and without crack or damage of any sort. And now while I write I have those lovely mountains before me and wish myself there—but alas! the German project lies buried for the present under a chaos of pulled down chimnies and partitions, clouds of lime dust and crash, as of Doom! the thermo[me]ter all the while at 80 in the shade, and Mr C still “hanging on by the eyelids” (as sailors say) to his usual life of study with dignity!3 For we have taken a lease of this house for thirty one years! (that should serve our time I think!) and are what Mr C called “getting it made habitable,” at our own expence. Did you ever have a house pretty well gutted and try to live in it while gutting? If not, you can form no adequate idea of the “hubbub wild and dire dismay” in which we have for already one fortnight lived, moved, and NOT had our being4 and which looks not unlike lasting for six months, instead of the six weeks, the Architect deluded us with! Mr C's patience, which, as you may have remarked, is not by any means his most conspicuous virtue, has found its limit within the last few days, and he intends bolting to Scotland on Wednesday next. but I—I am a woman,—and if a woman dont bring patience into the world with her “the Destinies” teach it to her gratis. So I am peaceably awaiting in this “belly of Chaos” as Jonah awaited in the Belly of the whale—my presence here being indispensable for getting these sublime improvements done to our mind. When Mr C is gone to Scotland I may possibly go out to sleep—in Darwin's empty house or somewhere—for I am finally reduced to one hour of sleep on the strength of Morphia! but by day I need to furnish commonsense to the bricklayers and carpenters &c and have besides a change of servants to transact next week. My old woman having decided that she “would like to do nobodys bidding, but live in a cottage of her own in the country”— So should I!—but “don't I wish I may get it?”— The German project is not however renounced—only last night Mr C was talking about my “getting things in progress” to go with him to Germany in the end of August or beginning of September— You had best write him another heartening letter about it—it would be so pleasant to leave this “belly of Chaos” and climb with you and Rosetta those mountains on my cup!

For the rest I am hardly so sickly this summer as usual, in spite of the frightful heat; and the material row has been complicated by no great moral shocks—Nero has not been once stolen since you saw him—he improves in sense and all engaging qualities—tho for the moment I confess he is sulking about a new white cat that has been given me— I took it in my lap to see how he would feel, and his manifestation of jealousy exceeded my most sanguine expectations—he retired under the sofa and neither coaxing nor cake could persuade him out; to all my blandishments he answered with an angry growl, and when I put in my hand to pull him out he retired further in, and went thro the form of snapping at it—and this mood held out for an hour or two after I had sent the cat from the room— I have just got a new M.S. from Geraldine Jewsbury a story called The Adopted Daughter5 written for some little girls' series—and it is extremely gracefully and graciously done I think; and does her more credit then her novels of “power and passion”— Your Brother would tell you that he saw us for a few minutes—I think he speaks english worse every time I see him. He promised to come and spend a day on his return— I speak german a great deal now having a german friend who knows no English, and whom I see very often—but Oh such german! it will do your heart good to hear it when I come—if I come—with love to Rosetta ever affectionately yours

Jane Carlyle