The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO KATE STERLING ; 25 July 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520725-JWC-KS-01; CL 27: 181-182


5 Cheyne Row / Sunday [25 July 1852]

My dearest Kate

It were well worth your while to drive up from Hedley1 just to take a look of this house, in which I live and move and have not my being! You would then need no excuses for silence! That I write to you at all in such an earthquake is of itself a proof that I like you better than most people. Every thing getting torn down and nothing getting put up, and the furniture gathering itself (oh if it would but gather itself!) into larger and more chaotic heaps, as more flooring is lifted and more chimnies pulled down;—more and wilder men turned loose on the premises—a new servant, who cannot recover from the bewilderment of the scene in which she finds herself; and no composure nor help nor hope but in my own head and hands, to keep me from being swallowed up in the general mess! My dear, if your future Husband, that Englishman you are to marry one day, should ever propose getting a house “made habitable” for you, go down on your knees to persuade him rather to remove into a house already “habitable,” for to have no regular bed to sleep in, and to dress with two carpenters in your room and to be constantly powdered with lime and choked with dust, all that is no joke! And I cant get out of it, at least England expects of me to remain, for it is my “duty”2— There is no one else to superintend all these men—eight of them we have now, and without my universal genius to fall back on they would be falling into mistakes and Impossibilities world without end— It was but yesterday I prevented Painters falling to work in a room of which the floor was to be new laid! I had great hopes that in the tearing up of so many old boards a treasure would be found—and told the men to keep a sharp look out but as yet only one halfpenny has come to light. the head Carpenter came to me very gravely yesterday and showing an old black halfpenny, bearing the date 1708 said “they had not been able to find anything but that”— I gave him a shilling for it—

I never see your Uncle by any chance— He wrote to me that he had not tried for his membership and that is all the news I have had of him these six weeks— Baron Dalwig came yesterday to bid me farewell, kissed my hand very affectionately, and received a copy of The Life of Sterling from me—in memory not of you, but of us— He has conducted himself here in a way to win my sincere esteem as well as affection, and I wish him a good German wife with all my heart. Mr Carlyle fled into Scotland last Wednesday, an inexpressible relief!—for the bother of keeping up the forms of civilization in the present circumstances was perfectly maddening—Besides I care comparatively nothing about material discomforts, when I see nobody else put out of sorts by them— I have the dearest little girl of fifteen—the one who was with me in Ann's sickness wanting a place— She reads beautifully and writes beautifully and sews beautifully has the most soothing manners, and the most upright dispositions—should you want any such creature tell me I should like you to have her— Affectionately yours