The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO HELEN WELSH ; 14 November 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18521114-JWC-HW-01; CL 27: 358-360


5 Cheyne Row / Sunday [14 November 1852]

As I have told you before, I think, dear Helen, you write exceedingly good letters; the more's the pity that you write them so seldom.

But in protesting against the silence of others just now, I feel quite in a false position. “Pluck the beam out of &c &c”1— I won't however lose time in excuses—

You seem to be in Cimerian darkness2 as to the condition-of-5 Cheyne Row question. dont even know if Mr C be returned— We here have known of his return only too well I can tell you; for he came home (a month ago) in such a state of what he calls “bilious misery,” that I really saw no more suitable winding up of the whole thing, than that in Cavaignac's Tale of L'Homme de Bien—L'homme de Rien3 viz: that he and I should step out into the garden, and joining hands, each holding a loaded pistol in the other, calmly, and resolutely—blow each, his own brains out! I had such a capital pair of pistols too, all ready at half cock!— We did nothing so sensible however but went instead to the Grange, the second day after his return; and stayed there a fortnight, where the “bilious misery” was increased to a pitch! rather than assuaged, by eight oclock dinners and the excitements of high Life— I too caught a cold there as usual, which kept me very dull—and I was glad enough at the end of the fortnight to come home to my new painted house, leaving Mr C behind for these4 days till I should get things in some better order for him than they were on his arrival from Germany—for then the painters and paperhangers, three of the one and five of the other, were just making a great effort to finish the staircase before his coming— I found that Fanny had had the thieves again. Did I tell you of their first invasion? But the last time they did not effect an entrance— Mr Piper slept in the house during our absence, and my pistols were here—but nobody but myself I fancy would have had the spirit to fire them. You can't imagine how utterly strange and unhomelike all these improvements have made the poor house, I perfectly hate it as yet—and Mr C who cant bear anything not exactly as he has been used to it; you may fancy how he likes having all his books and clothes and everything in new places!— Thank God it has been all his own doing. I suppose however the house is much improved—for those who havnt to live in it— The drawing room is a fine square room with new modern windows and modern chimny—will be comfortable perhaps when it is papered and painted which it cannot be till next year. Meanwhile it has got the old furniture in it and Mr C sits there with bare walls— My old bedroom in which I still sleep, is prettly painted and papered in pink, but for practical purposes quite spoiled three feet taken off it and the large bookcase set into it make it too small for my breathing in— The spare bed (its own being too large for it) stands facing the fire place and I have not had one good night's sleep in it since I was put into these new conditions My imagination is tormented with all that various Literature in the wall, and with the feeling of being in The Iron Shroud (do you know that story?)5 and with the change in my curtains &c—alas! when one's sleep is so easily scared away!

The up stairs room—yours, is enlarged by having the chimny and closets taken back two feet—and has the center window broken out, and the red bed is to be put up there and I am to sleep there—hereafter when it is papered and painted—but that also could not be finished this year on account of the damp of the walls— Mr C's bedroom is as it was in size—but beautfly6 painted—faint pink—and there are wainscot closets for his cloths running all along the recess at the fireplace and he has got my pretty green carpet, and Mrs Carlyles picture7 over the mantlepiece, and is very smart indeed the closet at the top is half filled with a great cistern and the kitchen and back kitchen are flagged and painted over and the Larder smoothed up with a window broken into it—the same at which the thieves came in and took six pounds worth of things— There is also a window broken out in the upper staircase—and that I think is all—

John and his Wife passed thro last week to the Isle of Wight—I did not see them but the[y]8 return for a week on Tuesday. I took yesterday a beautiful lodging in Sloan street for them—at this end of it—and I expect to like my new sister in law from all I hear—

This end of London is in a quite horrible confusion at present with that Lying in State of the dead Duke. Thousands and Thousands of people thronging to see him and trampling one another to death! I went yesterday along Paradise row meaning to see the thing myself if it were practicable but when I saw the sea of human beings swaying to and fro I made off fast enough— I dont know for certain how many people were killed yesterday—Mr Piper saw two dead women carried away on stretches—and a Policeman said four bodies were lying in the Workhouse 9 were taken to the Hospital but it is impossible to ascertain all the accidents in such a horrid confusion9

We are to go to Bath House to see the Procession—which will cost me a new black bonnet, not having such a thing— Numbers of men have been working all day (Sunday) and all last night and are to work all tonight putting up barriers to prepare against the crowd tomorrow— Better a great deal to have buried the Duke and been done with it God bless you all your loving cousin

Jane Carlyle