1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


JWC TO JESS DONALDSON; 19 January 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550119-JWC-JDO-01; CL 29: 239-241


5 Cheyne Row Chelsea / 19th January [1855]

It is my private opinion, you darling Miss Jess, that you are spoiling me— making a downright little spoilt child of me!— Oh you needn't laugh, and say I am too old for that! one never is too old for liking to be much made of; and for feeling a little “carried” (as we called it in Scotland) in consequence. I assure you; after every letter I get from you—and how good you have been in writing in spite of your illness!—after every letter, I go about for several days in a sort of little dream of self consequence! I feel myself “one and somewhat,”1 when I think how they care for me at Sunny Bank! how they love me at dear old Sunny Bank! and what dear good friends they are, who love me and care for me there!— No amount of Lion worship, as the wife of “a distinguished author”—as “the clay that has lived near the rose2 (foresooth!) makes me carry my head as saucily, as one of your letters! It gets into my pocket, where no other letters get; and I carry it about on me for days; as one used to do one's love-letters long ago! And only when it begins to get worn-looking, do I lay it in the little old wainscoat chest I brought with me from Home; where I keep only relic[s] of my Mother—and the most precious of my paper[s]

I am so glad my godmother3 and you like the Portrait!4 It is a perfect likeness,—now; Mr Carlyle has got a beard like the greater number of people here, which makes him look rather more ferocious than that. Your description of my godmother bending over the print to see it unrolled, went into the very heart of my heart—and I longed to catch her in my arms and give her such a hug! While I am on the subject of pictures; I must ask you have you any friend that sketches? I dont say beautifully but truthfully— I want so much to have a little sketch of Sunny Bank to hang up beside Templand, and the house at Haddington, and Craigenputtoch, and the Haddington Church,5 and dear Helen Donaldson's little miniatures,6 and Madame Recamier7 (that used to hang over the drawing mantlepiece at home—so like my Mother;) and a few other very dear pictures—all in one little room—especially my own— I am sure that sharp pretty Mrs Foreman8 (for instance) must be up to sketching!— Will you ask her, when the weather has turned warm enough for out-of-doors-work? I should be so much obliged to any body that would do itfor me!

Oh you are right not to employ Jane Howden9 to write to me when you can possibly write yourself!— Of all dry, unsatisfactory letter writers, Jane Howden is the foremost!—which is disappointing; seeing what a gentle sympathetic girl she is to talk with. When she gives a message from you, she puts it into such few, dry words that is has more the effect of a BLOW than a KISS, which is the natural impression for a message from you to make on me; and there is a certain tone of wounded self-love always in what she