October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO HELENA FERME ; 24 December 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18561224-JWC-HFE-01; CL 32: 62-63


[24 December 1856]

I often think of that visit to Aberleddy;1 and those children stark naked, and dripping wet; the drops on them sparkling in the sunshine like diamond beads as they held up their little mouths to be kissed; and such a beautiful sea for a background! There never was a prettier sight before or since! At least, not since Venus issued from the sea and was kissed by The Seasons!!2 … The canaries have gained all hearts in this house (but one!). Even Mr Carlyle takes to them; tho’ truth to say, I rather expected he would wring their necks! … I have not been well enough to go down to breakfast for upwards of eight weeks but the other morning, the doors being all open, I was thunderstruck to hear my young friends chirruping at the very top of their lungs! When Mr C came into my room soon after, I apologized for the disturbance, and spoke of removing the cage. ‘Oh let them alone there!’ said he ‘the little wretches have been all this time as merry as maltsters! But their incessant distracted chirling rather amuses me!’ The one heart they have failed to gain is my Dog's! He is in fact madly jealous of them, and has been so all along! If I so much as approach the cage in his presence, Nero runs to me, tears at my skirt, whimpers, gur-r-rs, and rises in the end to a loud, spiteful single bark! The creature has been so exclusively devoted to me for years and years, that I am indulgent even for his egotism, and so I refrain from making of the birds, speaking endearingly (!) to them and all that, before his face but I do it all the more in his absence.