October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


JWC TO HELEN WELSH; 26 October 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18311026-JWC-HW-01; CL 6:34-36.


4 Ampton Street / Mecklenburg Square / 26th October [1831]

My dear Helen

Occasionally of late days, my heart has been agitated with dark forebodings respecting my mantle and shawl. Especially when I am going out at nights, I ask myself in a mournful manner where are they? ‘and echo answers where’?1 If still safe at Maryland Street, pray have the goodness to pack them up, and despatch them hither with all decent celerity; by any conveyance short [of] the Mail-bag—and if they have already been sent off; write and tell me that I may possess my soul in patience; or if necessary make inquiry after them; or at worst provide myself with other wrappages.

I like London very well—and expect I shall like it still better in a week or two when some of the people my Husband likes best shall have returned to town. I have been at no public place yet except once to Drury Lane theatre where we saw the silliest piece in the world—rather indifferently performed. but the house especially the beautiful lustre in the centre of it were well worth looking at— Not so the Ladies who surprised me by their almost universal ugliness— One day I went with Mrs Montagu to Epping Forest—about fifteen miles from town—to visit Doctor Allan2 a Scotchman who has a lunatic establishment in the midst of the Forest—a place where any sane person might be delighted to get admission. the house or rather houses (for there are two for patients in different stages of lunacy) are all overhung with roses and grapes and surrounded with gardens ponds and shrubbery without the smallest appearance of constraint— And the poor creatures are all so happy. and there [sic] Dr such a good humane Man—that it does not at all produce the painful impression that Asylums of that sort usually do— I am going back to stay some days— Dr Allan is an old friend of Carlyle's and his Wife is a very excellent woman— A far worse Bedlam is poor Edward Irving's house where people are to be found at all hours “speaking with tongues” that is to say shrieking and howling in no tongue. I happened to be there one night just when a Lady was under the inspiration of ‘the Spirit’; and the horrible sounds she made almost threw me who am not of a hysterical temperament into a fit. I could not help crying all the way home. Indeed it is truly distressing to see a man of such talents and such really good and pious dispositions as Mr Irving given up to an infatuation so absurd—ready to sacrifice to it his dearest friends, his reputation, all his worldly prospects. Most people think it all a humbug—which is quite reasonable in those who do not know him. but a man more sincere in his professions does not exist.

We are going out of town for a few days on a visit to Mr Badams at Enfield— His wife is about my age, very pretty and lively and clever she is a daughter of Holcroft's whom you may have heard of— We had Allan Cunningham at tea with us the other evening— He is a most sufficient poet as I ever met with—so substantially built both bodily and mentally—looking in all respects precisely what he is—a cultivated Scotch mason. Procter (Barry Cornwall) we see often—and his wife who is Mrs Montagu's daughter is my most intimate acquaintance here. But among all the literary people that come about us the one I like best is Mr Mill, son of Mill the Utilitarian, but he is no Utilitarian—he belongs rather to the class to which my Husband belongs and which for want of a fitter name has been called “the Mystic school”—

Jeffrey is getting slowly better—he was able to drive this length the other day—and is going a little way into the country till the Parliament meets— I suppose you are all at a stand in your speculations about the Reform Bill in Liverpool as elsewhere— Here every body I see seems quite tired of thinking about it.

We continue to be well pleased with our lodgings—indeed if we had sought all London I believe we could not have settled more to our mind. They even make us excellent porri[d]ge now[.]

How are my Uncle's eyes? and how are you all[?] My love and best wishes to all from your Father and Mother down to Johnny—and now I must go and pack for our little journey.

Your affectionate Cousin /

Jane W Carlyle