August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 19 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421019-JWC-JW-01; CL 15: 132-135


[19 October 1842]

You did well to write, my poor Babbie even before taking a wink of sleep! for I should have been greatly disappointed had I not heard from you yesterday— Tho nothing had been settled about the when at parting—indeed it were difficult to say what was settled at parting—I calculated on a letter from you yesterday with as much certainty as on the sun's rising—or more certainly; for the sun I think has ceased rising of late days— Your letter however made me very wae in picturing your physical state!—had it been me; a violent headach of twelve hours duration must have been the inevitable and mortifying issue of that amazing fluency of speech and noble disdain of sleep—but you I think do not (as Carlyle phrases it) “go upon” headachs—so perhaps you have escaped the reaction, at least in that its most torturing shape— Having finished writing to you on Monday I went about a while, very much in the condition of the “wee woman who lived in a shoe”—not knowing the least in the world “what to do”1— Finally I got up a resolution to set forth in an omnibus and call for Mrs Buller— I had just got my bonnet and shawl on when Helen brought me up a card bearing the distinguished name of Dr Hunter2—strange fatality!—on the first day of finding myself without one cousin, had Providence provided me in another? and such another! or was it the Dr Hunter whom John had brought us?3— I hurried down not without a certain tremor—and behold, him of Leeds sure enough! but so altered!—thin, bent, feeble, and in the act of unmuzzling himself from a respirator— His first words were characteristic— “Do not be alarmed my dear Lady—! at least do not alarm yourself too much! I am not so ill as I seem!” But to do the poor fellow justice, he seemed, after having got the first meeting over, considerably more concerned about my appearance than he even expected me to be about his! It was plain to the meanest capacity that he considered me a pretty way gone in consumption— “Dear! Dear!” he said looking at my face and placing his finger and thumb on the hollows of his own cheeks— “Dear Dear! This is not as it should be!”—and then he gave his head a great many slow prophetic shakes— He told Carlyle that his own spitting of blood (in quarts!)—was all brought on by over excitement—had nothing to do with consumption—(poor unfortunate!)—“for tho,” he added, with a courteous bow towards me, “tho there is a strong consumptive tendency in this family it all came by old Mr Welsh's side”!! He has been all this while in the Isle of Wight—is now in a lodging in Brompton for a week or two and goes afterwards, by Sir James Clark's4 advice to Hastings for the winter— The next winter he is to pass in Madeira— but will he live to see it?— He told Carlyle he was very sorry to see “The way his wife was in”—and that “he must freely say to him, not merely as her cousin, but as a medical man that he ought to take her abroad and use any means under Heaven in the way of gratifying her wishes to get her out of it”— (No wonder he was a well employed Dr among the women at least if this be the sort of advice he deals in!—) “At lowest he thought I should try coming to him at Hastings for a month or two—the climate was fit for weak lungs— I would have the benefit of his medical advice—and Mrs Hunter I would find a chatty body!—[”] At all events; “he did not say it to alarm me but merely in the way of conversation”—if it was necessary for me to leave England next winter and my husband found it inconvenient to go with me (C. had looked monstrous glum at the speech about gratifying my wishes) need he say that in him Adam I would have a warm friend and attentive protector— Alas—! could one wish to prolong existence on such terms!— I mean however to take the opportunity of getting some reasonable advice from him regarding the pain in my side—since John will absolutely have nothing to do with it— He came in a cab and was to walk home—to Montpelier place—near the Sterlings— Old Buller came in while he was here and told me Mrs B was gone to the Dentists. so there was no use in calling at Chester Place and I turned my benevolence into the channel of Adam, proposing to guide him the shortest way home, and a pretty guide I showed myself—fairly lost my way—to the Sterlings—!! walked on and on hoping always we should emerge into the Fulham road, and finally emerged into Sloan Street! opposite my shoeshop!! The fact was, the seeing of him—absurd ass tho' he be, had thrown me into a sort of agitation and I hardly knew my right hand from my left—so I recommended him to Providence at that point—and stept myself into an Omnibus returning from town—but whither it was returning I did not stop to enquire, and after carrying me a hundred yards it set me down in Sloan Square!! I felt really altogether ashamed of myself—even the Omnibus lad seemed to compassionate my case—for he would not take my sixpence!! and providentialy as I was wondering how I should get home on my feet, Darwin drove up and relieved me from all further charge of myself— That evening who should present himself but—Robertson!— I thought at first he must be come to ask: why I accused him of “fancying women in love with him”—but his intentions proved to be entirely amicable—

Yesterday I had to go in two Omnibus to Fizroy Square about the framing of that picture5—on the instantaneous completion of which C seemed to have hung all his hopes for this world and the next— I returned at dinner time tired to death having been again in the Gower Street end of the town picked up by Darwin and deposited in a regular Picadilly Omnibus!! “Mr Mazzini waits”—the disagreeableness of finding even a Mr Mazzini when one returns from such a worrying expedition, and needs porter and animal food to restore exhausted nature—and moreover it was the day of the Macready-dinner6—and Carlyle was all demoralized in the awful prospect—lounging about from the mantlepiece to the table—from the table to the chair-backs—(you know his way) touching every thing and contradicting everything—and neither taking the good of Mazzini himself nor letting me get the good of him—so I told him flatly to go away—and leave me to eat my dinner in peace and come again in the evening when I should be recovered and alone—which he did for three hours—

I gave him then the little donation7 but I will keep his speeches on the occasion till next time for this letter is already too long for the time I have to spare—

C returned at one in the morning—I having sat up for him—rather pleased it seemed with his lark— Dickens—Longfellow—Dr Quin and the Buttler's at dinner—Mrs Dickens and other “honourable women not a few”—and men came to make a soiree of it in the evening and Miss Horton8 sung them all into bliss! And now I must go and prepare for another attempt on Mrs Buller who writes to me that she will be at home all day—

Bless you darling / Your affectionate /

Jane C

my love and kisses—as a general rule—