August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 22 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421022-JWC-JW-01; CL 15: 140-141


Saturday [22 October 1842]

I have mended two of the shirts this morning—and effectually—having put entire new tails to them!—so now I may do a little in the way of fondling my innocent offspring, without the sternest moralist being entitled to say to me, “black is the white of your eye”!—Besides, I feel as if writing a few lines to you were some small expression of thankfulness to Heaven for this particular, thorough wet day! But for the conclusive rain, I could not have got staid in the house today—again—the third day—without having had a fight for it—and really chicken-hearted as I am grown, there is nothing I can muster nerve to show fight about—nothing except my right to treat “poor Creek considerably worse than a dog”!—That, with Gods blessing I will maintain to my latest breath.

Mazzini was here yesterday—radiant over an “aviso interessante [interesting notice]” which he produced from his pocket—setting forth that one Mussi1—or some such name had discovered a power for regulating balloons as perfectly as a steamboat or railway carriage, in confirmation whereof behold certificates from the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the heads of the Academy of Science at Florence &c &c—before whom his model had been displayed!— The practical application you cannot for a moment be at a loss about!— The man's having not a shilling in the world, no means of subsistence but simply this small model-balloon, is willing to sell his secret for the trifling sum of two thousand pounds—if Mazzini can find him work in the interim the man may be induced not to part with it (!) till some member of the Association in Italy may be found to make the purchase— “Then”! says Mazzini—“The power of directing balloons ours; all is ours!”— “You mean that you would invade Italy in balloons? that the Association would descend on the Austrians out of the skies?”— “Exactly—! and I confess to you—you may think it childish—but there is something of romance, something which flatters my imagination in the idea of STARTING UP a nation in a manner never before heard tell of!” “A la bonne heure [Very well] my Dear! but if it be decided that we are to begin the war by personating the fallen Angels, adieu to my share in the expedition!”—“Now, why so?” (with a look of the most grave astonishment) It was just in reference to you that I felt the greatest preference to this means,—to think that you could go without incurring the physical suffering of a sea voyage and all the dangers—what shall I say—of being sunk perhaps by a volley of cannon from the shore!—and then there would be something so new—and so what shall I say—suitable for you, in descending as it were out of Heaven to redeem a suffering people!!”— All this with eyes flashing hope, faith, and generous self-devotion! Surely between the highest virtue and the beginning of madness the line of separation is infinitesmally small!—but is it not almost a desecration, a crime ever to jest with that man?— He lives moves and has his being2 in truth, and take him out of that, he is as credulous and ignorant as a two-years-old child

Mr Scott came to dinner and staid till nine—considerably improved for having quantities of his hair and whiskers cut off— I tried heard to get out of him some intelligible confession of faith—but as usual without success—

I am reading Dicken's notes on AMERICA 3 which he has sent to Carlyle— At first I found the humour too strained and burlesque—his usual fault—and the plain narration dull—but it improves as one goes on— He is much to be commended for avoiding utterly that detestable practice with travellers of turning their entertainers houses and almost their entertainers themselves inside out— In the second volume he gives up dancing on the crown of his head for halfpence (if I may so speak)—and becomes quietly entertaining—and entertainingly instructive— Now farewell my babbie and love me well and long

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