January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 20 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430720-JWC-JW-01; CL 16: 300-303


Thursday / night [20 July 1843]

My own Babbie

Is it credible, possible conceivable that Gambardella can be gone off to Liverpool without coming to bid me goodby and to take the pictures? I passed his house this evening and saw all the blinds removed—and Wednesday being the day he spoke of when I saw him. I actually incline to believe the strange mortal has taken this french leave of me! I said that day; “if I passed in a carriage I would bring the pictures” “Why that?” said he, as of course I will come to see you just before I go, and will take them then”?— His conduct is very prepostrous—but whom does he not tire of and behave ill to— You, be sure of it, will have your turn of his displeasure— What sort of reason he can give to his own mind for quarrelling with me I have not the faintest idea, unless it be that he mixes me up with Mazzini—who must have made him furious by writing him a second letter about his subscription to the school, when the first remained unanswered—the second had no better fate— But why try to account for the behaviour of a man who with all his talent and kind impulses is really hardly within the pale of rationality? The kind fates that are merciful “to women, drunk people, and fools1 watch over him, go where he likes!

The same Fates watch over you and me (under the first of these categories)—at this trying epoch of our household history My trial may be said to have reached its crisis yesterday

Yesterday morning the man proceeded to put on the paper on the Library having spent many days in preparing the canvass &c—the paper realized my beau-ideal of paper—a bright crimson flock—much dearer than beseemed my modest means. Well I went into the room to see how he was getting on and conceive my dismay in finding this man who had hitherto seemed to thoroughly understand his work smearing and tearing the paper as if he had suddenly been possessed with a Devil!— I remonstrated—and he cut off little bits and stuck them on the tears!! The paper moreover exhibited numberless dark stains of the batter and every piece that he put on made the matter worse— The room was in the fair way of being completely spoiled after all my trouble and outlay— I sent off for Pearson in an agony— (Pearson was doing the whole thing for me by estimate) and it was two oclock before he arrived—you may judge of my situation in the meanwhile seeing the destruction going on unable to put a stop to it— When Pearson at last came he said at once that all that [had]2 been put up (two whole pieces) must be torn off again—and the man was sent home to his master with this news—and there seemed every chance that my library would have to lie in that horrible unfinished state, till a law suit was settled between the paper-maker and Pearson!—

This morning however the paper-hanger returned in a calm state—declared that he perfectly understood his trade but that the whole lot of paper (9 pieces) which had been made on purpose for me—was bad—had been made too thin—could not be put up—that he was now there by his masters orders to tear it all down again!—if I still insisted on the same pattern I must wait eight days (!) till a new lot was made— There was something magnamon3 in the man having taken all my scolding without laying the fault on the paper until he had his master's leave!— To wait eight days was impossible besides I was pretty well disgusted with my crimson flock after walking up to the ancles in the tatters of it—so I went up to the Papermakers and chose another which I think I shall like better after all—and that the man is putting up rapidly a[n]d perfectly well—his distracting manner of working yesterday having been caused apparently by the consciousness that he had got an impossible task—

I had the discretion moreover to go to the paper shop in a fine yellow chariot with bright blue liveries—not hired for the occasion but taken the advantage of—and it is wonderful, I have observed, how business is smoothed for people when they go about it in style—this convenient equipage belonged to Mrs Prior old Sterlings sister who is at present on a visit to him, and who came to take me to Knightsbridge to an early dinner— She is a good kind woman as still and simple as her brother is tumultuous and complicated—the strangest contrast! She besought me with tears— (for she looks on me as a sort of relict of her sister in law of whom she was very fond) to come to visit her at Brighton and I think I will go sometime—sometime

I had a visit from my old Doctor the other day4— Sterling had told him that I was living in a smell of new paint—would not take a room at his house, and the kind old man drove down to remonstrate with me— But he found me sitting in the garden in a tent which I put up with my own hands—of the gipsey sort—and which has only one disadvantage that if a strong puff of wind comes the poles on which it rests blow over and the whole thing flaps down on the top of me— This happened twice the other day while I was writing to my uncle!—it played its part well however during Morrah's visit, and I seemed to be enjoying such rural felicity out of the smell of new paint; that he fell away from his intended remonstrance— He said I looked better but he “wished I would grow a little fatter—only I fear you are not one of the fat kind”— Alas no! if I were I should be much better natured— Sterling says that he (Morrah) has since told him that he “believed me to be seriously ill but it was of no use telling me so as I would never do anything for myself.” Curious if I am “seriously ill” without knowing it!!

I heard from Carlyle today out of a Bishops palace!—certainly no suitable place for such a hater of every thing connected with the Shovel hat!— He seemed to be liking his new quarters however.— Thirwall is a different sort of talker from poor Redwood! I suppose you will have a glimpse of him shortly—do not tell him of my paper trouble—or any of my troubles I wish him to get all the result without having it spoiled by mental contemplation of the unlovely means!

I write this at night—my mornings are so busy—for besides the looking after the peoples work and doing a deal of virtuous needle-work (chair covers &c—) I have to write always to him—and so very often to Geraldine about these eternal Mudies—and so many incidental letters besides—

Would to Heaven I could wish myself onto your sofa or you onto mine to have a right good talk, and plenty of good Babbie-kisses! One would fall to work again with so much better heart— Tell me of your new Cook for godsake—how you are pestered with these servants— Is Walter coming? Is our Walter going to get a church?5—is Alick still loving Topsy6 like “melted sugar candy” Reveal me most affectionately to her Mother and her—and to Marychen and the boys7— Your own / J C