January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 11 March 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450311-JWC-JW-01; CL 19: 42-43


[11 March 1845]

Dearest Babbie

I ought to have returned thanksgiving for the improved state of the weather in writing to my natural friends—but if you knew the worry of correspondence I have been engaged in! I am absolutely sick of the sight of paper and ink— My dear there has been the Devil to pay in Manchester—that was my secret— Now however I feel at liberty to speak of it to you and Helen so little discretion having been observed by the parties themselves

A fortnight ago Robertson went off to see Geraldine who had already accepted him or to speak more accurately I believe offered herself to him on paper!! I had from the very starting of the correspondence warmed1 them both against committing themselves, and declined so much as forming an opinion as to the feasableness of the match— so that I had no occasion to have been dragged into their mad doings as I have been— But “the living—on earth have much to bear”2— A few days after Robertsons departure came a letter from Frank Jewsbury3—entreating me to interfere to stop proceedings or at least to give recognisances as to Robertson— And every day since; I have had at least two letters on the subject from the several parties—yesterday there were four—two in the morning and ditto at night—this morning I have three and heaven knows what the evening post may bring— To all these letters from Frank—Geraldine—Robertson and Mrs Paulet4—with whom Robertson now is—I answer as briefly as possible—in the spirit of Cassandra,5 telling them they are all mad—and yet they grow none the wiser— I would not answer at all: if it were not that there is always in their distracted letters some practical question to be answered, or some assertion to be refuted— Such letters were never I think since the Minerva Press6 began showered on the head of any rational woman!

Robertson—a very goodnatured somewhat chicken-hearted fellow has been doing the Mirabeau7 of Zoe thinking I suppose that he could not make love to Geraldine more agreeably than after her own ideal of Love— Frank Jewsbury has suddenly revealed himself as a second Geraldine—full of “Madness”—“ready to die” in fact reduced to such conditions by his sisters precipitate resolve as man never was before— Geraldine went off in great style as a Heroine of the first magnitude but got spaened [weaned] very shortly and has been looking of late days less like a Heroine than a bladder with the wind let out of it— Poor Mrs Paulet “dreams they have both gone mad” and has had her quiet Seaforth turned into a Bedlam— Robertson demanded explanations of Patten8—and Patten “rung the Hall Bell” to the rescue

Robertson has told Mrs Paulet last letter that he must return to me (Oh poor poor me!) who have so many times comforted him when no one else could!

Frank Jewsbury concludes his last with “Please to write to me and comfort me if you can!” (comfort thee thou poor Manchester dud!)— I do not exercise my mission so indiscriminately as that comes to!— Geraldine writes “Oh write to me can I break off; for I am frightened out of all love” “certainly— I answer only fools marry for the sheer sake of keeping their promise”—

Thus Babbie my head is a mess of Manchester Diablerie [devilry]— Moreover I am getting well—and the first stage of wellness for me is always a long spell of headachs— —that will wear off however now that I can walk out a little and in consequence get sleep— I have not been down to breakfast yet—have not breakfasted with Carlyle (except during a few warm days in the middle of January) for four whole months—I mean to try tomorrow—

Did you not feel that dedicatory letter of Mazzinis to Jiacopo Ruffini9 to be the heavenliest thing you ever read in this world?

Confounded little Glasgow10— Have you got a Cook— Love to all—no word of Walter Mac11

Ever your affectionate

Jane Carlyle 12