January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 24 April 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450424-JWC-JW-01; CL 19: 60-63


24 April [1845]

Dearest Babby

You are sure of a letter from me tomorrow at all rates. Whatever is to be done or suffered; you know that the bit creature's Birth-day will not escape my memory, nor fail of a certain recognition— And truth to say my prospects of doing and suffering are for the moment “rather exquisite.”1 I have ordered a Fly at two o'clock to make a round of State-visits—a strong measure no longer to be evaded, unless I mean to break entirely with Society. For the last six months I have not made a single visit except one to Elizabeth and ditto to Miss Wilson2— My Prussian Ambassadress3 with other grandeurs of the Earth, to say nothing of a host of mediocrities are waiting OF COURSE in breathless expectation that I should testify my sense of &c &c. There is one call on my list today however which I feel a real tendency towards—the attractive centre of which is A Young Lady—of all things in the world! Two or three weeks ago Mrs Kay Shuttleworth4 called on me, bringing with her “a young friend” according to custom—Mrs Kay Shuttleworth's young friends are apt to be after her own pattern, that is to say insipid as whites of Eggs: so with my usual indifference to Young Ladies in the Abstract I was not likely to take much heed of this one—nay I did not so much as open my ears to her name. But after she had sat there opposoule5 me for a while I began to perceive something both Helenish and Youish, in fact something Lancashire-witchish about her which piqued my normal indifference. Her speech too—what little she said—had a naturalness and gumtion in it which gave the idea of a girl shaped after her own notions rather than the London notions. In short I took to her, and felt a sort of wish to see more of her which wish of course, not knowing even so much about her as her name, I was too discreet to suffer myself to express— But these likings at first sight are always mutual strikes— Some ten days after while I was sitting here with Mazzini a carriage drove up with unknown liveries, long sticks and all that sort of things—and presently were announced Mrs and Miss Green—all a mystery to me—until from behind a tall handsome Mama, my Young Lady came to light blushing with the consciousness that she was doing something rather out of the way—and at the same evidently immensely pleased to do it. —“Mrs Carlyle I have brought Mama” said she—“Mama so wanted to come”!— “Mrs Carlyle,” said Mama, “I have brought you back my daughter for she would give me no rest until she saw you again,” And so these two Women Green by name and Green by nature sat down and talked like Mountain-brooks for a good hour— It is impossible they can have been made in London—I am sure both from the cut of their faces and of their talk that they must belong to Lancashire— On their card there is a faint shadow of “Whittington Hall” as if from a Plate on which the words had not been effectually erased. Have you such ‘Hall’ about Liverpool? Do you know any Greens? The Father Mr Fleming tells me is Chairman of Ways and Means if you know what that may be.6 The naivete of Mama Green was quite charming— Fancy her asking me on a first interview “who I considered the cleverest man in London—setting aside my own Husband?”— And when we were talking about clever men so frequently marrying stupid women she proceeded to enumerate by name all the instances of the kind she knew among her own acquaintance some twelve—from Sir Robert Peel “whose wife was really a dreadfully stupid woman”7—and the Bishop of London “who was even worse matched”8 downwards into the Sphere in which myself lived and moved; so that these “almost idiots of women” might have been my sisters or most intimate friends for anything SHE knew One so seldom meets with such indiscreet people in real life—that this Mrs Green was quite a treat for me— And I mean to cultivate them on my own basis—as indeed it is entirely on my own basis that they have taken me up—

I had a long story to tell you of a Child I found—and also of a Seduced Lady who “threw herself on my mercy” the same day—not that there was the slightest earthly connexion between the two—the Child belonged to the Lower Classes and I picked it up in the Kings Road— The Seduced Lady came to me in a Cab from a great distance9— But these topics are too long to be entered on—with a “neat Fly” looming in the prospect—and not only a programme but a map of my calls to be drawn out beforehand that I may not as you and I once were be placed at the disposal of an idiot-driver— Besides Carlyle has today a blue pill and a doze of Castor in him and when that is the case I feel always a certain degree of what Helen would call “real mental agony in my own inside.” Which is not propitious to long stories— For the rest; I keep quite free of cough but my head bothers me excessively and I feel often as weak as the stuttering Darley10 did in the relaxing heat of Munich—where he reminded himself of “a Serpent trying to stand on its tail”—a more striking picture of human weakness could hardly have been given!— I am always breakfasting in bed still! Just two days I managed to get up and the consequences were not pleasant— To think of Carlyle having had to pour out his own coffee and mine too since the middle of November! Nobody knows what he can do till he tries!

I wish you may like “the realized Ideal11 I send you— Mr Collier's12 “realized Ideal—not mine—for I told him to put the hair in a plait and he has made it into a sheaf good Heavens—which he defended as more “fashionable”—but if you disapprove of his sheaf—subvert it without ceremony and rely on my generosity to give you more hair—tho at my time of life one's hair, if still preserving its natural colour is a thing one gets rather chary of—Kisses and love to all of them

Ever your own