candlestick

October 1845-July 1846


The Collected Letters, Volume 20


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JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 19 January 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460119-JWC-JW-01; CL 20: 107-110


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH

Monday [19 January 1846]

Dearest Babbie

It will be one way of bringing “good out of evil” to occupy a part of this extremely wet day in writing to you. When the weather is at all gait-going1 at present, my time is cut up into shreds in the saddest manner— First the Paulets look for me, naturally, in Hanover Street,2—not forming in their innocent minds, I believe, the least conception of the exertions I have to make and the things I have to leave undone in rendering myself there almost every day—just consider—it takes me an hour to go another hour to return—and allowing myself on the average an hour to stay—there goes the whole heart out of my Before-dinner! to say nothing of the physical fatigue which, some days, when I am not up to much, runs away with my evenings also, as I can do nothing after coming in but sprawl on the sofa— However now that the operation is over, and the eyes going on Alexander says “in the most splendid manner,” there is a prospect of Mrs Paulet being able to get off here occasionally—and at all events their case is not so much in need of the sympathy and attentions of friends as hitherto. The operation was only performed on saturday week—the last four days of delay being caused by the poor little man himself having gone bang against an open door, with one eye, and so long as it was ever so little swelled; it was not judged safe to meddle with it. The pain appears to have been insignificant, he counted aloud (at Alexander's desire) all thro' it— Nor has he suffered much from smarting or itching since,—but he is very low and sorrowful, thro' a fortnight of spoon-meat!— The bandages were removed last Thursday but he is not allowed to open his eyes yet—indeed the process of opening them is so painful that he is not tempted to try— I hope he will soon be quite recovered and, above all things, following his business again from nine of the morning till seven at night!— I do not believe Betsey ever knew till now how thoroughly and irretrievably married she was! Having him to listen to all day long is a dreadful strain on anyone's spirits—tho he is a kindhearted man as need be—“and not a fool”3

Meanwhile Julia has come out poor Child! with a proviso that she is to go in again on her return home— She has been to two Balls and is going to a third this week!—nay, she has had an anonymous bouquet sent her after one of them! A number of relations of Mrs Newton's4 have turned up for them here—rich people who give Balls and all that sort of thing—and Julia, not being tied at home like her Mother takes the good the Gods have provided her—with a certain composure of soul that is really edifying. I saw her get herself dressed for one of these Balls—such a “rough and ready” dressing as I never assisted at! Mrs Paulet had bought a quantity of thin muslin in the forenoon and whipt it up into a frock—fitting better or worse— This was put on her with about as much nicety as one would bestow in mounting a “straw-boggle [scarecrow]”—and her hair got three strokes of the brush—and voila tout!—and I could wager a prettier creature did not take the shine out of her that night! Certainly a calmer could not be—

Old Sterling also takes up much of time—his state does not improve— and it is impossible to refuse to drive with him now when he asks me—he is so utterly desolate on this earth—(that Cast mettle—Anthony still in Rome—his wife I understand gone mad again there) His body is frail enough—but that is nothing to his mind— He often forgets his own name— the last day we were out he ordered them to “drive home—home to South Place you know”—South Place having been no home of his poor old soul these two years!

Plattnauer was very crazy some weeks ago—but is considerably subsided again— I suppose he will continue off and on in this sort of fashion to the end of his life. Mazzini does not go mad—but I do not know whether it would not be better for him if he could,—these long many years of failed hopes and destroyed illusions seem to be taking effect on him—not on his health—or sanity—but on his temper—he is grown so captious and silently irritable that one knows not what to make of him—every word one says provokes a contradiction or a reproach—and it does not help the matter that like Geraldine he torments me simply because he loves me so much5— I prefer peoples love for me should stop just at the point where it becomes tormenting

Geraldine by the way is all in a blaze of enthusiasm about Miss Cushman the Actress—with whom she swore everlasting friendship at Manchester just when she had got jealous of me and Mrs Paulet— Ever since her letters have been filled with lyrics about this woman—till I could stand it no longer—and have written her such a screed of my mind as she never got before—and which will probably terminate our correspondence—at least till the finale of her friendship for Miss Cushman.6 Lady Harriet returns to town on the 2d of February— Meanwhile she writes me very nice letters— Lady Ashburton sent me a huge pot of honey the other day and some game and a kind little note—so that I do not seem at all events to have kicked the bottom out of my ‘new position’ yet!7

For the rest; Carlyle is in quite as fine a worry with his second edition as he was with the first—is moreover of unsettled mind again—our stay at Alverstoke awakened all his enthusiasm again for country life—and horror of London— He talked of building a house on the shore—but there was a hideous man who went about shooting—without his nose—and after encountering him some twenty times Carlyle discovered that it would be impossible for him to live where he was liable to meeting that man— “Perhaps poor old Annandale would be the best place after all”—now he says he would like to go to Prussia for a while!— I wish I might know what is to become of me!— that is all I pretend to—a modest request!—but with such uncertain views of the future there is no getting any use of the present— Lady Harriet asks in her last letter “will I come to Rome next winter”? and she always means every least syllable she says— I am very sorry for that poor Ann Summers—did my Uncle say anything of continuing help to her from time to time— It is so sad for a proud woman to have to ask just when she is at her last farthing— I would willingly join him in giving her something regularly—love to all Ever yours J C