August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH; 24 April 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470424-JWC-JW-01; CL 21:203-205.


Saturday [24 April 1847]

Dearest Babbie

If you really desired to hear from me again, you did well to write—for, upon my honour, I had made up my wicked mind that if I at my time of life, with my miserable health, and my endless botherations was to be held to letter for letter by you, I would once for all “protest and appeal to Posterity.”1 When People treat me better than I deserve, I am still capable of being roused into a wish to justify their faith, but when they give me my bare due—or less—I leave them to receive their recompense from the sense of their own accurate justice. My due is so little in fact that they may keep that too if they like and I shall hardly feel myself poorer—

I have been very busy of late weeks—with my hands—have made a whole set of curtains and covers, of rather dashing chintz at 8d a yard—for the low room—which in consequence looks now much brighter than its mistress and just when I was finishing that long job Carlyle come to me with a modest injunction to new strap the three outside Venetian blinds and “give them a coat of paint”!! seeming to think no more of it than if it had been to sew a button on his shirt or play him a scotch tune— For when money was scarcer with us than it is now I had of my own inspiration performed a similar feat—almost at the cost of my sanity—and what one does one is expected to do—as in the order of Nature— And I DID strap the blinds but instead of “a coat of paint” contented myself with giving them a coat of linseed oil—which “came to the same ultimately”2 and was much more easily managed. I am now taking a few days of do nothingness—for the good of my hands—which Plattnauer justly observed are “all knocked out”—not like a Lady's the least in the world— Did I tell you ever that Plattnauer was returned to England—half a year ago? He spent some time in an Asylum in Germany where the Drs disagreed on his case so that he had to be discharged and the first use he made of his freedom was to post back to England—to my immense consternation at first, but now I am quite reconciled to his being here—. He gives no signs of derangement at present; unless his almost superhuman insight and elevation, can be called derangement— He comes here about once a week—or seldomer and it does me good to talk with him— He goes also a good deal to John Carlyle who has fallen into profound admiration of his character and “transcendent eloquence” and will not admit the possibility of his being still mad—hardly will he admit that he has ever been mad—“that is to say any madder than the generality of people are”— Even Carlyle is greatly struck with his “earnestness” and “keen intellect”— But they may all say what they like, the madness is lying in him all the same as ever, only deep down—ready to burst up any day— That I know—but I also do not mind it—have got to regard his fits of insanity much as other peoples fits of biliousness—or influenza And one cannot but feel well disposed towards a man who absent or present, mad or sane, locked up or at large, never alters in his feelings towards one'self—

Mazzini is pretty well—very busy as usual with his benevolent schemes—not so solitary as he used to be—having got up to the ears in a good twadly family of the name of Ashurst3—who have plenty of money—and help “his things” and today him till I think it has rather gone to his head— A Miss Eliza Ashurst—who does strange things—made his acquaintance first—by going to his house to drink tea with him all alone &c &c!! and when she had got him to her house she introduced him into innumerable other houses of her kindred—and the women of them paint his picture, and send him flowers, and work for his bazaar, and make verses about him— —and Heaven knows what all—while the men give capital towards his Institutions and adopt “the new ideas” at his bidding—Miss Ashurst would marry him out and out with all the joy in life—but that is not in Mazzinis way— This Miss Ashurst has been staying with Geraldine in Manchester and G is coming to London with her— She is not in her “choicest mood”4 towards me at present as always happens when new “everlasting friendships” are getting sworn—but I know her ways now, and can let her take her swing sure that she will right herself at last— Mazzini's Bazaar is not over—having been put off for some months—but you need not make pincushions for it nor anything else unless you like—as he has got many Ladies working for it with enthusiasm—Mrs Milner Gibson alone has made “a hundred and fifty small objects for it”5

Darwin is well—his old woman died some weeks ago in his house after a months confinement to bed—during which time he was tormented with charwomen—who turned out one after another to be “improper women”

My new Maid goes own very peaceably and pleases me quite well—but Carlyle is never done finding faults in her— So soon has he forgotten the winter horrors when anybody that could have swept his room and cooked a reasonable morsel of meat would have been worth her weight in gold to him— Poor Helen! what a visit she had of it—and how patient she was love to Walter

Ever your own