The Collected Letters, Volume 27


JWC TO MARGARET WELSH ; 17 August 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520817-JWC-MW-01; CL 27: 232-233


5 Cheyne Row Tuesday (Aug. 17, 1852).

MY DEAR MRS. WELSH,—My head is so full of John and his balloon tonight that I cannot, I think do better, while waiting here for him, than write a few lines to you.1 Tomorrow I hope he will write to you himself, but he will not tell you what I can tell you viz: that nothing in this world ever was more perfect than his whole behaviour today; under circumstances which must have tried him in more ways than one. Even I who had so good an opinion of his sense and substance before; was astonished at the imperturbable, good-humoured, intelligent way in which he conducted himself. I was with him for an hour and half before the balloon went off, and not one slightest indication of nervousness did I see in him—nor of excitement from all the notice he had suddenly become the object of. He went about minding his own business talking goodhumouredly with the people who would talk to him, and when finally he mounted into the air he took off his hat and waved it three times over his head, with a cool courtesy that changed my momentary terror into admiration. My dear woman you may be proud of your son!—he will go far yet in science and in distinction or I am no judge of men!—

One thing surprised me today and that was, the number of friends he seems to have already made for himself. So many people there both male and female seemed to be personally interested in him. With me he is still so silent that I hardly hoped others could have so soon found the worth that lies under that reserved manner of his.

He meant, if the balloon came down near any railway to return to London tonight, and was to come here, however late the hour to satisfy me of his safety. I am anxiously expecting him, but without fear now, I was horribly nervous before the balloon went up but when I saw him in the air overhead, waving his hat with such perfect composure; and saw old Green standing on the edge of the car, also waving his hat; as if it were the simplest thing in Nature, my fears grew to look ridiculous to myself.

Affectionately yours