August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 21 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421021-JWC-JW-01; CL 15: 136-138


[21 October 1842]

I am not sure, dear Babbie, that consistently, with my duties to ‘Humanity,’ to my numerous friends and admirers, to my own house-hold, (such as it is), and above all to my own me, little spirit of unrest, which, that it may not fly all into shivers, needs to cultivate in itself above all things the great holding-together cement of stupidity!— Am not sure that consistently with these manifold duties, I can go on writing to you at the present rate— But my imagination (surely a most fertile one!) representing you to me in these days as a Babbie getting herself weaned, how can I resist thus spiritually holding out to you (if I may so speak) a finger to suck! Alas the small nourishment that is to be drawn from it! but if the Babbie's imagination be comforted thereby, is it not well, and may not the shirts1 and all other things lie over, for the accomplishment of so laudable a purpose?—

First then of the donation— Mazzini was telling me that Gambardella had stopt payment!—two surprising facts respecting G. I learnt from him in the same breath—the first that he (G) CAN write, the second that he has no money! “The Administrator” (old Heraclytus2) waited upon him to ask the amount of his subscription (1£) or leave to erase his name from the list of subscribers— G. told him he would communicate on the subject with Mazzini himself, and this was the purport of his communication made in writing (!); that he had not 1£ to give at present, but would send it when he had! Has he invested his whole capital in velvet linings? While M. was bidding a sad adieu to this one pound as well as to Lady Byron's five, I put yours into his hand— Having cautiously unfolded it, he asked “what is SHE?” (the sovereign was it, or the writing of which he made a female?) “Read and you will see”— “J. W. Jeannie Welsh”? (quite unconscious that he was taking the smallest freedom with your name— “It is of her?” “Of her”—“and without suggestion?” “entirely without suggestion”! “Well it is good upon my honour! but I should not have thought—I mean, in a young person,—I rather wonder how the thought came to her!” “I assure you she is quite old enough to have good thoughts.” “Jeannie Welsh—well! do I put her by that name in the list of those who have gifted our school?” “That is her name of endearment—you had better call her Miss Welsh”—“And what is Babbie? is babbie in Scotch the same as Jeannie?” “My dear you are getting so abstruse that there is really no answering of your questions.” “Never mind! Jeannie or Babbie as you will; she is good—and our school stands in debt to her”! Well for “our school” if that were all the debt it stood in!

I broke off my last letter to go to Mrs Bullers—and actually set out—but never arrived! At Sloan Square I took the direction to Montpelier place, the location of these forlorn Hunters3—having made up my mind on the way that of the two claims on me theirs was the most imperative; being backed out with a relationship as well as spitting of blood— Their lodging is very near to Gambardella's—and from there I thought I might still get to Mrs Bullers by help of a cab—but the visit to the Hunters both fatigued and saddened me so much that I was fit for nothing more that day— Mrs Hunter I found a sensible, unaffected, very affectionate looking woman suffering great anxiety of mind and exerting herself to do the best under it— She told me at the door with a very pale face and tears in her eyes that the Drs gave her almost no hope— Their little girl, about 11 or 12, is a beauty, and a smart, well mannered little thing— She is to remain at her school here during their stay at Hastings so I must really take some charge of the poor little thing— By the way there seems to have been a general turning up of Cousins for me since you went—the day I went about the picture frame. I saw in Regent Street from my Omnibus (and thanked heaven it was from an Omnibus) James Baillie still in the white trowsers and heaven-blue coat, and his mustay unso[i]l[e]d4— It were a curiosity of rascaldom to know how that man lives, and gets his washing done!

Yesterday morning I had your letter, to hearten me after ‘a considerable of a’ row about a missing pamphlet, which C had picked up—(in pleaseant consequence of the Macready-dinner) “one of those books seen for a moment—laid out of his hand, and then swept away irrecoverably into the general chaos of this house”— It was found of course in his own bookpress the first thing I saw on opening it— But the music of our souls was jarred for the day! To my inexpressible relief Old Buller came to tell me she was gone to the Dentist—so that I might indulge my great need of lying on the sofa all day with a safe conscience—which I did, after having played and won one game at Chess— Mrs Chadwick5 called and sat a very long time and in the evening we had the Wedgwoods6 and Darwin according to Programme— Today Mr Scott of Woolich7 comes to dinner on his own invitation— The town is surely filling very fast! one has so many interruptions Thank heaven I need not walk today either however Mrs Buller said she would come here— You perceive that I am writing without paper fit to spell upon. Here is the Postman already with another letter from you! a thousand thanks my darling I must not begin to answer it for even of this sort of paper there is no supply—and for time! only consider!— Your affectionate

Jane C