January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 12 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430712-JWC-JW-01; CL 16: 266-269


[12 July 1843]

Dearest Babbie

The sympathy between us continues to be perfect in all respects—both materially and morally—to a degree unprecedented I really believe except in the case of the Siamese twins!1 Unfortunately it is not oftenest sympathy in bliss! at this moment?— Oh Good Heavens, after all!— The unspeakable is going on in this house!— Every morning at six of the clock a legion of devils rush in under the forms of Carpenters, Painters, whitewashers, and non-descript apprentice-lads who grind grind, grind, with pumice-stones—and saunter up and down the stairs whistling and singing as if I had hired them to keep me in music!— At the first sound of this Legion spreading itself over the premises, I spring out of bed—dash down stairs, and “in wera desperation”2 take a shower-bath!— After which I feel more up to standing the noise—and smell, and hideous discomfort! I am oil-painting the staircase and passage and the wood of the Library— So you may conceive the smell in this warm weather! Sterling predicts my death in consequence—various persons remonstrate against my staying—above all sleeping—in it—but what can I do if I were not here to look after what is a-doing I can see that there would be fifty blunders made—and to leave Helen alone during the night—or to bring any stranger in to keep her company while the house is in such disorder would be equally inexpedicent—“death” indeed were to be avoided on any terms and if I saw that likely to ensue I would accept a sleeping room in Sterlings house—but by keeping my bed-room door always closed and sleeping with the two windows wide open I do not feel the smell very bad thro the night— “And the thieves Cousin”? two wide-open windows and plenty of ladders lying quite handy in the court underneath them”?— My dear, when one is painting and papering one's house, one has no time to think of thieves!— It did occur to me last night in lying down, that “heavy bodies”3 might drop in thro the night—and be at my pillows before I heard them—but my nerves are pretty strong at present—I took the precaution to lay the Policeman's rattle on the spare pillow—and went to sleep without thinking more about them—a curious contrast to Mr Lambert next door—father of the young pianists—who sleeps in the back room of the ground floor—“for protection to his house”—he told me—and besides his quick-eared dog has ever in readiness a loaded gun—pistols he says are “worth nothing in such cases”—I told him that rather than pass my life in such a state of armed defence; I would adopt Darwins plan of leaving all the plate &c every night on the lobby table—I told him also of your screams of delight in seeing “a small cannon” carried into his house last year—and thinking what an unexpected reception the next thieving party was likely to encounter— He laughed himself till the tears ran down but told me “the small cannon” was a small steamengine— He seems to be some sort of military engineer— All this passed between us yesterday morning when in return for an amiable Note of regrets about the noise &c which I had felt it polite to write to him, he came himself to assure me “he had never heard the noise”—and to offer me “his protection”—(in the virtuous sense of the word of course)—from all he said, he left me with the idea that HE stood much more in need of my protection than I did of his

Carlyle writes to me almost daily —dullish letters to say the truth— I fancy him very sleepy in Wales—and why not? it was just for that he went so far!— “the simplicity of his kind hosts verges on the inane” “their conversation does not promise to be a treat to him”!— Well—I suppose he will leave that region the end of this week—and where will he go then? neither he nor I can tell yet!— Here sure enough he cannot return so probably he will go on to Annandale John talks of meeting him in Liverpool and “coming on to London” being dead-weary of the country— There justs wants John here to make my actual position perfectly hideous—and tho he find the whole house in a state of wreck and nobody with a moments leisure to attend to him he will not for that, dream of taking a lodging—if I can get a room ready for him with ever so much inconvenience— I cannot tell you how this prospect of his return “exactly at the wrong time” puts me out of humour— Mazzini is better considerable—his face almost quite restored to its original beauty—he and Plattnauer walked with me to Knightsbridge yesterday—for furniture-print!4— As we returned I took Plattnauer into Gambardella's to see his picture of Brougham—Mazzini had had to send him (Gambardella) a note requesting that he would either pay his subscription for the Italian school or withdraw his name from the list—he had received no answer—so under these delicate circumstances he could not go in but waited for us outside—whether Gambardella had seen him from the window—and felt sore at the notion of his having perhaps told me about the unpaid subscription I do not know— certainly something had jarred the music of his soul for he was quite as rude to me his “perfect woman,” as I ever heard tell of his being to other people— I am not exactly the person to put up with rudeness from a man especially—and the first rudeness from him would have been the last he would ever have had opportunity to exhibit—had it not been for the thought of you, my Babbie, and your picture! To have quarrelled with him would have laid me under the same necessity which he has imposed on so many other people to return him both your likeness and my own—and I could not do any thing so cruel to both you and myself—so I pretend not to see his impertinence—and do you not say a word of this when you see him as you will shortly—he is returning to Liverpool next week to “live there for ever”!—till he tires again!— Plainly all things must have been going awry with him here— —he quarrells so incessantly with those who wish to serve him— He said he would take the picture and the frame himself “there was no use in sending them by Walter5 now even if he did come”

You tell me our Walter6 was to meet my Uncle and the others at Greenwich!! In that case had not I better go to?—but perhaps you meant Greenock my Dear?7 Bless you love perhaps even in your material earthquake you will find more time to write to me than when they were all at home in the usual routine— your own / J C