August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 6 December 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18431206-JWC-JW-01; CL 17: 200-202


Wednesday [6 December 1843]

Yes yes dearest Babbie I kiss you and “forgive” you—since forgive is your word: tho between ourselves my mind is not exactly made up which of us has the most need to be forgiven. Geraldine writes to me yesterday: “in business matters people must be hard, stern and sometimes unreasonable—I mean; not admitting excuses and making allowances for shortcomings”— I suppose it was a feeling of this necessity, altho I had not made it into a theory for myself, that put me on the measure of “writing at you”—not that friendly correspondence is usually viewed as a “business-matter”—but for us who have nothing to do with the “cotton trade” or the “Agricultural interest” or any other great world-business—letter-writing is as near an approximation to a business-matter as anything we take in hand. I must not write you a long letter today for I have a rush of things laying violent claim to my time and faculty, illustrating for a millionth time the proverb that “it never rains but it pours”—a few lines however I must send you to bid you be of goodcheer my dear Babbie—for my displeasure is only inverse affection—and also to tell you that my cold is quite gone—indeed I am happy to have had something sharp in the way of illness for I had been going on a great many weeks with a general feeling of malaise which was taking all spirit and sense out of me and which I felt could not be got rid of without a crisis— Now I hope to be better than I was before the going to bed—and do not you fancy that I would be either so forgetful of my promise or of my own interest as to be either “dying or near dying” or at all seriously ill without telling you, and calling on you to come and help me tho you were at the furthest end of the Kingdom—but I have always an inner feeling when I am seriously ill quite different from that which attends a passing illness however painful for the time being and I had none of that presentiment on this occasion—I knew that it was only “a summing up of many things” (chiefly moral) as Mazzini declares his face to be—and that the rest and quiet of bed would bring me speedily round.— Oh dear me Babbie I am very anxious and sorrowful about Mazzini—after many entreaties he has at last begun to take care—some care of himself but god knows whether it be not too late— He went with Toynbee yesterday to a consultation with Hawkins the chief surgeon of St George's Hospital—who probed the wound and declared it to be already at the bone—and John Carlyle told me again last Sunday night “that if it reached the bone nothing could hinder its becoming a cancer”— “Well” says Mazzini but my dear—even if it does—there can still you know be an operation”!!— such comfort! and this he said to me today as calmly, as if he had been speaking of a hole in his coat!—he went yesterday and had a tooth drawn by order of his new surgeon to see if nature would turn the matter perhaps into that course1—and came here today all the way from Queen Square where he now lives!2 and when I scolded him for coming, he said “well but since the tooth was pulled upon my honour the wound has not discharged any thing”— I could not help crying half the time he stayed—he looks so emaciated and so calm! if his Mother were near or any human being to nurse him I should not mind so much but he has nobody but poor helpless me—helpless because the accursed conventionalties of this world would make it disgraceful to go and nurse one's dearest friend if he happened to be a young man— A strange thing took place at the association3 the other night— so pathetic and at the same time almost ridiculous. After Mazzini had made a short speech—pleading his inability to speak more at one time— A workingman took the chair and moved a resolution that “Mr Mazzini should be—laid under obligation to take care of himself! his life being not his own but Italy's property that CONSTRAINT should be exercised if necessary for his preservation”—the sensible working man!—and then he proceeded to move the details of his resolution—firstly for instance that if the Dr considered quiet necessary that an Italian-guard should be in constant attendance at his door to prevent any one passing in to him—&c &c and this movement was followed by a deputation of Italian men waiting on Dr Toynbee to ask what particulars of treatment he wished to have ENFORCED.

The only comfort is that he does now begin to feel himself the insanity of neglecting his health to the same extent as formerly— God grant the sense may not have come too late.

I have no spirits to write about anything else after this—besides that I have already written longer than my other botherations left time for— Pray do write a few lines to Mazzini—any kindness always cheers him poor fellow and the shortest note will be better than none—his address is 47 Devonshire Street Queen Square and for the love of heaven if you stay longer in Glasgow send me your address4—dont you see I have to send all my letters round by Liverpool which puts off time—to be sure I might have told you sooner without trusting to your drawing the inference. Ever your