April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 29 August 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440829-JWC-JW-01; CL 18: 194-196


[ca. 29 August 1844]


You may well say in this instance at least that while others talk I act—

Certainly I have been acting—with a vengeance!— You will wonder if I have not become insane myself when I tell you the sequel—would to Heaven I could call it the solution!— Last Sunday evening Carlyle and I had just finished an early dinner preparatory to setting off on a Cockney-Sunday-excursion to the Regent's Park to be helped out with tea at Mrs Macready's—when I heard a gentleman's voice at the door inquiring for me— I had heard that voice only once before in my life but I recognized it instantly as Sir Alexander Morison's— What on earth had brought so busy a man to my own house?— Was he come to tell me that He1 had committed suicide or escaped!— I rushed up stairs to him as white as milk—tearing my muslin gown by the way to an extent that would have tried even the temper of Ann Jane2— With an impassive air, that operated like a shower-bath on me at the moment, the good old Doctor delivered me a letter from my friend—stating that he had “appeared before the Committee on the previous day been pronounced cured and how only waited till some friend should “take him out”—a formality it seemed which could not be dispensed with— Would I send some one— I told Sir Alexander of course that I would come myself next morning if C could not leave his work— But what then?—suffer him so soon as I had emancipated him to rush out into space under the first excitement natural to recovered liberty—and without either money or plan from all I could learn— —The thing was not to be thought of—so when Sir Alexander asked “but where will he go”? I looked imploringly at Carlyle who, good as he always is on great occasions, said directly “Oh he must come here for a while till he sees what is to be done next”— And so it was settled and I had no difficulty in bringing himself to consent to the arrangement.” Thro unavoidable hindrances I was obliged to spend nearly the whole day in the Lunatic Asylum and a happier day I hardly ever past in life— At seven at night I landed him here in a fly and here he has been ever since and will be for some time yet— Whether it be the consciousness of having done a good action—or that he discovers a faculty and nobleness of character in him, which he had before not allowed himself opportunity to discover; I cannot say—but the fact is that Carlyle seems to take to him most lovingly and shows him the uttermost kindness!! Still I have much to keep me anxious for not only does his future lie most perplexedly before us but—whatever the Drs and Committee have judged—I do not consider him by any means sane— He is horribly excitable—and has many wild whims in his head which might at any moment by injudicious treatment, be exploded into madness— And his whole bearing and manner of speech is quite changed—for the better— so far as that goes—never did he seem half so clever or noble or highbred—but this very superiority alarms one— I know that I can keep him from any new crisis so long as he is beside me—my influence over him is without limit—but then he cannot be always with me—and I tremble at the thought of what will become of him when left to himself— God knows—perhaps I frighten myself needlessly and his present state is but the natural consequen[ce] of the past five weeks—

Mrs Buller is worrying herself to death with the fear of his killing me—in these days of insane murdering just as Jeffrey used to warn me against William Glen but no madman will ever hurt a hair of my head—I have too much affinity with them—

You will understand how it is not easy for me to write in these days— There is still a deal of writing to be caried on with the Marchioness3—the Authoress of The City of the Sultan4 and others—which is merely boring me without doing the slightest practical good to him—and then Lord bless you he has torn all his linen entirely to rags—as he did all the ropes they bound him with— It is somewhat awful to hear him say in the midst of a calm tete a tete—such a thing crossed his mind when they were “carrying him to such a place in chains”—or when they had chained him down on the floor of the House of Correction”!— He remembers accurately every thing that happened only fancys that he was all the while quite in his right mind and merely that the other people were “so stupid”— But I was saying his clothes are all in rags and as I have constituted myself his sister for the present I am kept very busy repairing them— What things I have done for him to be sure! in the way of familiarity— Poor poor Soul his body is still all lacerated with those infernal chains—and Sir A Morison assured me that had any judicious Dr or friend been beside him at the commencement nothing of all that need ever have been!

But there is his rap at the door so I must conclude for the present—

I cannot help regretting that monster5 was not hanged in spite of all my sympathy with his children—

Love and kisses to all

Ever your affectionate /

Jane Carlyle