April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 13 September 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440913-JWC-TC-01; CL 18: 203-206


Friday [13 September 1844]


I am as busy as busy can be, and in the crossest possible humour so that you have not much to hope for this day so far as I am concerned— The long gawk of a Scotch man has dawdled on about that closet till I could wring his neck— Such poor encouragement does one get for cultivating the sensibilities national and all others!—what had I to do employing him for the sake of his scotchness— The keeping back of the closet hinders the cleaning of your bedroom—and then the Library is also in a mess—for the men will not come when I want them to beat the carpet I have had out all the books however and dusted them—and put them up—not in Martha Tidy style1 according to their sizes—but just as the[y]2 were before and that is one good job finished off—

For the rest all goes well enough— Since the night of Bain Plattnauer has shown no disposition to dash out any one's brains—yet I cannot say that he has been wiser— Do you know Bain is John Mills great man at present!!! Mr Fleming told me that he had described him to him as a person of “the wonderfullest insight and general information that he had ever fallen in with”!3— Poor Mill should be sent to Wandsworth4—really. on Wednesday night I had Bolte Tizzy5 and Mr Fleming—with the valuable ingredient of Darwin who struck Mr Fleming with an awe which was quite edifying— It seems he (Jenkins hen) “respects tranquillity of manner above every thing” and Darwin gave him enough of that— Mrs Buller quite regrets not to have seen Darwin in consequence of the splendid things Fleming said of him— She has had in compensation another visit from Mazzini, who so turned her head with his passionate pleadings for Italy that nothing would serve her but to take his bust with his name on it in large letters to his Mother— You are not aware perhaps that it is death for any one in Italy to have a book of Mazzinis or a picture of him in their possession— Mrs Buller would not have been executed perhaps had the custom house people found this work of art but she might easily have been detained & had her papers taken and other disagreeable hindrances— so I set all this before her in so positive a manner that she gave up the devout imagination6— I was there last night—the last sight of them—and very sad it was to part she herself being all but crying when she took leave of me— Oh she said such affectionate things—indeed indeed you do her injustice when you think her heartless or that she does not love me ecessively— The Lewises7 were all there again—hang them!— Lady Lewis looked very much astonished at the caresses Mrs Buller was making me all the evening—holding one of her arms about my neck and kissing me ever so often— I am sure Lady Lewis was thinking by her vinegar expression that her Sister liked me a good deal better than her

I had an invitation to dine at Capt Sterlings yesterday and to “bring my patient”—but could not accept of course having engaged to the Bullers— Mrs Anthony came at three however and took me a little drive— Plattnauer went yesterday to the Asylum and came home at five very wearied and bewildered—he had a letter from his Brother in law and Sister which seemed to gratify him immensely as it showed no anxiety about him on their part—you may figure how uncomfortable I felt while he was rejoicing in this—I asked him how long a letter took to come from there—he said “eight days at the quickest—sometimes it was even ten days—but they went and came very safely”—He has got himself some tobacco and smokes twice or thrice in the day— Not a word from Lady Ailsbury but a note from the good Boarding school mistress asking him to come to see her tomorrow and expressing a wish that I would accompany him—I shall go—it is somewhere in the Regents Park

The piano is not likely to take effect at present—not for want of “metallic basis”—enough of which lies in the Savings bank to build such a small superstructure on—but because the owner wished to clog it with the addition of a rosewood piano-chair!—increasing the price I offered him by two pounds ten. I offered him 20£—moi!—there was a spirited little woman dont you think? the piano had been first rate might have cost sixty or seventy—but was considerably worn—tho still good—and one knows what prices second hand pianos bring— All Plattnauers schemes are now deferred “till HE returns” One mad thing after another comes into his head—which I finish off with—“we will consult Carlyle about it”—and then he makes up his mind to wait— “Yes yes—it can lie over till he returns”— His favourite scheme however is still “going into the English army” and “rising to be a Commander in two years”— Such a Commander! for he was insinuating that he meant to give me a large territory to rule over by and by— “When he should have placed me at the head of things—in the position I ought to fill—I would find what sacrilege I had committed in talking for three deadly hours with such “windbags” (he used this word quite as if he had originated it) as that stupid stupid stupid Mr Bain”!— And now I am sure I have wasted enough of your time and my own—

Ever yours /

J. C