April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 11 November 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18441111-JWC-JW-01; CL 18: 262-265


Monday [11 November 1844]

Dearest Babbie

It is long since I wrote—but this time my conscience acquits me, as I trust you will also; when I give you my word of honour that it has not been that beggarly Force of circumstances that has hindered, but my own reflective volition! I have discovered better late than—never, that writing so many letters as I write, is after all but “strenuous idleness”1—and that if I am to succeed in turning my life to any serious account, I must restrict myself in this particular— So long as I was doing nothing better; it was a fault in me to leave any letter unwritten which could give a moments pleasure to any one I cared for— But at present that I am profitable employed—and find the days too short for what I wish to get done, my friends must content themselves with hearing from me “in the intervals of Business.” When you can give me the same reason—(that you are profitably employed)—for diminishing the frequency of your letters I shall admit it I promise you in all gladness—but, till then—you will do well to write to me rather oftener than more seldom.

We expect John Carlyle tomorrow evening—straight from Scotsbrig where he has been all this while— He did not he said purpose coming by Liverpool— “as the weather was so bad besides that Miss Jeanie was not there at present”— If Miss Jeanie had been there; I dare say he would have taken but a slight advantage of the circumstance— He will dander about here for a week or two till he find himself another lodging; but Carlyle and he are got too impatient of one another now, that I need fear any prolonged visitation. He wrote to Carlyle some weeks ago that “his work in Annandale being now terminated he was purposing to return to London”— Carlyle enquired very naturally what work he alluded to as nobody was aware that he had any—whereupon he wrote back in a tone of injured innocence or rather injured industry that his work had been reading Dante with annotations2—and that he really did not know what we would have—as, if he were not in any professional employment for the moment at least he was willing to accept of such when it came and in the meanwhile he abated no jot of heart or hope—this magnanimous idea of “abating no jot of heart or hope3 in a state of the most complete futility has tickeled Carlyle immensely—as well it might!—

I had a letter from Plattnauer a few days ago—he is very steady to his programme of writing once a week—which in spite of the postage, I am heartily glad of as it keeps him always in ones sight at least— I can trace no change in his letters either for better or worse— He is hurrying on towards Italy—as if the Devil were at his heels—but what he is to do there—neither himself nor any of us has the smallest idea. The hope of his going towards Prussia has quite left my mind— His Mother-in-law sits still on his own estate and writes him urgent letters—but these letters appear to have quite the contrary effect of what they are designed for— He declares that “altho he knows I wish him to go to to4 Prussia that is, to the Devil; he will nevertheless return to England in spring—where there is work cut out for him for some years to come”—other sort of work than reading Dante with annotations I imagine!—and he asks me emphatically, “Having once taken me out of a Lunatic Assylum are you prepared to come to Prussia and take me out of a Prison? for that might be what awaits me there!” What is to be the upshot of his coming back to England in the same state of mind in which he left it I dare not let myself think— “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.”5

I have heard nothing from Geraldine for ten days!— She also it is to be hoped has taken into profitable employment—her book is now fairly going thro' the press and she gets proof sheets to correct—the little Geraldine!—but as she was never hindered in writing to me by composing of her book it cannot be the correcting of it which now hinders her— I wait to see the fate of this book with a considerable curiosity, and with some anxiety when I think how much Geraldine's own fate is likely to be decided by its— She is deep in “a fit” for that monster Portugese—who had the extravagant wife—and desires of all things to give it a respectable denouement— Tho she would not gratify her poor publisher by making the hero and heroine of her book “settled down into respectable, english, domestic life,” she is quite ready it appears to do so in her own person— I am afraid if the man have any intentions with regard to her (as one might almost think he had) they are of a questionable sort, that in fact; if she were not so very scraggy, and if the facility were not disheartening, and if all scandal could be avoided: he Mr Telo6 would rather like to seduce her, just to see how that sort of women acts under that sort of circumstance—but that he, that any man should dream of marrying her; that I cannot bring myself to believe!

Mrs Paulet sent me some days ago two exquisite caricatures—one of Patten7 and Geraldine the other Telo and Geraldine / she is a jewel of a women—with more real fun in her than a thousand London wits—

That London scamp James Baillie our unlucky cousin wrote me a fine sentimental letter yesterday which I threw in the fire so cannot send you—making himself out to be “the most illused man in Gods creation—and lamenting that I “did not understand him”— It was a palpable attempt to extort more money out of me, and I have not yet pardoned myself the folly of having given any to the like of him— I did not answer his last letter from the Prison8—nor shall I answer this out of Space

Kindest regards to Walter and Maggie—your own J C

How odd these Fergus are9—always complaining of having no society and not taking it when they may find it—

Mazzini is up to the ears if not over them in the School Anniversery10—it comes off tomorrow night— I “of course” do not go—

I have put down the old dining room carpet in the spare bedroom—the dining room having got a new one—and the spare room looks beautiful—but alas only John Carlyle to get the good of it!