January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 26 February 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450226-JWC-JW-01; CL 19: 39-41


[26 February 1845]

Dearest Babbie

Altho my last letter was the merest of duds, only to be excused by a crisis of “difficult circumstances,” still I was glad, on receiving your packet of next morning, that I had written it such as it was. A letter not legally due, especially when it makes no allusion to its own generosity, gives no hint of its double claim to be answered, is always a touching fact for me, and the wee soft warm things were also a touching fact. so that besides being put into a rather “melting mood” of gratitude I should have felt a a certain twinge of remorse, but for the scrawl I had fired off at you the preceeding day, indicating that if I was sore hested [harassed] at all events I was not oblivious—

I did not wait for the indefinite event of putting on a bonnet to take the good of the wee cap. I mounted it on the spot, and it has never been off my head since, except when exchanged for my night cap—very comfortable it is and also very becoming. something betwixt the black scarf which I had grown to feel too fantastical for my actual circumstances, and the prosaic english white cap, which I had taken to “in wera desperation”1 One would say that since I have adopted this woolen juste milieu [happy medium] I have been (as they say of the funds) “looking up”— Certainly I am better within the last two days, I am not so weak, nor so hoarse, nor so feverish, nor do I feel such noble independence of victual, nor is my temper so very devilish— I still cough enough but Mr Fleming told me on sunday that he heard by the sound of my cough that “it was going”—a good journey to it! On the whole I have now good hope again that I shall recover entirely when warm weather comes—last week I was rather desperate about recovery under any circumstances

I have not tried either of your mixtures but keep them in reserve in case one which Mr Fleming brought me on Sunday fails of the splendid success he predicted for it— He is not a Dr Mr Fleming but worth a score such Drs as my Brotherinlaw. He has been urging this mixture on me for weeks back—but (as Mazzini says) I want energy—last Sunday when I told him I had still not tried it he said “nor ever will unless I get it mixed for you myself”— On leaving he went to a chemist's, and returned in half an hour, and gave the vial to Helen with directions that I was to “take one spoonful that night—two next day and the next day I should be quite well”— When one's natural helps prove so ineffectual; it is considerate of Providence to raise up such kindhearted strangers!

Had you seen what followed the writing of my last letter to you, you would have been of opinion that I had better have remained up stairs— I had just stretched myself on the sofa to rest when a carriage drove up like thunder with gay liveries glancing thro the very muslin blinds! and presently were announced—“The Prussian Ambassador and Madame the Ambassadress”!2 Madame I had never seen before with my bodily eyes, and besides being a grande dame she proved an immensely large one, and what was awfulest of all for me an immensely sensible one, and clever to death in church controversy! Mercifully Carlyle was in the house and speedily came to the rescue—but they staid, my dear, one hour and forty minutes by the clock! and all that while my sweet bread was kept waiting for me and I for it—and I had to talk talk—about matters I never talked of in my life before—and all the while I was haunted with—a presentiment of Plattnauer!—who after he left the Asylum used to go and kick up rows at the Embassy!3

But every thing has an end with time and patience—and so had this stately visit—nay in my normal state I should have found it a very agreeable one—for they are both very clever people in their way. There is a tide in the affairs of men4 in the matter of visits as of every thing else yesterday I had another pair of aristocratic strangers—Sir Harry Verney and Lady5— Arthur Helps had raved to me about this little woman so that of course I was not much struck with her—but she was interesting to me as being from West lothian, and a niece of Lord Hopetouns and Colonel Macleay6 All people I used to hear of so often in my wee existence. She is a nice friendly little thing, prettily bred and prettily spoken, and they say she is very clever and learned—but of that I saw no evidence which is perhaps paying a high compliment to her modesty—I should say from one hour's inspection of her that she belongs decidedly to the genus wersh [insipid]

It is quite curious to see the horror excited in some people (and these the least moral) by Geraldines book while the moralest people of my acquaintance either like it or are not at the pains to abuse it— Even Miss Wilson7 to whom I dared to lend it—tho she confessed to never having “ventured on reading a line of George Sand in her life” brought it back to me with a certain EQUANIMITY— “It is avowedly the book of an audacious esprit forte [strong spirit], and so of course you did not expect me to approve of it, nor do I, but I think it very clever and amusing”—voila tout [there you are]! While old and young roués of the Reform Club almost go off in hysterics over—its indecency.

The oddest thing of all is that Geraldine seems to me in the fair way of getting a Husband by it!!!— Robertson in a fit of distraction took to writing her letters of criticism about it which have led him already further than he thought—and she—has taken or is fast taking “a fit” to him—and both I can perceive contemplate a lawful catastrophe.8 THERE is encouragement to young ladies to write improper books—dearest love to my Uncle and the rest. Write soon, it will help to keep your soul warm—your poor body must take its chance

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