October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 5 February 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460205-JWC-JW-01; CL 20: 118-120


Thursday [5 February 1846]

Dearest Babbie

Would that it had been only “good Samaritanism”1 which has stood in the way of my writing all this while—but that has been the least of it! My liver has been in a state more easily conceived than described. I have really been too sick and PHYSICALLY SORROWFUL “for anything. have hardly been able to get to the Paulets even—tho' their outlooks get to seem daily more questionable for me. Alexander perseveres in saying “it is all right,” only Mr Paulet being a very torpid subject the healing does not go on so quickly as in the generality of cases. If he found him so very “torpid” why, I wonder, did he restrict him to gruel and all that sort of thing for two or three weeks? And tho' the bandages were taken off his eyes after a few days he is still not suffered to go out even in a carriage, and the confinement affects his health and spirits as one may suppose. He professes to be able to see if he could open his eyes—but then he cannot open his eyes, and something is continually occurring to “throw him back” as Alexander's phrase is—for instance the other day he sneezed—contrary to orders—but as he sorrowfully remarked—“how is one to help sneezing in the midst of constant draughts”? The result was a little bladder of water formed on the eye— In short I do not augur well of this slowness of the eyes to heal—and meanwhile you may fancy his poor wife has a bad time of it— She hardly ever gets out long enough to come here—and the noise and closeness, and strangeness of her London-house quite ruins her digestion— She puts a good face on things, as is her way, but she gets to look thiner and more bewildered every time I see her.2

Lady Harriet is returned and seems disposed to keep up our country intimacy— She sends her carriage for me often in the evenings and sends me back—treats me in all respects with a consideration for which I cannot but be grateful to her.— She never says to any one that she likes them— she goes upon the silent system as to all the thoughts of her heart—it is only the thoughts of her head which she gives one the benefit of—and so she has never said what one could call a kind word to me—but she proves by all her behavior that she is rather fond of me—the mere fact of her having kissed me at parting and meeting again proves more affection for me than twenty reams of protestations from a Geraldine would do—for her Ladyship is sincere to death—and would think much less of boxing the ears of a person indifferent to her than of kissing her! for my part I love her now as much [as]3 I admired her in the beginning4— She is the only woman of Genius I have found amongst all our pretenders to it— I only wish I had got to know her twenty years ago when I was better capable of enjoying the advantages of such an acquaintance— The “getting-on-in-Society”-part of it looks to me often enough a practical irony at this time of day rather than a good fortune to thank my stars for—

You would be amused to see the increase of charm I have for the smaller gentry since Lady Harriet took me up!—I could not help answering a kind note I had from Lady Monteagle5 the other day after a twelve-months silence—in a tone of very frank sarcasm.

I think you should write to Ann Sommers to enquire about the money— She acknowledged the receipt of mine very gratefully—not at once indeed but in the course of a week or two and she excused the delay I remember by saying that the shock of my letter had brought on an illness6

I congratulate you on the prospect of getting Helen to bed—for tho' you do not say it—of course if she did not go earlier to bed she could not be indulging in a shower bath at nine in the morning. That sort of grievances are very hard to bear and might well ruffle the temper even of a “blessed Babbie”! for one can never feel “virtues own reward” in bearing them— must always have ones private doubts whether one should not be acting more dutifully in rushing on them with a stick and putting down the unreasonable thing par vive force [by main force]— There is so much that must be born!—no wonder that one gets rather frantic now and then in bearing the not inevitable!—

I would have written immediately on receiving your letter yesterday— had it been only to express my thankful sense of my uncles misgivings about me—it is such a comfort to think that anybody can be made anxious about me!—but alas! yesterday I had blue pill in me and salts beside—and was getting sicker and more sick till I made a faint of it in the evening— Will you tell James Carson when you see him that Carlyle “received his letter—that he (James Carson) had discharged his duty in the matter and that he (Carlyle) is obliged to him.”

I had almost forgotten to tell you that some weeks ago, walking thro' Piccadilly one day, I came bang against—William Chrystal!7—our eyes met—so I saw nothing for it but to speak— He told me in a pettish sort of way that he “did not know me” and when I laughed at that, he asked “how are your friends up there” nodding towards Hyde Park Corner! I supposed he meant at Liverpool and answered accordingly— When we had gone our several ways Mazzini who was with me, asked “who is he?” “A distracted lover of my two Cousins” said I— “are these his children?” said Mazzini— “What children”? “The two little, little things—so high”—pointing to his knee—“and dressed both alike. whom he was leading when you stopt him—and whom he joined again”—“I tell you said I the man is a lover of Jeanies—was not married before that I know of—how then can he have little things dressed both alike”— “Oh said Mazzini—I did not know— I thought perhaps by your laws poligamy might be allowed to a Mad.”

Do you understand about these “little things”—it certainly had a suspicious appearance.

God bless thee Babbie a kiss—a hundred of them to my Uncle love to Maggie— I felt rather jealous the other day when Mrs Russell wrote to me that they got newspapers addressed in my Uncles own hand

Write soon again—I need it—

Ever your affectionate