October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 10 March 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460310-JWC-JW-01; CL 20: 138-140


Tuesday 10th [March 1846]

Here goes Dearest Babbie!—just to try whether the Devil or I shall be strongest today, in the matter of writing to you—how often he has had the upper hand of late, to the utter suppression of the many things I have wished to say to you; I am ashamed to think, for if one cannot make head against the Devil in a world where one meets him at every turn, one may as well take a little arsnic at once and spare oneself the sin and sorrow of being nothing but a Spooney in Gods universe. For ten days I was nearly out of my wits with want of sleep—and I say this not figuratively nor even exaggeratively but in simple truth. Four nights in one week I never once closed my eyes, and henbane1 even in large quantities of no more use to me than cold water— The consequence was such a state of nervous excitation as nobody ever saw me in before—Carlyle declares me to have been “quite mad” for half an hour—and I can well believe him—I have for a long while back been dreadful haunted with the apprehension of going mad some day—and I am only too thankful to have got off with “half an hour” of it thus far. For the last week I have been sleeping—and in the reactionary state— that is to say dead stupid. Oh! the blessedness of stupidity at times! I feel as if I would not make “a wit” just now for fifty guineas. On the 20th I am going with Lady Harriet to Addiscombe for a month. and that will be good for me I suppose— Carlyle is so hard at work that he will not miss me— besides if he takes a notion of seeing me at any time he can be there by railway in half an hour— We two women go alone— Mr Baring—and Charles Buller of course—will be there on the Saturdays and Sundays— — And we are to come up to town once a week for two hours, her Ladyship to take a Drawing lesson(!) I to bless my family with a sight of me and regulate the weeks accounts— If all proceeds according to Programme it will be a pleasant month but I cannot fancy Lady Harriet anywhere leading a life of privacy; however she may propose it to herself She needs the excitement of company, imagining all the while that she is bored with it—and so many people are ready to follow her into Siberia—if she chose to take her flight even there!— She is “a bit of fascination” (as the Countryman said of “Tagglioni”) a very large bit. I profess never to this hour to have arrived at a complete understanding of her—but that I fancy is just a part of her fascination—the insoluble phsycological puzzle which she is and bids fair to remain for me!2

The Paulet Servants and Children go off home today—Mr and Mrs Paulet must wait a few days longer till Alexander is pleased to give them leave.3 He had fixed this day a week ago—and in consequence the house was given up. which is the reason of dispatching part of the family—now he says better wait “a few days longer”—and so they have had to shift into a new Lodging— I am vexed to death I could not insist on their coming here for these remaining days—but Carlyle is in such a fuss with his work and so nervous and bilious in consequence—that altho' he would have submitted to my bringing them I know such an interruption of the Silence he needs about him would have driven him to despair. This rewriting of Cromwell has been very hard on him—and on me too—we thought to have washed our hands and hearts of it for ever and a day when the first Edition went to the Bookseller

Only think, I was sitting here with Mazzini one day, when in walked Mr William Crystal! looking as pleased as punch—evidently considering he was giving me the most joyful surprise! Alas it was not joyful the least in the world! I have “mads” enough on hands without taking up him—even if I were disposed from benevolence to be civil to him, I could not get it done— for C no sooner heard of his visit than he exclaimed in imperative terror. “I desire my Dear that you will absolutely bring no more mad people about this house”! He (Mr Crystal) informed me that he lived in Knightsbridge (alas too near!) and left his card with an invitation that when “I felt tired I should come in and rest myself and take a glass of wine”— Helas! Are you off to Scotland? I hope not till you have this letter— I should like to hear of your going to Scotland for good—better than on the present principle— Dearest love to my Uncle and the rest.

Ever your affectionate

Jane Carlyle

Alexander says Mr Paulet's will be splendid eyes”—certainly he seems to have got the use of them at last—and is very happy.