October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 22 April 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460422-JWC-JW-01; CL 20: 175-176


Wednesday [22 April 1846] 5 Cheyne Row

Dearest Babbie

You are saying to yourself with as much of a sarcastic smile as your good little face is capable of; that I must have been full of occupation indeed, if this be the “first possible hour” for writing that has come to me. I do not however take my stand on a position so little tenabale—several hours or at least quarters of hours “came to pass” (like Mazzini's sweep)1 during my last week at Addiscombe in which I might have written to an indulgent Babbie—but only with a mind all churned into froth, and since Monday evening that I have been here again, in my own quiet establishment, I have purposely put off, that my letter might get double welcome by reaching you on your Birthday.2 Good luck to it (the Birthday) my dear Babbie! And may the “good resolutions” which are sure to come up in you on its advent not go altogether to the paving of the Place that is nameless! but some little fraction of them go to the building of a tight little wind-and-weather-proof house for the Babbies soul to live in long and happily. And here is a piece of Lady's work—of all things in the world—to remind you that “all is vanity”3—I confess I do not see much other use it is for; but it is very beautiful; is it not!— Is it the fruit of my intercourse with fine people?—have I at last taken into this sort of thing? Thanks God! No!—I did not work a stitch of it—and yet you may regard it as the proof of my active virtue or virtuous activity which you like—for it was the reward sent by the Gräfin von Reichenbach for my kindnesses to her Brother!—which Brother, by the way, is again entirely distracted—and what is some comfort—his insanity has now taken a form which greatly diminishes one's interest in him—the form namely of bottomless vanity. The day before I went to Addiscombe—a Gentleman with whom we were dining at Lord Ashburtons mentioned as the news of the day that a young Prussian—Plattnauer by name, had just been forcing his way into Buckingham Palace and when laid hold of, and asked his business by Lord Somebody, had said “the Queen was just going to be confined and had sent for him”! The Police had to be called in to remove him and he was carried away to the Marlbough Station House— I looked in all the newspapers for some days to see the issue of the business—to strike into it practically with the prospect of figuring in Police-reports was more than human friendship felt up to— besides the Government takes excellent care of the insane destitute however it may leave the sane to shift for themselves only they must seem to have no friends—otherwise the Government washes its hands of them. So that, unless I meant to take the charge of him again myself, I was doing best for his interest in leaving him in the hands into which he had fallen— Somebody however must I suppose have interfered for the case did not appear in the newspapers— A week ago Mr Fleming met him on the street “looking extremely ill and dreadfully dirty—his hat broken in the brim—he said he had just come from Paris the day before, for the purpose of superseding Peel and that he was to return to Paris next day to settle Poland”!— A Lady of his friends writes to me that she had had a letter from him wanting money to carry on his political affairs in which he stated that “during the preceding week he had been in several Asylums and Prisons in France”— I doubt however if he has ever been out of London—probably in some Public Asylum here—and dreaming all his travels— Fortunately for me I provoked him so much the last day he was here by putting down his pretensions that he went away in great wrath—and is not I think likely to come near me while this fit lasts.

My visit to Addiscombe went off quite well— Her Ladyship was as usual without caprices or any sort of questionabilities for me— Carlyle came every Saturday and staid till Monday— Charles Buller and Mr Baring did the same—and besides there were other incidental visitors—on the other days Lady Harriet and I were tete-a-tete—but for ten days at the end—the Easter Holydays—the house was quite full—It was very interesting to me to make acquaintance there with a young Grandee from my own East Lothian—Mr Charters—prospective Earl of Weyms—he has the beautifulest young creature for wife I ever set my eyes on4—and as good seemingly as beautiful—I took quite a liking to the pair, and it seemd to be reciprocal—for Mr Charters painted a picture of me!! and Lady Anne promised to come and see me so soon as she had finished Zoe5 which I lent her— So my aristocratic connexion goes on extending itself. Ach Gott! If I had not such an eternal hunderweight of leaden thoughts on my heart I might live pleasantly as other people do but once for all life is not pleasant for me and the best I see in it is that it does not last very long

Ever your loving