candlestick

January-July 1843


The Collected Letters, Volume 16


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JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 26 June 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430626-JWC-JW-01; CL 16: 217-220


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH

[ca. 26 June 1843]

My good darling

You must not lose heart. Easy to say! but when it comes to doing!— Well—no one knows better than I do the immense difference betwixt saying and doing; Still I am not ashamed to say to you must not lose heart, because I really see good cause why you should not;—setting aside all moral obligation in the matter.

Amid all your present troubles, whatsoever they be, you have a ground of comfort which I have not, which so many have not!—

YOU ARE YOUNG—very young—with youth on one's side depend on it one has the odds on one's side against the sorest trials. One may not feel this at the time—nay, one may find the prospect of a long life to come only aggravation of one's suffering— But in the long life to come lie so many glorious possibilities! And some fine morning, without knowing precisely how, one awakes to a recognition of these, and can smile over the despairing past as over a bad dream! I can only guess at what ails you— I may or may not be near the truth—but of this I am, certain as I live—that whatever you are suffering—I have suffered, and under more terrible conditions than can in your case be possible— And see—after all, I am here alive, speaking hope to my Babbie! Not very gay certainly—not “happy”—who in a world like this, that has any more reflection than the Brutes can be what they call happy at my age?—but I am better than happy in having learned to do without happiness—and I have this knowledge to communicate to you, drawn from my own life-experience; that the heart even of a woman can stand an infinite deal more breaking without being broken than one can form the smallest conception of at five and twenty. There is a beautiful proverb and it is as true as beautiful that “the darkest hour of the night is nearest the dawn.” So have I found it, and so will you too find it—Wait, and hope for the dawn in patient faith— There is no use in tormenting oneself into got-up good spirits. That is, as it were, to light a parcel of farthing candles and call that “the dawn”! a sort of beggarly brightness that serves only to make the darkness visible1 to show one how very miserable one is!— But wait—Mazzini you remember did not like that word—nevertheless it is a good word—and one which if he had better appreciated he would not have lain under the reproach of having been turned back from revolutionizing Italy “by a toll-bar”!2 and under many other consequences sad to think of! Wait—not in sloth indeed—but in inward prayer—with your face towards the East—till the true God-sent brightness comes—and pours itself afresh over all your world and into the depths of your soul—you know not how—but no matter how so it be there! Oh that is joy! such as one knew not of BEFORE having suffered!—when one feels oneself awake—alive—no longer a gohst among the living and the loving—but living and loving like a newborn creature, in a newborn world!— My darling! if I had you here I could make you believe that all will be well with you in good time I could kiss the belief into you—I am sure that I could!— But the things that are in ones heart to say grow so cold on the paper!— Well the practical inference from all that is, that we must speedily meet— A lingering cold—and castor oil are things to be put down by some vigorous measure without loss of time— The continued coldness of the weather is keeping back the fruits of Carlyles numerous projects as well as “the fruits of the season”—but if he do not decide on what is to be done thro the summer in the course of a week or two we (you & I) must get up a small seperate decision for ourselves. He talks at present of going into Glenmorganshire3 to the Welshman's for bathing—“almost immediately” (but one knows what his “almost immediatelys” mean) and leaving me here to keep the house during that first part of the programme—(the house having become since the thieves4 a really serious difficulty—) then the Liverpool coast is to be investigated after—but if he do Glenmorganshire, I do not think it at all likely that he will seek for any seabathing quarters elsewhere—it will end probably in his going for a short time into Annandale and leaving me with you on the way—or in his going nowhere—in which case I should go to Liverpool alone in the first instance and take my “country air”—afterwards at Troston— In that case—if I am not to get to you for a good while yet, the best of all possible solutions would be for you to come here and be with me till I can get away to Liverpool— Would there be any hindrance to this arrangement on your side—I do not mean on your individual side—should it look to me when I see more clearly into his scheme of movement to be the best thing to do?—My own babbie I wish that your head were “on my shoulder”—it would be good for us both—

—Tell my uncle that I know nothing whatever of Grace Welsh5— God forgive me I had utterly forgotten her existence! I had a long kind letter from Mrs Russel this morning in answer to one I sent her with a copy of C's book— I am sorry I cannot forward it to you—Carlyle having stupidly burnt it—because it had set me a crying—

You are to tell my uncle also that if he feels interested in Icelandic matters there are several books about Iceland which Carlyle strongly recommends to his perusal— He has written the names on an old envelope—which it is easier to send than copy them— They are put down in the order of their respective worth6

I wonder if Walter Macgregor's heart is in this marriage? I cannot help feeling great misgivings on the subject— He left London one of the most wretched looking men I ever tried to comfort and suddenly he blooms up in Liverpool into a happy accepted Lover!— If he found a letter from the Lady awaiting him in Liverpool—with an almost despaired of Yes—then the inconsistency is explained—but if nothing had altered in his circumstances from the time of his leaving London—if the Yes had been given before she sailed (as one would suppose) then I declare myself entirely at a loss what to make of him!— Nor was the letter he wrote to me like the letter of a happy man— Is it with me or with others that he is acting a part?— All this of course is strictly private— God bless you my child your own

JC.