The Collected Letters, Volume 2


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 27 April 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220427-JBW-TC-01; CL 2:91-92.


Haddington—Saturday [27 April 1822]

From a sheet of paper pretending to be a letter, that came to me some days ago, I learned to my great surprise, and satisfaction, that the wrecked Mr Carlyle has been restored sound in mind and body to his lamenting friends.

Truly Sir to my mind you have made a far more wonderful escape than Jonah did— Jonah during his three days visit to the deep, was snug in the capacious belly of a whale—whereas you have been actually swallowed up by the waves, for many weeks, without (as far as I know) getting into the inside of any fish whatever— You must have seen strange sights since our last meeting. I should be glad to know if the blue devils1 below water are any thing like those that we have here. I will thank you also to transmit to me the papers which you mention before you set out on your next voyage.

For some weeks past the clever people here have been without half their wits and the silly ones (that is to say every body except my Mother[,] Shandy, and myself[)] have been stark mad— Barnyards have blazed till the conflagration has spread over the brains of our whole community.2 It will be well if it does them no further mischief; for of all their possessions their wits will be the least missed.

I thank you for Cowper. He is a charming creature, and makes me laugh. but yet he is not a man according to my heart—oh no—I can not exactly tell my fault to him—I think he draws so larg[e]ly on my pity that I cannot spare him much of my admiration— I am in a terrible hurry My Mother has called on me half a dozen times since I began to write— I am going to the country but will be at home on Wednesday to rece[i]ve your expected communication [if] it is is convenient for you to write on that day—

Yours with humility / Jane Baillie Penelope3 Welsh