JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 1 July 1822; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18220701-JBW-TC-01; CL 2:142-144.
JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE
Haddington Monday [1 July 1822].
My dear Sir
I do not like to detain Washington1 longer or I would not write to you to day being, as usual, in a hurry. I have no verses to send you— I have not even finished the second volume of Sismondi—in short I have had a relapse[.] But really I am not to blame for this second idle fit—for several days I had headach[e]s—and then I was annoyed with a most prosaic W S2 who intimated to me by post that though he had spent five years without beholding the light of my countenance he could not exist any longer without seeing me always— I was under the necessity of delivering my opinion on his project, and that occupied more time than you who are not plagued with those things can imagine— And even after I had answered his ridiculous letter I could not learn my lessons; for I knew him to be a stubborn hotheaded blockhead, and there is a deep mill-pond within a minutes walk of his house— He has continued to pester me with letters in which he tells me it is my duty to run my head into a halter because “the greatest woman the world ever produced (Madame de Stael) was twice married” will you believe it? this unanswerable argument has had no effect on me and I have really lost my temper with an admirer of my darling Willelmina3—on Saturday he sent me a packet containing two little old, odd-looking, crumpled notes, he received from me six years ago. with a tattered black satin work-bag and some more lady-like trumpery he had come by (God knows how) [.] I have almost forgiven him the trouble and uneasiness he has cost me, in consideration of this budget of “Memorials” which has kept me laughing ever since I received them— Do not be angry at my levity; if I thought his heart much in the matter I would speak of him seriously, or rather I would not speak of him at all— He has got a house and some money lately, and he wants an agreeable young woman to look after the cooking of his victuals and the strings and buttons on his waist-coats. He is far better without me, seeing that no creature could digest such puddings as I should make, or wear apparel of my stiching—
I am quite delighted with your lines on the Bass4— I would rather be the author of these than of all the lines I ever wrote. Oh! if I had your genius,—your learning, and my own ambition what a brilliant figure I should make!
Are you not pleased with Bracebridge Hall? he is a witty amiable sort of person Mr Irving; but oh he wants fire, and he is far too happy for me—dear Byron—sinner as he is there is no body like him—I have got his likeness; better done than the one I had. I can scarcely help crying when I look at it and think I may chance to go out of the world without seeing its original— What nonsense!— Talking of great men Mr Nicol5 performed in our pulpit the Sunday before last— After expatiating on the propriety of speaking truth, and the folly of “babbling out the whole truth in all times and in all places” he lost the thread of his discourse, or rather (as my grandfather would say) he burbuld [bungled] it, and made an awful pause of some minutes— The congregation hid their faces—my Mother was seized with a violent pain in her back, and for me, my heart bolted into my throat and almost choked me—at last to our great relief he left that divis[i]on of his head and proceeded to the next— I was almost forgetting to tell you that I was nearly killed last night. In trying to prevent Dr Fyffe's seeing my ancles (which you may perhaps know are no great things) I lost my balance, and fell from the top of a very high wall— My head proved thicker than I fancied for though I struck it on some stones it sustained no damage— But I lost my gown in the cause and two of my front teeth.— I am bearing this double misfortune with great philosophy so you need not vex yourself about it. the less as one half of it is not true— My teeth being all in my head— What is become of Edward Irving? I have not heard from him these six weeks his silence is quite unaccountable— I have been thinking of a subject for you— Will you try it? an address to Lord Byron from his daughter. If she is a genius she might be writing verses by this time—those people are always in my head—I began to think yesterday, in church, of his child's feelings towards him. and when the people rose to pray I continued sitting— I did not wake out of my dream till the Dr prayed God to ‘carry us in safety to our respective place of abode[’] and then I saw all the people staring at me—
Do not sent any more of Sismondi till I have finished the volumes I have[.] I wish you may be able to decipher this scrawl—my pen is bad and as usual I am going to a detestable tea party.
Yours affectiona[tely] /