The Collected Letters, Volume 2


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 14 October 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18231014-JBW-TC-01; CL 2:450-452.


Haddington Tuesday [14 October 1823]

Dearest Friend

I am almost out of my wits with joy— I think, in my life, I was never so glad before— Such a future is before us! I cannot wait for your letter any longer—my happiness is incomplete while you do not partake it—— You and I are going to London! You and I! We are to live a whole summer beside each other, and beside the One whom next to each other we love most1— We are to see such magnificence of Art as we have never seen, and to get acquaint[ed] with such excellence of Man and Woman as we have never known—in short, we are to lead, for three months, the happiest, happiest life that my imagination hath ever conceived—— In the same house for months! together in our occupations, together in our amusements, always together! no duties to interfere with the duty of loving eachother, no pitiful restraints to vex our happy intercourse—delightful prospect! Oh that it may not fade from us ere we reach it!

Surely the Almighty's self hath put this plan into the heart of our Friend—surely it is not designed that it shall miscarry— Our Friend is determined that you shall come, and my Mother is willing that I shall go—and she is not to be left alone—she designs to pass the next summer where she passed the last, and where she is quite independent of my company— I foresee no cause why it should fail with me—and I [am] almost sure it will not fail with you— You will go, if for no other reason, because your own Jane desires it— Will you not? Need I doubt it? I know you love me—I know the noblest heart in Britain loves me—

How comes it that I have such a Friend as you? that I deceive you without seeking to deceive you? I am so different from my idea in your mind! stript of the veil of poetry which your imagination spreads around me I am so undeserving of your love! But I shall deserve it— shall be a noble woman, if efforts of mine can make me so— This summer in London will make a new creature of me— I shall set myself, with my whole soul, to perfect my life and character through the counsel and example of my two friends— I shall be happy, and the happy are always disposed to be good—Are they not?——

I did injustice to Edward Irving in supposing he had forgotten us— He loves us still—better than many hundreds of his other friends— If you can bear with “the Lord” and Mrs Montague2 you will have great delight in his visit— Shall I like his Wife?——

Here is your letter come! I had given up hope of having it today— Oh there is something in these letters of yours so delightful, so overwhelming ! Do you know I cannot read them without “tearing” (as My Aunt Mrs Robert calls it) and it is not slight emotion that can make me weep— Cornwall! will you go to Cornwall? and just in May! Setting your happiness out of the question, is it not more for your advantage to go to London? Barry Cornwall3 made a thousand pounds the first year he was there—and you have ten times the genius of Barry Cornwall—but do not be swayed by me—do as you like, and as you think best— only tell me which way you decide— I think we may meet in November—at present I know of nothing to prevent us—but I do not look forward to having you with me here, with the same delight as, to having you with me in London— Here there are so many considerations to distract me from the full enjoyment of your society—there we should be all for each other— Cornwall—will you go to Cornwall?—

I wish you were through with Meister— I would rather have you working the precious mines of your own heart and soul, than dru[d]ging for Goethe, though a princely Master— If we are in London together, we shall arrange some plan of employment, far finer than translating fairy tales, or even Whilhelm Meiste[r.] Nevertheless this employment is not without its reward— I am very desirous that you should see the stuff I am making—you might set me on a better plan, for I am very sure I am working on a wrong one— I have no notion how far the original form of expression should be preserved in a translation; or how far I may alter it according to my own idea of a good style—the consequence is that every sentence of my translation looks detached from the rest, and constructed in a different manner— Do you understand what I mean?

There is not the smallest chance of my injuring my health by over study— I should not have leave to destroy myself in that way, though I were willing— As long as the profession of Callers continues to exist, and as long as perishable silks and muslins continue to be worn, and as long as tea-parties and dinner-parties continue to be frequented and as long as I have neither a great deal of money nor a great deal of my own will; I shall have idle business enough to keep me from too hard study— My sickness was caused by bile—and my bile was caused by annoyance, and my annoyance was caused by that unfortunate Youth who persuaded me he was going to die in good earnest—but I expect he will live after all—and I do not intend to be bilious again unless I am prevented from going to London— I have got the Orator's portrait—so like him, and so handsome! I design to copy it for you as soon as I get time—but at present I have a great deal of prose business on my hands— I have three pairs of silk stockings to darn—two muslin caps to make—two chessboards to paint—the Memoirs of a Missionary to read and worst of all a most distressing blockhead of a Girl to inspire with geography— Mr Irving spoke of spending a week with you at Dunkeld—and then carrying you with him on his marriage jaunt4— He likes you well— Tell me how he gets on with a wife—it must be very laughable

Yours for ever / and ever

Jane B Welsh