The Collected Letters, Volume 2


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 12 November 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18231112-JBW-TC-01; CL 2:469-471.


Haddington / Wednesday [12 November 1823]

Dearest Friend

Instead of wondering that I have not written sooner, you may bless your stars that I am able to write to you now. I have been nearer heaven, since you heard of me, than I wish to be again for some two score years to come. About three weeks ago, I sallied forth with my Mother to a confounded teaparty, one very rainy evening; and was tempted of the Devil to leave my bonnet behind, for fear of spoiling the arrangement of my hair— The consequence was that both of us were attacked with furious colds, from which I was the greatest sufferer; as I richly deserved to be— One day in particular, I was so ill that I believed I shoud not live, and those about me seemed to be much of the same opinion— Poor little Dr Fyffe! his hand shook so when he felt my pulse! I am sure it was twenty beats quicker for his panic—however the thread of my life was not yet spun— I fell asleep revolving last testaments and other pathetic matters, and when I awoke I was as free from pain as ever I was in my life— And now I am quite recovered except for a slight cough, attended with no inconvenience but that of obliging me to wear a cap (a proper punishment for my fit of vanity). Moreover I do not mean to allege indisposition as my excuse for a fortnights silence—as far as my health is concerned I have been able enough to write for these last ten days; but the house as usual has been full of people and I deemed it advisable to employ the few minutes I could rescue from the wreck of my time towards the performance of my task rather than in vexing you with the obstacles in the way of my welldoing— the last of our visitors is gone this morning, and (God willing) I shall have a respite till the end of next week when we expect a new invasion. My Uncle George1 is about to marry and purposes to af[f]lict us with himself and his wedding party for as long as it suits their convenience— I dare say you think me a most unhospitable person but really I have cause to quarrel with some of the visits that are made us, knowing their motives as I cannot but do—

So you are not to go to London[—] I am sure you are not without hearing a word more on the subject— The reasons that can make you hesitate with me must be conclusive— It was abundantly silly of me ever to expect that the project could take effect— It is far too like paradise for the world we live in— They say ‘experience teacheth fools wisdom’2—assuredly then I am no fool for it has taught me no such thing— I believed that you and I were to spend three months beside each other in London as firmly as if I had never been disappointed in my life before—and yet it has been ever thus, ever my beautiful prospects have withered like the gardens of Adonis3 almost the instant they appeared— I wish it had not been put into my head that you were to accompany me I might then have enjoyed the visit sufficiently without you but now I do not care whether I go or stay so that you are not there—but indeed unless our friend4 doth greatly amend his ways there is little likelihood of my seeking happiness under his roof either with or without you— He has not written me a single line since he was here for all the lecture I gave him on the subject and for all his promises of good behaviour in time to come— I do not under[stand] him—sometimes I think he loves me almost half as well as you do and then again that I am nothing to him at all—

The fates are against Lybussa I had determined to have it all nicely written out before you came; but what with ill health and one annoyance and another there is almost nothing of it done— the first translation I made was so bad and so illegible that I threw it away and commenced anew— I am really a very worthless concern—two and twenty and have done nothing that entitles me to hope for a higher destiny than marrying and making puddings— you will not be able to read what I have written and no matter— You must know I was mortal drunk yesterday afternoon and neither my hand nor my head are very steady yet. I had thought proper to faint and they made me swallow three tumblers of Brandy and water for a remedy— Write soon and tell me when you are likely to be in Edinr[.] What of Meister and Schiller? Oh for your head!

Your affectionate friend /

Jane B Welsh