1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 29 February 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240229-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:37-39.


Haddington Sunday [29 February 1824]

Well my beloved Genius, did I not tell you that you would not be back at the coach office in time? I found Wull1 in the dining room after I parted with you, waiting there ‘to help me to greet [weep],’ and to ask in what quarter of the town he might light upon Moray Street— I wonder if he thought I was in the practice of making you visits at your lodgings? He went along with me to the coach that he might catch you at once; but it is by no means so easy to catch a Genius as a Tiger—we waited for you to no purpose— However I did get a sort of farewell look of you; and for the Indian rubber it is the best that ever rubbed, and the paper is not sandpaper; but even makes pretence to be transparent (tho' I cannot trace the blackest line through it for all that) so that on the whole I have not much cause to complain of you— I should have liked to have received your blessing however (pour parenthèse—how many shillings am I in your debt?)

Oh what a piping there was that day at parting! The very Tiger was like to greet in good earnest! I declare I have been ready to die of the maladie des adieux [the disease of saying farewells] ever since— I wish I was back in Edinr and in a house of one's own— I really cannot endure this Haddington now that I have taken it into my head that I cannot— It is the veriest B[o]eotia2 of a place on the face of God's earth— There is nothing to employ the affections, nothing to excite one's admiration or emulation in the society it furnishes. Love all the goosish people about me! “Verily I wot not what it means!” How did the Arch-Apostle3 love them himself in the time of his sojourn among them? just about the same as a cat loves mustard ‘I am not drawn to my fellow-creatures, forsooth, by the chords of affection![’] really it is fine to hear him talk! He casts away a bosom friend with as much non-chalance as he would an old garment, and presumes to preach to me about affections! But never mind— I will go on in my own way, loving you very dearly, and a few others in a less degree and disliking all the rest of my acquaintance never a whit the less, for any thing that a canting divine may think or say upon the subject—

Ever since I came home I have been busy mending my cloathes and bringing all my goods and chattles into order; and, now that no ill disposed person can pretend to discern my vanity through the holes in my gown I shall set myself to study with might and main, what with one interruption and another I have been idle now for nearly a twelvemonth— I declare I sicken when I think of it! a few twelve-months more, and where am I? it is dismal to think of passing out of the universe, without having accomplished any thing “to justify my Creator for having called me into it”— I must, must work, “saggendo in piuma, in fama non se vien” [you do not become famous by attempting with the quill”]—but not a word of fame! or I shall be getting another lecture, and falling into another tantrum, and then there will be the devil and all to pay—

Tomorrow (God willing) I shall commence a more rational mode of life than I have been leading for some time past— I purpose to get up at eight every morning; and if I cannot achieve this by dint of my own virtue I shall give Betty instructions to drag me to my good—the first four hours of may [my] day shall be set apart for reading German, and writing at the Tales—the fifth for painting—for ever since I saw those pictures in Edinr I have felt my love of the art revived and am willing to persuade myself “adio anche son pittore![”]4 then I shall walk for two hours before my dinner; as I have found by dire experience that this expense of time is a saving in the long run— I shall read history for two hours in the afternoon and, the rest of my day I shall spend in chatting with my Mother in playing on the Piano and in reading aloud amusing books— If this plan can be but carried into effect! and it shall, or the devil's in it— All circumstances are favourable to it at present. My health is completely reestablished, my head is clear and my heart is light, my Mother is grown more reasonable of late, and I am not so vexed with impertinent visitors as I used to be— Two of the most troublesome of our acquaintance have through God's providence got little squalling sons to keep them more within doors, a third is gone over to Dr Lewin's faction,5 between which and us there is as little friendly feeling as was afore time between the Guelfs and G[h]ibellines, or the Greens and Blues6— and then there is the small Doctor, (as you know), gone off like a Sky Rocket, and his absence is the most veritable riddance of all— The creature had somehow or other established himself the ami de maison; he fluttered in and out at all hours with impunity, sat out every other visitor and had always an alum basket to make, or a new shuttlecock to try, or a something to allege for staying whole hours at a time— When shall I have more of Meister? Oh these puppets! they do ennuyer me very sadly— Do not fag yourself to death— Unless you want those sheets immediately, I shall out of economical considerations detain them till I have something more to send— Contrary to your advice I have left off Gibbon; but positively I could not undertake it again just now. I have so often laid it aside that the very look of it now gives me the fidgets—however I shall read it diligently some time or other, from beginning to end— In the meantime I have got Charles V7— not the first volume for it is not in the library, but as it is all about the feudal law I suppose that does not very much signify. God bless you dearest, Write soon— my Mother sends her regards to you—she is far from well today

Your[s] for ever /

Jane B Welsh