1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO ELIZA STODART; 18 April 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240418-JBW-EA-01; CL 3:61-63.


Haddington 18th April [1824]

My sweetest Coz

I have been meaning to write to thee for these last three weeks— but “man proposeth and God disposeth”!—1 I do not know how it is, for all such a miser as I am, as to the article of time, I have very seldom an hour to spare. I am busy just now translating German—as busy as if my fortune in this world, and my salvation in that which is to come, depended on my proficiency in that enchanting tongue. And then there has been Miss Grace here for a whole month, and she needs the entertainment of walks and tea parties. At the first she was quite intolerable with her fine-Lady airs, and “toploftical2 notions. She thought (I suppose) that she was to carry it over me with as high a hand here as she had done at Penfillan, but I was not just in the humour to let her—“my foot is on my native heath and my name is McGregor!”3 Here no one shall play the Miss Welsh but me. She decamps tomorrow— Praise be to God in the highest! for I am “sick of imitating Job4 for this bout. We have had Miss Macmillan5 too for ten days, and her Brother for two, both of them right worthy persons in their way; whom one does not grudge to “behave pretty” to.

Speaking of pretty behaviour—you may tell Mr Tiger6 that I think he has behaved very ugly indeed. What was the use of making such a hub-bub about my friend's address unless he meant to call for him? Moray street is neither a habitation in the Moon nor in the centre of the earth. As far as my Geography helps me, it is a new street half way down Leith walk—but it is no matter now where it is! Mr Thomas7 has been in the country this month back—and the information which he wished to obtain from Mr Gillies, by means of the Tiger's introduction he has long ago gotten from another quarter.

I have had a horrible fright with Mother. She was taken last Monday with a violent pain in her head, and retching. Mr Howden8 bled her employed all sorts of vigorous remedies—but in spite of every thing that was done she remained for more than three hours in a state of agony that I never saw the like of. Since then she has had no return of violent illness but she is still plagued with headach[e] and sickness at times— However as it is visibly bile that is at the bottom of all the mischief— I expect with the help of a few abominations to have her quite put to rights in a day or two.

I need not say how happy we were to here of your [u]ncles amendment. Is it not very odd that sensible man as he is he cannot take care of himself? You never quit him that he is not laid up. As a little Dunlop said of her Father once when he had put them all in a panic by staying late out “If ony body wud had [hold] his hands I sould cuff his lugs to him [box his ears].”— In the mean time you may give him a kiss—

I have run against the little gunpowder man of Medicine,9 in the entry, several times. We ‘moue’ to10 one another— I toss my head toploftically—he looks as if he could eat me— And that is all! A week or two after we came from Edinr he tried another fit of illness—but it did nothing for him— And as we neither sent to enquire for him nor testified simpathy for him in any way his sins were very soon forgiven him11— that is to say after having kept his bed for a week—one day dabbling with leeches and the next plashing in warm water—he all at once rose up in good health—dressed himself and drove* to town to be present at an operation performed on his Uncle, Not the musical Genius of St Giles Steeple—but a fat old gentleman who has a fine house with a ‘Hall’ and ‘saloons’ and ‘grounds’ about it in the vicinity of Moffat. Now when he perceives that he may bleed or boil himself to the day of Pentecost without interesting this “hard and stony heart” of mine in the least in his favour—he is adopting another mode of attack—instead of shaving his whiskers and using all possible expedients to give him the aspect of a woebegone man he is now trying to dazzle my wits with a white hat, silver headed Jockey whip and bits of leg[g]ings of so bright a yellow that it does me ill to look at them. but c'est assez [enough]!

George Rennie is to be home on a visit in the beginning of June— that is nothing either to you or me—

Now my “dear dear angel Bessie” will you do me two tremendous favours: Will you send the book in the first place to Doctor Carlyles Lodgings—where Betty12 was before—as I have forgot the name of the people. I dare not com[m]it it to the indiscretion of a Porter— Next your are to be so very kind as order for me at Gibbson and Craig's one of the best Gentleman's hats—of the most fashionable cut—not broadrimmed the outside measure is inclosed— I[t] is to be a present to my intended husband—so do see that they send a jemmy13 one[.] I am in haste as this insipid scrawl bears ample witness— Mother joins in kind kind love to Bradie and you

ever dearly beloved your affectionate friend Jane B Welsh.

[Scratched over:] Mr Howden has not called to night so I cannotcome at the measure of his head, but I shall send it by the first opportunity