1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 29 April 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240429-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:63-65.


Haddington 29th April [1824]

My beloved Brother

The Devil has interefered with me! At the time that you was writing commendations on my diligence I had been idle for near a fortnight. You remember the little skip[p]ing Lady1 that mad[e] a progress with us along the Bridges, at the most eminent bodily risk? She has been here with us, on a visit; and as my Mother was far from well at the time, the whole burden of entertaining her and my engagingly unlettered Aunt devolved upon me. This fresh interruption had so discomposed and disspirited me, that when the coast was clear again, I felt more in a humour to regret the many days so lost, than to make myself amends by redoubled industry. But your letter set all to rights again, and made me so very impatient to resume my plan that I could scarcely wait out the Lord's day on which it reached me. This is not the first time that your words have worked a beneficial revolution in my frame of mind: many is the time that they have roused me out of listlessness and dejection, (when nothing else could) into ardour, activity, and hope. Oh what I owe you! beside the dozen kisses—(pour parenthése) will you talk no more of this same debt of mine—at least till we meet. The fancy of charging twelve shillings for an inch of rubber passed at first for a witty joke; but my Mother will, for a certainty, think us ill off for smart conceits if you continue recurring to this one in every letter)—

For these last ten days I have been getting on again in good style. I have finished Charles and am in the second volume of the History of America. At this rate I calculate on getting through with all the books which you recommend to me in about twenty years. If the Diety [sic] of Spurzheim2 had not neglected to supply my head with the organs of memory a shorter time might perhaps suffice[.] It is a great misfortune for me that I am so defective in this particular. I am obliged to get almost the whole of what I read by heart, that I may remember any part of it. As for Rubezahl (to my shame be it spoken) I am still in the fifth Legend—however I might have been done with his Gnomeship long ago, if I had spent all my four German hours on him. but I though[t] it more adviseable to devote half that time to reading the rest of the tales—and then it takes me near as long to scribble a page as to translate one. in fact I am slow—snailishly slow at every thing. But the Lord's will be done!

When will you be here? I long for your coming this time for I think we shall be very happy, that is, providing Dr Thumb does not shoot you dead. I have run against him several times of late. We pass each other with a haughty recognition. Oh it is great to see the little man on these occasions, the face of him looking defiance, as he raises his hand to his hat—his white hat—and “struts a straw breadth nearer to the skies”! I shall certainly laugh in his face some day or other. After my return from Edinburgh he tried me with another fit of illness. but we just let him be doing, and when he saw that all his bleeding and boiling of himself was like to go for nothing he all at once arose in excellent health took a drive to Edinr and bought himself a white hat! At present he is exhibiting curious metamorp[h]oses to the speculative people in this quarter. From a slovenly muffled-up, snail-paced little man, he is become the sprucest flourish of a creature that you could wish not to see. and what is truly astonishing this transformation took place in one day. If you only saw his yellow knee-caps!

Not a word from the Orator! So, my magnificent chateau en Espagne is completely demolished! I will not go now, not a footlength though he was to write to me on his knees (which there is no great probability of his doing)[.] But no matter the Orator's self is the principal loser by this transaction; he has lost a friend— I merely a few weeks amusement—moreover it is possible for me to get to London some other time; but it is absolutely impossible for him ever to recover that place in my affections which he has forfeited. I could not have believed it! Nobody but Edward Irving's self could have made me believe him so fickle and heartless.— Mother is hurrying me to go and dress for some silly people that are coming to tea— N B She is in raptures with you and your letters. Excuse this horrible insipid scrawl in consideration that I have been tormented twelve hours with a headach[e] Come! God bless you my best friend.

For ever Yours

Jane B Welsh