1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 1 July 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240701-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:98-100.


Bridge of Erin [Earn] / Thursday [1 July 1824]

My dearest Friend

On Saturday I said within myself, Well I shall surely have a letter tonight! in that case he shall wait three weeks at least for his answer—that he may learn what it is, to count the hours till post-time, day after day—to expect and expect till the heart is sick of expectation: and if I do not hear to night! if I do not! the Lord have mercy upon his soul! I shall send him such a letter by tomorrow's post—so indignant and so cutting that it shall annihilate him upon the spot. ‘Patientia sæpe læsa fit furor’;1 he had better take care what he is about. Let me see—it shall begin, ‘Sir’—and here the Postwomans-one knock at the door put a stop to my musing— My Mother came in with a letter— I ventured to enquire if it was for me? “You may be sure of that,” then handing it to me, with a glance at the address, and a smile that boded evil “I suppose that will cure your head,” I replied very boldly, ‘I have no doubt but it will help,[’] and broke the seal with a horrible thumping at my heart: but before I had deciphered the first three lines, I was requested to finish my tea— Tod und der Teufel [Death and the Devil]! (I must not swear in English) my tea indeed! I gulped it down like as much senna, which I abominate above all drugs on the face of the earth; and at last I was permitted under these promising auspices, to read to the end!

You cannot think how relieved I was when I perceived from the amendment in your style that you had got my last. The Orator's address was any thing but legible— I could not read it; I could only copy it—and it seemed more than probable that my letter instead of reaching its destination, might be returned to me from the post office. Here would have been a pretty catastrophe! a death blow to the commonwealth! but the Gods are with us—all is right—and do you most headstrong of Adam's children be wiser in the time to come & bring us into no such danger again.

Your sudden impatience to hear from me is monstrous inconvenient, just at present. for all the magnanimous resolution I made of frighting you out of your wits about me, when it comes to the point I cannot bring myself, to occasion you voluntarily a moment's pain: and never was any body less fit for writing or doing any one sensible thing than I am just now. To write sooner was impossible[.] All Sunday I was in bed with my old enemy headach[e], which has been playing the very deuce with me and Rubezahl almost ever since you went away, on Monday I was busied from seven in the morning till twelve at night in packing and preparing to set out for this place at four and twenty hours warning. On Tuesday I rode to Edin[r] on horseback and was engaged unavoidably after I arrived— where do you think I spent the evening? you could never guess—in the greenroom of the theatre with Marianne —Paton—2 I question much if Meisters Marianne was half as charming as mine— She is the most graceful dignified looking young creature you ever set your eyes upon— we were friends five years ago—at that time we entered into a league offensive and defensive against all the old women and starched up misses of our acquaintance—and vowed to love one another all the days of our lives with the ardour of seventeen— You cannot think how my heart beat when I saw her again in the Playhouse about a week since. I had galloped to town on purpose—it was one of the most delightful moments of my existence when the curtain drew up and discovered her to me inch by inch—the same but infinitely lovelier than when I knew her and loved her five years ago. On Tuesday night she was still more brilliant— Had you but seen her after a display of talent that had thrown the whole house into an ecstasy, when she flew into my arms with the whole soul in her face, and asked me what did he say? I think I never beheld such a heavenly creature! the he was a young man who had been standing by me and who I suspect is her lover3— but I have no time for all this just now—there have already been three messages for me to join the company— I scarcely know yet who we have got here— I have been in bed almost ever since my arrival yesterday[.] I am ashamed to send you such a brief scrawl but do not consider the [this] as any letter. Write to me at Hadd. in about ten days— I scarce know where I shall be till then— Be upon your good behaviour—for god's sake—tell me more about the genius and expect a tremendous letter from me upon my return— Blessings on you my dear dear Brother[.]

Yours for ever

Jane W

Be sure you are not longer than ten days— Lord Lord this bust is dreadful