1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 18 November 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18241118-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:202-204.


Haddington 18th November [1824]

My Dear

What is all this about? I received your French letter on the 6th or 7th; I answered it on the 10th; which, I think was as soon as a reasonable person would have expected, and before my letter has time to be at Dover, you write again to ask “what has happened.” Was there ever such an impatient gentleman? However it must have been my good genius that put it in your head to write the last letter; it arrived here so opportunely—just five minutes after myself—and helped to dissipate the saddness which I always feel when I return hither, and miss the welcome which once made home-coming delightful to me. How often do your letters bring me comfort Dearest! I wish there was a glass window in my heart that you might look into it; you can never know by words how much I love you, and how gratefully I feel your kindness.

Well! here I am once more, full of new plans and resolutions: Heaven grant they may not end in smoke! I will be diligent this winter,—will if the Fates will only let me. But of this I am not at all clear— For the last six weeks I have seldom been, three days at a time, without pain in my head; and now the gaieties of the Festival and the alarm of the Fire have made me even worse than usual— The newspapers will have informed you of this calamitous business: unfortunately I was at George Square when it happened and Mr Bradfute being a party concerned we were kept, while it lasted, in continual agitation. I verily believe another night of it would have killed me.1 The hubbub of Tuesday increased my headach[e] to such a degree that I was quite insensible for several hours. I am still in a very shattered condition; and not at all fit for writing or doing anything that requires the least effort of thought. However I expect that the air of home and a few nights of sound sleep will set me all to rights again. I would have waited till I was able to write at greater length; only that, in case my other letter has not reached you, you might be fancying matters worse than they are.

Your present plan of life is quite to my mind[;] follow it out manfully and all will be well. I commence my plan on Monday, if I am well by that time. I have done nothing yet but bring order out of the chaos of Miss Gilchrist's goods and chattels. I wish you had been at the opening of her enormous black trunk— There were Books, clothes, drawings, shoes, artificial flowers, plumbcakes paste-beads and Lord knows what all jumbled together in the most hopeless disorder—unless she can be taught method I do not know what will become of me— She goes to bed with my nightcap on, walks off in the morning with my combs in her hair, steals my needles and pins without conscience: in short she is fast taking possession of every thing that belongs to me—

Tell me particularly what the Orator says about my coming. Try and get my other letter as I should not like to have it returned to me.

The Heart was mine I remember writing the word upon it one night when I was very melancholy; but how it got into your desk I cannot divine— Which is the best Italian dictionary? Be satisfied with “this mean epistle, meanest of the letter kind2— If I did not love you better than any body in the world I would not have written to night at all— Do not be uneasy about my vexatious head— I know it will be well in a day or two[.] God bless you my darling Friend— Think of me every hour till we meet—and believe me yours for ever and ever Amen!

Jane Baillie Welsh

write soon dearest