1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 6 May 1825; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18250506-TC-JBW-01; CL 3:320-322.


24. Salisbury-street, Friday-morning. [6 May 1825]

Meine Herzensliebste [My Sweetheart]! I cannot take to any work till I have written you a letter: and yet except that I am sad and sick in heart at parting with you, I know not aught I have to say. Even this might be supposed without saying it; to have parted with you in so dreary and constrained a mood would have sickened a heart still harder than mine. O My Dearest! I boasted of being grown a Stoic, and I find there are things which could make a girl of me yet. Ever since I left you, the farewell, which I could not imprint upon your lips, has been sounding in melancholy tones thro' my inmost soul. Last night I opened Goethe; but his wisdom to me was foolishness; I could do nothing but gaze into the fire, or listen to the tempest, and keep recounting all the tender things I should have said to you, all the harsh ones I should have suppressed, and picturing, on the most sable canvas, past and future images of weeping, thwarted love. Sometimes I fancied our parting ominous; that you would die, and I should never see you more! O God! If Thou wouldst not— But there is no use in this, it is all a dream.

I have looked at your paper, and secured it as my choicest treasure. If you have not the gift of speaking with the voice, you can speak with your actions to the very core of the heart. This little token is mine; it addresses all that is sacred and all that is tender in my nature; I must be dead to manliness and mercy if I forget it or its import. O Jane! What a thing I am! How have you patience with me! “The end of man is an action, not a thought”:1 I have told you this a hundred times, and yet how sadly does my own practice contradict it! What have I ever done to merit so much love from you, what shall I ever do to maintain it and repay it! If prayers could make you happy, you were the happiest of mortals: but prayers are not worth an obolus, and these are all that I have ever given you.

Excuse this whining: I ought to be consoling you in your sorrows, not afflicting you by recounting my own. There is no use in the philosophy of comfort; the sole remedy for suffering is diligent action; let us both apply it in our several spheres, and the result will be peaceable and blessed. After all, where is the bugbear? We are alive, and love one another to the end of our existence: a few more sad partings, and we meet, to part no more forever. If we are wise, we shall and must be happy. Courage! Le bon tem[p]s viendra [The good time will come]; and I prophecy without fear that we shall both deserve it and enjoy it.

Now will you tell me that you are still good to me, and busy and composed in heart, and I will let you go? Say that you have commenced your tasks, and that your headache is away, and I shall think you happy, and depart in peace. Will you write me a letter however short on Sunday? Do, my Dearest, if you please. I know you will, when I say that it will do me good. I will answer it the moment I reach home[.] Be diligent, and encourage me to be so, and we may set Fortune at defiance. En été nous nous reverrons [In the summer we shall see one another again]! The farewell kiss shall add its tenderness to the kiss of welcome. We shall talk and counsel without let or hindrance; for frank warm kindness will be about us both. Think what is to be done, and when and how; and tell me without reluctance or reserve. Am I not yours entirely and forever, to dispose of as you please?

But this is “thought not action” again: I must leave you and conclude my business, at least commence it, and fly from the pestilence of smoky stony Athens. As yet I have spoken to no one, but three words to the landlady of these apartments. No word from Crabbe:2 to-day I must see Brewster and Sir W. Hamilton. On Monday morning I shall have your letter? Do, Jane: it will give solace to yourself as well as me; there is ease in free speech, I am already better since I began to tell you that I was sad. Have you begun your writing? Do begin it forthwith; and think that [it] is for me you write. Is you[r] head recovered? For the love you bear me, my own Jane, be careful, be solicitous about your health! Sickness is our only foe: O let us not so fearfully extend its empire! Were you sick, what would become of us?

And now my Darling, I must take my leave. Adieu my Dearest, mein ewig liebstes Weib [my dearest woman always]! Write on Sunday or sooner if you can.

I am ever ever, / Your Brother and Friend, /

Thomas Carlyle

Make my kind compliments to your Mother; and try to persuade her that if I were less sick, I should be less disagreeable. I admire her patience with me: by and by I hope it will be less needful.

The address here is Mrs M'Leod's, 24. Salisbury-street. Do, be sure to write