TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 4 July 1825; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18250704-TC-JBW-01; CL 3:345-348.
TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH
Hoddam Hill, Monday [4 July 1825]
Tho' it is not yet above a week since the utmost speed of postage could have brought me your letter, I have begun to long for it with no little eagerness. You will forgive this supernumerary letter; and look upon it as the record of my anxieties, if it do not prove the means of removing them. I would not force you to write to me before your time, altho' I could. A letter from you is like a little rose in the garden of love: we must wait with patience till the Sun and the dew have unclosed the bud and sent forth the leaves; not pluck it unripened, and mock the promise of its blushing fragrance. After all, why should I feel so anxious about your decision? Do I not know that you are coming? Have you not told me so, “unless I rued”? And how can I rue? Gewiss, sie kommt [She is certainly coming]!
I might insult your love of me, and awaken doubts about what is not doubtful, if I made any more apologies about the rudeness, insufficiency and so forth of the accommodation you are like to meet with. Is it not my own vanity rather than my wish for your happiness that would prompt me to dilate on that “head of method”? Forsooth the Philosopher is afraid lest his chosen darling should find out that he is not rich enough, or of rich enough extraction; that he is in fact a sort of clodhopper, and unworthy the attention not to say affection of one like her! Poor Philosopher! he were but a young apprentice to the trade, if these things moved him. Or do I know so little of you as to think that pomp and circumstance are essential to your comfort, that kindness and affection might not make amends for every want? Come, then, come my Darling; if you have the heart to venture, I predict that you will not repent. My Mother amuses me when she speaks of you; the other day she said: “I ken how it'll be; she'll just feel as I would do if I were gawn to live wi' Peter Paddy's folk [Peter is a Tipperary bandbox-maker late of this district, now alas! sub umbris];1 but if she want to see thee, she'll no care!” Consider therefore if you want to see me (a sight for sore eyes truly!), and come accordingly.
Alick has bought you a little Irish pony at Kelton hill fair; it is of a dark ches[t]nut colour, and kicks occasionally. Nevertheless I will make it carry you beside me, at a gentle amble, thro' all these moors and lanes; and we shall see the rugged face of old Annandale, and talk of all things under the sun. How many quarrels do you think will serve us? One per diem? Alas! that human souls have so much of the Devil in them! How could I find in my heart to say one cruel word to you? or why should those kind black eyes ever look on me with any other aspect than the melting light of love? Richter says: “The man should overcome by tenderness, the woman by reason”; but this is only in the “married state”; in the single state, I know not how he manages, I suppose there is nothing for it but to kiss and be agreed. By and by, it may be, we shall learn. O that we had learned, and had room to practise it! that we belonged to one another, that we lived with each other wholly, in that trustful sympathy, that oneness of souls that is the choicest gift of Heaven to mortals! My Dearest! I believe in truth “my heart has still some foolish fondness for thee”:2 I do love thee in the secret of my spirit, it will be long long before I cease to love thee. Would that I could shew it, that it might reward and animate me in suitable activity, not lie choked and mouldering in the labyrinthic depths of speculation! Poor miserable sons of Adam! There is a spark of heavenly fire within us, an ethereal glow of Love and wisdom, for it was the breath of God that made us living souls: but we are formed of the dust of the ground, and our lot is cast on Earth, and the fire lies hid among the ashes of our fortune, or burns with a fitful twinkle, which Chance not we can foster. It makes me sad to think how very small a part we are of what we might be; how men struggle with the great trade-winds of Life, and are borne below the haven by squalls and currents which they knew not of; how they toil and strain, and are again deceived; and how at last tired Nature casts away the helm, and leaves her bark to float at random, careless to what unknown rock or shore the gloomy tide may bear it. Will affection also die at last in that inhospitable scene? Will the excellent become to us no better than the common, and the Spirit of the Universe3 with his thousand voices speak to us in vain? Alas! must the heart itself grow dull and callous, as its hopes one after the other shrink and wither? “Armseliger Faust, ich kenne dich nicht mehr!”4
You perceive my preaching faculty is not a whit diminished, had I opportunity to give it scope. This place in fact is favourable for it: I have no business to accomplish, but a problem of which Experience and John Badams have already given me all the rules and limits; I only sleep eight hours of the four and twenty, and I see no living creature that abstracts me from my visions. No wonder, then, that I take “general views.” Sometimes unluckily they become particular enough, notwithstanding. It would edify you, for example, could you listen to one of the auricular confessions which I hold with the Man-Within some morning before getting out of bed. What blessed anthems that gentleman does chaunt to me! With what emphasis he calls me fool, ass, blockhead; with what felicity he likens me to the Armadillo of the Tropics, a horn-cased pug of a creature that climbs some tree, and will not budge a step from it, till it has eaten every leaf and twig and even every shred of bark! I tell him that I must and will be healthy tho' the Devil were in it; that he had better hold his tongue, that there is no use in talking—and then spring out, and huddle on my raiment, a[nd] gallop round by Dalton, and so put him to silence at least to low grumbling. On the whole, I feel well that this is no scene for the heathy Philosopher whatever it may be for the sick. If ever I get well, I must leave it, and shall wish to leave it. For the present, every time I think of London and Edinr, I feel as if in Heaven.
Considering all this, I wonder many a time that you have not cut me off from all part or lot in you. How in the name of wonder dare you think of “marrying” me? Was it the serious purpose of your reason, or only the day-dream of your fancy? Or do you love me, and feel that you could brave any fortune along with me? If so, my own Darling!— But how have I deserved it? Surely there is not such faith, in the breast of another “young lady” in this country. You are richer than I in soul as well as in fortune; you have a belief in the omnipotence of affection, which I for some years have partly lost. God bless you, my little Jane!— Let us study not to wreck a prospect that has in it so much of Heaven, however clogged and cumbered by the clay of Earth. I have still some faint idea that you will rue, when you have seen me here: at times in bitter moments, I smite my foot against the ground, and swear that it were best! Oh how many thousands of things have we to ask and learn, when you arrive!
Now you will come for certain; and write to me very soon to that effect? Be serious; do not laugh at me, if you can help it; there is something in laughter that dries up all the channels of the heart: you are pretty (pooty) when you mock, you are heavenly when you love and weep. Will you attend to this caution? Not a jot!
My Mother does not know that I am writing to you, or her “kindest compliments” would form a portion of my letter. She is far from well in health, and has not like me the hope of ever recovering it. Her country is on the other side of the Stars! I were a Turk, if I did not love her.— Jane was here the other night; she is sewing Samplers, stitching-in names and robin-redbreasts and all sorts of mosaic needle-work. Among a crowd of vulgar initials, I asked her what the “J. W.” meant? Who was he? She paused; then with a look of timorous archness, answered: “It's no a he ava' [at all]!”— You will write? But I am a fool to hurry you. A Dieu, My Dearest! I am wholly your's,
The Newspaper come[s] at any rate: except as a Memorial of me, I fear it is not worth the halfpenny it costs you. I look for an Examiner instead.