1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 18 December 1825; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18251218-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:437-439.


Haddington—Sunday—[18 December 1825]

My Dearest—

Your letter found me in bed, at the extremities of fate; but, (oh, miracle of love!) I rose up an hour after, as well as ever I was in my life, and wrote to the Major1 himself on the subject of your solicitude—I have explained to him that in favouring your Father, he would confer the greatest possible obligation on me: we shall see whether his Majorship thinks it worth while to have a claim upon my gratitude—And now let me tell you, Darling, that, instead of frowning at the mention of this affair again, you could not have thought of anything that would have pleased me so much: for it showed the feelings, which you entertain towards me in the very strongest light— Of whom in all the world but me would Thomas Carlyle have asked a favour twice?— Thus, you perceive it is best you disregarded the suggestions of that gentleman called Pride (who, I would have you know, is an emissary of the Devil) even altho' my interference in the matter should go for nothing—

And you are coming to Edinr! I am so glad at this arrangement! I see not, indeed, any prospect of our meeting for some time; but it will be comfort to know that you are only sixteen [miles] off,—and then you will send me your manuscripts to read, and a great many little notes, besides the letter once-a-fortnight. Oh I think I could exist a long while without seeing you, if I got one of these living, breathing letters every—hour! As it is, however, I do wish my Mother would give over sulking, and resolve to make the best of what cannot be helped— One might think she would do this for her own sake not less than for mine: for she is my Mother; and must feel her voluntary exclusion from my dearest interests as painful to herself as it is to me— God grant she may take a kinder view of the matter ere long!

Meanwhile I do the best I can under these under these [sic] diverse dispensations of Providence— I am not well enough at present to study much, but I read a book of Milton and an article in the Edinr Review before I take my walk, and in the evening one of Moliere's plays and a portion of the ‘thirty years war’— Yesterday I even managed to write two pages of my life; and (if this weary headach[e] will let me) I mean to go on writing until I am done with it. I play scotch airs too! and hem muslin; and walk when it is fair weather— The natives, with the exception of the Burnses, I see no more of than cannot be helped; “for solitude sometimes is best society”2— And on the whole, tho' I am still far from happy, I am considerably less wretched than [I] have been for many weeks. Perhaps, when I am recovered from this fit of bile,—I shall actually learn to live content, “which is the calmest life,”3 at least, until the season comes round for another campaign on Nithsdale; at the bare idea of which my heart dies within me—

What is to be done I wonder when this book is off your hands? Perhaps you will write a novel, or a tragedy, or become Editor of a literary newspaper at Edinr, or Professor of Lord knows what in the University at London. Well! it is all the same to me where you go; so that I am with you for “thou to me art all things under Heaven all places thou”4— Tell me, however, every imagination of the thoughts of your heart— Am I not your better half?— Positively you must write to Mrs Montagu the very first hour you can spare— She asks “why do I not hear from Mr Carlyle? Is he to lose his existence as a friend because I have found one in you? Did he fear that I would be too sick and too proud?” There is a great deal more about you in the same letter— “She found you” (she says) “wrapped in prejudices against her; as an Egyptian King is swathed and cross-bandaged, and sat with the patience of Belzoni5 himself unfolding them one by one”— Pray do not let the Noble Lady have all her pains for nothing6— Have you heard again— from ‘Julia Strachey’? Do not be afraid to say yes— Not a word from the u[ngr]ateful man of physic! I shall feel very anxious till I know the Tale of this Shawbrae so be sure to write, the very instant it is decided— My kindest love to your Mother and a kiss to Jane—in spite of her idleness which I strongly suspect is as much her teacher's fault as hers. To Margaret and Alick and all of them I desire also to be remembered— This is surely the stupidest letter I ever wrote— But you will not mind that— God Bless you dear[.] Yours for ever and ever

Jane B Welsh