The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 14 January 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260114-TC-JBW-01; CL 4:11-13.


21. Salisbury-street, Saturday—[14 January 1826]

Best and Dearest!— I have literally only two or three minutes, which I can abstract from a host of stupid and perplexing avocations that beset me; nevertheless your looking westward this day shall not be utterly in vain; I will send you three lines to say that I am still alive, and still yours, and you still mine, forever and ever. Oh my kind Jane! why cannot I fly to yourself and tell you this! And clasp you in my arms, and swear that nothing earthly or unearthly shall ever divide us! But it is vain “to kick against the pricks”: let me be patient.

I knew you would write to me on Monday, and I was not disappointed. Your letter was handed in to me in the evening, along with one from Mrs Montague, which had picked it up by the way. Do you think I was such a fool as to read yours first? What will you wager that I was? I send you the Noble Lady's letter, for your recreation, and to quicken you in her service, in which it would appear you are at present behind-hand. Nothing can bring her out of the ideal: she is a born Dichterinn [poetess].1

I also send you the first two Sheets of that Book, which is giving me such trouble: I wish to Heaven it were off my hands; for there is much more cry than wool2 in the whole affair. I walked yesterday from 11 o'clock till 4, seeking books and men to expedite the concern; the Bibliopolist3 himself, a Turk in grain, being also very stupid, and inexpert in devising ways and means, tho' willing, poor profit-and-loss unit, to do the best he can. The second Sheet is full of blunders, never having got the smallest correction since it went to press, or rather since it was shoved into my drawer with its fellows, some night in October, at home.

You are not to be here till next month, and I must not think of coming out to see you? Good Heavens! I must leave Town in a few days; by the middle of next month I expect to be sitting at my own fireside in Annandale, eighty good miles from Edinburgh! Hard! It is unspeakable! When I think of it, I could find in my heart to drop a bitter tear, a tear of indignant sorrow at the perverseness of things. Are you not mine, my own chosen only darling of my soul? And I must not see you? Must not— Peace! Peace! Where is the use of brawling: we cannot help it, and must teach ourselves to bend to it submissively. I could walk to Haddington to see you for ten minutes. But I yield implicitly and trustfully to your arrangement: I know your feeling on the subject is like my own. So God bless you my best beloved! Tho' I cannot see you, none can hinder me from thinking of you, and anticipating the day when we shall no more be separated. O why did you join yourself with me? I declare I could sometimes weep for you; tho' I love you as my own soul.

The day of my departure is not fixed yet; but I have already been too long here. The last sound sleep I got was in my own bed at Hoddam Hill: three months of Edinburgh would drive me to the verge of the churchyard. These are things not to be sighed over, but to be remedied. What do you think I am meditating? To rent me a cottage in the middle of a walled garden, if I can find one, in the neighbourhood of this city, and—bring my sisters Mary and Jane to keep it for me! If they do not get Shawbrae, I shall have a house to provide at any rate: for tho' I should live in a place no bigger or better than a hencoop, it shall be my own from the threshold to the rooftree, and the curse of the abomination of tumult and smoke shall be shut out from it. Or would you—?—But no! you shall not: I love you, and will not make you miserable.

Professor Leslie4 has another plan. This tunbellied philosopher met me on the North Bridge the other day, and wished me in the first place to write a prize Essay on Comets for a gold medal and fifty guineas, which he has got to dispose of in that way; a thing which I signified was a good way from my thoughts at that date: and in the second place to go to Munich (in Bavaria) with a German Potentate, who wishes to be instructed in English Literature and Science, and is a Courtier and apparently “a very good kind of a man.” On this subject, I told the oily mathematician, I was ready to talk farther, if the German Potentate inclined, and give him my decision when I heard his terms. Since then I have heard nothing; and very probably shall never hear any thing. At all events I durst bet a thousand to one that I should not go and teach this German Potentate English Literature and science. We must take up house, Jane, at no distant date in some way or other!

Will you write again on Monday at great very great length: I will send you another letter before I leave this city, be that when it may. Indeed I have still many things to do; biographical notices to collect from the Advocates' Library, books to gather, arrangements to complete. I would they were over and I home. The printing will proceed as at present; and fresh books are written for from Leipzig. Write to me my Darling: I have no friend but thee. Write all that is in thy true heart. I am forever thine,

Thomas Carlyle—

I make no excuse for this coarsest of letters. Its appearance makes its apology; and I know well it will be welcome where it is going. On Monday!