TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 12 August 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260812-TC-JBW-01; CL 4:124-127.
TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH
Scotsbrig, Saturday [12 August 1826]—
I am very sorry for you this morning, and these last days generally: I know you were expecting with certainty a letter from my hand; and till Monday you cannot get any. Properly speaking, I should be sorry for myself, that I must appear to you so careless, and lose the enjoyment of talking with you in all sorts of foolish small talk: but the truth of the matter is this: A pack of sheets came down on Monday morning, with a long letter from the Bibliopole requiring an alteration in the Title-page and Preface; then Jonathan on Wednesday morning; the management of all which things has occupied my whole disposeable time till this morning. Thank Heaven! Title-page and Preface and all are now off my hands: next week I get the last four sheets, and then in two days bid good b'ye to the whole matter. At any rate, what is the matter whether I write to you or not? Are you not always in my heart and my thoughts, and am not I always in yours, my little Dearest; and are we not soon to be joined in the holiest and closest bonds forevermore! O my good Jane, it is an awful and a dilicious thought this of wedlock! Need is, most pressing need that the heart you give your own heart to be well and seriously judged and found worthy. With one whose integrity of soul you even doubted, it we[re] better to die a thousand deaths than to wed. My own true wife! I trust in God I shall love thee well; that thou shalt find a home for thy fair soul in my bosom; that my arms may encompass thee about from the afflictions of existence, and the heart thou hast believed in so nobly may prove no refuge of lies! I swear it will break my heart if I make thee unhappy. And yet I am a perverse mortal to deal with, and the best resolutions make shipwreck in the sea of practice: but thou must be a very good wife, and I will be a very good husband; and our souls shall have no secret from each other, and we live, indivisible and one, poor or rich as it shall please Heaven, but more blessed in each other's love and goodness than any other pair. O I feel as if I could live and die with thee if thou wert mine, mine as thou shalt yet be, not by priestly benedictions but by the soft pervading influences of thy own worth and wisdom, reaching deeper and deeper into my soul year after year that we live together. What more can I say? Kiss thee with a true kiss, which means: Look in thy own heart, there thou wilt read it all.1
Jonathan2 saw you the night before he came away; sitting, as he represents it, in the midst of chaos, like Patience on a monument, smiling at Grief.3 Here too are Plasterers and Carpenters bringing back the reign of Ancient Night; the tumult the dust and horror too high for the English language! This is the Purgatory fire; but is there not a Heaven beyond it? Bear all these things with calmness, for they will have an end; and we shall get married in spite of all men and things, and be very good Eheleute [husband and wife] too. The good Jonathan likes you as well as it is possible without loving you: he really seems very much improved since he went away last; and I think bids fair to do well. So far as he has come, I make bold to say that no young man of his time in the Edinr school has studied more faithfully, or amassed more sound knowledge and worthy habitudes with similar opportunities. His Thesis is very considerably the best I ever saw produced there, on such principles. Poor Jack! I really begin to feel some little sympathy for him.
Never man was so plagued with bad paper and pens as I have been for the last week! Do but see how this base sheet turns up its nose at the good ink; and with much exertion, takes no black but a grey colour for my lines! I must be very brief.4
To your arrangement of my journeyings and our meeting, I cheerfully subscribe; judging it the best among several bad ones. Edinburgh, however, I believe I must visit before a certain event; but I will let you be gone from it, and most probably have seen you first. The business is, I must fall upon some new enterprize if possible before the great day: I would not have that season poisoned by base bargainings and chafferings with tradesmen; I should like rather to have a task begun, which beside my little Weibchen I might then fall to prosecuting with double alacrity. Nay more, these novels are not to be published till November; and I must go and raise the cash for them forthwith—for obvious reasons. The Bookseller tell[s] me “times are exceedingly bad”; but he does not frighten me with that talk: thro' the strength of Heaven, I shall earn food and raiment for us both, in all manner of times; and have something left for higher purposes too. The gift, small as it is, which God has given me shall not lie unimproved, let the contradictions of sinners be what they may. I am happy to say that I feel more and more consciousness of the rights of man within me; and less and less dependance on any patronage either from men or things. It all depends on our own humour, and manner of conceiving it. I hope yet to be, not a great man for that is unessential, but a good man, for your sake, if it were for nothing else. Cant and palabra will not do: I cannot tell you with what sympathy I have come to regard some of our Edinburgh critics, just of late, in regard to the matter of this very Book. I will learn much, and teach you much, much, when we are wedded.
Do you ever write to Mrs Montagu? Make my most kind compliments (she really has many excellences and much nobleness of mind), and also the best apology you can devise for me. I feel as if I could not write to her, till after. I have done her injustice many times: she is not without (unconscious) affectations and the like: but am I, is any one? And how many women have I seen, who had one tithe of the true greatness of mind which she has? Alas! scarcely one or two in this wide world. Tell her that we will both love her—as well as we can.
Can you find Wetterbaum (weather-tree) in your German Dictionary? If so send it down (the English of it) without delay. But I much doubt you: Jack had left Edinr too soon; the letter I sent to him must come back with no wetterbaum in it: but any way I can do.5
From this place, I have nothing but all manner of kind compliments and wishes to send you; from My Mother, from Jack and Jane in words; from all the rest, I know it well, in thought. When the house is done they expect to see us here. Did you cry when you turned your back on Haddington? I believe you did now; ill as you liked the place. Comley-bank will be far better; especially with so illustrious a gentleman, philosopher and husband beside you—your own forever!—
I am idle at present, or at least occupied as I like. I will come to Nithsdale when you see good. I confess I could like to have arranged the matter under less restraint to both parties: but after all, what difference how it is arranged, so it be arranged at all! And arranged it shall be, if Heaven spare us. Tell me seriously: Are you happy? Give me twenty kisses, and love me forever in your good heart, as I love you. A Dieu!