The Collected Letters, Volume 4


JBW TO ELIZA STODART; 1 September 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260901-JBW-EA-01; CL 4:130-131.


Templand 1st September [1826]

Dear Eliza

You must think me at least graceless, perhaps downright uncivil; and, in truth it is shameful that so fair a gift should be still to acknowledge. But this much I have to say, with all humility, in my own defence; that, here, the source of offending lies in weakness of the flesh, not willingness of spirit, and the thanks, which I have been so overbackward to express, I have been anything but backward to feel.

Still I was sorry as much as glad about these ear[r]ings;—for, while they pleased me as an emblem of friendly feelings on your part, of which, for reasons long and broad, I have of late been doubtful; I nevertheless wished them back again in Marshall's shop, when they glittered before my eyes under the form of a marriage-present. Not that I would keep the idea of my marriage out of mind. No truly! it is fully more attractive for me now than ever,—the greenest, sunniest spot in all my being— But marriage-presents, I do think, are the most unreasonable species of taxation that could be devised. You remember Uncle Adam Ramsay's exposition of the matter to Miss Bell Black. “There canna be a mair needless, daft-like thing, than to gie presents to a woman at the very hight of mortal happiness; It is she rather should gie, to puir single folk, that ha na Major Waddely to set them up.”

We got here last monday,1—escaped alive from the thousand and one miseries of these last four weeks. I wonder that among all the evils deprecated in the Liturgy, no one thought of inserting flitting. Is there any worse thing? Oh no no! from flitting, then, good Lord deliver us! But while the way has been rough and very fearful, it leads to “another and better world than this—”2 to a Heaven of truth and love and peaceful action,—“a sober certainty of waking bliss”3 in which the temptation in the wilderness4 will be all forgotten, or remembered but as a troubled dream.

To you, however, I had best not proceed in this strain;—your “views of men and things” have little sympathy with mine. So that what I write for the finest sense in the world you will perhaps throw in the fire as “a pack o' nonsense”—

Farewell, then, my dear Cousin— This, most likely, is the last letter you will receive from Jane Welsh; but no change of name can work in me the slightest change of heart—I mean, towards those who are indeed my friends—

My Mother, I suppose, will write to you in her own good time

With kind regards to your Uncle / I am always your affectionate /

Jane B Welsh