The Collected Letters, Volume 4


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 3 October 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18261003-JBW-TC-01; CL 4:147-149.


Templand—Tuesday [3 October 1826]

Unkind that you are ever to suffer me to be cast down, when it is so easy a thing for you to lift me to the seventh heaven! My soul was darker than midnight, when your pen said “let there be light,” and there was light as at the bidding of the Word. And now, I am resolved in spirit, and even joyful—joyful in the face of the dreaded ceremony, of Starvation and every possible fate. Oh my dearest friend be always so good to me and I shall make the best and happiest Wife! When I read in your looks and words that you love me,—feel it in the deepest part of my soul, then I care not one straw for the whole universe beside; but when you fly from my caresses to smoke tobacco, or speak of me as a mere circumstance of your lot, then indeed, my heart is “troubled about many things.”1

My Mother is not come yet, but is expected this week; the week following must be given to her to take a last look of her Child; and then, Dearest, God willing I am your own for ever and ever.

This day fortnight would suit me better than Thursday; for (you know) after the proclaiming one is not fit to be seen, and therefore the sooner we got away the better: But then it would not suit—the Carriers? unless, perhaps, you could send your things the week before, or leave them to follow after you. However, the difference of two days is of no such moment in my mind, that you may not fix whichever you find most convenient. So determine—and let me know.

With respect to the proclamation, I am grieved to say I can give you no comfort. for not only must you be proclaimed, like any common man, in your own parish, but send a line from the minister certifying you unmarried, before they will proclaim us here— Mr Anderson, for his own part, would require nothing of the sort; but his Elders, he says, are mighty sticklish about forms. They would not register the marriage unless it were gone about in the regular way— It is a pity! but after all their crying [proclaiming the banns] is the least of it—

Will you and John come here the night before or not? Whichever way you like—if you come I have a notion I will not see you; but I cannot say positively at this distance. Oh Mercy! What I would give to be sitting in our doll's-house married for a week!

Have you spoken to Jane yet about coming to us? and will she trust herself to my sisterly care? I would not have her for a month or two,—till I have got over the first awkwardness of such change; and my wits are recovered from the bewilderment of the new world about me sufficiently to look to her welfare— Surely we should feel happier for having the good little creature with us; and the arrangement, I trust, would not be without benefit to herself— For my own share in it, I engage to be a true kind Sister to her and an instructor as far as I can[.] Tell her this if you see good; and give her a kiss in my name— I may well return one out of twenty— But indeed Dear these kisses on paper are scarce worth keeping— You gave me one on my neck that night you were in good humour, and one on my lips on some forgotten occasion, that I would not part with for a hundred thousand paperones. Perhaps some day or other I shall get none of any sort—sic transit gloria mundi [so passes the glory of the world].

Have you heard of Mrs Strachey yet? I have! with a vengeance! Mrs Montagu in her last letter coolly denounces her as an “Archfiend”!2— And you Thomas Carlyle uphold her an Angel of light! I wonder which I am to believe?— Something whispers—Mrs Montagu— Is it jealousy think you? Oh no, for I do firmly believe that had Julia Strachey been Jane Welsh and I Julia Strachey you would still have had the grace to love me best. Yes and I should have loved you too—and then! Mercy what a burble would have come of it— Things are better ordered considerably as they are—I'm thinking—

There came a letter from my pretty cousin Phœbe Baillie the other night—almost sentimental for a wonder— The Girl has taken it into her head (and not without reason) that my grave help-mate will hardly be able to endure her; so she conjures us, in all seriousness, not to discard her utterly and thereby blast her hopes of ever becoming more wise!

You will surely let me teach her German, Dear? I promised, and you would not have me break my word. Besides the poor little soul has none to speak one true word to her but only me; and her follies I would fain persuade myself are more of education than of Nature— But you shall see her in good time and judge for yourself—and then— not my will be done but thine— I am going to be really a very meek-tempered wife—indeed I am begun to be meek-tempered already— My Aunt tells me she could live forever with me without quarelling—I am so reasonable and equal in my humour— There is something to gladden your heart withal!—and more than this—my Grandfather observed while I was supping my porridge last night—that “She was really a douce peaceable body that Pen.” So you perceive my good Sir the fault will be wholly your own if we do not get on most harmoniously together— My Grandfather has been particularly picturesque these two days— On coming down stairs on Sunday evening—I found him poring over—Whilelm Meister!— “A strange choice” I observed (by way of taking the first word with him) “for sunday-reading”— But he answered me quite sharply—“not at all Miss—the book is a very good book—is all about David and Golia[t]h”! But I must stop And this is my last letter! what a thought! how terrible—and yet full of bliss!— You will love me for ever—will you not my own husband and I will always be your true and affectionate

Jane Welsh