The Collected Letters, Volume 1


JBW TO ELIZA STODART; 1820; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18200000-JBW-EA-01; CL 1:219-221.


[Early 1820?]

My Dear Bess

This is not intended to be a letter of friendship but merely one to give trouble— My Aunt Elizabeth1 is seized with wondrous passion to grow clever—or perhaps I ought to say to be accomplished— She has commenced drawing. French & Geography under my auspices— As she has no drawing materials—I must request that you will take the trouble to get from White2 a paint Box (I think they come to about twelve shillings) containing the usual number of paints, only instead of light Blue & light Green I would like a small cake of carmine & a cake of King's Yellow3—also a few hair brushes of different sizes—& four small sheets of thin white pasteboard, I think it is called Bristol Sheet, for painting single flowers on— —for myself I would thank you to get a small cake of carmine, two very fine hair brushes & the same number of sheets of small thin pasteboard. Be so good as cause him to make the note distinct that is to say separate (as the young Lady is particularly particular)—to be done with my commis[s]ions at once I would also thank you to send my Mothers black feathers— I will send my Buff one to be died black the first opportunity.— I have been very busy for some time past with Italian french &c &c[;] tell Mr Aitken4 that I am quite pleased with the testamen[t;] besides myself I have got three pupils, Elizabeth, Ellen Howden5 & her cousin Christina, the first is clever but much too confident in her own powers, the second is exceedingly clever, but careless, the third is stupid & anxious and what is worst, I am more anxious about her than any of them[.] She is my Pupil for every thing & lives with us— Her father & Mother died within three months. and when we invited her here it gave me a melancholy pleasure to think that the care and anxiety which my adored father spent on my education might be of use to one like me left destitute of this first blessing— Her father was ill four days & died on the sunday before that fatal one which blasted all my prospects of happiness in this world— She two [too] was going to Mrs Seatons6—& She was thus before I saw her connected to me by the Strongest of all possible ties—sympathy— —She is beautiful & very interesting—about fourteen years of age—fortunately for herself she is either not come to the age in which one feels keenly or is not naturally endowed with very keen feelings— I confess I am a little disappointed in this respect, but it is wrong in me to be so for it is certainly a blessing to the poor Child—.—He used always to tell me that in giving me a good education he was leaving me the greatest good—of this I have found the truth, and too late I have begun to feel toward him gratitude which only adds to my sorrow for having it no longer in my power to make any returns— The habits of study in which I have been brought up have done much to support me— I never allow myself to be one moment unoccupied—I read the books he wished me to understand—I have engaged in the plan of study he wished me to persue—and to the last moment of my life it shall be my ende[a]vour to act in all things exactly as he would have desired—when I am giving his sister and Christina their lessons I seem to be filling his place—and the recol[l]ection of his anxiety and kindness and unwearied exertions for my improvement & for the improvement of those who have so soon forgot him, is sometimes like to break my heart— —My Grandfather is a kind old man to come so far at this season— He is very anxious that we should accompany us [him] to Edinr but to that I am certain my Mother will not consent. We have just had a card from John7 to say that he is coming to tea— I must therefore close this hurried stupid, troublesome letter— —I must beg that you will take the trouble to send out my things as soon as you [conv]eniently can as all my pupils M [tear in paper] M [tear] want carmine— Robert arrived to day loo[king] divine—I do like him dearly— We had a call yesterday from George Bell & his son Benjamin who is one of the most frank unaffected young men I have seen— —By the bye Benjamin had a party some time ago of young Drs from Edinr—amongst whom was my old Barkly Museum friend Mowbray Thomson8—who does not seem to have forgot me— He is im[m]ensely improved— I dare say you are a little curious to know the state of my affairs at present— I must defer all com[m]unications till we meet which I think will be in summer [.] And indeed you have not much to learn—my sentiments and views are very much changed and I believe in time I shall be really sensible—tell Mr Aitken that I can read two pages of Italian at a time—— —Burn this scrawl I will not say before you read it, but immediately after—by the bye you was with me when I told Muir9 that I wanted the music at different times— He means to make me take 9£ worth of stuff all at once—the thing is quite absurd—and as it will be long long before I require it it would really be a loss to me[;] I wish you would go with Robert some day & tell him about it[;] he has given me [a] great deal of trouble[.] I have no room for loves[.] Yours Affectionately Jane B Welsh