The Collected Letters, Volume 12


JWC TO JOHN FORSTER ; 30 October 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401030-JWC-JF-01; CL 12: 308-309


Friday morning [30 October 1840]

My dear Mr Forster

To begin at the beginning; do not I pray you attribute this note to any overweening idea of “what woman is and has sometimes been on the part of Mrs Yates”1 and others, as a source of public interest: and still less would I have you attribute it to any overweening idea of my individual importance to your individual mind—but impute it to its true cause, a just appreciation of your chivalrous benevolence towards the weaker part of the creation! which rare benevolence I imagine will receive a slight solacement from the announcement under my own hand, that I am escaped alive out of that hazardous machine, as you seemed to regard it, to which you consigned me with so much repugnance last night. nothing indeed could be more safe and tranquil than my passage home—and not being able to recal[l] what Adam Smith says on the sentiment of fear, I reflected with Attila Schmelzle, not without a wish to convert you to the same way of thinking, that the only reasonable fear for a man (or woman) to entertain in this world is “the fear of fear2— Depend upon it I should have walked home perfectly safe on the crown of my head—if I had set out in full assurance that I could do it— It is want of faith that creates nine tenths of the impossibilities and all the difficulties of this life—

For the rest—except for a rather strong reaction of my morality against the atrocities of Mrs Yate's [sic] “attempt,” I look back on the evening with satisfaction—and flatter myself that I have even gained some new ideas by it—if not on the legitimate at all events on illegitimate dramar3

And so good be with you— Come and see us when you have leisure

Truly and kindly yours

Jane Carlyle