January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


JWC TO JEANNIE WELSH ; 1 January 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430101-JWC-JW-01; CL 16: 3


Sunday night [1 January 1843]

My dearest Babbie

Here we are then in the beginning of a new year! May we do as much of good in it and as little of harm as possible!—for this much we may pray with an assured conscience—for all the rest; it is in Gods hands—where we had best leave it! We know not what more to ask,— what it were good for us to have for the asking!—whether to live or to die—to be well or to be sick—to be at ease in Zion,1 or to be troubled about many things2—all these are transitory conditions, and their joy or their sorrow is transitory—but no joy, no sorrow no anything I suppose is given to us in vain—and the ultimate issues lie far beyond our poor human vision stretching away away into eternity—so for my part I ask of heaven only what I have said—that I may live my life wisely thro this new year—not foolishly—not wickedly, and I advise you Babbie of my affections to ask neither more nor less than this same—

John dined here today—as usual3—and now Carlyle is convoying him home—and I am here alone, and shall sleep the better for having written you, if not a letter at least the beginning of a letter— First as to the books—for business should always take precedence of other topics—the books my dear are after all—a loan!! “Why do you ask? What could make you suppose I should have meant them as anything else?”4 Ay what indeed?—the fatal romance of my character could alone have made me suppose such a thing!— And yet there are traditions in the world of men who have laid crowns and kingdoms at the feet of a beautiful woman, never to