The Collected Letters, Volume 2


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 14 April 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18230414-TC-JBW-01; CL 2:329-331.


Monday—Afternoon [14 April 1823].

My dear Jane,

Thinking you might have finished all that was new or interesting to you in the first volume of Schiller, I have ventured to send you the second. I also wanted to speak with you: and “man is a selfish being”—as my Shoemaker at Ecclefechan positively assured me last summer.

My speech at present however must be very brief; for though longing greatly to talk with you, I have nothing worth a pin to say. I am quite sick at heart about this journey of yours. We are to depart for Dunkeld or Killiecrankie or I know not whither, in the first week of May; and already after to-morrow, I shall be confined constantly, except between one and four o'clock. It is ever thus!— I believe I shall have to travel without seeing you at all. I could “roar” like Bottom, when I think of this, “so that it should do any one's heart good to hear me.”1 I am seriously vexed. But do you never mind me. Come—if woman's wit and good-nature can shew you the means; if not, be diligent and happy—und lass mich fahren [and let me go away]. You would be always dear to me, tho' I should never see you more.— But this is poor tragedy, and so I leave it.

Are you going steadily on with Gibbon? I hope you will stick by his skirts, in spite of all the roughness of the path, till he bring you to the end. There is much instruction in him, and much entertainment also—tho' one tires in so long a march. The volume which treats of Mahomet is a splendid piece of writing. Never look at the notes, if you can help it; they are often quite abominable.

You must translate Egmont,2 during summer, in proper style: we will print it, if we please! You must also write to me—almost every day—like a dutiful Scholar, as you always were. I am quite sorry—and could almost laugh at my sorrow, it is so absurd—for what I call this parting. As if sixty miles could part us more effectually than sixteen!

In the mean time, do come hither—unless it is expressly written to the contrary upon the “Iron Leaf.”3 Without delay!— I have to hear you read Egmont; and to say nine hundred and ninety nine things, and hear as many; and the time is short very short. Do come my dear Jane—if it be possible. Will you insert a “not” here as you once wickedly did, and send it me for answer? I do not think so.

Schiller swells on my hands; it will require to be divided into parts: I meditate three. The first will be ready against your arrival, whenever that happens. I intend to have it done in two days. It is worse and worse; but never mind!

I read Spenser these some mornings, while eating my breakfast. He is a dainty little fellow, as ever you saw: I propose that you and he shall be closely acquainted by and by. What think you of this description of sunrise

By this the golden oriental gate
Of heaven 'gan to open fair,
And Phoebus, fresh as bridegroom to [his mate]
Came dancing forth, shaking his dewy hair,
And hurled his glistring beams thro' gloomy air.4

His Faery Queen is like the sand of Pactolus,5 gold dust sparkled in every foot of it.— But I can palaver no more—for the time and paper are done. Will you not come? or at least write to me immediately? I am wearied with waiting—but patient—and—ever your's.

T. Carlyle.