The Collected Letters, Volume 2


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 26 November 1823; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18231126-JBW-TC-01; CL 2:480-482.


Haddington 26th [November 1823]

Dearest Friend

Thank God they are all away and I have time to draw my breath! Such a week of it I have had! dressing and showing lions, and making myself agreeable— I declare I am as fag[g]ed as if I were come off a journey of several hundred miles—(according to Mrs Montagues recipe) I should be “stretching myself on a sofa and endeavouring to forget every thing in existence” instead of presentin[g] myself before that one in existence in whose eyes I like worst to appear insipid but I know your surprising talent of forecasting evil, and that you will be believing me a dead woman if I delay any longer to assure you of my existence.

Heaven bless you for your kind solicitude about my health & happiness—it is precious to me above every thing in life. As long as my welfare is dear to one such heart, I cannot despond, cannot be altogether uninteresting to myself; useless though I be in the world, and loved or cared for by almost none— Do not vex yourself about my illness— I would not have mentioned it, had I thought you should take it so seriously to heart— I am quite recovered; indeed there was little at all the matter with me; but I am so unused to sickness, that I take with it very impatiently, and make a great outcry when I have little to cry out about. Moreover do not say another word to me of taking care of myself— I do take care, the greatest possible care— Dr Fyffe takes care of me also— This smallest of M.D.s likes me as well as you do, in his own way, and would sooner all the rest of his patients were carried off at one fell swoop,1 than that I should look yellow, or be translated— At his desire I am half drowning myself in cold water every morning, eating beef, beef and nothing but beef (I am sure I have eat a cow within the last fortnight) and walking two hours before dinner every day; and with all this water and beef and exercise, I am to be as strong as a lion, it seems, in a month's time—

And then your visit! that, I expect will do more for me than all my Physician's prescriptions. I have said nothing about it to my Mother as yet, nor shall till you have fixed the time. I think she will not object— It is very hard that we meet so seldom and always under such restraints— Oh that I were your Sister! I would go with you to Land's end, to the world's end, any where out of “the smoke and stir of this dim spot[.]”2 Surely there is not such an uninteresting place on the face of God's earth as this Haddington[.] About a dozen magpies of girls, as many old women acid as vinegar, three Gentlemen, one a puppy, another an idiot, and the third Dr Fyffe are all the society I have from years end to years end— oh for the constitution of a Marmontel3 that I might love those I have, when I have not those I love—but it will not do! in spite of all my efforts I cannot feel affection for the people about me— “Die Liebe will ein fre[ies] Opfer seyn”!4 And still, I am not yet philosophic enough to live with myself; And then they harass and persecute me so! but no matter! No unkindness can break my spirit whilst you love me—that consciousness is my armour of proof—

I do feel sorry for myself at times but what signifys complaining? I cannot “turn the wheel of my destiny”; but I can bear its weight— Let me bear it then alone— Have you not told me many a time that the sum of all philosophy is to suffer in silence? But we shall talk of all this when we meet— Not a word from the Orator! it is unallowable! Do you know they are giving out that I am dreadfully disappointed at his marriage!!! and that he has used me very ill—me ill! was there ever any thing so insufferable? but it is his own blame he talked of me so absurdly— He has been telling all people that I was “the Love of his intellect & that the woman he has married was the Love of his youth”[—] confound his intellect I shall never hear the last of it5— Tell me next time when you will be here—I wish my Mother was told— Bring Schiller with you. God bless you dearest of Brothers—Yours for ever and ever,

Jane Welsh