1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 21 January 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240121-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:19-21.


Edinr 22 George Square / 21st January [1824]

My dear Friend

I staid from church on Sunday, for the purpose of writing to you; rightly conjecturing that I should not have an hour to myself for some days to come. But after I had stir[r]ed the fire, and mended my pen, and set myself down to my desk, I discovered to my great disappointment that there was not a morsel of writing-paper in the house. What little things may spoil the finest projects!— We came hither on Monday morning, and ever since I have been kept in a continual bustle—

A change from pure air to smoke is to work miracles (they say) in reestablishing my health, and in the present state of affairs I have not thought it politic to dispute the matter— So there is my new system of study thrown into confusion already! However I have brought a volume of Museas along with me; and am in great hope, that as I shall be permitted to decline all racketting about on the plea of my recent illness, the period of our sojourn here may not be altogether ‘sine linea1

If you come down at the time you purposed I shall most likely see you before I return to Haddington—but it does not matter much tho' you do not. We can converse with one another more ‘soul to soul’ as we are, with the Forth betwixt us; than if we were stuck up together in my frigid Cousins2 drawingroom.

On the whole I have been more diligent since the commencement of this new year. However I am not yet entirely quit of the bodily uneasiness, and restless listlessness of mind which has incapacitated me for any serious occupation for several months past. but as the causes of the secret disquietude which has been harrassing my thoughts and deeply undermining my health, are in a great measure removed, I expect in a short time to regain my usual ardour and activity— My Mother continues to use me kindly and if fortune had not played me another malicious trick I should have enjoyed as perfect tranquillity for these last four weeks as my restless nature will admit of.

You must know I quarrelled with Dr Fyffe a day or two after you left us— I had observed the workings of his little mind during your visit, with some feelings of contempt and displeasure, and his subsequent conduct completely ruined him in my esteem— Only think the creature had the intolerable presumption to attempt to redicule you to my very face. He had heard me express high admiration for decision of mind, and proportionate contempt for the opposite quality. and so in the enviousness of his heart, he set about giving me a detail of your proceedings at the George Inn, which was meant to show you off as the most irresolute fickle minded Gentleman that ever fluctuated between half a dozen different opinions. Was there ever such daring impudence? however I kept my temper and heard him to an end with Job-like patience. When he thought proper to hold his tongue, satisfied (no doubt) that his masterly satire had entirely demolished your manly idea in my mind, I asked him, “N[ow] Sir if my Friend, knowing you to be possessed of my good opinion, had turned his talent of satire (whic[h] I assure you does not come short of yours—however much it may exceed it) to render you absurd and contemptible in my eyes, what would you have thought of him?[”] The Creature ruffled up like a Bantam about to fight—and chattered with an astonishing command of absurdity—about your impertinence in presuming to suppose him drunk to which volley of nonsense I replied with a volley of female eloquence which (I have a notion) is tingling in his ears up to this hour. I am pretty certain I have not spoken so long or so warmly since the day that you & I were in quest of Lady Warrender.3 Mercy what a delicious walk that was! I have laughed at the recollection of it many a time— But the M.D. had not the policy to give me the last word like you, and we parted mutually incensed and here I must part with him for the present tho all the important part of the story is to come. but my paper is almost filled and so illegibly that to cross it would drive you crazy altogether. I have devoted so much of it to these most uninteresting particulars because they have led [to] the most serious consequences—consequences which might have involved the happiness of all my life to come— I shall explain in my next— I cannot make sense of what I have written[—] consider this I am half dead of fatigue & headach[e]—And that five persons are conversing with me while I write—but I must not put off till to morrow for I know not what it may bring forth; besides the fortnight is almost expir[ed.] God bless you for considering my comfort even at the cost of your own enjoyment I shall repay you hereafter[.] Address to me here—

Yours everlastingly /

Jane Welsh