1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 22 March 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240322-TC-JBW-01; CL 3:50-54.


Moray-street, Monday—[22 March 1824].

Bestes Liebchen [Dearest Little Sweetheart]! I know you will be expecting these sheets to-day, and I cannot think of disappointing you of any small enjoyment they can yield you. For the rest, you must excuse my haste and insufficiency in writing: I never was so hurried all the days of my life. I have taken out my seat in the Coach for Thursday morning, and they are determined to have done with the second volume ere I go; of which thirty pages are still in German. Nevertheless I will have half an hour's talk with you, betide what may.

Your letter was a precious thing for me. I wish you would adopt that close hand, and fill your sheet so well, and be so earnest and good-humoured and kind on all occasions. Rather I should ask of Fate to be so kind to you on all occasions: I believe it was the air of happiness which breathes from this epistle that more than usually enlivened me. You are always good, always bountiful in heart; your circumstances alone are liable to vary. For all this you deserve considerable preferment; and shall have it yet, mein Kind.

As to that “unblessed” day's work, what farther can be said about it? I do not think it possible for the “mind of man” entirely to forgive such a thing, within less than half a century. Yet I have very nearly forgiven you “even to the heart's core”:1 we shall see what farther can be done when we come to settle accounts. But remember your bill payable at sight! My own private idea is that you are a witch; or like Sapphira in the New Testament, concerning whom Dr Nimmo2 once preached in my hearing: “It seems probable, my friends, that Annanias was tempted unto this by some demon more wicked than his wife.” But these are things too high for me.

In seriousness, I am extremely glad to learn that you are getting on with some employment that improves you and keeps your conscience quiet. Walk forward in that steady manner; neither loitering nor overhasting yourself. Remember Ralpho's proverb given in Hudibras “slow fire does make sweet malt.[”]3 You will have a vast quantity of Rubezahl ready against my coming in the end of April or beginning of May. What a glorious correcting of it we shall have! I beg especially that you do not forget your two hours' walking: headache I look upon as your most dangerous enemy, and not otherwise to be dislodged and defied. Tell me carefully how you go on with all this: I desiderate a multitude of details in your last letter, copious as it is. Do you ever see the little Doctor, and how fares he? This Lewins whom you talk of is a paltry character, as I have heard: it were natural for you to feel a spleen against him, even if he had never been concerned more nearly with you. Yet let him have his swing: a dog is but a dog, however much they fondle him and pat him; and will but pass for a dog at last. I should regret this burgh squabble if it seriously vexed you: but I suppose it only lends a little interest to what would otherwise be dull and indifferent, the doings and avoidings of your civic neighbours. What a pretty thing it would be to see little Fyffe fighting a duel with this unworthy practitioner! I figure him cholerick but concentrated, with one foot advanced, the brow racked up,—“stiffening the sinews, lending to the eye a horrible aspect”— Angels and ministers of grace defend us!4 Yet after all Fyffe is a courageous little fellow; as such I respect him, and even almost love him.

Since I wrote last, there has been no change in my manner of existence; scarcely any incident in my history. I settled with Boyd in a style worthy of Yorkshire itself: he tried two plans to hoodwink me; very cunning ones; but they would not do. We had a little sharp discussion on the subject; and speedily agreed. Boyd is an open handed Bibliopolist: he is no niggard, nor do I reckon him a knave. He pays me down £180 (the sum I asked) on the day of publication, and has the total property of these 1000 copies at present printing. If he sell them all he will be well remunerated; if he do not sell one of them it will be quite the same to me. For the second edition he gives me £250 per 1000 copies, and after that the book is mine. I partly expect to make another £500 of it: but any way, I am already paid sufficiently for all my labour. Am I a genius still? I was intended for a horsedealer rather.— You will not like this second volume a jot better than you did the first: I only tell you to pause in your judgement till you have seen it all. There are two leaves wanting at the end of vol. I. but they contain nothing save a kiss fro[m] the Countess to Wilhelm, who milksop as he was deserved no treat of that kind. It will keep me all April as busy as a turnspit. But I shall get better health at home, and with health there is no fear of me. Will you write every week, and be ready to pay me in May? If you do not, there is nothing but the horrors of a jail before you: I have it in black and white against you, and His Majesty's Justices of the Peace shall hear of it if you deny. Was ever poor young woman so beleaguered? Owes me twelve shillings current money, and must pay it or be gazetted and imprisoned! I declare I feel some pity for you: but it cannot be helped. Will you write to Mainhill next sunday? I get home on Thursday-night.

I owe a little paragraph to the history of my friendship with the Tiger and its consequences. Not seeing him, and needing his promised service, I wrote to Pierce, requesting information and mentioning the name of Dunlop.5 There arrived no shadow of an answer: and so the matter terminated! This is no heartbreaking business: life I believe, even without the aid of Mr Gillies, may still be carried on; and the information which he could have given me I have already got from other quarters. My letter I suppose was wrong worded; tho' I have forgotten how it ran, I recollect that it was written one morning when I was very hurried and not too good-humoured or too healthy. Probably I would write to Pierce as to a man and a scholar; probably he is but a dandy and an Edinr Dilettante. This may be your answer to the Tiger if he ever speak of it; if not, just let it rest. I love the jolly Tiger not a particle the worse for this neglect: even Pierce himself I love. I am growing a very Irving, in love

But the paper is done, and time is done, and your patience is done; so I must end. My kindest regards to your Mother; I hope she is completely well: has she not forgot that she is to be taxed with me in May?— This letter is far too long: I will give but two pages next time. Will you write to me on Sunday. Farewell my dearest Enemy! Be good till you see me, and then better. I am ever your's

Th: Carlyle—