1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 3 July 1825; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18250703-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:342-345.


Haddington 3d July [1825]

My adorable Mr Thomas

I will schreiben [write] instantly since you are wearying; tho I doubt if you will thank me for it, as I am in the dullest of all possible moods.

While you have been arguing the goodfornothingness of knowledge, money, glory—and love too no doubt—a danger has passed over your unconscious head, which might well have given a more somber hue to your speculations—nothing less than the cutting short of both my lives at once— I can hardly say what has ailed me; but for these last three weeks I have been in the most uncomfortable plight. I gave over sleeping and then gave over eating, while my head ached in an unmerciful manner day and night. All this with the help of drugs and hot-baths made me so very weak that I could not walk twenty yards. Be comforted—however: for I am fast recovering and expect to set out for Dumfries-shire in about a fortnight— Then!— My heart beats faster than usual when I think of walking into the midst of your family. But I will1 come, if I am alive. I think I should be quite well if I was beside you again. Surely the Fates are against my purposes! Let me be ever so studiously disposed I get nothing accomplished. Will it be always thus? If I though so I would say my prayers and hang myself without more ado— But when we get this delightful house in the country and “all things to fit around us like the wheels in an eight day clock”2 I flatter myself that I shall have no more headach[e]s, no more vexatious interruptions; that I shall have health and quietness to study all things under the sun, and to imitate Theresa3in her imitable points” besides. In the meantime, Dearest, will you please to recollect, that two hundred a year is not to be gained by hoeing cabbages; that it would scarce be advisable to set up housekeeping on less; and that I am heartily sick of my existence in this miserable Haddington. What a cold Lover you are who need to be reminded of this! and what must I be that I deign to remind you of it? A little delirious perhaps from my recent illness.

Is it not very provoking to see Fortune lavishing her favours on fools; while she is such a niggard to you and I?— In returning from Haddington to Gartmore the other day, Margaret Betson lighted on a Husband as rich as Crœsus. They travelled a dozen miles together in some coach; he offered her himself and his fortune four and twenty hours after and tomorrow is their wedding-day. This is “freemasonry of souls” with a vengeance!— I do not envy Margaret her Glasgow Merchant; but I do think his money would have been better bestowed on my Philosopher. What do you think?

I am very curious to see Mrs Montagu's catalogue of duties: so take care that you do not light your pipe with the letter. I have heard from the “noble Lady” again,4 and written again— She will surely be satisfied now that there is no worm of disappointment preying on my damask cheek;5 for I have told her in luminous English that my heart is not in England but in Annandale! An odd communication (you will say) to be contained in my second letter.6 I do not know how it was; but I could not resist the ultra-German impulse to make a confidant of this new friend whom I have not seen. I already feel an affection for her which I cannot express she is so frank and kind and high-souled! so superior to all the women I have ever known! It is to be wished, however that she would not flatter at such rate. She makes such [a] heavenly creature of me in her last letter, that if I had not viewed myself too often in the mirror of Truth to credit her representation I should be apt to commit the folly of Narcissus and die of self love—— My Life is lying quietly in the Sanctum, as also modern Europe and the thirty years war7— I do nothing on the face of the earth at present, but recline on a sofa and read novels, or drive about the country in a gig. This is my Mothers prescription and I am obliged to submit for peace's sake. I must conclude for I am tired, and I am sure I have tired you also[;] better however that you should think me stupid than forgetful of you. God bless you Darling. I will try to write longer and better at another time. Meanwhile do you write and comfort me for this interruption— I think in a month or six weeks I shall have the kiss which you make such a work about[.] My kindest regards to your Mother and John. I wish he could light on some recipe in his medical books to cure my vexatious head—

Ever / Ever yours /

Jane Welsh