1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 24 July 1825; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18250724-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:356-357.


Templand Sunday [24 July 1825]

My dearest

I thought to write to you from this place with joy; I write with shame and tears. The enclosed letter,1 which I found lying for me, has distracted my thoughts from the prospect of our meeting—the brightest in my mind for many months, and fixed them on a part of my own conduct which makes me unworthy ever to see you, or be clasped to your true heart again. I cannot come to you cannot be at peace with myself: till I have made the confession which Mrs Montagu so impressively shows me the need of— Let me tell it then out at once; I have deceived you I whose truth and frankness you have so often praised have deceived my bosom friend! I told you that I did not care for Edward Irving, took pains to make you believe this— It was false; I loved him—must I say it—once passionately loved him— Would to Heaven that this were all! it might not perhaps lower me much in your opinion for he is no unworthy man, and if I showed weakness in loving one whom I knew to be engaged to another, I made amends in persuading him to marry that other and preserve his honour from reproach: but I have concealed and disguised the truth: and for this I have no excuse—none at least that would bear a moment's scrutiny. Woe to me then if your reason be my judge and not your love! I cannot even plead the merit of a voluntary disclosure as a claim to your forgiveness. I make it because I must, because this extraordinary woman has moved me to honesty whether I would or no— Read her letter and Judge if it was possible for me to resist it.

Write I beseech you instantly, and let me know my fate— This suspense is worse to endure than any certainty. Say if you can that I may come to you—that you will take me to your heart after all as your own, your trusted Jane and I will arrange it as soon as ever I am able—say no—that you no longer wish to see me that my image is defaced in your soul and I will think you not unjust Oh that I had your answer never were you so dear as at this moment when I am in danger of losing your affection or what is still more precious to me your respect

Jane B Welsh