JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 8 December 1825; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18251208-JBW-TC-01; CL 3:424-426.
JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE
[8 December 1825]
They are gone, my Dearest! fairly gone! Mr Baillie, and Miss Phoebe, and all the Dogs, and my Uncle from Galloway, and his Wife, and his Wifes Brother besides. This has been a more terrible infliction than anything that befell our friend Job. Nevertheless I am still alive, and blessing God for all his mercies,—most of all for the great temporal blessing which I enjoy in thee. Indeed so long as that is continued to me, not all the Dogs and Dandies1 betwixt here and Bond Street could drive me to utter despair: for strange as you may think it, young Man, I have an affection for thee which it is not in the power of language to express; and I wot not what evil or accumulation of evils could prevail to make me entirely wretched; while thou art within reach to comfort me with sweet words of hope and love, and while it is written, as with a sunbeam, on my soul ‘He loves me! He is mine!’—Yes, “mine, with life to keep, and scarce with life resign.”2 Is it not so?
Often you used to tell me, in the days of my insanity, that there was something better than fame, “something more exquisite still”; then I understood not what you meant, and laughed at the notion of anything being better than fame— But it is far otherwise with me now—for now I know that the deep blessedness of two souls which live in, and for each other is best of all that earth and heaven can bestow. This blessedness is ours! and yet I am discontented with my lot; because it is not in every particular exactly as I wish it! “So little knows any but God alone to value right the good before him!”3 Surely it is weak, sinful in me ever to get out of humour and vex you with complaints and now that I think of it I will be patient—for the next four and twenty hours at least /
It rejoices my heart to hear of your late hopeful diligence— Only continue and the roses will be here ere long,—and laurels too. Think that every sheet you advance in your appointed work, is a step towards my deliverance from this solitude,—this “cold, wild waste, where thou art not”: and think what a high recompense awaits thee, all dif[f]iculties being overcome—a hot-tempered, portionless Wife!— I must not forget to thank you, for your obliging permission to flirt, which, doubtless, I shall be right glad to avail myself of on some future occasion, tho, in my sweet cousin's time, I felt indisposed to amuse myself in any such way— To tell you the truth, I am fast losing all favour for this most beautiful of men, who is the express resemblance of Milton's Belial, the fairest and most hollow of all the fallen. I am even seriously meditating to have his hair removed out of my ring— Oh I could tell you things of him that would make the hairs of your head stand on end, like quills upon the fretful porcupine,4 only it would be pity to waste my paper with so worthless a subject— I am looking forward with much pleasure to having your friend Mr Johnstone here, that I may hold long conversations with him about you— I have got the promise of several votes over and above those secured by Gilbert Burns, so that I have no doubt but he will be appointed to the office (such as it is) tho' the townspeople are exerting themselves to the uttermost in behalf of a Mr Young— Our beloved Doctor5 is a letter in my debt which I am daily expecting him to pay— It was needless in the young man to alarm you about my health; and absurd in him to expect I should look the same in George Square as in Annandale— Let not your heart be troubled for me, but be careful of yourself which is the surest way of relieving me from every species of evil I am afflicted with— The prospect of your coming to Edinr does not delight me so much as it might have done—for unless my Mother alters the line of conduct which she is at present pursuing with me I cannot suffer you to come here. But at all events it will be a pleasure to know you near me— and perhaps we may meet in Town.
Have you written to Mrs Montagu yet?6 She has been dangerously ill— Her daughter has got a baby— Lock[h]art is going to London to be editor of the quarterly review with a salary of fifteen hundred a year— Remember me in the kindest manner to your Mother and the rest— Write as soon as ever you have leisure— And be not in wrath at this untidy epistle— I am ever your own