JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 17 April 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260500-JBW-TC-01; CL 4:e5.
JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE
Haddington, Monday [17 April]
Well dearest, you are one of the sublimest geniuses that the world ever saw! To imagine for a moment I would not live anywhere on earth rather then in this vile Haddington! What a surprising, inhuman scheme! bring me back to Haddington after all my longing to get out of it, back to such an Inferno just when I thought my deliverance sure. Nein, Nein, my will is not so entirely “cast into fusion”1 that it should by any possible process be moulded to this. Only think Mr. Carlyle could you, you of all men living—associate with or bear to see your wife associate with the inane, low minded people who make up the society of Haddington. No truly, unless you be an infinitely more tolerant person than I have hitherto taken you for—more tolerant than I should like to think you, you would rather at once curse God & die.2 The last proposed arrangement then is out of the question; for your sake not less than my own it must not be— For really to slam this door in the face of people whom it has been open to from my childhood upwards and who with all their faults & failings have never behaved but civilly & often even kindly to me, would be such an assertion of the independance [sic] of the human mind as I confess I have not yet got sufficient nerve for. So if you please Dearest, indeed whether you please or no, we will not live at Haddington, so long as there is a habitable world all about it. And my Mother may conclude what bargain she pleases with Dr. Fyffe, just the same as if no such proposal had been made to her. This is rined [?] & knit.3 And now having as usual demolished your project I come next to set up one of my own, or rather one of my Mother's in its place.
Eh bien! would you have any objection so soon as your task is completed to bring me home to Edin. at once; provided some kind geni of the lamp was meanwhile to get a house there all ready furnished for our reception. My good Mother is extremely desirous that this should be the way of it—that we should we have [sic] a comfortable home at our outset in life thro her means. And as I am fully persuaded that she will have more real enjoyment in doing us this kindness than all the fine gold in the world could procure her in any other way, I for one have been inclined to give a grateful assent to the generous proposal. And will not you my best Beloved do the same? Assuredly you will. But Whitsunday is at hand; so that if we are to come to Edin. before winter there is no time to be lost in looking out for the said house So do you lose no moment in transmitting to my Mother the seal of your sovereignty for it would be folly I presume to propose your coming & choosing for yourself in your present press of business. However if we had only some idea of the whereabouts I have no fear that she & I together should be able to suit your taste in a habitation. Do you like Morning side4 or is there any other situation you like better. It would certainly be preferable both in respect to comfort & economy that we should live out of the hubbub of the town, at least this is my view of the matter, and yours if I mistake not is the same. Forgive me for wishing to take the labour of the Commonwealth this once into my own hands, it is not out of any love of rule but merely to save you all sort of trouble & annoyance.5
Did you ever see such a letter, so ugly so all said so altogether abominably? But I am unwilling to miss a single post—and today I am hurried beyond all belief. Dr. Fyffe is coming to take a survey of the house again along with his Father (for the third & I hope in Heaven the last time) and as his Doctorship and I are twenty times worse friends now than ever before I must shift my quarters until the inquisatorial visit be past. Give my kindest love & a kiss to Jane.6 After I had dispatched my last letter it occurred to me in the dead of night that I forgot to thank her for the wristlets and I actually all but cried with vexation it was so kind of the little soul! tell her there never were such wristlets seen and that I have laid them by in the most secret part of my wardrobe in expectation of a future winter Dear Jane she shall be my child after all. My love to your Mother also and the rest
For ever & ever / Your own /