The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 6 May 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260506-TC-JBW-01; CL 4:83-85.


Hoddam Hill, 6th May, 1826—

Mein ewig Liebste [My dearest forever], why do you not write to me? Is it purpose? Is it necessity? Negligence it cannot be: for doubtless you duly appreciate the deep anxiety I necessarily feel about this most important event of my life and yours; and I know you too well to imagine that you could keep me one needless moment in such uncertainty. Nevertheless I have sent to the post-office every day this week, in vain; the long-looked-for messenger comes over the Hill empty-handed, without any tidings hopeful or despondent, consolatory or criminative from the quarter whence they are most eagerly expected.

This trial of my patience is the sharper, as for the last five days I have been totally idle; and accordingly prepared without much sacrifice to come and see you face to face, if such a step were desired, or necessary for the adjustment of this very serious negociation. The Books I talked of as having come from Germany turn out to be an Invoice of Books, the Books themselves being still somewhere on the road between Leipzig and this: the printing therefore is just about to stop, I myself am already stopped. Meanwhile the East-wind has given me a horrid cold: I am idle and sick, and Jane will not write. Behold, all these things are against me!

Among the manifold hypotheses which I have formed to account for your silence, it has not failed to strike me that perhaps you were angry with me, that you felt yourself injured by my last letter, and were taking this method of reducing me to reason. I trust in Heaven it is not so. O my Darling, you must not do this! What were it, but to complicate our affairs still further which are already complicated enough? To employ our force against each other, for less than no purpose; instead of with each other, against the many difficulties that beset us? If the manner of that letter was offensive to you, I can say with a clear heart that it was a most involuntary sin: and for the matter of it, this was the true copy of my best judgement at the time; and I knew not how to serve you more honestly than by communicating it without reserve. Do you imitate me: know your own mind, and lay it calmly before me; one way or other the two shall be reconciled. To my foolishness I seek no mercy from you, and will show none myself: but of my good sense think that however repulsive it is to you, it may have been no less so to myself; and is now not to be cavilled at but patiently to be tried, and if found worthy, to be strengthened and completed by good sense of your own. Believe me, my Love, a wise advice from you, would be more precious to me than as wise a plan which I had formed of myself. But to divide yourself from me, and sit apart from me as from a hostile influence! O Jane! if it is so, let me entreat you, pressingly implore you to let it be so no longer! When I look at it in my present mood, it seems as if no man could predict to what dire issues it might turn. Censure me, condemn me, say you will never love me more; but say this to me, that I may feel as if we were only to be parted, not as if we were parted already.1 For my sake, for your own, for the sake of true and wise conduct dear to both of us, I will ask you, I will beg you to write without one instant's delay from such a cause.

Perhaps, after all, this is only hypochondria, and some other reason restrains you: for in all the history of our affection, I can recollect no instance in which you have acted from such motives. Another theory I have formed is that you are sick, and cannot write to me. Alas! this is no whit better than the other. For God's sake let me know truly how it is! Write to me without delay if our common interests are still dear to you. On Thursday I expect to be completely disengaged from employment. Nothing that you can calmly propose to me will not find a ready and wistful hearing.

I am forever and ever, / Your own, /

T. Carlyle—

I am sick and confused in a thousand ways, and must write no more tonight, were it only that time fails me. O my Beloved you are forever dear to me, betide us what may! I could write volumes, and this as always would be the meaning of them. I beg of you again and again to send me one line, or even half a line, if you can write no more. It may be here on Wednesday: till then I will not ask for it, or look for it!

My maturest notion after all is that you are sick. God help us, and pity us! Send for me instantly, if my presence can possibly do you good. I still write Esperance! Esperance! For I know in whom I have trusted. Adieu my Dearest! A thousand good-nights!