The Collected Letters, Volume 4


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 9 May 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260509-JBW-TC-01; CL 4:85-87.


Tuesday morning [9 May 1826]


I could not possibly write yesterday as you desired, being ill of one of my very worst headach[e]s; even to day I am still far from well and consequently very stupid—but no matter—I must just come as I am for it would be unkind to keep you waiting another post. This, however, is the first bad turn I have had for several weeks, so let thy heart be comforted my best Beloved: it is not sickness that has kept me so long silent, no—nor anger either. That your last letter vexed me I will not attempt to deny, but it was sorrow which I felt at it—not anger—and I could have taken you to my heart, while weeping over these hard sayings, just the same as if I had got all my own way— The truth of the matter is simply this, in the state of hopeless uncertainty into which you and my Mother together had plunged me back from what seemed the very summit of waking bliss I felt myself utterly at a loss what I should either say or do next and so have been waiting on in a sort of desperate negligence, until you or she, or Providence perhaps, should pour some ray of light into the midnight darkness of my inward world— This was very wrong I find—forgive me for the uneasiness I have caused you—ceased to love you! O thou of little faith!

And now most obdurate of Unbelievers will you sit down in good nature at your desk, and tell me plainly what on all this earth we are to do. Are we to be married or no; and if we are, where are we to take up house—in Annandale or in Edin or where? Here I have said I will not live, and said it not without reasonable grounds and slow deliberation—but no other arrangement can you propose to me which I am not quite ready to acquiesce in— My Mother's project I cheerfully give up, if you still think it so unsuitable to our circumstances; indeed I would not have so much as laid it before you had I not believed it certain to meet your wishes and purposes—for Edinr or any other great city to me has no attraction—on the contrary I would prefer the country much before it, because there I should have you more entirely to myself, and might live more entirely for the things I most love— But I much doubt if the country be the fitter place for you; if the life of solitude and love which would be Heaven for me would not for you become too soon a weariness— That do you determine

One thing I must entreat of you; if the thought of maintaining a wife begins to press more hard on you than you at first supposed it would hesitate not to tell me that we must live apart till a more auspicious season; but if not—if you are still determined to make me your own at all haps and hazards—for Heaven's sake Dearest speak not another word to me about your poverty. every such word comes home to me with the force of a reproach—and truly this poverty is a circumstance of which I need not to be any more warned—for I have long since looked it full in the face, and left it out in none of my calculations— Even when I proposed our taking up house in Edinr it had by no means escaped my recollection that we should be very poor— But I understood it my Mother's intention to provide as well as furnish a house for us; and for the rest I imagined we might live as cheaply in the vicinity of Edinr as in most other places—more cheaply, for certain, than in Haddington—where living is extraordinarily dear— But my Mother's meaning is generally so light and changeful that it is not always possible to catch it and hold it fast—and thus on the present occasion it has almost quite slipt thro' my fingers— One thing I am sure of—she would rather give the furniture of this house to you and I than sell it to any other which must be done if we have no house to put it in— Further than this we must not lay our account with her assistance, tho it is more than probable that it will not fail us— Why (you think) not make her speak plainly out, and say at once what it is she will do, so that we may shape our course accordingly[?] Alas Dearest in the delicate relation which I stand with my Mother such a proceeding natural in another would in me be an ungracious, ungenerous resumption of my rights—would counteract in one instant all the pains I have taken for years to make her utterly forget her dependance on me— Was ever poor girl in such an intricate situation— Consider it my Friend and help me for I cannot help myself—

We go to Edinr the day after tomorrow to pay some tiresome visits— Send your letter to John who will know where to find me which is more than I know at present myself—We shall be absent a fortnight—perhaps longer— I should like well to see you face to face—but I could have no right enjoyment of your society in Edin—and I see not that your coming at present could effect any thing which may not be as well effected by writing—

The bargain with Dr Fyffe is still in the wind—the Dr like many other pitiable persons being very eager to have the merchandise but equally loth to give the price

You will hardly be able to make sense of what I have written—but in Truth I am almost blind as well as stupid with headach[e]—and so hurried besides—for I have [been] several times interrupted— God bless you Darling

I am for ever devotedly yours /

Jane B Welsh

write immediately I beseech you