The Collected Letters, Volume 4


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 28 June 1826; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18260628-JBW-TC-01; CL 4:111-113.


Haddington 28th June [1826]


I know not what in all the world to say to you. I cannot write nowadays; I cannot think; my head and heart are in an endless whirl, which no words can express. In short, this marriage, I find, is like death: so long as it is uncertain in its approach, one can expect it with a surprising indifference; but certain, looked in the face within a definite term, it becomes a matter of most tremendous interest.— Yet think not that I wish it but as it is— No! “ce que je fait je le ferois encore” [What I have done I would do again]: for if I am not without fear, my hope is far greater than my fear.

Oh yes—the whole arrangement will do excellently well: at least it will be our own faults if it does not. Our anticipated happiness is founded on no delusion—is no love-dream from which we must wake in the first year of our marriage. In good sooth we were either the stupidiest or most deceitful of all living; if, at this time of day, we had yet to know each other as we are. It is now five years since we first met—five blessed years! During all that period my opinion of you has never wavered, but gone on deliberately rising to a higher and higher degree of regard: and (what perhaps is still more convincing of its well-groundedness) in the seventeen months that I have held myself your affianced wife,1 I have never for a single instant wished myself free—never for a single instant doubted the wisdom of my choice. Nor has your attachment proved itself less steadfast than mine, tho' far more unaccountable. For you have loved me not in blindness of my thousand faults, but in spite of them, for the sake of my one redeeming grace the faith that is in me.— oh without doubt we shall be as happy as the day's long—happier in our little house at Comely Bank,2 than Kings and Queens amid the gilding of pallaces— Are you believing? I could easily convince you with my eyes and my kisses—but ink-words are so ineloquent!

With respect to this same house; it is by no means every thing one might wish, but it is by much the most suitable that could be got:—particularly in situation; being within a few minutes walk of the town, and at the same time well out of its smoke and bustle. Indeed it would be quite country looking, only that is one of a range. For there is a real flowergarden in front overshaded by a fair spreading tree; while the windows look out on the greenest fields, with never a street to be seen. As for interior accommodation—there are a diningroom and drawingroom (we must adopt the usual names, for want of more appropriate diminutives) three sleepingrooms, a kitchen and more closets than I see the least occasion for—unless you design to be another Blue-beard. So, you see we shall have apartments enough and to spare—on a small scale indeed—almost laughably small—but if this is no objection in your eyes neither is it any in mine— The smaller the rooms, the easier to warm and light and arrange them. And then the rent is only 32£ a year,3 which my Mother can easily spare, and which I therefore need not blush to take4— Besides by and by, if all goes well we may perhaps dispense with even this assistance— Strange, is it not, that I should like better to be a burden on you than on my own Mother!

My Cousin Phæbe Baillie came to us yesterday and on the length of her stay here depends the length of ours—for so soon as she is fairly gone, we must set about the miserable work of removing. Possibly we shall be in Edinr before you are; at any rate, we will meet there—or else in Nithsdale—for here in the present posture [of] affairs is no place for us— I wrote to Mrs Montagu5 two weeks since, in answer to a second letter from her—the kindest, most interested letter! I do love her very cordially— I see James Johnston frequently—as often as possible for he talks to me about you— So far as he explains himself he is well enough content with his condition here—but I must fear he will not continue so to the end— John writes to me in the kindest manner—and manages our affairs in Edin— He is a treasure of a Brother— My most affectionate regards to your Mother— I would gladly write to her but how can I—in the absurd situation I am in at present? Remember me also to Jane and the rest— I am for ever your own

Jane Welsh