The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 12 April 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410412-TC-JWC-01; CL 13: 93-97


Fryston, Monday [12 April 1841]—

My dear Bairn,— Before going out, I will send you a salutation, tho' there can come no written one from you today;—unwritten ones I hope you send me one or two.

Your second Letter came,1 as before, at breakfast; I gave Richard the paragraph relating to him to read for his own behoof; to which he, smiling his sweetest, returned suitable response. Your Dispatch objurgation and Chronicle eulogy were read, parts of the former aloud, with suitable commentary of laughter, to the company at large: Lady Galway, who seems to have some sense of laughter as of other things, understood the Goody's procedure; but to the Dear-Donaldsons,2 I could observe it was matter rather of amazement: “Does Mrs Carlyle send this?”—“Ah yes, the wicked gypsey; she is too glad to have anything like it to send!”— Your Chronicle puff is really worth something: can you find out who did it? If it be not Fuz,3 which I rather on the whole disincline to think, then I have another admirer, who partly understands too what I would be at. Your Mother's approbation is also very agreeable to me, and my own Mother's “greeting [weeping] over Knox & Luther.” And now, at last, I do think we are very sufficiently applauded and approved;—and ought if possible to go and do something deserving a little applause!

Sleep prospers somewhat better with me now: all the rest was and is as well as it need be wished. I wrote last time with the remains of a pill in me; you know me then! It should always be specified at the top of the sheet. I had, after that, close following on that, another wretched night: but on the morrow Richard who had been bestirring himself in the interim, produced, besides his own horse, a respectable sharp-footed galloway (got “from the neighbourhood,” he says, borrowed or hired perhaps from one of his farmers), and invited me to ride with him to Wakefield, twelve miles off, not to speak of detours in search of the picturesque. Nay he did not plague me with the picturesque either, the good Richard; on my declaring that simple knolls and fields with brooks and hedges among them were the best of all for me, and the picturesque a mere bore, he admitted that partly at bottom it was so to him also, and probably to all men. I like Richard better and better; a most goodhumoured, kind cheery-hearted fellow, with plenty of savoir-faire in him too. He answered me the other day when asked, If he liked Spenser's Faery Queen? “Is it as a public question that you ask me, or as a private confidential one?” Nobody could answer better. By the bye, you may tell Darwin that R. did not write Cecil, nor that Quarterly Review Article;4 both of which items of intelligence, at least the former, will be welcome news to the man of closed lips, who rather likes Richard.

The lady Galway went off on Saturday, but talked of returning with her husband on Wednesday, when, as I gather by ominous indications, there is to be a dreadful field-day here. I was not able to make much of the young lady: she seemed desirous to talk, but unused to it, unable; I gathered rather by her ways of singing, of looking, laughing &c, that she had more in her than she could speak all at once. She has had much sickness; has no children, great wealth, a hunting husband, and professes to read Dante and Goethe: think of all that. I refused to go to her place5 at present as decisively as was polite: but Richard has not given it up yet, the dog. We shall see what kind of man the husband is: above all, we shall see how we sleep;—it is but so so, hitherto. With the rest of the family I continue well, but make no progress towards intimacy; indeed, except mutual good-will, I think there is not much more possible. Gig and No-gig, unless some depth of intelligence or originality of character happen to connect them, cannot get well into union. The eldest Aunt, a pale sickly woman (in figure too, an English edition of Miss Donaldson),6 who speaks far the least, pleases me the best: she zealously follows Calvinistic Church-of-Englandism; makes remarks which indicate sincerity and insight; looks over upon me sometimes with a pale kind smile, which I like. ——— Richard's ride to Wakefield, where we saw a smoky spinning Town, and an ancient Socinian lady named Gaskill (sister-in-law, I think, of the Booth Gaskill7 whom you remember), did me, on the way to it and from, very great good: we galloped and trotted; I smoking cigars and looking out on the quiet of Mother Earth improved by agriculture, Richard talking like a little pen gun,8 about Puseyism, Aristocratic blackguards Aristocratic originals, crypto-catholicism, and much else. We came across this Park at full gallop about six o'clock—to dine with the “Dragon of Wantley,” as we found! Alas, here is Richard come to tell me that his Mother goes with us; that we must off to ride instanter!— Adieu dearest! I will try to save the post yet.


Tuesday Noon.— Alas, Goody, we never got home last night till near six, an hour after the post leaves Ferrybridge not to speak of Fryston! I take time by the forelock this morning again.

The “Dragon of Wantley” is Lord Wharncliff, so nicknamed hearabouts; a solemn old Tory Lord, judging the people in quarter-sessions at Pontefract in these days; who, by his advent hither, raised the steam almost to bursting of boilers. I found him innocent, wooden-limited, a very good old Dragon, and was heartily content to see him take his leave last night positively for the last time. We had three nights of him, nay properly four, and the steam always up.

Last night moreover we had the James Marshall's Wife and man: Miss Spring Rice that was sits now flowering in the Drawing-room, with Richard and ladies; James I suppose is out to walk with the elder Mr Milnes. They look well enough, both. He a shade older, a shade more at his ease in Zion;9 she much the same as before. They are ardent to get me up to Headingley: but I tell them I am a waiter on Providence, and know not whitherward I am bound at all. They do not seem to promise any very particular solacement to me, if I go: we shall see. Indeed I have yet talked little with either of them, being in a crowd of people.

Today either, no news. Indeed I did not deserve any; being in your debt: yet somehow I thought a Notekin would come.— Have you heard anything of Jack yet and Richmond? I wrote to him addressing “Post-Office” there: not a word of response.

Alas, we were at Church on Sunday; Roebuck (much tamer than before) was here again, with lawyers, with louts;—“this way leads not to peace!” Yet I actually slept last night (for the first time) without rising to smoke!10——— Write, my own Dearest. Take care of thy own poor self; and good be ever with thee!


N.B. I have got my clothes sent out to a washerwoman: a shirt per day is the allowance here; which however I do not conform to. I also yesterday bought two cotton nightcaps at Pontefract, 9d each: am not I improving?— Milnes's valet waits upon me, like a brownie;11 like a silent-assiduous minister: he annoyed, and flung me out, not a little at first by doing everything for me; but I am getting a little used now.———— By the way I have lost a button; not an important one! I think, if I had a black thread, I could put it on, myself, for by a kind of special Providence12 I have found a needle lying on the floor. Did you ever hear tell of a greater fool! Nay I can tell the lackey about my button if I like.— Adieu, again. Tell me how my poor Goody does, what the state of the Earthquake is, what she and the world are doing. So here I kiss you, and go.— T. C.