The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 18 April 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410418-TC-JWC-01; CL 13: 103-106


“care of James G. Marshall Esq”1 Headingley, Leeds, Sunday 17 [18] April, 1841—

Dearest little Goody,

Your two Letters both reached me; the last only few minutes before the time of departure; both, especially the first, were a great consolation and entertainment to me. I have this moment enclosed Emerson's Letter in a Twopenny cover for Fraser (your cover was over-weight), and directed James to send off the missing sheets as soon as possible: I do not suppose any great benefit will ever come to us from that New-England reprint, especially as there is already a robber in the field;2 but we must do the best we can for it, the rather as that is so easily done.

Richard and I rolled off from the door of Fryston Hall, in a handsome enough manner, yesterday about eleven o'clock. He was bound to Barnsley-dale, on visit to the “Dragon of Wantley”; the Galways also were to return homewards in an hour: so that we left a vacant house,—to a quietude which, I should think, must have been welcome to it! I never lived before in such an element of much ado about almost nothing: life occupied altogether in getting itself lived! Troops of flunkies bustling and becking at all turns; the meat-jack creaking and playing all day, and I think all night (for I used to hear it very early under my room), and such champagning, clareting and witty-conversation-ing; ach Gott, I could sooner be a ditcher than spend all my days so! However, we got rather tolerably thro' it,—for these ten days; and I really think I can report a favourable change in my inner man, in spite of every drawback. I have not yet made out one good sleep: this morning I had a fair chance; had fallen asleep again, and was afar in sweet oblivion apparently for hours,—when the visage of a flunky at the foot of my bed roused me in sursaut [with a start]: “What o'clock?”—“'Af pas' seven, Sir!”—“When is breakfast?”—“'Af pas' eight!”— Flunky of the Devil! I rose as slowly as I possibly could; smoked, read newspapers &c &c you may judge with what felicity, till ten, when breakfast did arrive! No wealth should in any case induce me to be concerned with retinues of flunkies;—and yet poor fellows! Even this flunky of the Devil is a very assiduous helpful creature: I will tell him not to call me tomorrow at all, and so forgive him. I gave our Fryston valet half a sovereign, five shillings to the housemaid, half a crown to the groom,—small by degrees, and beautifully less,—and so parted at peace with all men. Milnes and the Galways expect me down in Nottinghamshire (expect me, tho' with doubts manifold); indeed Richard seemed almost to know that he was to be disappointed! I do not now think there is much chance. The Lady Galway proved, as I feared, a cistern rather than a fountain: of eight o'clock dinners and aristocrat shoulderknots there has been, for the present, enough. Ld Galway himself I found to be a fine hearty wellbred hunter, not without shrewdness, fun and good-nature: next to Richard he, I think, suited me fully best. I will write to his Lady G. a promise to come and fox-hunt for a week some other time?—

Here at Headingley I feel my situation decidedly improved. The house is very greatly quieter; the people have, almost all, decidedly more sense: two altogether important elements! Besides we dine at six,—nay we have a smoking-room; the youngest brother Arthur3 has cigars and pipes! I could be better nowhere than here; at least if Marshall will lend me his horse, as I hope this very day he will. I have shirked the church; I pleaded “conscience”: I do really begin to have scruples, that is a truth: scribbling nonsense to Goody, here at least is an honest procedure; my dear Goody———!——— Nothing can exceed “the Kindness of these people,”4 and they are really good people. I was much entertained with the “new Mill” yesterday, with the thousands of men, lasses, and boys and girls all busy there.5 It is not nothing but something that we here live amidst. At six o'clock here (James had driven me along about five) a general muster of the Spring Rices and Marshalls (Mrs Henry Taylor among others) awaited us to dinner,6 and we had a reasonable enough evening, one of the best I have yet had. We must bring Goody too some day, and have a nice visit of it here: she will do very well, and help me to do! There is room enough for her in this room, a better room for me than the five-and-forty-feet one. A beautiful room; where I now sit writing, with Leeds lying safe in the hollow of the green knolls, its steeple-chimneys all dead today, its very house-smoke cleared away by the brisk wind which is rattling in all windows, growling majestically thro' all the trees: nothing that art, aided by wealth, goodness and honest kindness can do for one, is wanting.

Our amiable enthusiast of a Landlady promises really to be entertaining.7 She has sense, as you will find, and amid all her high-flown Arcadian sensibilities (O la!) a pure affectionate nature. She complains greatly of the solitude, of the size of this house, &c, and I dare-say likes to have me here for a day or two.

No more! Here is the end of the sheet—Jack's Letter came with notice of his house in Bayswater. Tell him that I enclose his Note for my Mother, and have forgotten the precise address. Send thou it.— Whither I shall go after this is uncertain;—perhaps over into Annandale?— Write directly hitherward. You will write on Monday itself, won't you,—like an excellent Goody as you always are. Bless thee dear Jean