The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 2 September 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410902-TC-JWC-01; CL 13: 238-241


Greta Bank, Keswick / 2 Septr, 1841—

Dear Wifie,

Your Letter, with the great crowd of Newspapers (and one other Newspaper from Craik direct), lay waiting for me yesterday when I got down to dinner. Mine for you had gone off; I write another word this morning, having nothing so good to do for a few minutes as talk with you.

No sleep, no bread: I am heartily sorry for my poor Goody. We shall, it may be hoped, relish our own little brick dwelling, even tho' at Chelsea among fogs, all the better when we get back. Ellen it does seem is there,—or at least somewhere where “all is right”: her epistolary powers are certainly extraordinary.

Mrs Spedding is an extremely hospitable, mannerly woman; but silent to a degree; you, as her chosen companion, would have had no sinecure of it! Perhaps you are better away, listening to the howl of the winds, yourself in silence,— Yesterday our Landlord and I, after my Letters were done, and the bright day had unexpectedly blackened itself into wind and rain, went out riding, in broadbrims and mackintoshes, on slow galloways, slow but sure, all round the Lake of Keswick or Derwentwater; a pleasant ride, in spite of the rain; for the rocks did not bore me, the rocks were beautiful with their wood plumages all rustling and moaning; and every step took away a bit of my headache, sunk out of sight a bit of my heartache. We did very well, considering. Arrived at home again, our Spedding and Pollock had come over, with tobacco, with copious utterance: a dinner rather before six with one Meyers,1 a fat little young parson of this place dependent on the Marshalls, went off with tolerable effect; and late in the evening the silent Lady sang rather well: Jacobite songs and the like. I was not in bed till 1, awake again at 6: an hour or two of George Sand, with the aid of a pipe and patience, brought me on to 9 o'clock again, and plenty of tolerable coffee. The day is cloudy, and our new guests seem undecided what to do: I care not; I, with Literature of Desperation, and four new pipes, am prepared for all. The headache still continues; will continue, likely, but in a milder manner. We shall get along tolerably well. What a nuisance are lackeys! The plush-coat of this place bursts in every morning at 7, deranges all ones cigar-cases, tinder-boxes, apparatus, for the sake of a few strokes of brushing on one's clothes. Last night he or the housemaid had altogether hidden, lost or burnt my poor nightcap: had I not prudently been provided with a second in my drawer, I must have slept bare! Diogenes perhaps took the shortest cut to comfort, after all: that of having the minimum of wants; the minimum therefore of disappointments.

Our Parson yesterday was a fat little oily character; gladder of me than I was of him. A celebrated “Russian Count” on the other side of the valley is to be dreaded today.2 Miss Fenwick, I learn, is not in this country but at Bath in these weeks: my Note went off not the less, nay the more. The Marshalls all and sundry, it appears, are to be in this quarter precisely about Monday,—the James Marshalls here in this house on Saturday. I see not well how to manage; but think I will make James Spedding take me over to Hallsteads today or tomorrow (no, not today—for the Russian Count!)—and so get done with it. It is a thing to do; as in fact all this matter is;—as so many matters are! Yesterday we saw gig-fuls of people; ladies with enormous waxcloth hoods &c, whirling up and down in spite of the rain, doing Lodore Falls,3 and the other objects: hapless bodies!——— I flatter myself I have declined Wordsworth, Dr Arnold (Rugby) and Hartley Coleridge:4 if Miss Fenwick be off, I have only the Marshalls to do. This is the dialect of Darwin. To continue in the same: the harmonious blacksmith5 is to lecture at Keswick to some Mechanics6 or School-people, “on astronomy,” for Meyers the fat Parson: one individual will find it interesting not to hear.7 Cordelia8 too, however, is coming.— Did you you9 at all know John Marshall, the one that died lately? His Widow, since Spring last when I saw her at Headingley, has produced a kind of shock on all hands, by suddenly marrying the assistant Surgeon (I think, not the chief surgeon) of an Irish marching regiment; a man called O'Callaghan.10 Hardly fair!

That night I came hither the old coachman pointed me out the clump of trees amid which stands Southey's house; where the light of his candle was there visibly shining, the light of his own soul gone out into darkness forever! They say he is not in much likelihood of dying soon. His poor Wife: she has had, in addition to all, a flagrant quarrel with two young Southeys a Son and Daughter, which grew to such height that the neighbours had to be called in (Thomas Spedding, among others), and the households had to part, the Son and Daughter taking up one of their own in the village hard by.11 We need not speak of this unnecessarily: it is a sorry thing.

Eleven o'clock is striking: I fancy myself perhaps staid for down stairs. At all events what clatter am I writing!— My poor Goody, I wish I could send thee an hour of sleep. But I cannot; alas, we must both just do with what we have, and call on Patience.

I send my affectionate regards to your Mother: she is really not well, and ought to have less tumult about her than she has and has had.

By the by, you had better write to the Postman and the newsvender,— No, hang it, we are too late now! I must either write myself, tho' not knowing the names, or let the matter take its swing. Adieu dear Goody, adieu till I hear again. Yours ever

T. Carlyle.

Your “Penrith” had been changed to “Keswick” in red ink by some benevolent servant of the post; I think, about Carlisle.— Peel is now choosing his Ministry; or yesterday rather, was at Windsor and doing it.12

James Spedding is an Ex-Secretary; out of that task, and all connexion with the Colonial office; by his own wish and resolution, it seems. He is not to quit London; but to live as an unofficial Intellect there.13