January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 4 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430704-TC-JWC-01; CL 16: 227-230


Clifton, Tuesday, 4 july / 1843—


Your Packet of Letters was handed in duly at breakfast; I send you back certain of them, to try if the contents will amuse you even a little. The young lady at Dumfries with her verses is very grand;— evidently one of those who “flatter me too much”: I must carry my head under it if I can.

You will go, I think, with Sterling? If it promise to yield you a few days of recreation, go surely. The old Stimabile will be best out of the way as the young one suggests.1

Yesterday I got along successfully enough. I was landed at the Paddington Station half an hour before my time; got with some difficulty (from defect of Porters and excess of Passengers) my arrangements completed; set to reading in my first-class and indeed first-rate vehicle, and whirled off so soon and so swiftly as the apparatus pleased. I had a side of the thing to myself; an insignificant well-mannered Cockney-tourist Mother and her little girl sitting opposite; the other compartment of the vehicle (for it is of breadth to carry four on each side, and is divided by a door with sliding window which can be shut or opened at pleasure) was occupied by a comfortable very stupid-looking man and wife with two units of offspring,—the father bought the Morning Post for his studies, and I noticed the Mother at one time pour herself out into a glass without foot a considerable dram of cognac: peace be with them,—our side had shut the door before that. Our Weather was hot for more than half the way. Accoromboni (poor Holcroft being exhausted)2 was ready whenever we got into the bottom of cuts; atop again I preferred looking out into the blessed ocean of green, with human figures making hay: “I feel the gales that from you blow” &c &c.3 At Reading I scanned the wrecks of the old Abbey, nearly hidden now by a gorgeous Poor-Law Bastille;4 I looked out for the duel island of Henry of Essex;5 and admired the immensely shrunk dimensions of the Thames. Not very far westward of this, the sky overcast itself, grew ever greyer, till towards three o'clock we got into incipient Scotch mist: at Bristol it turned out to have been a wet day, as this again is. But on the other hand the country grew ever rockier without losing of its greenness;—really beautiful to look at. Bath built of white stone, in trim streets, enclosed amid gnarled beautifully green and feathered hills, looked altogether princely, after these poor brick towns,—like an ancient decayed Prince, for it was smoke-soiled, dingy and lonely-looking; yet in the chimney-tops and gables, of a certain polite fantasticality, and all ranked in straight short streets, which ran in every direction on every variety of level, as if they had all been marching and drilling in that rough hollow place, each in the road that suited him best,—there was something in all this that reminded one of Beau Nash and Smollett's Lady of Quality.6 My Cockney tourist Lady pronounced it to be a City built of stone, and of considerable extent; facts both.

It was not till after five that I got dragged thro' the muddy narrow streets of Bristol, and landed (by the aid of a Porter ultimately) at No 2 here. My welcome was of the kindest; but how much simpler would Accoromboni by itself have been for the evening! Ah me, we had Montague the mad Captain-Parson, and a certain Dr Symons to tea for the evening:7 I was heartily glad to get to my bedroom,—tho' with poison in the inner man of me! At five o'clock the “Swee-ep!” awoke me, to inquire if I had any foul chimneys: I had been dreaming—of you, you fool! By the aid of a spunk I smoked a pipe; did after 7 fall asleep again; at 8 was awakened again, and finally succeeded in getting breakfast about half past 9. The air in spite of all things has done me real good.

I have written to my Welshman that I will meet him at Cardiff on Thursday. The Boat sails at 11,—so there will still be time for Letters from you. I should have preferred Wednesday (tomorrow), but there seemed no certainty that my Host in that case could have due warning to meet me at Cardiff. Tomorrow I think of sailing to Chepstow in a Steamer that there is, and returning by the same at night. This evening we have to go to a Party at Mrs ——— (Miss Strachey's that was).8 My head, my head! Dr Symons, a far too flattering man, asked me to dinner: Ach Gott, nein, tausentmal nein [Oh, Lord, no, a thousand times no].”

This day as I said is Scotch-misty, occasionally it rains: I put on old trowsers and my blanket coat, and sally forth almost rejoicing. This is a dingy region of reek and industrial confusion; but with something antique and respectable in the air of it,—not merely so lath-and-plaster like as much of Liverpool is. I passed thro' a massive old Towngate yesterday: on one of the Quays too as we drove along, I read “SOUTHEY: Grocery and Tea Establishment.”— It was in this very street that Sterling lived, a No or two from ours.9

Adieu dear Bairn: there is no end to my clatter if I did not put an end to it. I send thee a thousand blessings. Wales and quiet are within sight almost. Westward ho!

Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle

If you get no Letter tomorrow, consider me gone to Chepstow.