January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 13 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430713-TC-JWC-01; CL 16: 269-271


Llandough, 13 july, 1843—

My Dearest,

There being no Tea to be had this night apparently till towards nine o'clock (when by Heaven's blessing I shall hope to decline it), let me write to you in my dry state, with at least daylight round me. You had a most short scrape of a pen last night: I was tired and sick; I could do no more. Today your Letter accuses me for not writing “better or worse”; better therefore not being altogether roadready, I give you a chance of worse. No great burden to me, if it be none to you!

Your Letter and Newspaper have been almost the only event of the day: thanks for the gardenhouse, and what comes from it! Do not torment yourself with “thieves”; no thief will meddle with you. Lambert is an ass, and needs protection as you say. I sleep here with the window gaping as wide as it will go; ten yards from the highway of the parish, nothing but the hill-sides and stars, and general conscience and cowardice of the Welsh population watching over me. Fear nothing of thieves. But get done with the painting too;—I fancy you will need no bidding to do that!

This day here has been as close dim and sultry as day need be; thunder rumbling on all sides of the horizon ever since morning; very loud just lately over to the east about Cardiff. I have read several articles in the Quarterly Review, kept aloof from Lyell hitherto,1 declined to ride, walked out a little way,—in short sauntered in the idlest manner. Till dinner arrive I am always very comfortable. But then—breaks in the reign of hollow Nothingness, the tealess reign of the Inane! That is the labour, that is the work.

However, I have written to Thirlwall that I leave this on Monday; and so we see the end. A coach goes thro' Cowbridge about noon: some sixty miles I believe it is to Carmarthen: after that I must pick my way northward as I can. The one possibility still remains to me of faring on to Milford Haven,2 and getting the Steamer for Liverpool there. How long I may stay with Thirlwall is not perfectly clear: “two days” was the time I talked of; but if all prospered exceedingly, it might extend to three. I shall get no rest in any of these places: and it may as well be in a plenum [fullness] as in a vacuum in that case.— R. knows that I must go on Monday; regrets &c &c, but reconciles himself like a polite man.

Tomorrow I believe he meditates a new excursion to St Donat's: I think I shall wait for Letters, and then go. The sea-side yields at least a bathe, and one weariness is appointed here equally as there. The high lime-stone cliffs and great solitary sea: there is something that blunts the poignancy of boring in all that! We are to stay all night too: I will not gallop again after dinner in that fashion—for any man's pay.

Today I was out near Lanblethian (Sterling's place). In Llandough close at hand here over the knoll-top, I saw certain of the population in the street as I passed along: little flabby figures, brown as a berry, fat, squat, wide-flowing, their clothes of almost no colour (such is the prevalence of lime and poverty) hung round them, as if “thrown on with a pitchfork”: very noteworthy little fellows (of both sexes) indeed! They saluted kindly as I passed. Llandough consists of some 9 houses, or huts most of them, built in a row, on elevated ground, and looking blank (the greater part of them) into the back wall of Red-wood's garden, which back wall is on the very crown of the height. The common well lies down below in the hollow on our side, and indeed is our well too. An old squire something lives in a Llandough Castle close at hand, a little behind the village: poor fellow the grave of his old Wife is the newest in Llandough Churchyard, and he sits solitary, R. says, and “scolds his servants, being a proud man.”——— ——— I will have a pipe now; and not finish this till towards bedtime. Adieu, Dearest. There is rest—for the just, is there not?3

10 p.m. I drank hot water at my usual time of tea., and then at 9 o'clock went out walking, with a notice that I should not be in again to tea. I virtuously de[c]lined the article!4— The evening walks are altogether beautiful: the silent silver sky, the green universe, and sound of corncraiks and milldams!

Reitmüller, I suppose, is the son of a German; some German Music-master, it is like. He is the “young man of genius” whom Lucas recommended to me. He now costs me four shillings; —I promised to pay it; but did not think the demand would be made so soon!5 I am glad his legitimate drammar has any worth at all.

Thanks for answering the Chimera Jervis. He is certainly the most perseverant man in asking and still again asking us. Without result. “O for a lodge in some vast wilderness” &c!6

John and I can as yet make no bargain for meeting in the North. I still think he may as well go back with me into Annandale. He does not seem yet to have shaped any plan for himself; and, unless he end by going with Lady Clare, I do not see that he is very likely at present to do it,—poor Jack! It is a horribly difficult thing to do; all at once, especially!

I sometimes have a thought of Forster at Bradford; but doubt it will not at all do. They are a terrible set of fellows those open-mouthed wondering gawpies [silly fellows], who lodge you for the sake of looking at you! It is horrible.

Our thunder is all away; and the stillest serene night come instead: the great old Elm-trees looking in at this poor Study-window with the sky thro' them, in a truly sublime manner; every Elm-tree lost beyond the window-lintel, of infinite height therefore, and motionless as if every leaf of it were enchanted,—as if the whole were a cerulean petrifaction; and I some poor Devil jailed in the middle of it; which perhaps is the fact! O my dear, this universe is great, most great; enough to strike one dumb.

And now suppose thou were to take a little drop of something hot (porridge I fear there is none), and then go quietly to bed? For the protection of Lambert and other purposes! My poor little Bairn, a sound sleep to thee, and right pleasant dreams if any. Will not some Great God gather all the widely-separated together again! It is a hope that will never die, that one. Adieu, adieu

T. C.