July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 17 January 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480117-TC-JWC-01; CL 22: 213-216


Alverstoke, 17 jany, 1848—

My Dearest,—A wet day, the rain falling in heavy gusts out of the Southwest, the sea and the wind making loud melody round us, and I solitary in my apartment, where the Dressing-gown enables me to dispense with fire for a while,—before the hours go farther, I will write a word to thee; probably the best act it may be given me all day to do.

I am not well still; sadly off for sleep &c; and have properly nothing to tell; but the telling of that will do me a little good perhaps as I go on.— Yesterday proved bright sunny and every way beautiful, so far as weather went; a walk was achieved in the afternoon, and much vain talk, with Milnes especially, but nothing else whatever.1 One cannot get even reading done; hardly can the Newspaper of the day be got read.— Today Milnes and Buller are both gone; Milnes early in the morning, as I felt to my cost, he being my wall-neighbour, and very noisy when he lifts anchor! He is gone to Yorkshire; is bent to meet Emerson if he can, and to get W. E. Forster to be of the party. Poor Milnes, he is really a social creature; and nothing can entirely abolish the naivety that is in him. Yesterday we were speaking (in the absence of the Taylors) about Aubrey de Vere and his Book;2 I said, The first thing Aubrey would have to [do],3 if anything was to come of him, would be to forget altogether that the Spring-Rices and others of the native clique had ever reckoned him a “man of genius” or the like; in fact, to give up the idea of his being a man of genius once for all.— “Hah,” said Milnes, “and let me tell you it is a d———d hard thing to give up the idea that you are a man of genius! I have had it to do; and can tell you it is no easy thing.” Speaking of his “happiness” he asserted that he was deeply miserable; that if any fresh misfortune were to come upon him he would “go and drown himself.” “Why, you wouldn't sink,” cried Lady Harriet, “you couldn't drown!” And Milnes stands the laughter like an angel.4 He has left us all regretful of him; and Charteris will be a very bad exchange indeed: “the Charterises” are coming, however, today; perhaps are come, when I go down stairs! Taylor is but a dull element; he is reading my Copy of his Essay-Book,5 having discovered pencil-notes of mine in it,—little flattering, I much doubt, but he asked my permission, and I could not refuse him without making the matter look even worse. Mrs T. is a nice little body; there comes out of her, ever and anon, some innocent half-silly half-mischievous remark, which stirs up the current of things; the chief merit its spontaneity; coming almost like a blush, as if without her consent, and really pretty as natural things all are. Taylor is very grey, and old-looking; his words scantier and more elaborated than ever. I fear he will grow to look on me as the very genius of Chaos; for I see his understanding does not in the least discern my bearings and distances,—unless his good honest heart may intimate to him some good tendency on my part in spite of all.— On the whole, this is very strenuous idling;6 I have with less suffering and exertion compassed the attendance on six College classes daily, in my time! But perhaps there is a lesson in this too; nay doubtless there is, and I hope I shall learn it, for the fees are not inconsiderable. My reflexions in my few hours of solitude,—in the early mornings, amid the tramping and trotting, especially ought to be of a didactic nature!

But there are two new events today: one is the arrival of a hardy useful-looking horse or high pony from Winchester; on which, if the weather will clear, I myself or along with Baring hope yet to get a ride;—a most useful event that. The other is, that I have changed my lodging; have got installed into the late Milnes's room, and there am now writing. It is the room at the very end of the passage, where Buller, I think, used to lodge; as would appear, it was intended for me from the first, but the valetaille [flunkeys] put me into the old place by mistake. It is a decided improvement at any rate; a much better-looking bed; distance greater from all travail; a really beautiful view of the sea and Island7 (over that sheltered walk by the wall behind the Offices): your room too was and is somewhere on this “eastern wing,” tho' I cannot yet rightly make it out:—or perhaps this is to be yours, after I have properly warmed it for you? In fact, I do not know; nor, till your bulletin arrive, even know whether it is worth investigating,—by “inquiry” under difficulties. We expect some word tonight with great eagerness. The additional feeling of weakness I rather liked, as a sign of really increased strength. It is possible the “change of air,” which could not but be beneficial, might outweigh the other conditions likely to be detrimental: but I cannot say; nobody but yourself can say. Mrs Taylor would be a kind of resource to you while she stays; but only in a small degree I fancy, and how long she stays I do not know. To the Charterises, especially to Charteris, I look forward with no anticipation but that of indifference or self-defence. Oh my Dear, I am all tied together; as with ten thousand thrums and packthreads: this is not the place of my rest;—alas, I know not where that is! But one is bound to keep the lid down; otherwise there will be no broth cooked at all. Oh my Goody, do not forsake me, do not distrust me,—be good to me rather, as it is given thee! My poor Jeannie, I am thine (if good for anything) forever,— T. Carlyle

Thank John. I will write to him next, I think For tobacco I am well off, independent of A. S.;8 have considerable cigars; and much oftenest use pipes.