April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 12 August 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490812-JWC-TC-01; CL 24: 189-191


Auchtertoul / Sunday 12th [August 1849]

Here is a note from Plattnauer come with yours of this morning of no particular moment most likely; but I despatch it at once all the same— There is also a note forwarded yesterday by Elizabeth, which I opened as it looked questionable and Elizabeth said “the Person” had called a second time to inquire if you had got it. I supposed it a begging-letter. For the rest, I have no news. Since the day at Kircaldy we have had frequent deluges of rain making the house the safest place for one. Otherwise I should have made a run over to Edinr by this time to see old Betty.

On Tuesday I am to go with my Uncle and Walter to dine with the Minister of Beath—five or six miles off—whose wife's sister is a very nice old acquaintance of mine and at present residing there—a Miss Macay whom you saw once at Comely Bank1— Like everyone else she is grown extremely old; but still able to ‘get up a sentiment’ for me—I found—“Mercy! how like her Mother!” were her first words on seeing me—

I have had no further communication with the Ferguses By the way, I found there that day, Mrs Heywood and Lady Belcher,2—looking as sweet as ever—“Kircaldy agreed so well, she said, with her languid circulation”— They were to go this week—happily.

I keep to my intention of transferring myself there on Friday—and shall write to Miss Jessy today or tomorrow that you will come on the Saturday or as soon after as you can. Fair wind to You!

All that about Duncan Stewart is notoriously true—but nobody has found in it “any reason to alter their opinion of him”— Both he and his wife have, these many years been considered “no good”—as Elizabeth says—

It is very sad that you should have to take calomel the first thing on coming to a stillstand—but the wonder is you have stood so much tossing about, so well as you seem to have done— I do not think it ever answers for us nervous people to subside all at once; we should be let down by degrees.

I send you my character by Donovan3 for the amusement of your Mother and the rest—“Ah mes amis; mais peut être c'est pas vrai4— You remember my telling you while I was still in London that I had been to a mysterious ‘Artist’ the result of which visit you were to hear of afterwards. The ‘artist’ was Donovan— There being a rage for Donovan characters, Anthony Sterling wished to lay out half a guinea on mine—and I wished to try what perfect silence and unknownness could do in putting him out—he had no idea of my name, and I spoke not at all— Here you have the result which was sent after me

Kindest regards to your Mother and the rest

Ever affectly yours

Jane W Carlyle


This head is of a very nice type and truly effeminate A grand point this for the heads of women sometimes have a masculine type and this never works well The faulty part of this organization is in the centre of the brow and in the organs of “Individuality” “Size,” “Weight,” and “Colour.” The effect of such defects is to produce a want of observation, in relation to external objects and a tendency to reflect too much on subjects suggested by the feelings. The outer world presents to the observant person a multitude of attractive objects which draw the attention from what is called the inner world and thus tends to dissipate grief and anxiety and to prevent us from being too much taken up with ourselves.

But the non-observant person dwells too much within the chambers of the mind and is in comparison with the observant person, incapable of enjoying many pleasures For instance, if a person love botany and have a taste for rural scenery how greatly the mind of such a person may be relieved and exhilirated by a ramble in the country particularly if in search of botanical specimens5 and the same may be said in relation to Geology and other sciences as well as to the objects and employments in domestic life, which non-observant persons rarely are found to take any interest in. Moreover persons of weak observing faculties find great difficulty in acquiring expertness in any manipulatory art, such as piano playing, drawing, &c.

Now, here lies this lady's only defect. I wish I could say “here lies buried” &c for she is very sensible very intelligent, thinks comprehensively, is of an enquiring mind and a love of knowledge. She writes well, is fond of reading, is a most pleasing companion, has a good memory of events and periods6 and a taste for the study of languages.

As to her moral character, she is far from every positively bad quality, is affectionate, ardent, industrious, discreet, economical, an “excellent thing in woman”7 and as unselfish as is compatible with prudence and safety. Though cautious and sufficiently reserved this lady does not labour under that cowardly diffidence which oppresses so many female minds She is not obtrusively confident but rather in that middle state between retireingness and self-reliance which alone is compatible with happiness and efficiency.

From obstinacy she is quite free & and has that spirit of obedience and resignation to the will of fate which enables one to bear patiently the slings and arrows of misfortune8 as well as the various inconsistencies & crosses of every day life.

I believe that she is ever guided by kind feelings & upright principles and that she has earned the good will and respect of all who know her

I have had so much to say about the intellectual region that I am obliged to be less minute in regard to the moral organisation.

C Donovan

7, King William Street, / Strand / 11th July, 1849.9