The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 2 August 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500802-TC-JWC-01; CL 25: 130-133


Boverton, Cowbridge, S. Wales Friday 2 Augt, 1850—

Thanks, my kind little Dearest; I did not look for a Letter today; but find one with a Newspaper silently lying to welcome to me when I step in (by the window) out of our still “lawn,” into the stillest of all houses, with the intention of writing a word to you. My hand is jumping about, not yet used to this new locality and this little writingcase “desk,” instead of my old big one; indeed Redwood (who rather wishes to be a doctor, I find, but cannot get me for a patient at all, at all) prohibited any kind of writing today: but I of course laughed the notion to scorn; declaring that one little word to my Wife and another to my Mother were achievements I would do, were I at the point of death, instead of being very tolerably well as at this present! You, poor little soul, had to strive with headache; I at present have nothing against me,—except extreme indolence, and now a very limited allowance of time. Swift therefore!

My journey to Bath passed without accident or occurrence of any kind, except indeed the suffocation in foul air which I find inseparable from travel in railways. We gradually filled soon, either at Paddington or the next Stations. Our fat friend whom you saw took in a still fatter and uglier Wife before many stages, a daughter too; and was rather uncivil to an old Lady (old as Mrs Chorley) who sat on their side: indeed I thot him an uncivil ugly fellow;—and discovered at last that he was a boarding-school master in opulent circumstances; an unbeautiful class of men. We had likewise a young pair, with a child and infinite continual eatables and drinkables, and far more money than wit or manners; item an unimportant, seemingly of the clerk species: in short we were a paltry company; and tho' I sat with cheek upon the open window, the air was lamentably bad. I read in Madam Herz;1 spoke no word; looked out upon the green or golden country; and emerged in Bath at last. Landor was in his room, in a fine quiet street, like a New-Town Edinr one; waiting for me, attended only by a nice Bologna dog; dinner not far from ready:—his apartments all hung round with queer old-Italian Pictures,—the very doors had pictures on them. Dinner was elaborate-simple; the brave Landor forced me to talk far too much, and we did very near a bottle of claret besides two glasses of sherry,—far too much liquor and excitement for a poor fellow like me! However, he was really stirring company; a proud, irascible, trenchant, yet generous veracious and very dignified old man. Quite a ducal or royal man, in the temper of him; reminded me something of old Sterling, except that for Irish blarney, you must substitute a fund of Welsh choler. He left me to go smoking along the streets about ten at night, he himself retiring then; having walked me thro' the Crescent,2 Park &c &c in the dusk before. Bath is decidedly the prettiest Town in all England; nay Edinburgh itself, except for the sea and Grampians,3 does not equal it. Regular but by no means formal streets, all clean, all quiet, yet not dead, winding up in picturesque lively varieties along the face of a large broad sweep of woody, green, sandstone Hill,—with large outlook to the opposite side of the Valley; and fine decent clean people sauntering about it, mostly small country gentry, I was told; “live here for £1200 a year,” said Landor, who, covertly, bragged somewhat to me both of his own wealth and his own poverty.4— At night unluckily I could not sleep at all for hours, owing mainly to my own state of nerves, tho' there were noises too;—and on the whole I did not get above a half sleep out of it: L. himself informed me “four hours” was his common allowance. Duly at 9¼ o'clock, I had recovered my big Portmanteau, got into one of the big vehicles (two nasty fat Puseyish parsons my only company, talking solemnly about Gorham,5 the Revd Nothingism This and Nothingism That), and so after much higgle-haggling (tho' it lasted only 35 minutes) was thrown out at Bristol, into the contemporaneous disemboguement of the “Exeter Train,” such a tide of human creatures as I never saw in any station before. Higgle-haggle, so it still went on; and our Omnibus at last only staid the Cardiff Packet by rushing off ahead of it to [a]6 certain Drawbridge, from which, a pause being made, we were made to walk down one of the steepest of temporary gangways (one old man preferred doing it back foremost on his hands and knees); and so at length getting seated in the quarter-deck with all my luggage in view, I did feel in a place of rest, and as if my part of the journey were done. Mrs Marcet,7 with various Geneva-looking granddaughters, and a son ditto-ditto older than myself, was there; yellow, frail and frightfully ugly, tho' with an air of honest intelligence,—such a chin as you never saw on a woman, or perhaps man either. Other side, were other wellbred-looking women, one young one (beside a married sister as I judged) who even looked beautiful, the very best that cd be made of such a stamp of woman as Mrs Henry Taylor: a pleasant inoffensive company of human creatures; among whom, aided again by Madam Herz and a cigar, I got very handily to Cardiff Docks; on the crown of which I soon deciphered the faithful Redwood; and was in a minute or two more stowed into his old tub-gig, and so, by a redhaired welshman and hard red Welsh pony, was landed here, after twelve or fourteen miles of rough road;—and here as the Iter Carolinum8 says, “continue during pleasure.” I have had six hours of good sleep; might go and bathe (were it not for this Letter!), and am to have a ride: till six p.m. meanwhile the whole premises are mine. It is the most perfect hermitage so far as I can judge that the human mind ever conceived! But I must not begin describing of it now.— Were not the good “Gaius” so dreadfully dull.

On the whole here is enough, my Dear; enough for this day and to spare. I design to be the idlest of all men; and will not, for some days at least, speak or write one word that I can help.— — N.B. We climb up (I find) after dinner to a nest on the top of a huge high Elm-tree (there are two well-carpentered nests, a first floor and a second, attainable by steps and handles); and smoke at least one pipe, looking out over the “melancholy main,”9 about a mile off, and which could only be heard last evening, not seen.— I have all my things laid out in drawers; all safe; and have on my worst clothes.— — Adieu, dear Jeannie mine! Take care of thyself, poor little soul; and don't cry, don't.— — Open all the Letters; and do not bind yourself to send above once a week.

And God bless thee ever, Dearest!

T. Carlyle

P.S. We get the Leader here, I perceive: so you can forward our Copy direct to my Mother as usual.— — It is now past two o'clock; this cannot now go, unless I ride with it into Cowbridge, 5 miles off (which I certainly will do); and whether there is time to do that and bathe or not?— I will put off the four Scotsbrig people with a very few words, if I can! Ay de mi!—