The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 13 August 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500813-TC-JWC-01; CL 25: 153-155


Boverton, 13 Augt 1850 / (Wedny morning)—

Poor little Life-Partner, dearest Jeannie! I am bothering myself with apprehensions and imaginations about you in that puddle of house-sorting and change of servant,—with perhaps still less sleep than I have to complain about, and nothing but morphine to depend upon. Before opening any book, before the Post or any interruption come, I will send you a little bulletin about my insignificant self, and so both comfort my own mind and perhaps give a momentary fillip of encouragement to yours.

I have had sad work with sleep since I came here: let no man henceforth brag of “quiet” till he have tried! The quantity of cuddies in these parts is enormous. Every cottager has one; they bring their coals home with them, and perform other locomotion; a certain man in every village undertakes to go to the coalmine with all the asses, each ass has its owner's sack and cash for the fuel; the human guide ties them all together, and gets twopence apiece on returning safe. Poor souls, they do need to have coals and other necessaries, not to be got without travel! I cannot be angry at the Cuddies either; they are such pastoral patriarchal creatures. Nay the fact is they do not often disturb my repose; it is not they, it is my own bad stomach mainly that keeps me from sleeping.

Besides the truth is, Dearest, I have had a good sleep last night, a nice bathe in the early sunshine on the clean limestone flags, a nice warm breakfast of coffee waiting my return (Landlord himself did not come in for half an hour after,—one of the best-natured of all men!)—and so today I seem to feel really better than I have hitherto done here; and hope begins to dawn in my poor soul again. The rheumatism never seriously plagued me after Sunday, and feels today as if it were about gone: I rode a long way yesterday, walked too; but was utterly disconsolate and done up when bedtime came,—so much of insomnolency and disturbance both in reminiscence and in prospect. I passed thro' Llanblethian1 yesterday; found “the house with red chimneys,” and thot of poor John Sterling and the rest of them. I have seen the place 3 times now since I came; it is one of the prettiest Welsh Hamlets; hanging sprinkled about on the steep green slope, with the greenest woods and wavy pasture-grounds embosoming it under the bright blue firmament. It must be curious to live in such a place,—not quite what living in it looks to one's fancy in riding thro'! In all those Welsh Hamlets with their mouldery sluttish huts and intricacies, there are singularly excellent individual houses: here for instance, in the dirtiest little Clachan of them all, is a house of perhaps 20 windows, with pastures, rose-bushes, ornamental and sheltering trees, all in perfect repairs, fit for a man of elegance and quality: very strange to see amid the ruins, the nettles and stagnant confusion close beside. It is inhabited, R. says, by some foolish dissipated “Mr Colton” (son of some literary and landed Colton, author of Lacon2), whom his friends have ordered to dwell here, his wife being a Welsh native. Redd has not the least trade with him, nor apparently with any mortal except giving time of day; but he is much respected by everybody,—and indeed is a good and friendly soul, and ought to recommend himself to one that desiderates silence of intellect especially, for in that he really is great.— — Oh ungrateful that I am, I have all but forgotten again to say how well the bathing cap serves; which cost you such a splutter of whitewash! The cap does admirably,—except that I shall certainly tear the strings one day, they are so fine and small, and you will have to put a pair of cotton tape ones in instead:—but it saves me completely from the water; wd hold the biggest head in Wales, I do think, with a ramilies wig3 on it; and is really an excellent article,—thanks to the poor little Martyr for it. If I had known you were to have such a bout of scrubbing, Oh surely I wd have taken a wetting of the hair, once or twice more, to save you!

The weather has grown as bright as possible again; really beautiful brisk autumn skies and gales or zephyrs: the people all busy with the glorious yellow wheat,—the finest that ever grew for such bad tilling. An East-Lothian colony wd beat Tamboff with this country for corn. (N.b. Tamboff is a Russian Corn-market, far enough away; about whh Protectionist Stanley once uttered some nonsense: so don't bother thy poor head about Tamboff4).

Tomorrow, so Redd and the Fates have decreed, we are to go to Merthyr Tydvil:5 off at 6 a.m. “in the tub,” some 12 or 14 miles; then a railway for half an hour does the rest; and we are to arrive about 10,—the very hour while you are reading this, poor little crittur. I did not and do not care about Tydvil, and its huge iron-furnaces and unutterable smoke and confusion: but poor R. takes it so to heart; and, after all, such a place ought to be seen.— — I told you I had gone into Welsh Books here: tell Miss Wynne I have many times thot of her in reading these unspeakable Evanses and Powels; and wondered whether she was not a Daughter of Gwenwynwyn (pronounce that!) and Co in the North? “Some poor body's bairn, beyond doubt.”

Adieu, Dearest; write me a word:—here is the Post, and nothing but a Times, thank Heaven! I had a Note yesterday from Jean; all well, and doesn't quite understand Ignatius:6 no other Note at all.— Little “Dumpy” (so called) waits till I seal. Adieu, Dearest.

Ever your Affectionate

T. Carlyle