1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 22 July 1824; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18240722-TC-JBW-01; CL 3:113-117.


Birmingham, 22nd July, 1824—

Dearest— Were I not morally certain that you cannot send me a letter till you have got one from me, I doubt if I should even yet muster spirits enough to write three lines which you could endure to read. Mortal was scarcely ever shook and swept and shovelled to and fro at this rate since the Deluge of Noah. My ideas cannot rest, for nothing about me or my fortunes rests. The Wandering Jew or Shoemaker of Jerusalem was but a type of me. From day to day my scene changes, my companions change, my hopes, my fears; nothing stays with me but my old friends Disease and Tedium-vitae, kind followers,that at a closer or a wider distance never fail to trace my footsteps, turn me whither I may.

Well here I am in Brummagem, the City of Smiths, among a thousand steam engines, and pestiferous magazines of vitriol and copperas, and socinianism and bacon-grease! What has brought me hither, and will keep me for a month? I declare I almost cease to be surprised or anxious about any thing; by and by I fancy I shall reach the enviable quietism of

—Some ancient sage philosopher,
That has read Alexander Ross over,1

to whom the ceaseless mutations of this great noisy roundabout are nothing more than noise, and whose good or evil exists only in the sanctum sanctorum of his inner man. Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished:2 But in the meantime, I must relate, not moralize.— Some days before your last kind lively letter reached me, I had bidden farewell to Kew, and the family of the Bullers. We parted good friends, as I positively declined accompanying them to France, and myself advised the sending of their son to Cambridge instantly. Mrs Buller cannot now shift my residence and plague me with the consequences of her ignorant caprice from week to week; the dead-hearted fashionable frivolity of her and hers are now their own concern: I am a free man; let any arid, gaudy, drivelling male or female dandy come within wind of me to fret me and disgust me with their inanities if they dare! After parting with the Bullers, which I did with a certain placid contempt for their judgements and still more their hearts, wishing at the same time that abundance of live partridges and routs and Rowland's oil3 for the supply of their several wants might be ministered unto them, and they might love me as they could, I turned round to the friendly threshold of the Orator to meditate on what tack I should now steer, now that I had parted convoy, and meant to sail by my own card. The presence of a certain John Badams of Birmingham coupled with the condition of my thrice blessed clay decided my first movement. Badams, whom I had seen and talked with largely by the intervention of the helpful Mrs Montagu, impressed me deeply with a feeling of his original, just and strong intellect, and his honest frank affectionate mind. He is a connoisseur in pictures and sciences; was bred a physician, but has relinquished the practice of his art in favour of chemistry, in which I understand him to be possessed of secrets that have already realized many thousands for him, and may yet realize him millions. He promised to cure me of dyspepsia, or at least alleviate my curse! He invited me to spend six weeks in his house, under his constant care, till he saw how matters stood with me; and here I am! There is something strange in all this to me; something eminently alien to my Scottish habits. Badams and I have but been together three days; yet we are as acquaintances of twenty years' standing. We have argued and talked about two folio volumes: I feel as if half the house were mine. Whether he will do me any good I know not; in the mean time, he is very diligent in taking me to ride and see company, in feeding me with half raw eggs and floods of tea, and wine before dinner, and many other items, in sending me to sleep, and rousing me, and driving me in short thro' all the training by which he has already cured some half dozen hopeless stomachists, and among others raised himself from a state which he says for four years was worse than mine into a condition of health superior to that of Thomas Crib[b]4 himself. However it may be, I purpose to enjoy myself for some time, among the originals of Brummagem, of which there seem to be several; in visiting Kenilworth and Warwick and Stratford and Lichfield and the Leasowes; and meditating what is next to be done when I return to London, whither I am bound again at least for a season, so soon as I depart. Some little business I have already on hand: the Life of Schiller increased by new translations and enlargements is to be published as a separate book—tho' whether by Taylor or Whittaker is not quite settled—and I am to get it ready while here. Afterwards, I doubt not, there will be work enough; and in London there are many characters whom it will do my heart and my understanding good to study. Oh how I have wished that you were there; among kindred people, women and men that would appreciate and instruct you; that your high and gifted soul might no longer waste itself in ill-directed efforts, that its affections might no longer be checked and wasted in the barren clime of Haddington! My best Jane! words are feeble to express the anxieties I sometimes feel on your account. Your spirit is the noblest I have yet found among women; and you are still uninstructed, even unconvinced of your highest duties, your destiny still lies before you void and formless as my own. Will you waste such endowments as Nature bestows only on her favourites, one among many millions? Will you not rather up and be doing; summon all your soul and strength and mind to [res]ist the evil influences of your situation and to forward the good? [I] swear you [shall yet] be worthy of yourself: and I shall rejoice that I ever saw [you.] But Oh the difficulties, the mistakes, the wanderings! Sometimes tears half force their way into my eyes when I think of you. I speak this as a brother, I might almost say as a guardian spirit. God only knows how it may be: sometimes I hope all, sometimes I fear all. One thing you must not do;—forget or separate yourself from me, unworthy as I am, till you have found some worthier. It is through me that you hold some intercourse with that ideal world towards which your inmost nature has always striven: of my feelings towards you in my better moments I am proud. “But whither all this?” you cry: “is the unhappy youth gone crazy?” Do not say so: these things deserve the earnest solemn consideration of us both. Also I still hope to see you in London! The Orator blushed like scarlet, when I hinted to him that your Mother and you felt offended with him: I have promised to mediate and procure his forgivenness. Depend upon it he loves you better than almost any one but I and your Mother. He still counts on seeing you. Do forgive him, and procure his pardon from your Mother, for my sake. The man has many follies, but there is true blood in his heart. He is infinitely more reasonable than when you saw him; his health is feebler, the hacks of quality have nearly altogether left him, he is Edward Irving once more. Will you forgive him, then, my Liebling? A heart with any touch of genuine love in it is precious as diamonds in this world of selfishness and empty cant— Also will my own lassie write to me without a day's delay? Will she? I know I do not deserve it; but I also know your goodness and tenderness; you will remember how I have been, and how I am. The first hour you can spare you will remember me in merciful forgivenness. Write, write; meine ewig Liebste, lebe wohl [my dearest one always, farewell]! I am ever yours— T. Carlyle

Tell me has your Mother ceased to like me? I hope she never will, I sometimes feel as if she never ought. Irving will have it, you and she should come and live in London. Will you, will she? Give her my kindest regards: I must always esteem her, and tenderly care for her however she may feel to me.—— O do write—write—the address is “J. Badams Esqr, Birmingham[.]” I shall count and count till the letter come— Adieu my Dearest!

[In margins:] Meister is growing a kind of small very small lion in London: the newspapers puff him, the people read him, many venerate him very highly. The periodical Rhadamanthuses of Grub-Street pat me on the head, saying I am a clever fellow and must translate them much more. Boyd I am almost certain has cheated of £130: he will cheat me a second time of about £200—and never more the dog.

Bist du mir gut—so schreib ja bald!— Ich sende dir tausend, tausend Küsse, mein Busenliebling. [If you are fond of me—then you will indeed write soon!— I send you a thousand, thousand kisses, my heart's darling.]

Tell me all that you do and have been doing—all, all. I have got a whole sheaf of poetic autographs—and among them a piece of Lord Byron's writing! I will send them the first frank I can get— write dearest—

Would you believe it, I found the other day in London that two volumes had already been selected from Müsäus, and among them Rübezahl? This I learned from a bookworm. Do you complete Rubezahl nevertheless— We shall see farther into it.