January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 11 September 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310911-TC-JWC-01; CL 5:410-422.


London, 11th September, 1831.

Dearest Jeannie,

Having realised a frank, I set forthwith to writing, while opportunity is: tomorrow may belong partly to another; but today the people are all at Church, and I have the house to myself.

Your bonny little Letter1 (which truly was a very large one) lay waiting yesterday when I returned from the Museum: all full of good news; the very bad or indifferent so told as to make them good. Blessings on my Mother! Whatever benefit she may have done you, she has done me a great one: I can now fancy you no longer utterly forsaken; but talking with a Sister, who at least shares your feelings; protected by her if not against evil, yet against the imagination of such, which is often far worse. Tell her to be very good to you; and be you the like to her. Wise also is your resolution to take her over to Templand as a shield against “scenes”: what is the use of scenes, in this rough world where there are so many realities? Also tell my poor Crow2 that I often think of her, and look to her, in future days, for the discharge of many duties. It is she that in some measure must now stand in the breach: may she have strength given her to do it faithfully and well.

Poor Betty also gives me pleasure and pain. Repeat to her, what I have already said, that I regard her as the best servant I have ever paid wages to; that it will give me great satisfaction to learn that she stays over winter at Craigenputtoch, which I would gladly pay her for doing, could I afford it; and finally that the instant we do get into any “settled way,” she shall have the offer of resuming her employments, and see the Master pour out tea for his Wife, in all human probability, many, many times. I clearly think with you, since such is the poor creature's disposition, that it were well if she staid: she will be of use to Jenny, to the House, to the “Coo”: farther there seems very little doubt that before Whitsunday come round we shall need her again, most likely where she is. In London such a servant were of very great consequence to us: anywhere a person truly attached to you is indeed of tenfold value. If she stay, you should give her some trifle to get tea and sugar for herself; endeavour to chalk out a course for her with Alick (who indeed already likes her), and give her your charges touching all household matters, and a tear at parting and your best blessing. Her reluctance to quit us has given me a very gratifying and worthy feeling: it is as if I, even I, were a protector of some one, and had other fortunes besides our own embarked with me. In this wondrous Babylon I as yet see no fixed outlook, and can scarcely hope for any: but wherever we be, unless times grow infinitely worse than ever, we shall need a servant, and poor Betty is the woman for us, if practicable. My actual theory is that we shall be back with the first fine spring weather: but as yet nothing can be prophecied.

It is essential now that I quit all “fine sentiments,” and bethink me seriously how poor Goody's pilgrimage is to be forwarded. I sent you a foolish lazy message about the cost of carriage hither, which could only have availed had the mail-bags run far quicker than they do. I am now enabled to say with some confidence that the Carriage hither is actually very cheap, if you say “per Canal”: no more, as W. Hamilton thinks he can assure me, than 4/6 per hundredweight, (delivery here included) something like half the carriage from Dumfries to Edinr. Therefore pack in liberally, dear Goody, whatsoever seemeth good to thee, till thy largest Barrel be full: the only consideration is the Carriage in the Steamboat, which cannot be great, and indeed need not for the present be minded. Except, truly, as it will remain a question (to me not very soluble) whether you ought to take your Barrel with you, or send it on direct from Dumfries (“to lie till called for”). I rather incline that way, for this reason: that the Annan Steamboat can only be approached from the Scotch side by small boats, and you will have luggage enough otherwise, and cares enough. If Alick be with you (as you mentioned “Thursday” for his departure) he can advise you: if not, another journey to Dumfries will be necessary, where Sinclair the Bookseller3 (and he only) can tell you everything. Ask him too whether the Article must “lie till called for” (when your Uncle could soon settle it all), or the ship-people would themselves punctually forward it “by Canal”; and not by carrier, or otherwise, or not at all. I think Dumfries will perhaps turn out your best place for disposing of it; at all events that you will there get the needful light on the matter. But for the rest I would not advise you to travel by the Dumfries Steamboat: because the Annan one has these two advantages; it is some five shillings cheaper; and what is infinitely more important, it is the same Boat that goes all the way; and you are not, as was my case, obliged to have your luggage tumbled into another vessel (you looking anxiously on, all the while) and to wait some five or six hours at Whitehaven with nothing earthly to do; but at worst, you ride in the Liverpool roads till the tide serve, and can lie in bed if you like. Alick or Jamie will of course go down with you; you will see in the first place if there be any bed (which in the Ladies' Cabin is likely); at worst select yourself a Sofa: take your bandbox down thither, and then you have nothing farther to care for. Alas! I fear poor Goody will be sick: unless you can sit on the deck, which at night will never do. Take unspeakable wrappages of Clothes, Cloaks, Robroys,4 what not: they are easily carried. If you get fine weather, it is a fine sail; and, in any case, some three and twenty hours ends it. Ach Gott [Oh Lord]! I like not to think of my poor Jeannie fighting her way all alone; but she is brave and can do it, and will.— Arrived at Liverpool, tell the Steward (or waiter) without making any haste, to get you a “Car” (that means a one-horse chaise, greatly in use there); or perhaps there may be Car-drivers that will jump on board and offer. One of these, for a matter of half a crown, sets you and all your luggage down at John's5 where there will be wonderment and welcome enough. At Liverpool, you will rest, say one whole day and the fractions of the prior and succeeding ones (and do not flirt with that Monster Carson,6 the ugliest of all your lovers, not excepting Spaldingins;7 a very Bull of Bashan!): then let your Uncle take good charge of seeing you booked in a veridical Coach, and not whirled as I was all over England, and set down the Lord knows where or when: but let him speak to the Landlord of the Inn (if he be not otherwise sure), and take an inside place all the way. I once said the Mail; which, if the hour suit you, is as good as any: but there are other coaches, it appears, that run all thro'; and you can either have a journey of a day and a night, or of a night and a day (the whole time being about 22 hours or so); the former of which plans I reckon better. The Mail, I fancy, will reach this about half-past five in the morning. If you can, get a Coach that will run the whole way; at all events, ascertain how often you are to be shifted: with me it happened seven times; and I found it troublesome enough. Write to me by post when your seat is taken; and sure enough, I will be on the ground! Yet should the Devil after all be in it, and no Husband makes his appearance (being on the Watch far elsewhere); then do you simply desire the guard to get you a Hackney Coach, and name this address, and all is still well. Lastly let me advise thee, Goody, to carry a paperbag of victual with thee: I got one penny loaf all the way hither. Neither were it in the least amiss to take a phial of good brandy in the steam-journey along with thee: it is admirable in sea-sickness, and Christian Comfort8 of any kind will be available. Also, while at the Craig, continue to drink thy little glasskin, while there is a drop of Port in the house: we shall get more; and never never can it go a better road. I forgot this last week, and have often thought of it since— If thou come sick, it will be a pity: yet, that way too, never mind; I will only love thee the more, till thou art well, and then—hate thee?

Now here is instruction enough with a vengeance about travelling: it were perhaps more to the point could I say something definite about what you are to bring with you; but here my light very much fails me; I can only jot down this and the other suggestion, with the certainty that much will be forgotten. In several Lodginghouses I find it asked: Do you use your own plate, and bed-and-table linen? The latter item I think will not be worth attending to [(]except perhaps a few towels, IF you are not pressed for room): but with regard to “our own plate,” I imagine it will be very easy to carry; tho' whether of any use when carried, let Goodykin herself judge. My highland Bonnet she will of her own accord remember. Also my inkbottle Stand (the wooden penholder, I mean). The tea-caddy will come at any rate with the “Books”: various little lockfast articles of that kind would be serviceable. You may bring the rest of my new shirts: I find a cotton one or two here; and these the washerwoman will spoil, if she get them often. Of Books you may bring at most (and only if you have room) the Spanish, Italian, Latin (Adams) and Greek Dictionaries (the Foreign-English parts only, where they are parted); Arrowsmith's Atlas;9 the third volume of Flögel,10 the very thin Hutten's Leben [Life of Hutten]:11 nothing more will I add; indeed even these are not essential, seeing they can be borrowed. Pity that I cannot picture out the future household better! But I have it not in me; my housekeeping faculty is clean gone.

You will of course direct your Barrel to this place; tho' whether we may stay here is quite problematical: we shall likely be in the neighbourhood at least. Our house is one of the handsomest to look upon, at the money; rather thrifty also, and belongs to an honest-minded landlord: but here I think its advantages seem to end. The noise outwardly is not inconsiderable, and within we have a slamming and a clanking which I, “albeit of firmest nerve,” sometimes find unpleasant. I have been in various Lodgings, and find that for about the same sum we shall accommodate ourselves tolerably enough. One or two were even of an inviting character: the worst I saw was one the various items of which amounted to the easy rent of 3 guineas week or more; in the nastiest, noisiest, but then a fashionable street! The Landlady wore a wig, and had a look of second table knavery. In all of these places, when you take the people strictly to task, they will admit that bugs have (as if by miracle) appeared; but that, by assiduous washing they “keep them down.” The scratch-wig Landlady used these very words. On the whole, however, I do not think they will afflict us much: the winter proves fatal to them of itself, and some of the people look so tidy and decent you could not fancy them in such company. Here the Bug-subduer (Homer calls Hector the Horse-subduer) has filled everything with “saft-saip”; so that the whole insect world must have expired of despair: at worst I do not mind them, or care for them (if I did) overmuch. The Devil is busy everywhere: but even as Legion (of scandalous insects) one should withstand him and defy him. For the rest, more especially with such shifting from room to room, we are somewhat disorderly here; it is all that I can do to clutch my own things together, and keep the whole from running to huggermugger. Jack and George have both to sleep in the “horse-manager”: poor fellows! but they heed it not, nor its more or less vigorous population; a faculty which I must envy. To say truth, I have got this room (it is in the Bedroom I now and usually write) made tolerably clear again; fancy there are indeed no Bugs or other vermin in it: and shall stay peaceably till Goody come and try it, and say Yes or No. She shall herself have it a-deciding.

As our Post makes so slow a return, it were perhaps good for me to make some guess at the time of your coming. This Letter you receive on Wednesday next: who knows but you may be off before the following one. Say, shall I write again? Alas, you cannot say; not before it will be too late. Well, on [for written above on] Saturday I shall write at all events; and with regard to Wednesday shall gather instruction from your Letters.— As to money I think your own plan is the best: to get what you need from Alick, whom we can repay. I meant that Naso should pay (to) you the (price of the article on) Taylor at Dumfries: however I will not now trouble him. Remember only that whatever cash you do take with you must be changed into gold or Bank of England notes before you leave Dumfries: otherwise you have to seek Jews at Liverpool, and pay them some sixpence in the pound. If there be any spare weight in this frank I may send you a note or two: we shall see.

Here then is all the business part of the matter copiously discussed; and now I may take my ease a little, and gossip with you. My own history since thursday is soon told; for unfortunately it amounts to little more than zero. Dreck again lies tied together in my trunk; and for aught I see may lie some time: I have written and travelled to Albemarle Street, but never once succeeded in getting a glimpse or a word of the Pontiff. He is said to be out of town last day I was over; and not to return till Tuesday, when I shall march over again. Courage! Courage! Neither let the unregenerate man lament that he is thus foiled, and lightly esteemed: it is good for him that he should be so tried, if he be wise. Nay, if Murray will not say something reasonable, Dreck shall take his ease where he is: some one will by and by print him, if he be wanted in the world: that we have written him is still a kind of comfort. Of Napier no tidings: indeed it is yet little more than time. Nothing from the Bullers: the Austin (whom you need not fear my liking too well) I consider to be gone thither. We have realised some oatmeal; purchased some in the Strand (baddish at 4/4 the stone), and directly after got a present of some from Mrs Hamilton. She added an invitation to Dinner, which we forcibly converted into a tea: Irving was there, and various nondescripts; a certain Mr Goldie12 who appeared to be from East Lothian; then Mrs Scott wife of my Double;13 finally, before supper, my Double himself. I talked hither and thither Teufelsdreckish: what could I do? My Double is rather an extremely attenuated copy of Brand of Craighouse;14 an enthusiastic, honest, exceedingly narrow individual. His wife interested me somewhat: in face and in character she reminded me of one15 who now lies beneath the ground; whose still dwelling, in these insane tumults, my imagination often visits. O Jeannie, what is Life? Is not Death far purer and higher? Patience! That too is coming: be faithful yet a little; in due time ye shall reap if ye faint not.

The Montague I saw yesterday: you had not dated her Note; she was looking forward to see you (uncertain whether you might not be already at her door) with a quite inexpressible anxiety. Her daughter is ill, and must go to Brighton: but she will wait, or do any possible way, to be here and receive you. What a pity that Life is not “goot worts” as Fluellen16 called them! Then were the noble lady your woman. As it is you will not fail to like her as well as you can: I imagine she looks forward with some interest to have a bout of doctoring and tutoring you; I, having grown out of that relation, have become partially unserviceable. After all, she is infinitely better than the vulgar of women[;] let us even honour her, and pity her, and kindly regard her, the best we can. To Badams she and I make no even faintest allusion. Mrs Procter is not yet returned.

Farther I have made a pretty discovery: that of a really excellent Library, where one can read; where I calculate on studying almost daily thro the winter. It is the British Museum; a place now in excellent order. You too, if you like, shall go: there are whole immensities of copperplates, and what not; and you may sit beside me and study what you list, on this one condition, of not speaking and not stealing. I am very glad of this: I tried the place in my former sojourn, but found it useless; and had given it up: it is nowise so.

Thus, Dearest, thou seest my days flow rather uselessly along. If Naso do not write soon, I will seek some other task, were it the meaner. No man can force you to lie idle, but only yourself. Neither is the world shut against any one; but it is he that is shut. God grant us some little touch of Wisdom; let Fate turn up what card she likes, so we can but play it well. I feel as if I had yet much to suffer, but also something to do. Do thou help me, my little Woman; thou art worthy of that destiny; and perhaps it is appointed thee. These are fearful times; yet is there greatness in them: now is the hour when he that feels himself a man, should stand forth and prove himself such. Oh could I but live in the light of that holy purpose, and keep it ever present before me, I were happy, too happy!

Meanwhile, unfortunately, for these many months, and now as formerly, I am rather wicked. Alas! Why should I dwell in the element of contempt and indignation, not rather in that of patience and love. I was reading in Luther's Tischreden [dinner speeches], 17 and absolutely felt ashamed. What have I suffered, what did he suffer! One should actually, as Irving advises, “pray to the Lord, ”—did one but know how to do it. The best worship, however, is stout Working. Frisch zu [go to it]!—

I have not seen the Duke for a week; today I sent up for my frank; and did it rather awkwardly, owing to the awkwardness of a servant: Lord Something or other was with him, and I grew tired of waiting. Two more franks I must beg (it is a great happiness this quite careless writing); and then probably our interviews will be still rarer. I acknowledge in myself a certain despicable tendency to think crabbedly of the poor Duke: a quite vulgar feeling it is; merely as if he were not kind enough to me. Is he not kinder than most other men are? Shame on me! Out of various motives, among which love is not wholly wanting, he really wishes to do me good: are not all others of his order indifferent to me; should not he be at all times more, and not less? Yet is his path not my path; nor are his thoughts my thoughts: it becomes more and more clear to me that we shall never do any good together. Let him come and sit with you in that “flowerpot tub” if he like; let us do him what kindness we can, which is not much; and stand ever with kind looks in that direction, yet always too on our own side of the strand: frivolous Gigmanity cannot unite itself to our stern destiny; let it pass by on the other side.—— But O my dear Jeannie, do help me to be a little softer, to be a little merciful to all men, even Gigmen! Why should a man tho' bilious, never so “nervous,” impoverished, bugbitten, and bedevilled, let Satan have dominion over him? Save me, save me, my Goody! It is on this side that I am threatened: nevertheless we will prevail I tell thee; by God's blessing we will and shall.

I must now retire; for it is nigh suppertime (dinner and tea intervened about the beginning of this sheet): a little space also must be left for the morrow. Dear Wife, do not thou forsake me, never even in thought; let thy true heart be ever a safe home for my afflicted and too exasperated heart; let us be in very deed one! I now begin to know what is Love: it depends on no whims, no accidents; it is the first of truths for man, and the root of all strength in him. Neither shalt thou fear the Devil the world nor the Flesh, at my side. Fear nothing, but love one another, and all the world: that is our rule.—— Finally Goody the great practical “use of improvement” is: Come to me with all decent speed; for thou seest it is not well for me to be alone. And so, Lovekin, Good night; and may all true Thoughts, which are better than sweet dreams be with thee! A Dios Señora mia [Farewell, my lady]!

Monday, one o'clock.— I come in from wandering over the Chaos to my own little cell, and my own little Goody: there is yet time enough to fill the sheet.— First touching things to be brought, let me get an additional item or two off my hand lest I again forget them. Bring thy bit Coffee-mill; otherwise we get nothing but vapid Coffee. Nay I am not sure but a Black Teapot (of the sixpenny sort) ought also to be imported. Do not forget Ham or Hams! It is the grand succedaneum here for breakfast condiments. Eggs I can dispense with: but we will have a pennyworth of cream (if we can get it), such dishwashing is the tea without it. I reckon that we shall (perhaps) have a lockfast cellar, into which all these things can be stowed: some places specially offer such a convenience. Potatoes are not worth carrying; they can be had eatable here: however, I find, a Goody to make markets is indispensable; our servant contrives even to get us baddish beef: the mutton universally is said to be diseased, and proves uneatable. Farther you are to look at Scotsbrig if you can find a certain German Italian Grammer of Jack's: it is a smallish octavo in blue boards, or cover; the name I have forgot: “there can be no possibility,” he says, “but they will find it.” To which I answer that there is a decided probability of their not finding it. Do thy best. Remember generally with regard to my Books that they are of almost no consequence, and may be left if room is scanty, or if the Barrel seem dangerous for wet.—— One other little piece of business news I despatch, and then have done: On Saturday night I went to visit the poor Watch; found it all clear and alive again, and that nothing but the chain had been injured: the man wanted it for another week; after which an incidental regulation would suffice. It is two miles off me, in the very heart of operative London. I think, old Stoddart must be dead: at least the man speaks about “my Father,” what excellent Watches they made, what excellent prices they got.

This morning the St. Pancras Clock striking 7 and a foolish Messin [cur] barking apparently at it, awoke me in sulkyish humour. Buonaparte's saying came into my head: vous vous écoutez trop [you listen to yourself too much].18 I walked up to the Regent's Park to consider it. After breakfast, in a sort of desperate resolution to be at work some way, I walked over to James Fraser's, asking myself all the way whether I absolutely would not write a Dud for him on the Life of Johnson. Thou hast never yet written Duds, said I to myself: do not, I intreat thee, never do! At length I had partially resolved, if he again entreated me, to write him a real paper, knowing beforehand that it was to be for nothing. Happily the creature did not entreat me: so I talked hither and thither upon the ways of the Devil in this noble City; appointed Willm Fraser (who is expected today) to come and meet me; and so with clear conscience left the poor man,—an innocent creature, one of Irving's hearers; but mostly made of timber.

Returning, I looked in upon the noble Lady to ask a Letter from Montague, certifying to the Museum Keepers that I probably would not steal: this is a preliminary to your regularly reading there. It is to wait me tomorrow morning. The Lady was bright, and all agog about her “dear Friend,” and “what she could do for her.” I pointed out a course for her, which was simply to rest upon her oars, and do nothing, till we got settled in Lodgings, which I assured her you had great talents for choosing. Then she would have me connected with the New Monthly Magazine, thro' her means; to which I answered that it was impossible for a man like me to offer himself on any one; but if any Editorial Gentlemen came to me with a proposal, I should be ready as a pocket-whistle with a civil answer. We parted in the firmest bonds of a Holy Alliance—so far as “goot worts” can weave such. I will say nothing more against your Ideal: come and look upon her; and let me see how the Scotch clearness, love, and sincerity will demean itself in the element of Bedford Square: “a mixture,” like most other things, “of good and evil, mother.”19

I had thoughts, as I came homewards, of running out to Badams for a day or two, who strongly invites me. You are already promised there: I believe you will like Badams; there is much sound stuff in him, both of head and heart; and by Heaven's blessing all these agonies will purify him and turn for good. His Wife, as I said, is a truehearted, warm inexperienced girl—of perhaps your own age. Of the Stracheys I hear nothing; nevertheless you shall see Julia,20—fixed (poor Julia!) as in a frost: that is my theory of her. Irving is gone out of town this morning with his Wife; who accordingly will be absent when you come. Irving himself returns before Sunday. Mrs Irving will do little for you: her whole dialect is impregnated with “the Laart”; otherwise she is a woman of honest principle, helpful, kind of speech; and has simply one imperfection she is an Anempfinderinn [one who adapts her sentiments] (a “feeler like”—others)—as Goethe calls the Frau Melina,21 in a quite different environment. On the whole “there is not one of them can compare with my “Coadgitor![”] Of this I grow surer and surer every day. Come hither then with thy pattens for a “conveyance”; and let us do our very wisest.

Naso writes me a very kind Letter this morning:22 it lay waiting when I returned hither, and I rejoiced that Fraser had not opened his wooden jaw. He, the great Naso, is not indisposed for Luther; only fears he cannot give me room enough; 35 pages is all that he can spare. Withal he suggests another Book (“Anastasius” Hope's Thoughts on Man,23 or some such title); tho' he could do well with Luther too I think: that Hope I will go out and seek and look into before I be many days older; it will be far easier than Luther, which last can stand over. I mean to try one or the other without delay: they will keep the pot boiling, which is something, as matters go.—

Here, however, Darling must I terminate for once. I had thoughts of writing “little[”] Jane a note, but the frank will not carry it, I fear. Tell her that I am very glad to think of her being with you, and give her my best brotherly blessing. There is much in Jane. Tell her to keep a true heart and an open sight; to fear nothing but God only, to love all things but the Devil only.— Ask her what of the Scotsbrig Harvest; which I often think of in these miserable dripping days. Alas for Jamie! Never had gallant less furtherance from a “dying paarent” in any matrimonial enterprize. The criticism also was true, and of emphasis unparalleled.24

Jack has seen his Countess again: she is bent for the first of October; he is to meet her at Canterbury; then onward to Paris to stay there for a fortnight; then some months at Nice (in the South of France); and so gently along by Turin to Italy and Rome and what not. The Doctor is to ride in a Carriage by himself! Do but consider this one fact. They have Courriers and Helpers of every character, and travel with all manner of accommodati[o]ns. She seems to be a sensible woman, he says; courteous, discriminating; “tries to learn German”; appears to me to ail very little except from the too great “ease of society.” Had she the Harvest rig to take [to walk up the harvest-field], for a season or two, her diseases were well nigh done.— He learns Italian with a Master; reads, speculates, endeavours, and occasionally (not so often as of old) “clavers” [talks foolishly]. You must be here before he go, to perhaps help him a little.

Enough now, dear Jeannie: have I not given thee enough? The “Apartments Furnished” are all sitting ready but cannot be let till thou come. Nothing can be done till thou come. So, festina lente: zu meinen Armen [make haste slowly: to my arms]!— Ever thy own

T. Carlyle—

Mind to mark all your washing Clothes, and mine, with marking ink, or otherwise. The shirts I have here had to be marked before they could be sent out: I was so weary, that morning; and Jack did it—far from well.

Forget not woolen things, so many as you have, for us both.

I send you four pound-notes; the frank will not bear another grain; I close it with a wafer, to be safe.

I think you must call at Mundells,25 and get him to make you up, say eight quarters of tobacco: if he can recommend it as among his best get sixteen; all well wrapped up; and perhaps it were go[od if] some one saw them weighed. No good tobacco have I yet discovered [here] and it is all 8d a pound dearer. The sixteen ought to set me pretty well thro': at least before then, I shall have discovered better.

It is now near dinner time (3 o'clock): Jack is at the Museum, I suppose; but will be in soon.— I have not forgotten my Mother's Letter; nor will I let Jack forget. Be sure to send her word about everything. You wrote last week?— A Dios, my Own!

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