October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


JWC TO MARY WELSH; 27 December 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18311227-JWC-MWE-01; CL 6:80-82.


Tuesday / 4. Ampton Street / Mecklenburg Square [27 December 1831]

My dear Aunt

When I returned from Enfield, where I had been for a week; I found the box containing the memorials of my heedlessness,1 along with the welcome letter, awaiting me on the top of a cistern outside our staircase window; and our Landlady assures me with the utmost selfcomplacency that she had done all she could for it, in the way of keeping it perfectly cool! She looked rather blank when after duly commending her care, I informed her it was probably a cloak and shawl which she might now bring in out of the rain with all dispatch. Only to the intellect of a Co[c]kney would a deal box have suggested the exclusive idea of game.

The cloak I got died [sic] a more sober colour, and lined and furred so as effectually to exclude the cold;—no slight conquest of art over Nature in these days— Some people here have the impudence or ignorance to congratulate me on the agreeable change of climate I have made: but truly if my contentment depended mainly on weather I should wish myself back to our own hilltop without delay. Regarded as a place merely, this ‘Noble City’ is simply the most detestable I ever lived in. One day a ferocious frost; the next a fog, so thick you might put it in your pocket; a dead sea of greencoloured filth under foot; and above an atmosphere like one—of my Uncle's sugar-boilers. But as the French say il faut se ranger [it is necessary to settle down]! and so day after day I rush forth with desperate resignation; and even find a sort of sublimity in the infinite horror thro' which I must make my way, or—die of indigestion. If I am inclined to reflect on the place, however (perhaps not without a touch of national prejudice) it is certainly my bounden duty to speak well of the people— Nowhere have I found more worth, more talent or more kindness; and I must doubly regret the ill health I have been suffering under, since it has so curtailed my enjoyment of all this— Nevertheless tho I dare seldom accept an invitation out, I have the pleasantest evenings at home. Scarce a night passes that some acquaintance new or old does not drop in at tea, and then follow such bouts at talking! not of one “Book” (as my Uncle na[m]ed Carlyle) but several Books— I have seen most of the Literary people here, and, as Edward Irving said after his first interview with Wordsworth, “I think not of them so highly as I was wont.” These people who have made themselves snug little reputations, and on the strength of such hold up their heads as “one and somewhat” are by no means the most disting[ui]shed th[at] I meet with either for talent or cultivation[.] Some of them indeed (Charles Lamb for instance) would not be tolerated in any society out of England—

But I must abruptly conclude while I am yet but beginning—the young man who is to be the bearer of this and whom I have requested to deliver it in person being just ready to start[.] He is the Son of a Mr Arbuckle in Galloway (known doubtless to George MacMuir[?]) and is bound for Liverpool to ascertain if there be an inlet there or in the neighbourhood for a Physician— He is a very sensible good young man, and we feel sincerely interested in his wellbeing— He will tell you all about me that you may wish to know—and if you can cheer his first outlook on a strange place by a word of kindness you will do us a pleasure[.] My kindest love to my Uncle and all the weans [children]— My mother writes that he had writte[n] her a letter—which I was truly happy to hear. God bless you all Your affection[a]te

Jane W Carlyle

[TC's postscript:]

My kindest regards to all: happy new-year, and many of them, and always the last the best!— I should like much to hear of the eyes.2

T. C.