October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


TC TO SARAH AUSTIN; 20 March 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340320-TC-SA-01; CL 7:e2-400.


Craigenputtock, / March 20 1834.

My Dear Mrs. Austin,

My date, you perceive, is the 20th, and your letter did not reach us till late in the evening of the appointed 19th.1 We have at the utmost only two Post-days weekly here—in general, only one (the Wednesday, which answers to your London Monday); and though last week, as it chanced, both Post-days did their duty, your Express unhappily fell between them; and so here we are. My whole soul grows sick in the business of house-seeking; I get to think, with a kind of comfort, of the grim house six feet by three which will need no seeking. In return, I ought to profess myself humble in my requisitions as to that matter. I must have air to breathe; I must have sleep also, for which latter object, procul, O procul este [away, away with you],2 ye accursed tribes of Bugs, ye loud-bawling Watchmen, that awaken the world every half hour only to say what o'clock it is! Other indispensable requisition I have none.

The house which Lucykin and you describe so hopefully seems as if it had been expressly built for us.3 Our answer is at once, secure it for Whit-Sunday, if it be still attainable. Till we hear otherwise, we will still have a kind of hope that it may. If you do so prosper, there will be various other inquiries to trouble you with, various minor arrangements to tax your kind discretion with. For example, what are the fixtures, beyond grates? We have window-curtains, Venetian blinds, etc. etc., which will be useless here, which might chance to fit them. The measured dimensions of all the rooms and windows (if you can procure them) will bring the whole matter before us. The general outline of the Housekin I already have, by assurance of Imagination; a sunk story, three raised ones, the little bed-quilt of garden before the house or behind it, as it shall please the Fates. You must, on the whole, consent to consider us as a Brother and Sister in this matter; and pray lend us your head as well as your affection.

My Dame bids me say that as to carpets (since those here, not indeed of great value, will go waste if left) nothing can be decided till we know the sizes, and, according to your judgment, the quality and cheapness. The only thing that will be certain of that sort is, perhaps, a fixture already—some sort of wax-cloth for a lobby.

I look to London with bodings of a huge, dim, most vexed character. Never shall, with my whole heart, have as much of the “Hoping to do yourself” as you can undertake. In me is little Hope, or only Hope of a kind that I call “desperate”—a Hope that recognises all earthly things to be Lug and Trug [Falsehood and Deceit]; and yet under them, and symbolically hid in them, are Ewiges und Wahres [Eternity and Truth]; of this same desperate Hope I have for many years (God be thanked for it!) never been bereft, nay, on the whole, grown fuller and fuller of it. For the present, I lie quite becalmed. Not calm, alas! that is a very different matter. I am doing, and can set at doing, nothing, or as good as that. No line have I written for months; only read whole heaps of Books, with little profit. In any case, befall what may, I see it to be the hest of the Unseen Guide that I should come to you, so I come getrosten Muthes [sustained by Courage]. You, my dear Friend, and your kind, hopeful, and helpful words, fall like sunlight through the waste weltering chaos. May the Heavens bless you for it!

And so with all manner of good wishes, and as much of Hope, “desperate” and other, as may be,

Ever yours affectionately, /

T. Carlyle.

My wife, full of cares, tumults, and headaches, and I doubt also of indolence, bribes me to write this letter, not unwillingly, which you are to take as hers, and her love with it.