July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 24 August 1836; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18360824-TC-JWC-01; CL 9:41-47.


Chelsea, Wednesday [24 August 1836].

Meine Liebe [My Dear],— This sheet lies out on the table, seemingly soliciting to be written, for the sake of the poor Goody; and tho' I had, on second thoughts, determined to put it off till tomorrow, I cannot find in my heart to do that; but will fling all aside, and proceed. The Revolution “task” (for you must know I am writing again) was doing little good at any rate,—the nerves and head all out of sorts today: poor Goody will perhaps set me up better than the Book would; let her take me therefore, with a blessing. The Parliament being dissolved (prorogued, I believe) there are no franks; hence this small writing, which I love not: Jack said, on Saturday: “Here is a ticket Lady Clare has sent me; will you not go and see the King prorogue Parliament?”— “Sir” I answered, “if he were going to blow up Parliament with gunpowder I would hardly go,—being busy elsewhere.”1 To Jack's great affliction! However, let me mention that they have done one good thing: taken off the penny we used to pay for our Newspapers, in these Threepenny-post districts; a big “G.P.” stamped on the outside comes now, and no penny to pay. Also you can put your Newspaper into the office here without charge, and need not go to Sloane Street. I have already saved five pence by it, and two journies.2 It is the main advantage this Legislative Session, or indeed I think the whole Reform-Parliamentary New Era has yet produced for me. Note this; and encourage our Friends to send us old Papers, with two strokes on them: writing on them is not so safe.

What a miserable posture that at Annan, and on the crown of Annan Hill; which I could so well fancy! Poor Mary with her basket; poor Goody left alone, in that fremd [strange] yellow Inn.3 The Newspaper next day brought an Ho dormito [sleep] and meglio [better]; but I still knew it was far from well: a mere repentance principally at having sent bad news the day before. Never lament such things, poor Goody: in suffering, to whom wilt thou complain if not to me? Till friday night, when I could fancy you safe home at Templand again, in a house without children or noise, my imagination had no rest. Lie still, thou poor wearied one; stir not till the hour come for travelling hither again! After all, I calculate the journey will not prove useless: a healthy influence lies in the very change of ideas and objects, such a total change as that; seated by one's own hearth again, much that was a burble will begin to unravel itself. There are better days coming: I say it always, and swear it, with a kind of indestructible faith! But we must be ready for the bad, for the worse; and meet them not in bitter violence, but in courageous genial humour, as quiet at least as may be. Poor Alick would be very wae and glad to see you: everybody has his battle here below. My Mother ought to be home by this time? But we have got no news.

The grand question now however is, when are you coming, and how? We have frightful Lammas Floods here just now, with rough North wind, which must be gurly [squally] at sea. Were it not for that, or were that over, perhaps Edinburgh would be best for you? Your Mother would see you so far; or perhaps she will venture all the way, and try us again, at another season of the year: we are better thro' winter than dark Nithsdale is! Once in the steamboat, you have nothing more to fret you; the sickness is sickness, but it is one thing, not a thousand things. Yet this is only my own feeling I am translating into your person: perhaps the infernal belly of the Umpire4 all the way from Liverpool does not make you shudder as it does me. Do what seems easiest to do. The expense, which even we ought not to regard in this case much, is about the same both ways. The only thing I do decide is that if you come by Liverpool Coach, it must be by the Mail: the Mail goes many hours faster than that cursed Lumber (always full of Irish too); and on the last day every hour is like a century. Perhaps Manchester—? No; Jenny will not be there. Or perhaps you could stop all night at Birmingham? Why not do that?— I wish it were all over; and the poor Goody jumping out to me again.—

We do well enough here; Ann behaving herself I think very handsomely, with great goodnature and goodhumour; nor I think does she cheat or pilfer, or otherwise go astray: but I am daily wearier of holding the bag.5 “What wull a' get to denner?” Oh, steak, or chop, both, or anything under the sun! For the rest, we have very eatable potatoes; good tea and coffee (I wrote again by Twopenny to Twinings,6 a second order, and they came the same day,—our prosperous and other Grocers proving naught): the Lamp also is set up mostly now at night;—and it is a still, smooth-gliding poor-man's-house as the circumstances admit. If a Goody were well, and a Good,—ach Gott [Oh God] why could not one be happy enough, in spite of twenty Poverties! Patience, Lassie; let us take it quietly: this Book will be done; I shall rest, be better, all will be better. Consider this fact too, which really has a truth in it, “Great sorrow never lasts”;7 it is like a stream stemmed, must begin flowing again—there is really, I say, a truth in that, grounded in the nature of things. O my poor Bairn, be not faithless but believing! Do not fling life away as insupportable despicable; and let us work it out and rest it out together, like a true Two, tho' under sore obstructions.Fools, in all circumstances short of Tophet, nay probably in Tophet itself, have one way of doing; wise have a different, infinitely better. I say infinitely, for that also is a fact. And so God direct us, and help us; God send thee soon and safe back again; and here ends my Sermon.— Poor Jack sits daily in expectation of being summoned to march for Dover: very probably on friday or saturday, tho' he knows not yet what day. Her Ladyship has the ordering of the days and the weeks; summons you out of Scotland a fortnight sooner, then keeps you a week longer, &c &c: such is the power of cash in this world. Jack himself has ten times my patience with it; but he too, as he waits daily and cannot go out till Postie comes or passes, begins to grow impatient with it. He has been lecturing me, as his wont was, talking of “false positions taken up,” and so forth; but his mildness now that we are to part again makes me very wae: I find I shall feel as if utterly left alone when he goes. He has got a large Brass-plate “Dr Carlyle,”—to be set up finally in the City of Rome! His Life too is overshadowed, obstructed; a great mass of Talent lies painfully imprisoned there, struggling out in all manner of whimsicalities and littlenesses, offensive and self-offensive. Let us pity the poor white man,8 and hope always better of him. This day he had a Letter from Fraser9 in Munich: they are not going to Rome, Cholera is in the way; but Mrs F. is going to Scotland and her Brother's at Stirling or near it; F. himself wandering without rest to the sole of his foot! He earnestly asks whither John is going, that he also may go thither. A poor aimless man; his wife a poor aimless woman, I gather; who demands society, excitement, on the whole happiness, and cannot find it.

Did I tell you that Ann had scoured my dressing-gown, taking off the collar; and made [it] as brisk as new? I have it on this day; and am removed up stairs, the heat being gone, above a week ago. I took to writing, a new delay of a week having come on Jack: I have got King Louis (the rough draught of him) condemned, not yet guillotined; but shall have him all finished off ere long. I go on much smoothlier; carrying less weight. Some five score pages m[ore] then!— Another piece of good news I must tell you: yesterday, after long struggling which I [knew] nothing of while it went on, I have got back that Histoire Parlémentaire Review-paper from Fonblanque, and have it here:10 it is equivalent to £10 more for us; a thing to be thankful for.— We have had as nearly as possible no society; a thing also to be thankful for at present. The Stimabiles are in the Netherlands: that “Saturday night” of the Tea proved wet, or we were weary and did not go; going on the morrow, they were “not at home, Sir,” sailed for Antwerp. The Wilsons are going on Saturday, for Tunbridge. Miss Wilson, since I began writing, has sent me a book I had lent her, with a wish to see me “before they go”: she was ill lately when I called; there has been no meeting since the dinner one. Terrot called yesterday, also for the first time since then; to take leave. He goes by Cambridge, makes some stops on the road; has still a hope of meeting you at Edinr “precisely a fortnight” hence, that being his date of arrival. Charles Buller has had a “surgical operation” (piles, I suppose); they are then for Switzerland direct; his mother looked worn and ill: of Mrs Austin or Austindom no news at all,—gone I fancy to Boulogne to pack up. Taylor called one night; we not at home: not seen since; just one meeting since Miss Fenwick went. Morris [Maurice] came in, one night, late; he had been taking leave of the Bartons11 who were for Ireland; Sterling wrote in happy humour from Bourdeaux, no other news: we gave Morris a morsel of bread and cheese with a glass of ale, a spoonful of porridge too by way of trial, and sent him on his way. Pepoli has been here, not quite so lame; he said nothing of the Letter. Cavaignac too and the other: “Soeur toujours &c”; for the rest, C. talks of running out to Spain, and fighting there, some Democratic prospect opening now.12 Cg were he not so noisy I could do very well with: Marrast seems to me an impudent, dissolute yellow little body; an offence rather.— One night the Willises13 came, having volunteered to John; Hunt also came, by chance; whereupon the Piano was opened, there was singing, strumming, and Hunt's delight was great. So great that the Willises would needs have us all to tea with them: Monday night it accordingly took place; but on this second trial Mrs W. proved not half so charming,—“there is something I know not what” insinuated Hunt as we came home; “there is a quality of limitation,” answered I. In fact it is singular how the beautifullest melody of voice is nothing at all without feeling: and out of lachrymose Webers14 and the Church parts of Handel, the Willises are dead. Hunt tried goodnaturedly with zeal to convince them that Beethoven was the man and not Weber: rain-water on a glazed umbrella!

The poor Novelli is actually got out of London: well if she stay! The Perugini15 had found her some sort of Boarding school at Brighton (the mistress of which had seen Beatrice); and had almost to force her off. Unhappy Beatrice came and told us on Sunday with many tears, how “cruel” Perugini had been to her &c, how “brusque,” and had shaken her up with a long pole; O Iddio, ch'è crudele [Oh God, how merciless]!— We gave her a “bottle of porter” (literally) by way of sleeping draught and medicine for that night, and sent her off consoled as far as we could.— W. Gibson had us at dinner last saturday. He came down one morning, prosy as Lethe, kind as Summer; broke the eye out of a day for me: I grew quite savage at last. However there was one thing he had determined on, that “your Brother and you”—“just drop a line”—“any day ye like”—“any hour.” I had not the heart to drop a line of denial, when Jack came in; we went at 9 o'clock and really were very well. Innumerable compts went to Templand: you and your mother were pledged with full bumpers, not in solemn silence: the health of Gibson and his clean skin and imperturbable joyfulness of nature always does me good.——This I think is my last item of chatter (not worth writing, were you not in such seclusion); and at all events, my paper is done. I daresay this or the other thing, of comparatively more importance, is forgotten; but I cannot help it.— I was very glad to hear of the Game16 being let; in that case my Letter to M'Diarmid falls to nothing. Have you never seen Aird?17 Send for him, if not.— Let me have a Newspaper for a token; then a Letter—to say which day, and how.— Or would you grow better, now that all is quiet thro' this Autumn time; staying there? I doubt, not. But do always what is best in your own judgement; mine cannot act in the case, only my wishes can; my heart's desire that betterness were. Poor Goody! rest thyself well: then set a stout heart to it, and determine not to be ill; and so splash thro' it, and get home.— Have you heard anything of my Mother? Is there any prospect of meeting?— All manner of kind remembrances and thanks to your Mother; and trial if she will not come with you.— Adieu dear Jeannie mine!


I read the scrawl over, and smoke (pencil in hand) down-stairs, before running out—with my nerves. There is a blink of fair weather, amid rain. Adieu again!18

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