The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 28 June 1821; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18210628-TC-JBW-01; CL 1:367.


Edinr, 28th June, 1821—

My dear Madam,

It would have been a pleasant spectacle for Mephistophiles or any of his sooty brethren,—in whose eyes, I understand, this restless life of ours appears like a regular Farce, only somewhat dull at times,—to have surveyed my feelings before opening your parcel, the other night, and after opening it: to have seen with what hysterical speed I undid the grey cover; how I turned over the poor tomes; how I shook them, and searched them through and through; and found—Miss Welsh's ‘compliments’ to Mr. Carslile, a gentleman, in whom, it required no small sagacity to detect my own representation! Upon the whole, I suppose, you did well to treat me so. I had dreamed and hoped, indeed; but what right had I to hope, or even to wish?

Those latter volumes of the Allemagne will perplex you, I fear. The third in particular is very mysterious; now and then quite absurd. Do not mind it much.— Noehden is not come, the London Smacks being all becalmed. I hope it will arrive in time; to let us begin Lessing and Schiller and the rest, against October, without impediment. I shall send it out instantly.

I had a hundred thousand things to tell you; but now I may not mention one of them. Those compliments have put the whole to flight almost entirely: there remains little more than, as it were, a melancholy echo of what has been.

Infantumve animae, flentes in limine primo.1

Edward Irving and I go down to Annandale, about the first of August;2 he for two weeks, I for as many months. In the mean time, if there is any other book that I can get you, or any kind of service within the very utmost circle of my ability, that can promote your satisfaction even in the slenderest degree,—I do entreat you earnestly to let me know. This is not mere palabra; it originates in a wish to serve you—which must remain ungratified, I presume, but is not the less heart-felt on that account. Farewell!

I am always, / Your affectionate friend, /

Thomas Carlyle.

Irving's packet was duly forwarded.