The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO JANE BAILLIE WELSH; 16 July 1821; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18210716-TC-JBW-01; CL 1:368-370.


Edinr, 16th July, 1821—

My dear Madam,

You must not be angry at me for this new intrusion. It is not without great trepidation that I venture on such a step; but I have conceived the most magnificent project, and your concurrence is absolutely necessary for realising it. My project is no less than to set out in person to inspect and accelerate your progress in the German tongue! Some sunny morning, about the first of August, you are to find me beside you, at breakfast, when you least expect it. “And where is the magnificence of this?” you ask: “Magnificent!”—and then you whisper something about parturiunt montes,1 and smile most contemptuously on me and my project. Not without reason, I admit: but after all, ‘these little things are great to little men’;2 and besides it is altogether impossible for you to understand with what feelings I look forward to this event. You cannot form any adequate idea of the pleasure I already experience in anticipating the lightness of heart, with which I shall brush away the dews—advancing ‘right against the Eastern gate’3—upon so brave an errand. With the prospect of green fields and fresh air for months before me, with all the sorrowful traffickings, and all the dreary drivelling sciolists of Edinburgh behind,— I shall see you for a few moments, and be happy in your company once again. But alas! Will you let me come? Will you be at home then? If you say No, if you do not say Yes, it will dash the whole of this gay Spanish Castle to the ground. Can you find in your heart to do so? Can you? Tell me soon: and observe that by way of preliminary, I debar all speeches about trouble and the like: you know well enough it will be no trouble, whatever it be. Say only “I shall be at home”: the news will make one poor mortal richer than any King—for a while.

I designed to thank you a hundred times, for the letter you honoured me with: but I may wait till—we meet. In your eyes, I doubt not, that small note seems a very plain prosaic affair, not worthy of thanks above twice at farthest: in mine it appears quite differently. To me the very seal has beauty in it. I have pondered the device with musings of various kinds— And would you not pardon me, if the wish arose among them for a moment that All' Amistà [both words underscored twice] were in very deed the motto—once and evermore between us! The thing itself looks so delicious, that even this faint fallacious shadow of it has a value. But I am wandering.— To return— When will you write to me? To-morrow? Next day? If you knew all, you would sit down instantly, and say La Reine le veut.4 I do in fact most devoutly entreat you to write, the very first minute you can spare. If you do not, I shall get into a thousand quandaries, about having offended you and so forth,—that any one would pity me, and forget my levities and impolitesses, tho' the source of them were deeper than it is. If you were merely ‘a very accomplished young Lady,’ I would write to you differently—if I wrote at all. As it is, I somehow think you understand me, and need not to be told with what respect as well as affectionateness, I remain,

My dear Madam, / Most sincerely Your's, /

Thomas Carlyle.

Let me beg most humbly that you will not call me Car—slile any more. I am sure I would not so misname aught belonging to you, not even your lap-dog Shandy (qui vivat valeatque!) [to whom long life!]—for any consideration.

Has Irving sent his Grammar yet? That unhappy one of Noehden's, about which I have spoken till I am ashamed to mention it again, is not arrived.5 The foolish persons have disappointed me very much in the matter. It is coming now, I believe: I trust it will be here before August. Will you not let me bring it? Yes, you will.— Adieu!