The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 7 April 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410407-TC-JWC-01; CL 13: 80-82


Fryston, Ferrybridge, Wednesday 7 April, 1841—


According to the Program you would receive from Derby, we got hither yesterday about 2 O'clock. My fate at Derby was none of the brightest: bed at half past one o'clock (to make sure of quiet), then awoke again by the stroke of five! However, one must put up with the accidents of the road. I was not so miserable as might have been expected, at least not till late last night when I had got worn out. This Country is altogether like a beautified kind of Scotland: streams of water, fields alternating of green and of red, with hawthorn hedges, honest-looking unclipt trees all in bud: the silent sight of it for some hours yesterday afternoon did me real benefit. To finish the bulletin part of the business,—I awoke this morning again at six (woe's me, for it was after one before I lay down),—but gradually, in spite of noisy servants, in spite of all things, I fell first into sluggish torpor, the[n] gradually into treacle sleep, and so lay sound as a stone till half past ten. My hope and expectation is that I shall improve in health here: if I could get riding out among these silent fields and rough country lanes, I should amend fast; nay perhaps I shall get riding, but the prospect is rather a hope than any certainty yet. There seems to be a superabundance and yet a practical defect of horses here,—as is the way with several things in this world!

“Richard”1 made me dismount some two miles on your side of our appointed goal in the railway, and walk homewards, by a smarter way, thro' woods over knolls. Walking was not my forte; however, I persevered, and did well enough. Over rough-looking spaces (somewhat à la “Slodahill,”2 some of them, we got at last to the Fryston Mansion, a large irregular pile, of various ages, rising up among ragged old wood, in a rough large park, also all sprinkled with trees, grazed by sheep and horses,—a park chiefly beautiful because it did not set up for beauty. Ancient-looking female figures were visible thro' the windows, as we drew nigh. Mrs Milnes,3 a tall ancient woman, apparently of weak health and nerves, of motherly kind heart, curiously buckramed in oldfashioned stately politeness; on the whole a prepossessing woman: she welcomed us at the door of the drawing-room “in the silence of the stately hall.”4 In the drawing-room itself sat or soon arrived “three Aunts”;5 all of whom Richard successively kissed on the cheek, and introduced me to: I have not yet learned their names, but shall. They are devout women; the youngest of them not much above your age; they have been long in Rome, know our brother Jack (by repute), Edward Irving6 &c;—are not without intelligence of a grave slightly ligneous politeness; stiff in their Tory theorems, in their saintships &c, not without a dash of gigmanity: comparable to the dear Donaldsons,7 perhaps, or other of that respectable genus. What is worst, they seem to expect me to talk to them, when we meet,—which however is not so frequently as to be burdensome.— The last member of the family, to whom I had to pay my devoir, was the head of it, the elder Milnes;8 a tall greyhaired lean figure, rather lame at present, whom we found smoking cigars and reading in a large old Library he has: I have not yet made him out,—except that he seems at basis a true hearted well-affectioned man, of a fluttering nervous temperament, of much embarrassment, timidity, at times a kind of momentary stutter even,—thro' all which his natural intelligence and honesty (cased too, I think, in some disappointed pride, gigmanity, country Toryism) shines out, very considerably obstructed! Perhaps we shall grow better acquainted yet. He seems to like me somewhat, and fear me still more, that is, fear the embarrassment of me; and resides chiefly in his Library.9 “Richard” is the soul of all; without Richard we were a ruined nation. Let us wait, let us see.

One's Goody is one's self; therefore there is no harm in telling you all these crudities: but my good Jeannie knows, none better, that th[ere] would be most condemnable harm in uttering any whisper of them to any other person whatever; wherefore let the lassie be discreet,—mum to all the world! I add only one other fact, that I am lodged in a bedroom with four enormous windows, which look out over woody garden-spaces and other silent ruralities: the apartment furnished as for Prince Albert and Queen Victory; the most absurd place I ever lived in (when I look at myself and my equipment) in this world. I am charged to smoke in it too; I have a fire in it all day; I now write in it to thee. The bed seems to be about eight feet wide; a ladder conducts you to it if you like. Of my paces the room measures fifteen from end to end,—forty-five feet long, height and width proportional; with ancient dead-looking portraits of queens, Kings, Straffords and principalities; with buhl cabinets, wardrobes of “Honduras May'ogany” with carving and veneering;—really the uncomfortablest acme of luxurious comfort that any Diogenes10 was set into in these late years! Ex uno disce omnia [From one you may learn all].

O my dear, what clatter. But to thee it will be welcome. Think not hardly of me, dear Jeannie: in the mutual misery we often are in we do not know how dear we are to one another. By the help of Heaven, I shall get a little better, and somewhat of it shall abate Write instantly; say how you are, how all is. Last night at dinner, Richard made them all laugh with a saying of yours: “When the wife has influenza, it is a slight cold; when the man has” &c.— Remember me to Darwin. Tell me about everything;—especially that you are getter [getting] stronger

Ever &c ever, /

T. Carlyle