January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 27 March 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420327-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 97-99


Templand, Sunday Evening 27 March, 1842—

My dear Wife,— Do not fret yourself at all about that Note.1 I saw very well, what you now tell me, how it had been: the worst effect of all on me was that it indicate such a sick excitable condition. I pray you study to avoid whatever can lead thitherward: and know well always that I cannot deliberately mean anything that is harmful to you, unjust or painful to you,—indeliberately I do enough of such things without meaning them.

Today has been one of the most perfectly silent days I ever spent; a very Sabbath. At one time I meant to inspect the Wardrobe, at least to put the new-washed things into it; but, for this, I needed Margaret's services and would not teach her to break the Sabbath. I wrote out the Inscription,2 and on the other side of the Paper even printed it, that the man, whom I shall see tomorrow might not at all mistake.— Craik had sent me a long Letter about very little; this I briefly answered.

I walked three hours in the grey March mildness down to the Ford or Ferry of Barjarg and back again by the River side and Shaws. It was a road I more than once went good part of on horseback that Autumn we last tried to stay here.3 Alas, how all the faults and little infirmities of the Departed seem now, what they really were, mere virtues imprisoned; obstructed in the strange sensitive tremulous element they were sent to live in! Of that once more I could not but think today. There is something in these remembrances that would drive one to weeping!— Templand in the distance looked to me like a kind of pure Hades and Shrine of the Dead: poor little Auntie's figure lying in death in it, and then in succession the Second and now the Third!4 The rooks were cawing all round, the River rushing ever on; a sacred silence of all human sounds rested far and wide. It is very mournful to me, but preferable to anything that could be offered me of the sort they call joy.

Poor Sterling; setting off tomorrow again, on his old hapless errand!5 And yet who knows whether at bottom it is not a kind of good to him. Were it not for this sickness that always opens an issue, I see not but that he must either write a Tragedy, or failing that, break his heart, and so act one.— Probably he himself is not without some unconscious feeling of that sort, which in the background may lie as a kind of consolation to him.6 Poor fellow!—

Old Mary has had her tea, and has scarcely more than time to get to Thornhill before eight; I must end. Perhaps I shall get nothing written tomorrow, for there will be much to do.

The drawers in the wardrobe have a kind of fusty smell, like what my Desk used to have when I was a Boy at Annan School: I have scarcely felt the odour since? I think I will make Margaret take them all out and air them. She is perfectly punctual and honest, I believe.— The wardrobe is a huge thing; and does not come in two pieces. You will have to put away one of the old chests of Drawers, I suppose.

Enough now; and good night to Cousin Jeannie and you, from the loneliest man in all the world, or as lonely as any! Good night, and a blessing be with you.

T. Carlyle