candlestick

January-July 1842


The Collected Letters, Volume 14


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TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 9 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420409-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 132-135


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE

Templand, Saturday, 9 April, 1842—

My Dear Wife,—Yesterday morning there came no Letter, and I was in considerable alarm; but after 12 o'clock there was a Letter found at Thornhill, and I read it going down the street: I suppose, it had been a minute too late at Chelsea, and so had come by the post of next morning. I was very glad indeed to get it: the tone is very sorrowful still, but not aggravated this time by the incidental misery of shattered sleepless nerves. Today old Mary duly brings a good gentle-hearted little Letter. Yesterday was a blank with you (your Sunday): to avoid all risk of interruption, for various persons may be here on various affairs, I answer you the first thing after breakfast. I am up stairs, in the dim frosty sunshine, which is warm enough: poor old drawing-room; the last letter or among the last that will ever be addressed to you from it.

There is no Stool correspondent to your bedroom one about this house now: some three little stools, the whole of which I mean to bring, are all that remain here of that kind. Nobody can give me any account of the other.

It is no wonder you do not understand the business of the House: nobody that did not take into account the mean greediness and endless asinine babble of the common rustics here would be able to conceive it even when explained in full. The clear worth of Templand Farm, house and all, as at present held by us, is considered to be fully £15 a-year (for fourteen years to come yet of the lease) beyond the actual rent paid for it. The Jardines profess themselves willing to take it on these terms; only I should require to be still nominal tenant, to be good for their rent being paid, and to carry on for the whole 14 years a miserable correspondence about this place,—which, as I have said to the Duke, we want only never to hear the name of any more. By advertising, and waiting, there seems to me little doubt but some person would be found to give me £150 for the lease, and constitute himself tenant (with the Jardines under him, if they did not like to take themselves away), and so make us clear of it altogether. Meanwhile, waiting (perhaps another year) does not suit me well; and advertising, it seems, being under the shadow of “the Duke” always, and entirely controllable and forbiddable by “the Duke,” might be taken ill; the old Jardine too is a good kind of man, and I fancied his Son's purpose a pious one:—in short I had made up my mind, as Hunter too counselled and still counsels, to say to the Jardines: Pay me £100 now, and take the thing wholly to yourselves. Of this bargain they are altogether greedy, profess to be “thankful” for it &c; and yet the disgusting pig of a Son (who, however, shall not disgust me from my own purpose) objects and grumbles and suspects at every step of the details that still remain,—for example, he “does not know” whether he can take the grates as they now stand; “some of them he will take”; the others he had much rather have me tear out, and carry to the house-end, that he might bury them there a little more handily! The miserable grub. This, with the etceteras and subsequences, considerably disgusts me at the man. So that for the last fortnight I have not spoken a word to him on the subject, and my purpose is not to speak much more: I will, with Hunter's aid, have a paper all drawn out with every detail marked in it; and I will order him either to sign that, or else take himself away out of my presence forever.— So stands it. Pardon all these very base details, unworthy to fill so much of a sheet for you. But having begun to explain, I could not but try to finish. The “Duke's permission” has never yet come: I fancy it will still draggle itself into more length of negociation than I wish; but I shall have it at least in a state to be left with Hunter. More than once I have been tempted to fling the whole thing at the feet of their most small god-almighty of a Duke, and say, Take it, and at least no talk more about it!—but this of course I discern to be folly, ignorance of the fact here (namely the paltriness &c &c of many life-elements here), to which a man who will wisely work here must adapt his manipulation. What has softened me, at all turns, towards their Duke, is the reminiscence how gently she thought herself treated by him: a thought that disarms my impatience, and converts all rebellious anger into gratitude. This house and place has served her, and she is gone from it with the honourable regret of all: what I have to do is to deliver it away, so far as I can, in her spirit, as she would have wished. There is a rap at the door;—ah me, some Packer, Auctioneer or other the like! Adieu till “Hunter” be gone, for it is he!————

1½ o'clock.— Hunter has detained me three mortal hours, and set me all into a flurry with talk, talk. He is a shrewd, goodnatured man, I think with a dash of cunning in him. He has got all his details put to paper in my company; and is gone, with a dubious kind of expectation that, even “without his Grace's permission” which has not arrived by this post either, he will get the affair so adjusted as that Thursday may see the end of it.— Enough of all this; much more than enough!

Dr Russell came over last night, while my Mother and I had wandered down to Dalgarnock to see the grave of W. Grahame's Sister.1 The Doctor staid till near ten; a rather burdensome talker, but one whom I could not grudge to see here. I got from him a certain Letter; which you will value more than Bank-Paper, and keep while you live! I know not whether to send it here, for it will call forth a new most poignant emotion: yet I feel as if I had better send it. The good Mother! She had said in words, the Doctor tells me, that she could not in any case wish you to be by at the last hour (come when it might); it would tear you so asunder. Her will was done. The last morning, Margaret says, she was beautiful, her colour bright and good (alas too good),—very death did not for a day make her pale. My Jeannie, thou must nerve thy heart; meet these last stern things with a valiant mind. She was indeed heroic as you say; there was an instinct of real heroism deep in that heart, and visible indeed, at all great moments palpable, in the whole current of her life. Honour now follows her and Love whither she is gone.

No wonder, my dear Wife, you feel disheartened and sick about all work, and weary of the world generally. “Benevolence,” I also agree with you, is no trade,—altogether or nearly altogether a futility when followed as a trade. Yet work does still remain to be done; and the Highest Law does order us all to work. My prayer is and has always been that you would rouse up the fine faculties that are yours into some course of real true work, which you felt to be worthy of them and you! Your life would not then be happy; but it would cease to be miserable, it would become noble and clear, with a kind of sacredness shining thro' it. I know well, none better, how difficult it all is,—how peculiar and original your lot looks to you, and in many ways is. Nobody can find work easily, if much work do lie in him. All of us are in horrible difficulties, that look invincible,—but that are not so. The deepest difficulty, which also presses on us all, is the sick Sentimentalism we suck in with our whole nourishment, and get engrained into the very blood of us, in these miserable ages! I actually do think it the deepest. It is this that makes me so impatient of George Sand, Mazzini and all that set of Prophets,—impatient, so as often to be unjust to what of truth and genuine propriety of aim is in them. Alas, how often have I provokingly argued with you about all that! I actually will endeavour not to do so any more. It is not by arguing that I can ever hope to do you any service on that side. But I will never give up the hope to see you adequately busy with your whole mind; discovering as all human beings may do, that in the grimmest rocky wildernesses of existence there are blessed well-springs, there is an everlasting guiding-star. Courage, my poor little Jeannie— Ah me, had I been other, for you too it might have been all easier:—but I was not other, I was even this. In such solemn seasons, let us both cry for help to be better for each other, and for all duties, in time coming! Articulate prayer is for me not possible; but the equivalent of it remains forever in the heart and life of man: I say, let us pray, God look down upon us; guide us not happily but well thro' life, unite us well with our Buried Ones according to His will!— Amen.——— No more at present.

Thomas Erskine's Letter came this morning: a transient notion was that I might return by Dundee; apparently that is over now.2

I have written a long scribble, not worth writing or sending,—if not as proof of what my aims were. My “days of quietude” are already ended here: I must now prepare myself for an enormous bustle. That too will pass. You may address hither with certainty till Tuesday afternoon; that will correspond to Friday here: after Friday I know not very precisely yet where I shall be; but you shall have directions how to write.— Tomorrow, which is Sunday too, I expect to be in a quieter way, with more of good sleep in my nerves.

My Mother, with a kind speechless heart, does speak so far as to ask if I will send you her blessing. She was telling me yesterday all about the last parting with her Mother, how she came out to the middle of the road to take leave of them &c: old scene-images, sunk forty years in the Past, which still can bring tears into old dim eyes!—Ah me, ah me!—

Well, I will not add another word today; for I have still much to do, and have written more than enough. Adieu, Dearest. God be with you; He that can “wipe away all tears from our eyes.”3 All tears!———

Ever your affectionate /

T. Carlyle

I will not send Erskine's Letter today