January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 8 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430708-TC-JWC-01; CL 16: 249-251


Llandough, 8 july, 1843—

My Dearest,

It is Saturday night, getting late; and tho' there is nothing very new to be said, I cannot rightly rest till I have written down that nothing and told there how it goes with me.

Yesterday and today have been showery, unfavourable for excursions or making acquaintance with a new country; neither have I slept well, or till today got anything but veal to dine on: nevertheless I get along tolerably well, and shall make out my visit, I think, in a reasonable manner. There is a horse to ride, there is Accorombona to read; I have tobacco, and the people do let me pretty well alone. The simple inanity of my kind friends and environment does not diminish, increases rather; but they are very kind to me, very quiet with me: the whole country is of a totally somnolent nature, not ill fitted for a man that has come out to see if he can find any sleep!

Yesterday, the breezy morning soon settled down into dim showers of rain: Redwood, at his fixed hour (for he goes like an eightday clock) returned duly from his office at Cowbridge, and took me off to the St Donat's shores for a bathe, and dinner in his lodging at that village. He had a most lively cantering pony for me: he seems to keep a kind of farm, and has several horses and non-descript serving men not a few. Our road was an inextricable series of lanes, with which the whole country seems to be covered; some two yards wide, of precipitous steepness and the worst macadamization I ever experienced in this Planet. My brave pony however did not stumble at all; nay seem1 entirely indifferent to road, and gallops much at its ease over mere stone-heaps mud-gullies or wherever the direction may be. We passed thro' several hamlets, all littery, unswept, bestrewn with chance stones and pieces of old carts; yet whitened, slated on the ends, or well thatched—an air of picturesqueness and sluttish beauty about them; laziness and sleep their chief feature. Old castles were not wanting; all grown with ivy, patched sometimes into a kind of farm houses; the people, tho' there were many houses, did not appear anywhere: perhaps they were asleep. Devonshire hills lay across the sea, somewhat as Lothian does from Fife. The sea itself when we arrived at it was moaning hoarse, loud and far, over an endless cairn of big boulder stones, without a bit of sand or flat ground visible anywhere: a baddish outlook for bathing, unless you meant to play the Leander there!2 I did step cautiously in, however; then knelt and the big wave, of a respectable drab-colour swashed satisfactorily over me, and again over me (filling my very mouth that second time), whereupon I withdrew. My clothes were in a cavern screened from the rain; there, after dressing, I sat perfectly dry, and smoked a cigar not without comfort. One ship was visible in the distance, making out for Ilfracombe or God knows whither; living creature or trace of living creature was none: one of the loneliest wast[e]s3 in all her Majesty's dominions. Thro' rain we picked our way up again over the cliffs; got into R's lodgings and found spread out for dinner—the prophecied veal-pie and nothing more! I ate some of it, under spoken protest, and drank three glasses of excellent wine. This and the gallop home again jumbled me considerably; and today I have had to go upon diet, pill-box and teetotalism. No more veal will be presented me here.

Today, being well let alone, I sat down in the Porch with Accorombona, read most pleasantly at two feet distance from the rain, till near two o'clock, when I became terribly impatient for the Postman and Letters from Goody. The Postman came; but the Letters from Goody—ay de mi!4 Well, I said, it might have been worse: bad news might have come! I took a walk over the height in front of us, in the interval of showers: beautiful green country, rising up northward into insignificant hills, all a cluster of limestone knolls near us, many of them feathered with trees on the top, and a rim of rich meadow always at the base. Llans (that is churches)5 without number rise all round: I have been in the inside of this at Llandough; Troston is a Cathedral to it. But the outlook from the door itself there as I sit in the Porch and read; nothing can suit me better: A steep hill covered with wood rises within few yards, and at a gunshot to the left another ditto ditto: these two hills and the bit of meadow between them and the bit of sky over them are all of Nature or of Art that you have anything to do with there. Nay a road goes between you and the near hill, but it is so deep that you merely see the hats of the people (when any pass) over R's small lawn, and then the people themselves appear farther up on the hill as if they had mounted like exhalations out of invisibility: very queer looking bodies many of them, especially the bits of women. Today and yesterday I heard a low sound, unlike any other in the whole world; a kind of murmur as of a Psalm-tune sung placidly thro'— Good Heavens!—thro' a part of the body never elsewhere employed in that service! My amazement was great: but today I discovered the perpetrator: a poor ideot, it seems, son of the late Parson here. He looked very happy; and his fundamental base6 is a not inharmonious feature of our scenery here!—

But enough, O Heavens enough! I ought to tell you what my plans and outlooks are, if any. Thirlwall I do design to visit, if I can; but R. will not hear of it till I try this place a week or so. I must write to his Rt Reverence, at least; tomorrow, I suppose. To Bunsen I write by this post.7— There will be no way for Liverpool, except by Steam from Swansea near this: or better from Aberystwith (if there be any steam there), which would take in Carmarthen and the Bishop very neatly by the way. Nobody can tell me the least tidings about it here. I think of writing to Liverpool to ask Alick Welsh. You may ask if you like: Any Steam from ABERYSTWITH, and when?— O my own Dear, I will end this clatter, which perhaps excels all that I ever did in the world before;— which means at least, O good Jeannie, I trust in thee, and love to tell thee all things, my good little Jeannie! Well, here is news of the “hot milk ready Sir”: I must down stairs without delay; and so God bless thee Darling, and may there be a Letter tomorrow, and good news! Thine ever

T. Carlyle

Sunday morning [9 July]. Bright weather again, which perhaps may grow to rain again. All well; a better sleep than before: no breakfast as yet,—therefore not a world more!

T. C.