candlestick

January-July 1843


The Collected Letters, Volume 16


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TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 15 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430715-TC-JWC-01; CL 16: 276-278


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE

Llandough, 15 july (Saturday), 1843—

My Dearest,

About the time when you read this on Monday (that is, towards noon), I shall, it may be hoped, be getting myself planted on the outside of the mail for Carmarthen, about to bid adieu to these inania regna [inane realms]. The distance before me is some sixty miles: the direction as you may see by turning up the Maps of Wales in that Atlas of mine, is north by West; we are to get thither it seems about nine o'clock at night; the Bishop's place, Abergwili, seems to be some mile or two farther. You will bid me good speed! You will have a Letter swiftly under way for me “Care of the Lord Bishop of St David's, Carmarthen”: will you not? Swift, swift! I will write you next day from that place; that is to say, on Tuesday, and you will get it on Thursday. Most probably you will again have of me, yet once, from this locality. I write today, early, little past noon yet, tho' it cannot go till tomorrow morning;—being uncertain of my possibilities at a later hour; for we are going off to St. Donat's this day, having avoided it yesterday to no purpose: niemand entgeht seinern Schicksal [no one escapes his fate]! We go to St Donat's; and may or may not return tonight: so I make this ready in case of extremity: if I do return tonight, I will burst up the cover again, and add a word. R. is at Cowbridge waiting for me, “at one o'clock.” I hope to find a Letter there from you, my day promises few other “good joys.”1— But it is impossible to refuse this worthy man: one cannot say to him “Let thy house be mine, and do thou in the interim—disappear!” He really does so to a respectable extent. A good man;—and his good old Mother intent on cooking excellent puddings, on darning tablecloths, and reading Yearly Monitors2 or Lives of Quaker Saints, I like her too very much, and shall long remember her still existence in this hollow of the green hills.

Nothing can be better than my mornings, perfectly alone under the shade of big trees, looking out over the Earth, seeing “Nature budding, Percy!”,3—and a few Welsh bodies of both sexes, in brown discoloured and indeed quite ruinous hats and costumes, stradding about assiduous at haymaking. I read even Lyell with the “same relish!”4 But then indeed comes the afternoon and dinner, or some St Donat's or the like;—such a life is too good to last forever.

Yesterday passed as the brightest beautifullest day in the whole year might do in these circumstances. I had an excellent four hours till two o'clock; then an excellent solitary gallop to the solitary sea-shore, a dip in the eternal element there, and gallop back again. The world was all bright as a jewel set in polished silver and sunshine; the sky so purified by the past day's thunder. The little hamlet of Aberddaw, a poor grey clachan [village] crouched under the shelter of a kind of knoll the half of which was eaten sheer off by the sea,—“poor Aberdaw!” I said to myself, “thou sittest there ill enough bested; God help thee!”— The bits of Welsh women with their cuddies [donkeys], lugging small merchandise about, a very scrubby kind of figures, seemed highly praiseworthy, humanely pitiable to me. The wor[l]d5 is so beautiful, when you see it from the knoll-tops, soft, green, yet shaggy and bushy, and sunshine kisses all things: and the upper moors themselves (dull blunt hilly regions) look sapphire in the distance,—and I am not to go thither with R.!

Poor R. At my return to dinner, he produced instead of port, a bottle of excellent claret, and said we must “drink Mrs Carlyle's health, as it was her birthday!” This fact he had gathered from seeing me purchase the bit of a ribband for a band to the said Mrs C.! Well, the feat accordingly was done; and even the ancient Quaker Mother had her glass filled, and wished “many happy years to Jane Carlyle,” for which I duly returned thanks. The day had no other public event in it. R. made me sit with him till we finished the bottle and, as we had copious tea realized about seven o'clock, the affair did me no harm at all, rather good.— How strange is it that one should come upon the traces of James Spedding here! The Romillys, it seems, have an estate not far from this: Spedding was on a visit to them; then he winded up with a visit to an old Bury Schoolmaster of his, settled here at Cowbridge his native place in his old age; and Redwood lent them a horse for the riding purposes of Spedding.6 We are strangely shuffled together in this world.

My malison on this glazed paper, on this detestable leather pen! The world gets ever madder, with its choppings and changings, and never-ending innovations not for the better! My collars too are all on a new principle: O for one hour of Dr Francia!— But here comes our great stalking Maid, an immensely tall woman: “The 'oss is out, Sir!” I must instantly be off. Will there be any letter from thee?

Adieu, Dearest, with my heart's blessing.

T. Carlyle

Saturday night. 10 o'clock.— Home from St Donat's; thro' a grey foggy evening; not the worse for the ride, as we came slow and only at a trotting pace. The good R. gives me half a glass of sherry, in spite of all protestings, to “settle me.” The misty dim vacant sea, with nothing but a Cork Steamer visible in it; the hoarse moan far and wide against the stones and cliffs; the poor distracted-looking hamlet of St Donat's with nothing but asses, geese, and Welshmen tattered and torn: all this I have witnessed once more. Devonshire lay across like a dim dream. Vida es sueño, Life is all a Dream.7— No Letter from you, you cutty [worthless woman]; nothing but those ugly newspapers! Well, I suppose you have concentrated yourself on Saturday; and a Letter from you is actually on the way to Bristol this night. I will write to you, one other world from this place tomorrow: do you deserve it? Yes! Sleep sound, and dream of me if you like: the respect due to genius. Ever your affectionate / T. C.