January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 9 August 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450809-TC-JWC-01; CL 19: 136-137


Chelsea, Saturday 8 [9] augt (close upon 4 o'clock).

Dearest,—I must send thee a little word before the blank of Sunday intervene; tho' the truth is, I have not a syllable of news,—as how can I, more than if I sat enchanted into a glass phial or into a leaden casket sealed with Solomon's signet?1 Rubbish, rubbish,—day after day, I sit here solitary, annihilating rubbish, like to be annihilated by it; and have no human news left in me.

Your velvet stock, a most pretty article came yesterday safe, and fits altogether well:—was it not strange I shd have chanced to venture on buying one just the evening before? The bought one is of black stuff, and much inferior; this of velvet shall be my dress stock,—so long as human beings dare dress in neckgear of black. Today there is Ellen's Letter;2 which she did not let me see (and I had no right to take it brevi manu [by snatching]); but she reports that “all is going on nice.”— In fact this seems to be a successful visit, to such a degree as few are. Enjoy it, profit by it; and tell me all the news of it: the more of them you write, the better,—for I attend to everything whether I mention it or not;—and the rest we will have by word of mouth by and by; even the unmentionable part of them. What did Martineau say to you? It was a great thing in him to quote me in his preaching:—but like the Deacon of the Weavers at Dumfries, one must exclaim, “O Gentlemen, remember I am but a man!”3

How are you off for weather? We have nothing here but splash, splash,—ten hours a-day of splash-splash. Difficult to snatch a ride out of it in some lucid hour. Thursday Night,—after a day of thunder,—I had my longest ride since you heard last. Far out, towards Harrow4 &c &c. The Evening bright as diamonds, the world all green; big London, the smoke-breath of it going the other way, lay on the verge of the world like a city of enamel: on the height, as I turned homewards, there rose visible from the big beautiful Babylon a tree of smoke, which said very plainly, “Here is a House on fire!” It grew and grew till it covered whole fields of air, and by the time I got near London all the Kensal-Green people &c were out diligently scanning it. I never in any ride saw a more impressive object; seeming to say with a tragical tone of reproach, “Wilt thou take me for picturesque? I am the blazing furniture of terrified distracted men and women! Pshaw!”—

Our little busy Bee here is probing into every corner; has been in your Bedroom two days or more; this day is gone aloft to my pipe-closet; the very tobacco-pipes and tatters of carpets shall be cleansed.—— — “John”5 also has been over sorting the Garden. He has peeled it mercilessly, it looks like a head new cropt, but will recover before Goody see it. I gave him 3/ : was it right?—— — Tomorrow, if fair, I intend for Addiscombe and back. Another sleepless night is rather formidable. They dine at 5 when alone: I can take that into my ride without damage.— O Goody, Goody! I am a stupid man;—Christie and one Bell (Annandale Bell of last year)6 have swallowed two of my nights in the Cause of Humanity!— Adieu my Dearest. Remember me. Hast thou never another forget-me-not?

T. C.