The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 4 September 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500904-TC-JWC-01; CL 25: 190-192


Scotsbrig, 4 Septr, 1850—

Thanks, dear little Goody; all your messages have come, and right welcome are they all. Very glad indeed am I to hear that your new maid promises fair; that you are like to get a little rest for your poor wearied heart from that mean part of your afflictions. You do not say how you sleep; I fear there is no great news on that head, or you wd have mentioned it. But I beg you, at any rate, to be quiet; to go on steadily with the rowins, if you have them down from the loft, and not put yourself into a fret about disappointments and misadventures, should such befal, in that department. It is good news too that Darwin is come home; I do not figure you so very solitary any longer in your Town life. Poor Elizabeth Pepoli! That mode of stealing away is very like her, and very affecting to me after its sort. Did anybody ever hear the like of that Manfredi business! The injustice of man to man is occasionally extreme in this world;1 the theories and interpretations men form about their fellow man are mad, sometimes, beyond measure! There is, as you say, a kind of nemesis in this of the poor Conte,2 with his sentimentalisms and ostentations; nevertheless one cannot help a little pitying him.

I seem to grow a little stronger gradually here; as indeed I have the fairest chance, according to my own program. A man could hardly expect to be better “let alone”3 than I am here even now. The whole day passes in solitude, in sauntering about the burn-side, reading some innocent book, smoking an innocent pipe (tobacco from Liverpool, and proper clay-pipes from Annan), broken by a word or two now and then with my poor old Mother,—who is wonderfully well for her age; busy “washing” today, and will have nobody to help her:—at 4 o'clock I eat my two eggs; then walk sharply round by Middlebie and the Waterbeck gate to this place, a circuit of half an hour or more; this done, tea is waiting here and three people hungry for that repast: a pipe after it, and walk to Blaweary, up that loneliest road in Nature, finishes off the day, and makes me ready for a bowl of porridge between nine & ten; soon after which comes shutting of the shop, and sleep. I have slept every night, last night rather the worst, yet by no means to be called ill. Except your Letters I have accurately no communication whatsoever with the outer world; a thing “probably just as well” at the present. I am very pensive, often very sad,—have literally no soul to commune with at all. But I find it good that all one's ugly thots, ugly as Sin and Satan sev[e]ral4 of them, should come uninterrupted before one; and look and do their very worst: many things tend towards settlement in that way, and silently beginnings of arrangement and determination shew themselves. Why, oh why should a living man complain, after all? We get, each one of us, the common fortune with superficial variations: a man ought to know that he is not ill-used; that if he miss the thing one way he gets it another. “Your beautiful blessings I have them not, I cannot train myself by having them; well then, by doing without them I can train myself; it is there that I go ahead of you; there too lie prizes, if you knew it!”—

Today wandering over the moor I saw a Collie in the distance diligently chasing crows;—and thot of poor Nero, and his obscure joys and sorrows, in that distant part of her majesty's dominions! Give the creature a raisin, or indifferently small lump of sugar, with my remembrances; I trust you keep the poor little wretch as comfortable as the circumstances will admit, and occasionally wash him. The wretched mortal, on four legs!—

I have read Die Schöne Megehre (really beautiful) Saint Genoveva (do), with comic Mährchen [Tales], and in short all that stock of German Popular ware;5 I had resumed my quiet Malte-Brun,6 when the Chalmers came to hand, upon which latter I have fastened for the next day or two. It is endlessly diffuse, flat unfeatured as a big Lincolnshire swamp, and in short very ill done; but one must still it since one cannot walk it, and be thankful. Alton Locke did not look very promising in the Leader; I knew it to be Kingsley's, but thot it had been a secret. If you read it and find it good, send it (for two sixpences); not otherwise. Jack was not here yesterday; we hope improvement goes on there. All salute you here. God bless you ever.

T. Carlyle

I shd have written to that poor Irishman7 about his “genl history”; but really cannot today,—so lazy am I. Chalmers in the Sun is better! Adieu, Dearest.