The Collected Letters, Volume 26


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 9 December 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18511209-TC-JWC-01; CL 26: 256-259


Chelsea, Tuesday, 8 [9] decr 1851

My poor little Dear,—I will finish out my Letter of yesterday BEFORE attacking Jomini1 and the Seven-Years War today; that will be the safest plan, if I can but write fast enough. Alas, tho' I went to bed in tolerable time last night, I awoke an hour too late, and am considerably behind, especially as the inexorable horse and 2½ p.m. are a fixed fact, to which every moment I am coming nearer! Probably we are now getting towards the close of our horse-work: the Captn told me on Sunday Evg he was in treaty for a new horse to himself that he might ride with the girls;—which, in all respects except contingent health, will suit me much better. Yet they are valuable feats, tho' sad, those long solitary rides of mine: the mackintosh overalls defend me excellently from the cold; and, in sight of earth and sky, in those dim lanes, I go thro' a deal of abstruse reflexion and emotion, on the outside of my swift-footed quadruped

Yesterday my riding, courageous that I was, went towards Sampson and Coventry-Street, with my new waistcoat on me. I have had it repeatedly on, and it is the warmest thing in the world; but it is far too wide, big enough for Daniel Lambert2 about the neck and shoulders; so it is gone to be altered, the valiant Tailor at once undertaking when he saw it: my course afterwards was round the Regent's Park &c, and home by the Rotten Row3 and swift galloping, in good time. I had also got my new Coat, which does extremely well (much darker in the colour than I had imagined,—so much the better); but it wanted something at the Cuffs (which are not of velvet, but done in the ordinary fashion, by my 2d order); wherefore it too is gone with the waistcoat; and tonight I expect confidently to receive them both complete, and so have nothing but enjoyment out of them henceforth.

On Saturday night there came by Parcels Company a pair of half-worn reddish ribbed female boots, with a roll of grey fur round the lip of them; addressed to you: they lie on my desk upstairs, that I may not forget whatever order you give me about them.— On the same Saturday, in the morning, I did what is probably my chief act of virtue since you went. Namely, I decided not to walk, but to take water and a scrub-brush, and swash into some degree of tolerability those greasy clammy flags in the back area. I did it without rebuke of Anne, said “she couldn't do it in her present state of illness”; and on the whole proceeded,—and found it decidedly hard work for 3 quarters of an hour. Some ten or twelve pails of water, with vigorous scrubbing did, however, reduce the affair to order; whereupon I washed myself, and sat down to breakfast in victorious peace. “Dust shall not lie around me,” said Cobbet, “so long as I can handle a broom.”4— By the way, Anne continues perceptibly better with this cold; and it must be said she is, so far as I can see, one of the most punctual respectable servants, and does everything perfectly for me: but she has evidently no strength in these winter months; and I suppose will need, for one thing, some kind of Charwoman on Saturdays.

Last night after tea, just when I had got my Books spread out, there entered Clough and another man, a very big, dark-visaged youth a young barrister friend of his:5 they sat, witht entertaint from me, till near ten,—sorrow on it! Then they went away; but the hours also were gone. Clough announced to me that he was a candidate now for some professorship of Classical Literature in New Holland: a new University they are founding in Sydney there! His “Hall,” he said, was evidently going to the dogs; and he, not being reverend, nor even perhaps quite orthodox, had no fair prospect here; so he wd try it in the other hemisphere. I grieve at the prospect of losing the ingenuous Clough, evidently a man of good head and honest purpose; but perhaps he is wise, after all, to do as he is now endeavouring.

This morning there came nothing but a Letter from Jean at Dumfries; thanking for the Biography of “Trinal” (that is, Kelty the Second):6 have not I a talent for turning things to use? Item a Newspaper from poor Alick in Canada, which was the sign agreed upon for the safe arrival of the Sterling's Life. Very good:—by the way, I suppose there is no doubt whatever abt the arrival of those Gully Books; but when you write to them again, you will give some hint of a question I suppose. Such neglect is not to be quite commended.

Lady An has not written to me, nor sent your disgraceful doll's-cap; I have heard nothing about the Macaire7 since my pilgrimage to Greek Street months ago. Of course I am ready for any further adventure in that line: but I fear Macaire will have to enlist at last, if he has not already done so. If I could save her Ladyship a journey to Addiscombe in this damp weather by riding out as her substitute, and reporting upon Painters, rebuking them, or doing anything else, it would be very easy indeed, and perhaps a good work? But I suppose it won't be accepted, after all.— “Charles Villiers, Hy Mildmay”:8 you raise a scunner in the sensitive mind of man! But we must exercise forbearance, taciturnity, and other human philosophy: no man or horse has a right to quarrel with his neighbours in a foreign crib of that nature. Besides it will soon end.Pauca verba [Few words],” as corporal Nym says9

How is your cold, my poor little lassie? Send me good word about it; better accounts than the last if you can. And God bless you ever.

T. Carlyle

Farie caught me the other evening; reported that the Erskines were all here, poor Mrs Patterson being dangerously ill,—Sir Jas Clark attending her. I have yet seen none of them, nor know precisely where to seek them.