The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 27 July 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530727-TC-JWC-01; CL 28: 224-226


Chelsea, 27 july, 1853—

Thanks for your little word, this morning; a word is always a word, and welcome with its kind tidings into one's solitude here. So you are not coming on Thursday, after all,—you faithless little woman? I think it is a shame not to come to your own house, when all are waiting for you; and Fanny, I see, has put on a clean coverlid, and the little Darling has shaved the beard of the garden, and left it in solitary expectation here!— My dear little Jeannie, if you are like to be better where you are, or wish in any way to stay till Friday, Saturday or Monday, of course do it, and I will not say a word. But I had set myself to think of Thursday; and must confess a little disappointment, however we may arrange it now.

I was cursorily asked (in a tone of pique and pet partially perceptible) if I wd come to Addiscombe for Saturday; but I did not definitely answer Yes; and I did not mean to go if you were here. This you may think a compliment, sacrifice, or what else you like: but the fact is, I did not, and do not, wish to go; and should decidedly prefer a good excuse for not going, in the humour I am in, to the kind of business it is like to be. Venables, Brookfield, Lushington1 &c, two days of idleness, two nights of bad sleep—Ach Gott, I am not in a mood for benefit from all that; and know not now what I shall decide on!— The truth is, I am very low & sad; find in the Heaven or in the Earth, as it were, one resource for me, that of trying to do a little work; and work more unmanageable, dreary and ungenial to me I have not often had! I will not call myself, unhappy either; my mind begins to be occasionally alive again; and, in the gaunt vacancies where I dwell, a voice of grim monition speaks to me at times. I will have this accursed Prussian lumber shoved off my heart, in some way; I must fight as for life there and otherwise, if I wd live at all.— In brief, if you settle to come on Friday, I will still write no to Addiscombe: after Friday I cannot send excuse; but the prophecy of you for Saturday wd of course serve equally for that, and could be sent on Friday. Lady A., it seems, is already gone to Addiscombe, and only the Master of the Household now here, off and on. I called yesterday with Neuberg's Print message (which happily was addressed to Lord A.), and found this state of matters, and “Lordship gone out”;—with no answer hitherto.— Do as you like, as you like best, my poor little Jeanny dear; and I will manage the remainder some way, the least difficult way, if I can hit it. And write at any rate; do not grudge me a little writing!

I am better today than I was yesterday: but the cocks awoke me (by mistake) abt 8,—and I was not asleep till after 3;—hence some of these sorrows. I foresee in general these cocks will require to be abolished; entirely silenced whether we build the new room or not. I wd cheerfully shoot them (and pay the price, if discovered); but I have no gun, should be unsafe for hitting,—and indeed seldom see the wretched animals. Failing everything, I see dimly the ultima ratio [final reckoning]; and wish I had, in my drawer, what of mineral or vegetable extract wd do the fatal deed! Truly I think often it will need to be done, if nothing else can. A man is not a Chatham; not a Wallenstein;2 but a man has to work too, whh the Powers would not quite wish to have suppressed by two-and sixpence worth of bantams! Oh my dear, my dear,—I am a most unvictorious man, surely! But in fact it were better not to have written today (except for disappointing you),—not till tomorrow, when sleep, and a little more fresh broth and scrag, shall have done their salutary work.— I have been considerably tumbled round by these two dinners; especially by Brookfield's, which rose in sheer imbecillity on my side. A man ought to say “No” withal. Brookfield, I begin to see, is questionable on some sides. A palpable parasite, for one thing; lays on his flattery too thick (for my taste); seems of angry nature internally,—and has many semi-blockheads hovering about him. Enough, enough as a rule for dining, surely!—

Last night there came a farther Note from John; continuation, I perceive, of what you sent me. Things still as they were; Mother sleeping much; pain-free, cheerful,—“perhaps a little weaker.” I see he thinks she is dying: God only knows,—my dear old Mother, the first and the last that truly loved one here below (so whispers the weak heart; and a dew as of tears falls over the long-arid wilderness): but one is not to rebel against the Law of Nature; one has to submit to it, and feel it to be the best. I will ask you many questions if you were here: truly I am glad you saw that scene, and can impart it to me as if I had seen it. God is Great; God is Great,—and, in a stern way, GOOD. Let us never doubt that, never or we shall go mad.

Jamie (of Glasgow) writes to me; “got into a new place; like it,”—for the rest, as brief & bare as John. My little Finchley-Road Amanuensis, That was to be, writes half an hour ago, How his school-engagets have gone awry, and that he will settle where I like, and be my Amanuensis!3 Really if I were a little stronger, I wd grip these Prussian dustmountains (with such a barrowman to help), and send them flying!—

Poor Lockhart is away, or going, to Italy; broken in health & heart.4 Poor Schwabe has hidden all that was ugly in him, suddenly and forever! A desperate Waterloo-Battle of a world. Well, let us stand to it if we can, and be gentle to comrade souls at least!—Adieu, dear little one


I have answered: For God's sake, don't choose a house for me: but if you are within close or convent distance in six weeks time—

I fancy we shall have the deaf apartt to build: and then you will shift into my present bedroom, won't you? I perceived today, in smoking my morning pipe, how it might be made nearly cock-proof,—even it, if we had the roof off,—and a very pretty place for you. Besides, it appears, the Roncas cannot burn us, were that room built! And in case of fire, we two could escape together thro' the skylight so beautifully on a tragic occasion!—No Letters whatever today; tant mieux [so much the better], since YOU could not send me one. Adieu, Dearest5.