January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


JWC TO ELIZA STODART; 11 November 1829; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18291111-JWC-EA-01; CL 5:30-32.


Craigenputtoch 11th November [1829]

My dear Eliza

You know, or might know that I rarely avail myself of opportunities; choosing to write as the Quakers preach, only when the spirit moves me. But in the present instance the opportunity and the inspiration are come together;—a happy chance! which makes you richer by eightpence halfpenny, money saved being money won.

Well it is all over! (the visit to Edinr I mean) and we are gradually subsiding into our old still-life—no longer “in the midst of everything that is intellectual and delightful”; but in the midst of a pretty extensive peat-moss. Which mode of living is best? in the Sun or in the Shade? I declare I cannot tell: my mind seems to have a peculiar knack of adapting itself to either. I liked Edinr last time, as well as I did at sixteen (you know how well that was) and I cried as much at leaving it; yet, returned to our desert, it affrighted me only the first day; the next day it became tolerable and next again positively pleasant. On the whole, the mere outward figure of one's place of abode seems to be a matter of moonshine in the long run: you learn (if you are not an entire goose) to pronounce it, once for all, “particular neat” or, as it may happen, particular unneat; and then naturally betake yourself into some other train of speculation. The only thing which makes one place more attractive to me than another is the quantity of heart I find in it; it is this which in default of a selfdependent mind “can make a Heaven of Hell” for me, “a Hell of Heaven.”1 I was happy in Edinr because you, and your Uncle, and the Jeffreys, and one or two more were so friendly towards us! so very kind! And now I am happy here also, because Carlyle always likes me best at home, whereever [sic] that happens to be.— And then the kindness which I experienced among you—and felt so gratifying, is not a fixture to be made over to the next Comer, on my removal; but personal property, to be carried away, and treasured up, and enjoyed here in the moors of Dunscore or wherever else I please. So that the best charm of Edinr is still present with me; tho' its pavements and ashlar houses, its fine companies and “fine wines” are exchanged for Sheep-tracks, blocks of granite, solitariness, and spring water.

Mr Moir stayed only two days with us and both were rainy; but he made his sketches for Goethe nevertheless. Carlyle took him to Templand on his way back, where they stayed all night; and my Mother with her characteristic liberality presented him with a bag of oatmeal!! It was their first interview; and I think little Moir will remember it. Indeed this “raising not of black mail but white Meal” (as he expressed it) must have gratified him not a little;2 I question if he ever made so successful a descent into the country in his life.3 I had a letter from her this morning wishing me over— And I purpose going the first dry day.

The gloves and thistle and picturefram[es] arrived all safe. And the Umbrella which h[as] been in constant action ever since, but I was disappointed that you did not send [one] line, just to say you were sorry I was gone. However I do trust you will write soon, for we must not lose sight of each other again. I never loved you better than I do at this moment, never half so well; for as I told you in Edinr my affections are not getting feeble with my increasing years, but are rather, now for the first time, unfolding themselves into right activity.

And Carlyle too loves you more than you are aware. He has talked over and over again of your and your Uncles kindness to us while we stayed with you, for not one of your unceasing attentions were lost on him for all that he looks so impenetrable.

I have hung up Sandy Donaldson4 over the mantelpiece in my own room, whence he looks down upon me with the most bewitching simper night and morning— The first time I had occasion to dress in his presence I found myself uncon[s]ciously stepping behind the curtains. Carlyle could hardly keep his hands off him at first and declared there he should not hang—but he now professes to be rather wae for him he is so excessively ugly, and has taken up a sort of patronage of him[.] And so God bless you Dear—A kiss to your Uncle

Jane W Carlyle

[My kindest regards to both—T. C.]5