January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 11 August 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310811-TC-JWC-01; CL 5:316-320.


6. Woburn Buildings, Tavistock Square, London / 11th August, 1831—

Dearest and Wife,

I have got a frank for you, and will write from the heart whatever is in the heart. A blessing it was that you made me give such a promise; for I feel that an hour spent in speaking with my own will do me infinite good. It is very sweet in the midst of this soul-confusing phantasmagoria to know that I have a fixed possession elsewhere; that my own Jeannie is thinking of me, loving me, that her heart is no dream like all the rest of it. O love me, my Dearest, always love me! I am richer with thee than the whole world could make me otherwise.

But to the Practical. Expect no connected or even intelligible narrative of all the chaotic sights, sounds, movements countermovements I have experienced since your lips parted from mine on our own threshold; still less of all the hyper-chaotic feelings that have danced their wild torch-dance within me: I have not time for it; and shall find long winter nights enough to go thro' it all. For the present I must content myself like Sir W. Hamilton with ‘stating a fact or two.’1 Understand then, Goodykin, that after infinite confusions I arrived at Liverpool about eight o'clock on the morning after I left you:2 quite sleepless, and but for your dinner (which I parted with a certain ‘Esbie,’3 whom Alick knows well, whom I found in the Boat and preached mysticism to for six hours) quite victualless. The Maryland Street people were not up but soon rose and received me well. Delightful it was to get into a room and—have my face washed; and then on opening my trunk, to find everywhere traces of my kind good Coagitor's care and love: the very jujube-box with its worsted and darning-needle did not escape me; it was so beautiful I could almost have cried over it. Heaven reward thee, my clearhead, warmhearted, dearest little Screamikin! If I were there I would kiss thee fondly, and whisper that thou wert mine forever.— John Welsh was the same substantial honest fellow whom we have always known him: he is close prisoner in the house till dusk when he ventures out a little. Without glasses his eye rests: with glasses he can see anything. He and I got along, as we always do beautifully together. Dr Carson4 also I saw: one of the veriest Hashes [Blockheads] I ever set eyes on; civil enough, but to me almost frightful and a hideux reptile when I fancied him as your Lover. He is a Hash. George Johnstone5 (on Brownlow Hill) was also once there, and treated very kindly, which I felt gratefully: he is succeeding in his small plain way; and his honesty of aspect seemed to please your uncle. The Auntie was loud, talkative, argumentative, infinitely bustling, but also very assiduous in showing me kindness. To make a long tale short I left them on monday morning at half past seven, with many blessings; and two cups of sufficient coffee which the good housewife would not be prevented from making me at that early hour.

Which last hospitality I may well say was doubly blest; for it so turned out that this was the last [Carlyle writes “only” above “last”] refection I received till my arrival at London on the following day about ten o'clock!6 I must except a penny-loaf snatched from the Landlady of an inn in Shropshire; and a cup of hot sugar-and-water (as the whole time proved only 15 minutes) for which I had the pleasure of paying half a crown in the village of Birmingham. How all this happened, and I was sent circulating over the whole West of England, set my Watch by the Shrewsbury clock, and saw portions of Wales; and had the delightfullest drive, only no victual or knowledge by what route I was bound: all this depended on the Art of the Liverpool Coach Agents, at which villainous as it was I could not help laughing horselaughs when after leaving Birmingham I came to see into the mystery. There are men in Liverpool who will book you to go by any Coach you like, and to enter London at any place and any hour you like; and then send you thither by any Coach or combination of Coaches they like. I was booked for a certain imaginary Tallyho, went by seven successive vehicles, none of which had that name, and entered London three hours later and by quite the opposite side than I had appointed John to wait at. Sulphurous enough! However, now I have had sleep and am well. The only mischief done was the breakage of the Eggs; which however the Washerwoman has now made good again: so do not gri[e]ve thyself Dearest; the broken eggs are dearer to me than the whole would have been; there is a pathos in them, and I love Jeannie more.

With little difficulty I conveyed myself and luggage to Jack's old Lodgings and there learned his actual address; at no great distance; and, to my astonishment, in the upper floor of George Irving's house, who also lets lodgings. It is a very beautiful sitting room, an immense bedroom above (and John sleeps with George) for which we are to pay 25/ weekly. Quiet and airy and among known people, all is right in this respect.

The first day I did little; yet walked over to the Duke's7 (for Napier's Letter) found him out and left my card, with a promise for next morning. (It is between two and three miles from this). On arriving there, I was asked my name, and then instantly ushered in; and welcomed in their choicest mood by the whole family. A Doctor Baron was there (the same as I afterwards understood whom I had written to at Glo'ster about Eichthal's Cowpox matter):8 Mrs Jeffrey was as kind as ever; Charlotte too came simpering in, and looked as if she would let me live. The Advocate retired and reentered with your picture (glorious moment! cries the female character) which was shown round: for little I could have grat [wept] over it. After a time by some movements I got the company dispersed and the Advocate by himself, and began to take counsel with him about Teufelsdreck. He thot Murray (in spite of the radicalism) would be the better publisher; to him accordingly he gave me a line saying that I was a genius and would likely become eminent; farther that he (Jeffrey) would like well to confer with him about that Book. I directly set off with this to Albemarle Street; found Murray out; returned afterwards and found him in, gave an outline of the Book (at which the Arimaspian9 smiled), stated also that I had nothing else ado here but the getting of it published, and was above all anxious that his decision should be given soon. He answered that we would begin this very afternoon; that on Wednesday next he would give me an answer. I then went off; despatched my Teufk with your tape round him; agreeing to all their stipulations: on Wednesday I am to go there and get an answer of my Ms.— Of the probable issue I can form no conjecture: only Murray seemed to know me; and I daresay is very anxious to keep well with Ministry, so will risk what he dare.— I will see the Duke again ere long.

Napier's Letter also is come, with a Note to Rees, which I think I shall perhaps not deliver (perhaps too I may) till after next Wednesday. The Nas[o] has also a Note, still more enigmatic than the former; explains that Johnson was given to ‘a distinguished’ &c long ago, apologizes, wishes &c; but nowhere says in so many words whether he wishes me to write to him or not. I will show it to the Duke; and see it brought to some sort of bearing. For the rest I care not a snuff for Naso.

Badams called here an hour after I came; he brought his wife next day; I was out, but saw them in the eve[n]ing. She is a good woman and goodlooking whom I think you will like: he is in no good way I doubt, yet not without hope. I have also seen Mrs Montague; talked longer with her than I shall speedily do again: for she seems to me embittered and exasperated; and what have I to do with her quarrels? Jack she seems positively to have cut: because he would not turn with her in a day from transcendental apotheosis of Badams, to excommunication. ‘All things go round and round.’ For me, as I told her, I would continue to love all parties and pity all, and hate or quarrel with none.—

Alas dearest the hour is come, and I finish while but beginning O write, write. I feel great want of your ‘prophetic faculty’;10 how safe I should feel in your bosom, safe, safe, and at home. However, I will do what I can to get soon back, and with an olive leaf—

Of Jack I have said nothing. He is as I expected, and perhaps better: looks unhappy, is greyish-haired: I am very wae for him, and have scolded and advised: something must and will be done.

Another thing dearest I must ask you to do: to write a little Note to my Mother on Wednesday first to tell her that I am arrived, and what I have told you here. Say also that I will write myself, by the next frank[.] Do this, my Love: I meant to write today, but absolutely could not get away from Mrs Montague's catalogue raisonnee of Badamiana—

O why have I not a word that will express what I feel! Believe always that you are inexpressibly dear to me.

I am forever / Your Husband /

T. Carlyle

Jack stands glowering o'er me, urging me as you know is his wont. Tell Alick all my news; read him the Letter (so much of it as you can read); and give to every one my kindest brotherly love.

“There is no time to read it over I believe,” murmurs the Doctor: so away it must go. Good Night my own! May God always bless you.