January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 17 August 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310817-TC-JWC-01; CL 5:335-342.


London, Wednesday, 17th August, 1831—

My Dearest,

This is Wednesday, the day before post; but I have already begged a frank for you; and having a few minutes' time, which perhaps I shall not have tomorrow, I scribble to you, as in duty bound whatsoever comes uppermost. By this means, if you can get your Carriers to act, you hear largely from me twice a week, and we are not so much parted as the long miles would indicate. I expect to hear from you also with the same regularity: doubtless a Letter is already on the road for me, but will hardly come before Friday (for a day is lost in the Twopenny);1 so I must be patient. Time will not shorten or lengthen for any one: but I have a Goody that watches his course, and will not let him slip; least of all where I am concerned. Truly, my Lovekin, I am proud of thee: not only the darning-needles, but every thing else is so trim and right: the marmalade pot and all, of which pot I eat daily to breakfast, and think of the fingers that made it, and the kind heart that bids me welcome to it. Thus is my little Screamikin perfect in all points from the lowest to the highest; and her only fault is that I have her not here to kiss and caress, and tell audibly that I love her beyond all earthly. However, Time is coming: nay even here I can take out the Frankfort Picture of poor Craigenputtoch,2 and fancy many things (as I have just been doing over it), and feel that every beloved object is the centre of a Paradise. Bless thee, my little Darling! Never forget to love me, then art thou good and best. Understand also that up to this date I have still “taken up with no other women,” but love my own woman beyond the whole Sisterhood, and am positively far fonder of her than when I wrote from London of old, and was not her Husband but only her Lover. So let this content thee: that I love thee ungeheuerlich [prodigiously]. Is not that the right way? Yes, that is the way: mich ungeheuerlich lieben! [to love myself prodigiously!]— Also understand that I continue and indeed have grown more and more “unspeakably methodical”; lay out my plans daily, and daily study to accomplish something (as is my Wife's wont also); whereby the time of Separation will be shortened, so far as I can shorten it.

On the whole, I have little reason to complain yet: the wheels of my machinery are getting tolerably in order; we shall see soon what they will grind. London does not confuse me, as it used: I heed it not; except to chalk out my route hither and thither thro' its tortuosities, where this and the other friendly heart, this and the other cunning hand, may be waiting my call. I have seen several things, done one or two, or begun to do them. Thou shalt have my Journal, Wifiekin: thus will thy pretty black eyes follow me throughout, and see all that I see. Hands to work then!

I think, I left off on the eve of seeing Irving and taking tea with Godwin. The first object I accomplished: Irving with his huge fleece of now grizzled hair received me in his choicest mood, and was eager to talk with me, and see me often. I was with him last night; and being quite in his neighbourhood (within 3 minutes) shall take frequent opportunities of him.3 He is bent on our coming to London; of which I myself can yet say nothing: some vague schemes of settling within some miles of it (as at Enfield, 10 miles off, where Badams is to live) are hovering about me, which I will overhaul in due time, and see thro'. It will all depend on this: can I get work here, and money for it to keep any sort of house? Which question is yet far from answered or answerable. However, I hope, and fear not.

Next came Godwin. Did you not grudge me that pleasure, now? At least mourn that you were not there with me? Grudge not, mourn not, dearest Jeannie: it was the most unutterable stupidity ever enacted on this Earth. We went, Jack and I, to the huge Frenchwoman Mrs Kenny's (once Mrs Holcroft) Badams's Mother-in-law: a sort of more masculine Aurelia,4 who lives moves and has her being among Plays, Operas, Dilettantes and Playwrights.5 Badams and his wife were not returned from the country but in a few minutes came: Mrs Godwin already sat gossiping in the dusk, an old woman of no significance, by and by dropt in various Playwrightesses and Playwrights, whom I did not even look at; shortly before candles, Godwin himself (who had been drinking good green tea by his own hearth before stirring out). He is a bald, bushy-browed, thick, hoary, hale little figure with spectacles: taciturn enough, and speaking when he does speak with a certain epigrammatic spirit; wherein except a little shrewdness there is nothing but the most commonplace character. (I should have added that he wears spectacles, has full grey eyes, a very large blunt characterless nose, and ditto chin.) By degrees I hitched myself near him, and was beginning to open him, and open on him, for he had stared twice at me; when suddenly enough began a speaking of French among the Kennys and Badamsinas (for they are all French-English); and presently Godwin was summoned off to—take a hand at whist! I had already flatly declined. There did the Philosopher sit, and a swarm of noisy children, chattering women, lounging dilettantes round him; and two women literally crashing hoarse thunder out of a piano (for it was louder than an iron-forge), under pretext of its being music by Rossini. I thought of my own piano, and the far different fingering it got; looked sometimes not without sorrow at the long-nosed whist-player; and in the space of an hour (seeing supper about to be laid in another room) took myself away. Godwin, if I like, I can see again:6 but poor Badams! O what an element of rubbish and tatters and hollow theatrical brawling dost thou live in! John says, he also detests it: then why not say to his loving, resolute tho' too girlish wife, March with me this night, and let us leave it forever? Mine is “quite another style of Wife.” God be thanked!

Next morning (Tuesday) I went to Bowring's. Figure to yourself a thin man about my height, and bent at the middle into an angle of 150°, the back quite straight; with large grey eyes, a huge turn-up nose with (strait) nostrils to the very point, and large projecting close-shut mouth: figure such a one walking restlessly about the room (for he had been thrown out of a gig and was in pain), frank of speech, vivid, emphatic and verständig [reasonable]: such is the Radical Doctor. We talked copiously, he utterly utilitarian and radical, I utterly mystical and radical; and parted about noon; with a standing invitation on his part to come again, and promise to introduce me to the Examiner Editor (Fonblanque); and a certain trust on my part, and disposition to cultivate farther acquaintance. He named several Booksellers whom I might apply to, in case Murray baulked me, as I calculate he is but too like to do. I am making preparations for that event, as is wise in any case. A Danish Professor stept in who knew Repp, and groaned strangely when I mentioned how it stood with him.7— The rest of that day's work was getting the Seal8 disposed of. After infinite pilgrimings (for there was a choice) I found a man. Varley (Miss Benson's Astrologer) would do it for the small charge of 36/: this other artist, a far more cunning-looking man, undertakes for 10/. The next Letter but one will be sealed with it; for I am to have it on Saturday. The inscription is to be in small Roman Capitals, which we judged the best.— The Evening I spent with Irving, W. Hamilton and W's Wife. Poor Hamilton! His Lady is as withered as wecht-pelt [dried sheepskin], brown, the colour of our Brussels carpet, only lighter a shade; lean, ill-natured: a hopeful bargain! Nevertheless she made us a dish of excellent porridge from Kirk[c]aldy meal, and we all came home contented in spirit (except that I had been swallowing salt!)— A Letter from the Parishes to John, indicating that the Goethe Seal was on the firm Earth and would be at Weimar in time.

Wednesday morning I put on clean raiment (nothing but the white trousers are wearable here for the heat, and I have still only two pairs), and drawing myself a chart on a slip of paper steered off to Albemarle Street, according to bargain. The Dog of a Bookseller gone to the country. I leave my card with remonstrances and pressing inquiries when. The Clerk talks of “Mr Murray writing you, Sir”: I will call again tomorrow morning, and make Mr speak to me, I hope.— Wardrop9 (Oculist) being in the neighbourhood, I leave Mrs Richardson's Letter and my card; very careless whether the man ever be disengaged during my lifetime. Take in the Duke's10 which also is at hand; find him rising and not talkative; get my frank; speak of David Aitken, what I had to say; and learn to my great joy that Lee had not been appointed, as was reported. They are going out to see sights; poor John11 now without ‘relish,’ and afraid to venture out in the heat least [sic] he ‘faint’ by growing nervous. Mrs Jeffrey asks where are the carnation flowers you were to paint and send her? I thought they had been sent.— Get an order for the House of Commons, or rather a promise to be taken in “under the Gallery,” which is the place of honour. Whither accordingly the last minute being come (and dinner eaten in the middle of last page), I am now bound, in haste. So bless thee my bonny bairn, and take thy tea in peace; for Macknight will soon be unloading, and has a Letter for thee from me. Adieu mit tausend Küssen [with a thousand kisses.]

Thursday afternoon.— No Newspaper yesterday, no Letter today! I waited in, till I saw postman pass. Pray Heaven there be nothing wrong; only some mischance at Broatch's. I am not without my anxieties but will hope the best. Has her poor little head grown ill, that she cannot write to me? or that abominable midge, has its bite proved venomous? O Goody, do not disappoint me! The Duke is ready to frank: let me hear every post.

I went to the House of Commons last night; and found at the door a Speaker's order awaiting me from the Duke. It is a pretty apartment that of theirs; far smaller than I expected, hardly larger than some drawing-rooms you have seen, with some four ranges of benches rising high behind each other like pews in a church gallery; an oval open space in the middle, at the farther extremity of which sits the Speaker in what seemed a kind of Press (like our Wardrobe, only oaken); opposite him is the door. A very narrow gallery runs all round atop, for reporters, strangers &c: I was seated on the ground floor below this. Althorp12 spoke, a thick, large, broadwhiskered farmer-looking man; Hume13 also, a powdered clear burly fellow, and Wetherell14 a beetlebrowed sagacious quizzical old gentleman; then Davies15 a roman-nosed Dandy, whom I left Jannering [talking foolishly]; having left it all in some three quarters of an hour.16 O'Connel[l]17 came and spoke to an individual before me: you would call him a well-doing country shopkeeper, with a bottle-green frock or greatcoat, and brown scratch-wig. I quitted them with the highest contempt: our poor Duke, or any known face, I could not see.— Dr Arbuckle18 came in at night and kept me unprofitably talking till bed-time.

This morning, I returned again to Albemarle Street: the Bookseller was first denied to me, then showed his broad one-eyed face,19 and with fair speeches signified that his family were all ill, and he had been called into the country; and my Manuscript—lay still unopened! I reminded him, not without emphasis, of the engagement made, and how I had nothing else to do here, but see that matter brought to an end: to all which he pleaded hard in extenuation, and for “two or three days” farther allowance. I made him name a new day: “Saturday first”; then I am to return and hear how the matter stands. I begin to fear this Blockhead will spin me out into still longer delays: it is already becoming a question with me, how far I should let him run without taking delay for final rejection. He is said to be noted for procrastination; but also for honourableness, even munificence. My prospects apart from him are not brilliant: however loss of time is the worst of all losses; he shall not keep me dancing round him very long go how it may. Of the Duke I would gladly take counsel; but find no opportunity to speak: a visit profits almost nothing. Happily, however, I can take counsel of myself.— Fraser of Regent-Street (the Bookseller)20 has some dim schemes, as I conjecture, about his Magazine: but I did not find him at home today more than yesterday, and conjecture that he means nothing practicable. Thou shalt hear in due season, if otherwise.

I am to dine with Drummond the Banker21 tomorrow, an admirer of mine whom I have never seen. On Saturday with Allan Cunningham: these are my outlooks for the present.

And now having finished my History why should I detain poor Goody (on this miserable silk-paper) any longer? O my Darling why hast thou not written? Thy blame it was not I know: but thy misfortune? Or did the Moniaive Carrier merely neglect to call for the Letters on Saturday, and so you could not write?— Are you at Templand or where? And How? O be punctual, specific, even as I am.

There is something to be said of Jack, but I say it to Alick; and my Dearie can read it herself, and then seal and deliver.

Bless thee ever my own Jeannie! Love me, and know that I love thee. Long it shall not be till we meet again, and again be one. Far from my own Goody I am truly but a sort of Half. God bless and keep thee Darling!

Ever thy own, /

T. Carlyle—

A Dios Señora mia [Farewell, my dear Lady]! I have just finished Alick's Note, and again bid you farewell! Shall I write again for Wednesday?—Good day, my Dearest, or rather night for it is near five

Thine forever & ever

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