January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 24 August 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310824-TC-JWC-01; CL 5:361-366.


London, Wednesday Night, 24th August, 1831

Dearest Love,

What a blessing are these franks of the Duke's! I can sit down at any moment and scribble to you, were it nothing but complaints, and thousand times repeated expressions of fondness: by this means is some image of a union face to face still kept up; we are less lonely in separation; I bear everything more easily, enjoy everything doubly, when I think I can tell it all to her.

But why, my own Jeannie, dost thou not do the like by me? Alas! no Letter has come for now almost a week: I half ran over to Jermyn Street this morning, making sure of a Letter, which I had directed to be left for me that I might have it so many hours sooner; and alas there was “nothing for you, Carlyle”! Surely I know, it is no blame of yours: some stagnation at the Kirk, nothing worse: yet I cannot express what disappointment the delay gives, what foolish hypochondriacal notions it conjures up. O what would I do had anything befallen my Own! Write to me, Dearest: let nothing but absolute impossibility prevent thee: twice a week, that was the arrangement; ever till we meet again.

I had meant to have written largely, but am all taken aback and out of order. The foolish creature Heraud1 called five hours ago and more, just when I was going to begin; and he is not yet half an hour gone. May the Devil reward him, say you, and say I. However, I do what is possible, and spend the few minutes that remain before supper (ach Gott, what a supper without a Goody!) in writing against tomorrow. Besides, W. Fraser with his stupid dinner yesterday (at 7 o'clock, and in a tavern!) has almost killed me,—figuratively speaking: for I woke today at four, and have had the vapours and the headaches all day. And, then, Badams is at Death's door, out at Enfield; and his poor wife vehemently calls on John and me to come and help her: and out of charity what can I do but go over tomorrow at eleven. Thus everywhere is poor Goody shorn of her just rights, and nothing remains but the will for the act.

My Ms is returned, as I expected: Rees2 says “notwithstanding the high ability” &c &c they decline the article. This was on Tuesday morning: an hour afterwards I had it over at Jeffrey's, who I daresay has never looked on it: but what other could I do? I asked him to “prophecy” when he would likely be done with it; he said “this week”: so if he keep his promise, you may perhaps hear something next Letter. Nothing very favourable, I doubt: however, fear not my Darling! I have cast out fear: I feel that there is work for me here; and one way or the other I shall have strength given me to do it. Stand by me, Darling, like my own Jane; like the descendant of John Knox,3 and the daughter of John Welsh, and the wife of Thomas Carlyle: what can daunt me? When I measure minds with these people here, I feel as if I could sweep them into infinite space, with their errors and their basenesses, and make room for myself to do something better. But with thee, with thee, O not without thee!

Meanwhile, I have set William Fraser to work on other quarters of the Trade; chiefly to reconnoitre for tho' unspeakably willing, he can do nothing more; and tomorrow, at ½ past 10, he is to report progress. He talks of grand possibilities: but I believe in nothing. “Blessed are they which do not hope, for they shall not be disappointed.” And yet, is there not something better in us than lying Hope, namely a true Hope? Forward, then, getrosten Muthes [be of good cheer]!

Fraser's dinner last night was a horror; for which the good youth must have paid some £10! Otway Cave4 (Radical Parliamenteer) was there; one Churchill5 (a sort of Henry Inglis, reduced into a drunkard and Newspaper man); a literary Half-pay or two; the Bookseller Fraser; a long ladder of an Architect named something, who introduced a “young French Man of Property,” with which latter I conversed some minutes on the Saint-Simonians, of whom he knew next to nothing credible: all these crammed into a little apartment unvisited by any breath of wind; French dishes before them, French wines, and the jargon of Babel: du lieber Gott [oh dear Lord]!— I saw Fraser this morning who also complained, tho' we broke up a little after ten. Are not men mad?

Let me add here that Heraud is a little shabby Cockney with next to nothing in him, but some burbles of Coleridgian Metaphysics, and the feeblest vein of Wahrheitsinn [sense of truth] manifesting itself unprofitably enough. Some little might be made of him, and but a little. Irving, whom I see almost daily (for we are near, and he calls), is bent upon having me remodel Fraser's Magazine, sweep it clean, and become Editor of it: and in spite of all my negations insists on sounding the poor Youth, an honest ignoramus of his Congregation, who is like to lose £2,000 by it, if mercy prevent not. Davon wird nichts[Nothing will come of it]. Heraud also is for a “new periodical”: poor little body he has a wife and children to support by his scribble; lives eight miles out of town, and looks greasy and forlorn enough. The materials of any good among the Litterateurs of this city lie scantily dispersed: such a scandalous set of dogs out of Tophet I should be puzzled where to meet with. The more need of an honest one, were it but by way of variety.

Of Jeffrey I may repeat that I can get little good: he really has no leisure to think of anything but his politics; so that I never get the smallest private talk with him. Indeed, how can he help me? Where, then, lies our help, Dearest? Be God thanked, with ourselves!——

Thursday Morning. News of supper came last night at this point (for I write up stairs and need news of everything); so that I was obliged to desist; and finding there the young man named Glen,6 could not get up again. Glen I may write or repeat is the hopefullest fellow I have seen in London; an authentic “young man of genius,” full of fire and love; whom I am sure you will approve of; were it only on this one ground, that he is my Disciple, by far the best I have ever had.

This morning, I feel better:— O how is she? Surely the Letter will tell me at night.— I had much rather stay from Badams's but must not. Fraser being hourly expected, I must hasten to say my say out.

Touching myself there is little or nothing more, except that I have written to the Bullers, signifying that in case you came hither, it was not impossible that we might whirl down to Cornwall, and see what they were doing: for the rest I left it quite open, without promise.7

Of Jack I have great news. He is actually engaged as Travelling Physician to the Countess of Clare, at a salary of 300 guineas (all expenses paid); and commences his engagement on the first of October! It was settled yesterday morning; I must write my Mother to explain it, and comfort her; for she will have a thousand apprehensions. As to myself, I am both glad and wae: everybody here seems to think it a piece of very good fortune, and the only reasonable outlook our Doctor has or ever had for settling in London. Dr Holland began in that way, and now makes (they say) £10,000 a year. Whether Jack will ever be rich I know not and care not: but I really conceive that with a fair beginning he will make a good Physician; and after all kicking and flinging become a respectable man.

And now for Jeannie herself. I am very anxious to hear your voice on the London Journey scheme. Would it be any enjoyment to you, or the contrary? The costs of it in other respects I can partly compute: not in this. Be candid with me, Dearest; we can manage the business: why not speak out, and say I should like it so and so.— Our Lodgings here have various qualities: fresh air, honest landlordship, especially cheapness. Tho' we pay 26/ for the mere rooms, yet our whole expences [sic] (for John and me) do not exceed two guineas; less almost than it used to cost myself. The reason is, we have an honest maid-servant, who keeps an eye on overchargers, above all does not overcharge herself. With you here, there were much improvement possible; for my Jeannie carries Order and Gracefulness with her: neither, I think, would you find it very uncomfortable; unless the noises afflicted you (they begin about 7, and end not till 11 at night): yet surely you could sleep fast and safe in my arms. Could you not?— I inquired yesterday into Fraser's House: it is a delightfully quiet place, quite near the Jeffreys's: but only the half of it belongs to Fraser; and his rent with the half-keep of two servants amounts to £150 per annum; the house unfurnished! To ask it for less, furnished would be unreasonable: so that for two good reasons it simply will not do. As yet therefore Lodgings were the only way of it; and no Lodgings I have met with are equal to these. Speak then, Lovekin; speak with thy prophetic voice! Will it do, or how should it be,—if I be kept here say a month still, as is quite possible? Ach Gott! A whole month from my Own. And would you stand better in your loneliness? Worse, if possible. O my own Dearest Jeannie, my own Wife, God bless thee, and keep thee for me! I never knew how I loved thee till now. Yes, one day I shall tell thee, thou hast borne me thro' all, and stood ever by my side, as a true Life-companion, and helper in this otherwise so despicable world. But I am a fool; and talk what I should only feel, and act upon. Know thus much of a truth; thou art dearer to me than aught else; forever dearer to me than the light to my eyes. And be proud of it; as the wife of a “Genius” should, when she is a Wife to him. Lastly write, write, O write abundantly, were it the merest prattle, it is better to me than all eloquence. And so God bless thee! And take my kiss, and Lebewohl [Farewell], and expect to hear from me again on Wednesday, and think of me every hour and moment of thy life, and be a good lassie, and I will be good to thee and thy own, and we shall be, if not happy, blessed which is better. Amen!

Fraser still lingers, but we can wait few moments longer for him. He takes great trouble with me, and really loves me. Poor fellow! Always unfortunate. The Foreign Review, he says, will bring him a pure loss of at least £1,000! And now he is electioneering; and likely to lose again.— By the bye I mistook his eyes, that day: They are of a pure hazel (not blue or grey) and always smile with a weak kind smile.

How do you do for tobacco? The stuff is very bad here, none at all equal to Mundells: and, far worse, no Goody to take the three,8 and then kiss me!— God send us soon to one another's arms! Yes, long it shall not be; for living without thee is but half a life. Farewell my own Jeannie! Forever thy own Husband,

T. Carlyle.

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