January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 4 September 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310904-TC-JWC-01; CL 5:394-402.


6. Woburn Buildings, Tavistock Square / (and without any “London”) 4th September, 1831—

Dearest of Goodies,

I was lounging on the sofa, on Friday afternoon, struggling hard to keep myself awake over some stupid Book between dinner and tea, when that invaluable “Twopenny” of ours gave his two knocks, and aroused me to the clearest and joyfullest consciousness; for he handed in a Letter from the Wife! M'Knight had been early on Wednesday, and so my happiness came sooner by a day than I was anticipating. Many thanks to thee now as always! I kissed the little lock of hair, and keep it carefully reposited till we meet. A malison surely will overtake that wretched Carrier, whose unpunctuality frustrates so much well-meant endeavour. Can you not operate upon Dalgleish, however; the rather as it is certain that every Saturday there will be “somethink for Craigenputtoch”? Solemnly adjure him to do his very best. At all events, I will continue to write, be the others regular or not, ever till——you jump out of the Coach and kiss me in person.

Something I would give to know your feelings at this very hour: for now I calculate is the time when you are down at the Corsons' (or Betty for you) seeking news; and if all be right, have read the decisive monosyllable “Come.” I shall wait with eagerness for your thoughts thereupon, which cannot reach me before Friday; and in the mean while, please myself with the thought that the decree has yielded you joy; that Hope is once more stirring in your heart, and amid the distant murmurings of an Earthquake without parallel, some forecast of Christian Comfort.1 I have spoken to Irving on the subject of our lodging here: he expresses himself “charmed with the prospect of having such guests”; undertakes also to procure a feather-bed (to lay over these mattresses, which too much resemble those at Scotsbrig); also to make some improvement in his chairs, window-curtains &c; so as to render the apartments fitter for a Goody. I think we shall do pretty well: the worst thing is a considerable prospect of cold; therefore do thou provide for thy own fair person all manner of wrappages convenient, lamb's wool stockings and drawers, slippers, plaiding and flannel in abundance: for remember that the rooms have each three apertures, and there can be no evening log. But before you come off, I mean to make an inventory of furnishings here; and see what you can bring with you, more specially. Let me not forget however in the mean time to correct one egregious blunder: I wrote once that the carriage from Liverpool hither was twopence a stone; alas, the cheapest I have yet heard of (according to Jack and G. Irving) is twopence a pound! It strikes me as being impossible that there should not be a far cheaper: nay in this case it were much better to have your things sent round by Edinr. But perhaps the surest course will be for you to write both to your uncle John and to Sam Aitken asking what is the real rate (not in “vans” or by “fly-boats” but by the easiest conveyance); delivery here being included, for that is often the heaviest part of it. You may well ask, why do not I go and inquire? In the course of days, I could no doubt fish out some answer; yet not without a difficulty inconceivable to you; London being the centre of all things, known to every part of the circle, and nowise so surely knowing it. Perhaps the first twenty men I might ask would direct me to “Pickford,” who is the “2d per lb” individual. On our answer to this inquiry will depend what we are to take and what not: four or five stones of the best Scotsbrig meal (or more, if the Prophetess compute more); a good stock of Noolie's Butter; these with some other items will be indispensable in any case. Wardrop brought his very potatoes from Scotland: the only good ones I have tasted here.— Also we will have the coffee-mill, and some coffee, were my Wifekin here! For I know it already, she will make improvements in every department; and be my little dainty Ariel, and lie round me like an Angel with wings, and cause the solitary place to blossom like the rose!2 Jack, as you may easily conjecture, is not the best of wives; in which capacity, however, he partially acts at present, not without conceit of his own management. The magnanimous Doil!— Be active then, best Goodykin; and prove thyself a “lass of speereet.”

I will now, according to laudable wont, give you some passages of my Diary since last Letter: it saves me the trouble of jotting aught elsewhere; and comes far best from me, in this the shape of tea-conversations with my other Self.3 Listen, then; apply that ear thro' which I courted thee; or rather those eyes (whereby partially I was courted), and sitting by the solitary Puttoch fire, catch some emblem of the brick Babylon, and of thy own in the midst thereof.

Thursday was the wettest of wet days even till after bedtime; the first day wherein I did not once stir out (except after dark to Irving's who was not at home): Highgate and Coleridge were not to be thought of: after sealing Goody's Letter I sat diligently over my Proofsheets, till I had finished and sealed them up about nine at night; the day unvisited of any adventure, except a little message from Mrs Austin; a Book namely of Magazine Translations from the German by herself, which she wished to have my opinion of.4 When I say Book, it means only farrago, like what M'Kinnel of the Midsteeple5 made for us: the good lady longed above all things to have it changed into a regular Book: but being as she said “Teutonically poor,” had to wait the convenience of Booksellers before they would act. She is an Enthusiast, whom I think you will like. The walk to her place is rather more than a mile, and the prettiest in all London; and you may foot it yourself, as perhaps you sometimes will.

On Friday Doilter6 and I walked over to the House of Lords; saw the Chancellor sitting between two Lords (two are necessary; one of these, Earl Ferrars,7 son of him that was hanged, and the ugliest man extant, very like David Laing);8 a considerable handful of listeners and loiterers; and the poor little Darling,9 with a grey wig on it, and queer coatie with bugles or buttons on the cuffs—snapping away and speaking there, in a foreign country, among entire strangers! The fat Rutherford10 sat also within the ring; with Dr Lushington (the Divorcer)11 and certain of the Clerk species. I declare I was partly touched with something of human feeling: however our little Darling seemed as gleg as ever, the “trachea” in moderate order; and was telling his story like a little King of Elves. The Chancellor12 is a very particularly ignoble-looking man; a face not unlike your uncle Robert's, but stonier, and with a deeper more restless more dangerous eye; nothing but Business in his face, no ray of genius, and even a considerable tincture of insincerity. He was yawning awfully; with an occasional twitching up of the corners of the upper lip, and point of the nose. A politician, truly, and nothing more! Learning that the Duke's speech would not end for two hours, I willingly took myself away.

After dinner, as I said, came your Letter, which I read twice; then had tea (black tea of my own); then off to the Austin's (where I knew there would be green tea, which I had privately determined not to have). By the way, it is a most felonious practice that of green tea in this City; and ought to be abated. The Frau Austin herself was as loving as ever: a true Germanised spiritual screamikin. We were five of a party. Her husband 13 a lean grayheaded painful-looking man, with large earnest timid eyes, and a clanging metallic voice that at great length set forth Utilitarianism steeped in German metaphysics, not dissolved therein: a very worthy sort of limited man and Professor of Law. Secondly a Frenchman of no importance whatever; for he uttered not a word except some compliments in his own tongue on entrance; and after two hours I looked and he was gone. Thirdly John Mill “Spirit-of-the-Age.” The other two you know already. This young Mill I fancy and hope is “a baying you can love.”14 A slender rather tall and elegant youth, with small clear roman-nosed face, two small earnestly-smiling eyes: modest, remarkably gifted with precision of utterance; enthusiastic, yet lucid, calm; not a great, yet distinctly a gifted and amiable youth. We had almost four hours of the best talk I have mingled in for long. The youth walked home with me almost to the door; seemed to profess almost as plainly as modesty would allow that he had been converted by the Head of the Mystic School, to whom personally he testified very hearty-looking regard. Empson did not appear (having caught cold or something of that sort); but by Letter (while we were together) engaged Mill and me to breakfast with him on Tuesday. I met poor Empson today, riding towards Holborn on a steed like Harry: the large melancholy eyes of the man turned downwards, so that he did not observe me. He is more intellectual and otherwise better looking than Johnstone of Grange: something of Dickenson and Barker in him; I daresay he likes the women better than us, for they are kinder to him.— On the whole, however, Goodykin these rudiments of a Mystic School, better than I anticipated here, are by far the most cheering phenomenon I see in London. Good will come of it. Let us wait, and see in what way.

Of Saturday I can say little except that I purchased a pair of indifferent shoes (for 8/6); read Mary Wollstonecraft's Life,15 a tragedy, a deep tragedy which I cannot get out of my thoughts: called on the noble Lady (who was out); and engaged a quarter of a year of the Examiner, which accordingly you will not require (unless I be in the fault) to miss again. The Editor is still out of order, and writes in bed: Mill was to take my compliments; and afterwards myself so soon as it should be suitable.— Mrs Austin was to be off for the Bullers' soon; and to announce that “perhaps” Goody and I would also show face.— Allan Cunningham is to take me on Monday night to Martin16 the Painter's public party or conversazione, anticipated by me as a mighty all affair. So stands it with me in regard to the ease of society.

I have the most reasonable thing still to say. At the Duke's this morning where I found Rutherford, Saym Relish,17 the Galloway Stot18 (who stared at me as if minded to gore or afraid of being gored, till I bowed), and Miss Hunter19 sitting as I always see her, looking out of the window in solitude,—I was led by his Ludship into a private room, and there indulged with ten minutes' private talk, on the subject of Teufelsdreck: he had previously made ready for me a Letter,20 which if weight prevent not, you shall read. The short of it is this: Murray will print a small edition (750 Copies) of Dreck, on the half-profits system (that is I getting nothing, but also giving nothing) after which the sole Copyright of the Book is to be mine. Which offer he makes partly out of love to “your Ludship,” chiefly from “my great opinion of the originality” &c &c.21 A poorish offer, Goody; yet perhaps after all, the best I shall get. Better considerably than my giving £150 for the frolic of having written such a Work! I mean to set off tomorrow-morning to Colburn and Bentley (whom Fraser has prepared for me), and ascertain whether they will pay me anything for a first edition: unless they say about £100, I will prefer Murray; unless they look like saying something of that sort, they shall not even see the Article for a week which is the time they require. They are said to be consummate knaves but we can bind them in writing. I hate knaves, but still need money. Murray wished me to try elsewhere. You shall hear tomorrow how I speed; and then prophecy upon it.— Observe, at all events, that I have this day written off to Napier to say that I have a Article on Luther ready to write, and ask whether he will have it. Fifty pounds will be highly useful (thank God, not yet quite indispensable); and I can gain it handsomely in this way. Naso's answer cannot be here till the very end of the week.

There, Dearest, are all my news: I was interrupted two pages ago by the interminable Glen; and broke away only after supper: so that it is all very wooden, and would be dull to any one but her it is written for. She will not think it dull; but interesting as the Epistle of a Paul to the Church which is at Craig o'Putto.

But now it is past eleven considerably; and I must say good night. My health recovered some two days ago from Wardrop's dinner, and I am better than before, fully as well as when I left you. Eheu! Eheu! [Alas! Alas!] left, left! It is but an ugly word: however, it will make the sweeter reunion. Let us trust, dear Heart, that it will be all for good; that now as often heretofore mysterious Providence is guiding us even in the way wherein it is best for us to go. Alas! for the “two pillows”: and I here can only have one; and cannot whisper thee to sleep with assurances often repeated that I love thee: but must pray in the distance that good Spirits have thee in their keeping; and that the “king may get his ain again.” So be it, and soon. Sound sleep, my Darling: God ever bless thee!—

Monday, 4 o'clock.— Dearest, tho' I have made what haste I could, there is now no more than three quarters of an hour to tell thee the things or rather the no-thing done by me. I was at the Colburn's about eleven; “Mr Bentley22 out, Sir;” “will be in in half an hour.” I toiled onwards to the Duke's (in my coarse Boots, for the weather is moist); waited there till after twelve, and after waiting another weary hour in the Bentleyan apartments, saw a coarse muddy, greedy character enter; to whom not without the use of many words now also grown weary to me, I explained myself and Dreck. The muddy man uttered the common cant of compliments, hinted at the sole object of Publisher's being money; the difference between talent and popularity &c; and finally concluded by engaging to let me hear from Messrs Colburn and Bentley (so that the speaker was neither of them?) this very night. I might depend upon it. Coming home, I met the drunken Henry Inglis,23 a good simple creature whom the Devil has a fair chance for: he (not the Devil) walked up with me; then dinner of indifferent beef-steak (for Goody is not here): and then—here am I scribbling as thou seest. Jack also by dint of excessive spurring has this moment taken pen to “borrow money”—from Alick, however; whom at present he has a fair prospect of repaying. His stock ran done several days ago. The Lady, who is to see him on Friday, will perhaps proffer payment in advance, but that is far from certain.

I will now predict to you what is to be the purport of the Scoundrels Colburn and Bentley's message, since you cannot wait to see it come. It will be that we shall have nothing to do with one another. So much I could gather partly from the muddy man: neither is it of any moment; most probably all for the best. I will prophecy farther that I go over and make an attempt to see Murray tomorrow morning; and if he will put his hand to the plough, and get on with the printing forthwith, I mean to close with him, and have done. The offer is not so bad: 750 Copies for the task of publishing poor Dreck, and the rest of him our own. If he do not succeed, how could I ask any man to do more? If he do, then have we opening for another bargain. Let us hope nothing, Goody; then we fear nothing. By one or the other means, our poor little Pot will keep boiling; and shall, tho' the Devil himself said nay.

O that you were here, and well lodged, and set in order, and all things “swept and garnished.” I am not without my doubts as to the suitableness of this place: but we will see farther before you come. At all events, the beauty of a Lodging is that you can go and change it when you will. Perhaps I should wait before fixing anywhere till Goody's arrival.

Now endeavour to tell me how all goes with you; whether Alick has come back and brought any of them with him to keep you Company. It is dreadful to be there alone. If you are quite solitary, saddle Harry any way, and gallop with him: I shall think of you with less pain at Templand, than there unprotected uncomforted; in the midst of savages. Alas! Alas!—Have you thought of writing that Letter to George?24 I do not like to urge you, for you seemed disinclined to interfere at all in the destinies of poor Puttoch: at the same time, it is my fixed conviction that such an arrangement were infinitely better for all parties; and my persuasion that it is our duty to take such steps as may bring it about since no one else will. Beside such savage people, we cannot live: our House like the Frankfort Engraving thereof, becomes a mere picture, and we are homeless in this wild world! If you would “much rather” not speak of it to George, however, then do not: I will consider it better, and see what I ought to do.— My poor Goody!

Above all, Dearest, endeavour to predict when thou wilt be here! I am not right without thee; nor thou far from me. Have not I a Wifekin; has not my Wifekin a Husband: why are the two Halves not once more a whole? Patience! The day is coming.

The poor Duke is afraid of Revolution; of being turned out (I fancy); and of caps being cloven on all hands. The fears of Teufelsdreck are trifling, go how it may. At the same time, the world has but a blackish outlook, as I conjecture. All business at a stand; quite uncertain whether the Lords' House will pass that everlasting Bill: certain that there can be no reformed Parliament returned sooner than about this time twelvemonth. There will be rick-burning I imagine as last winter. We live in the “end of the days.”— An answer to Empson stands in the last Morning Watch of the Prophets here: Jack told me yesterday that he “had it, see you”;—to which I answered, The Deevil may care! Ohone aree!25 did mortal ever see the like? Yet is there meaning even in such madness.— Now must I over to Cunningham's, and leave my own Wife and Goody. O why cannot I fly away, and take tea with her? It were so infinitely finer if poured out from our own black pot. O Goody love me always, as I always and with all my soul love thee. Good night my own Jeannie!

Ever thine /

T. Carlyle

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