January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 14 September 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310914-TC-JWC-01; CL 5:426-433.


London, Wednesday Septr 14th, 1831—


I have lit my candle, and mounted up hither in the Autumnal dusk; minded, as usual, to take Occasion by the forelock. The folding window is partially open, but the curtains are drawn, and I sit behind the cheek [side] that my light may not blow. Hundreds of noisy urchins are sporting on the street; from the New Road comes that old unresting hum of carriage-wheels and quadrupeds and bipeds: if I look out I see upwards the beautiful top of St Pancras Steeple against the sky; downwards a flagged snug little street mostly of shops; among which figures “the Cheapest Shop in the World for Combs and Brushes”—alas! with its windows closed, and inwardly a mere vacuum of Bankruptcy[.] Many a half-laugh half-greet [lament] has that poor “Cheapest Shop in the world” caused me: here too was a little adventure, great as the finding of America, for its adventurer; with resolute daring, the poor little fellow bent him to the emprize; took the Devil also into partnership, and tried puffing: but it would not do; day after day the prospect grew darker, till it ended in utter midnight, and now, as we perceive he has bankraped and gone out of sight! Stands it not like a little Siste Viator [Stop, passerby], as a warning to us also? May the Gods avert the omen!1 At all events, the Devil shall not be of our firm: neither will we wait till midnight, but retire at sunset. So fear nothing.

However, it is not of my local environment but of myself and history that Goody is curious to hear. Listen then Goodykin, and thou shalt learn Biographical facts unparalelled [sic] in importance since the times of P. P. Clerk of this Parish.2— And yet why should I mock even over myself and my doings? To one true heart they are infinitely important; in themselves therefore as great as Moscow Retreats and Battles of Austerlitz; or very little smaller, for the whole Planet is extremely small. My Josephine I reckon is the greater of the two.

On Monday Night I walked round from putting in your Letter, and borrowed me the last Quarterly Review, to read the Article there on the Saint Simonians by Southey.3 It is an altogether miserable Article; written in the spirit not of a Philosopher but of a Parish Precentor: he knows what they are not, so far at least as the thirty nine Articles go; but nothing whatsoever of what they are. “My Brother I say unto thee, thou art a poor creature.” The rest of the Review is also despicable enough: blind, shovel-hatted, hysterically lachrymose. Lockhart, it seems, edits it out of Roxburghshire, rusticating by some “Burn” in that county. I calculate that Murray will veer round by and by, and pay him off.

Tuesday morning my first work was to write off to the Longmans for a copy of that Hope's Book;4 to which application I have yet had no manner of answer. Empson, whom I had called upon the night before for a minute, indicated to me that such might be the rational plan. I have tried in three places elsewhere; in one of which (the Publisher's) I shall get it soon: perhaps I may try in a fourth tomorrow to get it directly. The poor Author is dead: he sent to his Publisher (Murray) some little time before his death, solemnly taking leave of him, and entrusting that work to his friendly care. It is full of heterodoxy and scepticism. Whether it will do for a conduit to any of my meditations I doubt: but should like to know. Naso evidently wants me to write: so either on this or something I ere long will. It is my far best course for the time. By and by, I think, there will a new seed arise to do the world service in quite another fashion: nay I can partly see it already sprouting. Again I repeat to myself: Write no Duds, never do!— That same morning I saw the noble Lady for a moment; learned that her Daughter was recovering; and got the Museum Letter from her, wherewith in few minutes more I had procured a ticket for myself, and was reading on my own basis. It is a quite capital Library: you shall go too, if you have “any talent.” The sights in the place one can see without tickets. At night John Mill came in, and sat talking with me till near eleven: a fine, clear Enthusiast, who will one day come to something. Yet to nothing Poetical, I think: his fancy is not rich; furthermore he cannot laugh with any compass. You will like Mill. Glen5 is a man of greatly more natural material; but hitherto he is like a blind Cyclops, ill educated, yet capable of good education: he may perhaps reap great profit from us; as at least he is well disposed to do. Three days ago he left me six cigars, and went off to the North: he will perhaps be at Craigenputtoch! I said within two weeks he would find you there, and might ride over from Kirkpatrick (where he is to visit); within three weeks he himself said he would still try. Nearly to a certainty he will not find you there.

This morning I caught your Letter before it fell into the hands of the rascally Twopennies (poor fellows! not rascally when they bring me letters); and read it beside the two Charlotte's,6 drinking at the same time a supernumerary cup of tea with them, for they were just beginning breakfast. “Saym relish” with his Huntress7 was on a visit out of town; the Duke still dressing in the back drawing room where he sleeps. The Dames both jerked, as I imagined, when they heard of your approach; the younger especially: but I reassured them with information that you would be lodged at a great distance, and get “little good of them.” “We will come in the carriage, and take her out with us,” said the elder; to which I responded nothing in words, but in thought a presumptive negation. Meanwhile they are to drive hither next Sunday, and hear Irving: I almost grudged to make a crocodile of the man; but they “wished to”—hear him. Mrs Jeffrey I reckon rather a good woman; her daughter not. The Advocate himself eat his breakfastie, read descriptions of the Glasgow Procession,8 and clattered prettily about the Coronation, and the shining Peeresses, and how he was obliged to walk home in the rain and dark, with his silk cloak and “full-bottomed wig.” We had an illumination9 on Thursday Night; which I did not once look at: a candle left from it is very useful here for sealing my Letters.— Surely there is no magnetism in the Duke; but only an Electricity for collecting Straws: his environment here is as stupid fully as it was in Edinr: trivialitas trivialitatum, omnia trivialitas [triviality of trivialities—all is triviality]!10

Rejoicing in my Goody and her Love and tidings of departure, I set out with a frank in my pocket to make another clutch at Murray. The Dog was standing on the floor when I entered, and could not escape me! He is the slipperiest, lamest, most confused unbusinesslike man I have seen. Nevertheless poor Dreck was in few minutes settled, or put on the way of settlement: I got a line to his printer (miles off! it is Clowes,11 who used to do the Foreign Review); found him; expounded to him; and finally about two in the afternoon saw Dreck on the way to the Printing Office, and can hope to get the first page of him tomorrow! Perhaps a week may elapse (perhaps less, so exceedingly irregular is Murray) before we be fairly under steady way: after which a month or so will roll it all off my hands, and Dreck will lie in sheets till his hour come. Murray speaks of the “beginning of the year” for Publication: he is the best judge of that, and will lose no time when the accounts are running on against him. For the present, as he altogether piteously waileth, not a Book, not a volume of any sort can he sell; it is all dead, and done, and gone to the Devil,—as it ought to be. I am even glad that I have got the poor Book sent to press on these terms: Irving, and many others, have lost considerable monies by their Books! So stands it with the Sect named “Literary Men” in this best of all possible eras. Happy that we have still a kail garden [kitchen garden], fertile in potherbs, and a Whinstone Castle that resists the weather, let Bookselling go as it will! Depend on it, Jeannie that is no small blessing even now: one's heart might almost fail him, if he stood otherwise as we do. Poor Puttoch! Castle of many chagrins, peatbog Castle, where the Devil never slumbers nor sleeps! very touching art thou to me when I look on thy image here, and fancy my Goody within thee. The Frankfort picture of Craigenputtoch, and Teufelsdreck written there, under the eye of the Flower of Haddington! Be kind to the poor House, and charge Betty to take care of it. I shall always look upon it with a mixture of love, horror, and amazement; a quite supernatural abode, more like Hades than the Earth. Yet God be thanked: “My whinstone house my Castle is; I have my own Four Walls.”12 Perhaps few living Authors have their position so curiously fortified and adjusted.

Properly speaking the History has now reached down to the present hour, and must terminate here. I have to go out and seek tobacco (do not forget Mundell's, and the sixteen!); against my return the porridge will be ready; then I read Goody's Letter again, and retire to sleep. The Bugs seem gone. The Bed still stands discurtained, till we see.— The mumble of Jack and Arbuckle is heard from below: they are practicing the speaking of French[.] Jack is diligent in the learning of tongues; and does it much by the pen, frequently to my amusement, for the litter accumulates upon him, and the student, as of old, is the centre of a chaos.— No word of Fraser13 yet: “unfortunate” as usual. Of the Bullers, of the Austins nothing. All the world “is out of town.”— Bring the flesh-brush (it is in the drawer of our dressing closet); and the poor tin Mull [snuff-box] of toothpowder. I love that tin Mull more than I could a golden one; I assure thee, far more: it was bought for three half pence, in the West Bow, by Goody! Poor Goody, dear Goody! Ottilie's Semainaire14 might be of some use here, were you not afraid of spoiling it—which perhaps you ought to be. The Hatbrush you will remember. I think of nothing more.— Neither will I add any more. I daresay you are reading my Letter about this very time: at Craigenputtoch or Templand? I cannot ascertain; but know that you are glad of it somewhere, and thinking of me. Think always of me, and remember that properly you are part of me, are I. God bless thee, Darling! Good night; and dream that I am kind to thee, happy or not.

Thursday Morning. Dearest, on consideration I find nothing better that I can do than finish out my Letter, and so give you what you deserve the top of the morning. I had thoughts of pilgriming down to the Strand first, in search of Hope's Book: but it lies at such a distance and will cut me up for the day; besides it lies partly on the road to Dreck's Printer, with whom I shall require one or more personal discussions before we get fairly afloat, and Dreck, whatever it may do, is not come yet. Perhaps, indeed, the Longmans, tho' that is not very likely may send up the Volumes, or at least, as I requested, instruct me where they are best to be come at. On the whole, I say always, take thy way O World, and I will take mine; do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee, and I also will do the like. At present it is my sovereign will to write to Goody; in the course of a little while it is farther my purpose to commence periodical writing (that I may live thereby), which commencement no Longman or Shortman or any other man or body of men shall finally succeed in obstructing. So let them look to it; for the Edict is published De par le roi [In the king's name]!

I mention first, to avoid unpleasant dubieties, that Jack has got his Bill; much to his joy, I should think, tho' he grumbles that it would have been better had Alick got simply a Bank of England Note for the whole sum. Look not the gift-horse in the mouth! You will see the poor Doctor, if you come as you propose; and find him altered a little, in some respects distinctly for the better. On the whole, however, I must rejoice exceedingly that he has got this situation: what else he could have done was nowise clear to me. The man does not look like succeeding in any small plain way, and for a great rough way he has no accoutrements, except indeed a sufficient furnishing of ambition. I still call him partially a “waster,” but hope he will not bankrape. I have read him several hard lectures; all which he takes with some wry mouths, yet feels (I think) to be medicinal. Poor Doctor! He loves me well too, as well as man ever did. I think it is fairly possible that he may become even a great Doctor here: several people have a decided regard for him; none any enmity except the femal[e] Montagues, and these quite unjustly. Let us as usual hope the best.—

I had some particles of business to touch upon (as for example the bringing of my worthy shaving-jug); and innumerable trivialities to utter trustfully to my kind Goody's heart: but here enters the Doctor Füssli15 (Painter Fuseli's nephew, whom I suppose you heard of before); he brings a ticket to go and see the Mint, at 11½ o'clock, and will take no excuse but a business one: so why should I not go? The Printer has failed of his hour; let him now wait for me. And cannot Goody go with us? Ach nein [Oh no]! Not till she come; which however will be soon. Adieu, then, Darling! I shall be back before Post time, and add a word.

Four o'clock. After three hours and a half of toilsome journeying, we return, having seen the Mint. The Keeper was a friend of Badams's, knew us when named: and was very civil. It is a strange thing, more especially the stamping part of it. You too shall see it all if you like. Füssli who is the most copious of talkers, sat with us till we had dinner, in which under the name of lunch, he participated, praising our Scotch Broth were it only a little Kräftiger [stronger]! He is now gone, with innumerable compliments; and I hasten back to my paper.— No Teufelsdreck, no Hope or tidings of such has arrived. No matter; really it is no matter at all; there will be time enough.

What chiefly puzzles me at present is how or whether at all I am to write to you for next Wednesday. I have rather decidedly advised you to take the Annan Steamboat; and you talk as if you would be gone on “Thursday Week”: so that apparently you will be at Ecclefechan on the Wednesday. Shall I write to Ecclefechan then that day, and you get it as you pass the Post-Office (or send down for it) any time after eleven? As yet I see not what else I can do. On Tuesday there is no post to Dumfries or any whither. However, I will carefully scan your next Letter, and if I there find any new light follow it. Nay in any case, it will be of minor moment; for I think now everything has been pretty well settled between us; and all that I could write were greetings and talkings. Nevertheless even these are worth writing. So partly expect such at Ecclefechan; or failing this at Liverpool; whence instantly write to me, whether there be Letter for you, or none. But perhaps your next Letter will decide me.

Heaven grant the poor Goody take no feverish fits or other ailments till she get beside me! You have really been leading a most unreasonable life, out of one ailment into another; enough to make any one sick. Do sleep, if it be possible. Why such hurry? There is plenty of time coming, long nights of winter, and what Time brings us in them.— I mean to have a bottle of Brandy when you come, or of Rum at least; that is a fixed point. And you shall occasionally have your three smokes, and no “work made about them.”

My poor wart still sticks where it was; and will do till Goody arrive. Jack is not the man to throw light on the cutting of it: he moves clearly for letting it stick, lest we make it worse; of which mind I am not. For the rest, he says he can clip it off in five minutes; and I shall have to live on fluid for three or four days. Like everything else, the wart waits for Goodykin's coming.

Edward Irving is not returned yet: He is graver than usual; yet has still the old faculty of laughter. On the whole a true sufficient kind of man; very anxious to have me stay here; where “in two years or so,” I should not fail to find some appointment. What I lament is that such a mind should not be in the van, but wilfully standing in the rear bringing up the tagrag and bobtail, however well he do it. “Miracles” are the commonest things in the world here: Irving said to Glen: “When I work Miracles.” He and I have never fastened upon that topic yet; but by and by he shall hear my whole mind on it, for he deserves such confidence.

I gave your compliments to Empson, who received them with wreathed smiles and mumbles of heartiest welcome. I think you will like him: a bushy faced, kind looking creature, with most melancholy short-sighted eyes. He is from Lincolnshire; walks much, I take it, with women, men being too harsh and contradictory for him. He was sitting in yellow nightgown, that night, without neckcloth, shaggy enough; and writing with his whole might for Naso.— Of Macaulay I hear nothing very good: a sophistical, rhetorical, ambitious young man of talent; “set in there,” as Mill said, “to make flash speeches; and he makes them.” It seems to me of small consequence whether we meet at all.

But I have a little Note [to] write for Jane, and not another moment to spare, were my paper far larger. Good bye, my Dearest! Heaven send thee safe to me and soon. Take every care of thyself, Wifekin: there is more than thy own that thou carriest with thee.16 A thousand kisses; and farewells, which will soon be welcomes! Ever thy [own] Good,

T. Carlyle

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