January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 23 September 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310923-TC-JWC-01; CL 5:442-446.


London, 23d September, 1831—

My poor Goody,

All yesterday my thoughts were with thee in thy lone voyage; which now, I pray the great Giver of Good, may have terminated prosperously. Never before did I so well understand my Mother's anxious forecasting ways: I felt that my best Possession was trusted to the false sea, and all my cares for it could avail nothing. Do not wait a moment in writing; I shall have no peace till I know that you are safe. Meanwhile in truth there is no use in tormenting myself: the weather, here at least, was good; I struggle what I can to believe that it has all passed without accident, and that you are now resting in comparative safety in your Uncle's house among friends.

Of rest I can well understand you have need enough. I grieve to think how harrassed [sic] you have been of late; all which, I fear, has acted badly on your health; these bustlings and tossings to and fro are far too rough work for you. I can see by your two last Letters, especially, that it is not well with you: your heart is, as it were, choked up, if not depressed, you are agitated and provoked, which is almost the worse way of the two. Alas! And I have no soft Aladdin's Palace here, to bid you hasten and take repose in: nothing but a noisy untoward Lodginghouse, and no better shelter there than my own bosom. Yet is not this the best of all shelters for you; the only safe place in this wild world? Thank God, this still is yours, and I can receive you there without distrust; and wrap you close, close, with the solacements of a true heart's love. Hasten thither then my own Wife. Betide what may we will not despair; were the world never so unfriendly, we are indivisible, and will help each other to endure its evils, nay to conquer them. I have still “taken up with no other women,” and can still say that I have seen none worth taking up with, furnished as I already am in that kind. It is not to make you vain, but to express my own gratitude and encourage you in well-doing that I repeat often, what is always my deliberate feeling, how much I owe you, how precious, how indispensable you have become to me.

How ma[n]y of my Letters you have got or missed I cannot well gather from what you write: the Letter containing four Scotch Notes, I think, you must have received before the date of your last, tho' contrary to wont you do not expressly say so: another would lie waiting you at Dumfries on Monday, unless the Carrier had taken it awry, or perhaps brought it the night before; it was full of package-orders, which would then be too late, my calculation having been that you would not leave home till the day before you sailed. A third Note (of small dimensions and no consequence) would arrive for you, under cover to my Mother, last Wednesday; whether too late or not I cannot know. Neither indeed is it clear to me whether you were to sail from Annan or Dumfries, tho' I think surely the former: however, in either case, I will hope and pray that your sailing may be happily over, which is the only thing of moment. Another four and twenty hours of land-journeying, and she is here!

In fact these overlappings of the Posts, and indeed the whole matter of Letterwriting is but a poor succedaneum: let us trust, as you say, that we may not soon need to apply to it again! This present sheet, for example, I now incline to think had better have been sent off yesterday, had I not wished to be sure of its finding you there, and giving you the latest news: it now, on better calculation, begins to be a painful uncertainty whether the Saturday Mail (not arriving till six o'clock) may be delivered that night. Probably, if not, you will have it asked for at the Office. I will hope the best.

To continue my Narrative in writing, with the hope of Speech so near, were but waste of effort. Come, and I will tell it to you with much more to all lengths! Goody also will have much to tell.— In the meantime, it is my (I know not whether painful or pleasant) duty to tell you that the Printing of Teufelsdreck which I announced as commencing, and even (in my Scotsbrig Note) sent you a specimen of, has altogether stopt, and Murray's Bargain with me has burst into the air. The man behaved like a Pig, and was speared perhaps not without art; Jack and I at least laughed that night à gorge deployée [with splitting sides], at the Answer I wrote his base glar of a Letter: he has written again in much politer style, and I shall answer him, as M'Leod1 advised my Grandfather's people, “sharp but mannerly.” The truth of the matter is, now clearly enough: Dreck cannot be disposed of in London at this time. Whether he lie in my trunk or in a Bookseller's coffer seems partly indifferent, so that I shall give Murray perhaps another chance, if he be eager for it. Neither on the whole do I know whether it is not better that we have stopt for the present: money I was to have none; Author's vanity embarked on that bottom I have almost none; nay some time or other that the Book can be so disposed of is certain enough: thus, here again, we have our footing on the adamant, and smile upon poor Murray and all his tribe.

You will be amazed to learn that I have not succeeded in raising a copy of Hope's Book in all London; till yesterday I could not so much as get sight of it, and then by special favour in the Museum. It does seem possible that there may be an Article in it; but we shall see.— Failing in all literary schemes, for the time, and seeing poor Dreck at a standstill, I on Tuesday Night set out for Enfield to see Badams, and also to try whether I could not get a little quiet sleep there. I succeeded in both objects; have not had such a sleep for several weeks; found the Badamses so so in health, but evidently quite gratified to see me. The Lady, whose impetousity and volatility (your Mother is solid as iron in comparison) would have it that we must come out to live there, and “take a part of the house off their hands.” Himmel und Erde [Heaven and earth]! the house would take fire in three days. However it was settled that we were to come and see them; a duty which I think you will not find very fatiguing: Badams I continue to think a man of very great worth, mingled, alas, with alloy which is threatening to pull him down. His Wife is honest as steel; but there her unmixed merit ends.— I came off yesterday, greatly against the wish of both; purely to see your Letter, which accordingly after a weary winding thro' these labyrinthic streets I found waiting me on the table, and Jack out; it was eight at night.— I had called and got my Watch: she is regulated to perfection; cleaned; has her new chain, and has earned high praise by her conduct since mended. The damage to me was 12/.—

The Dumfries Courier partly indicated to me that you had called at Macs2 on Monday: it had come direct hither. This morning I saw in the Times that the Duke3 was ill; went over the faster for my frank; and found the poor little fellow really far from well (it is his old complaint, concerning which mum); yet better than he had been, and preparing to speak this night as introducer of the Scotch Reform Bill! he had three minutes talk about Murray (the Bookseller), and then withdrew. His ladies were driving out just as I came to the door. I conjecture it to be a villa[i]nous life, that of theirs yonder.

I do not know of any more news, or any reason why I should detain my poor weary Goody any longer. Inclosed lie some more “goot worts”4 from the noble lady:5 they lay waiting here, when I returned home; and can easily be despatched onwards. What avail they? Thyself one day wilt judge.

The other inclosure is for the G. Johnstone6 of whom you have so often heard me speak. I have empowered him to call and see you.— To the Maryland Family7 you must present innumerable compliments, and bring me special news how your Uncle's eyesight is. Grahame of Burnswark (in a letter to John) thanks me the other day for introducing him to one of the “kindest hearted men he ever met with,” or some such perhaps higher excellence; meaning thereby your worthy Uncle. Tell him to secure you well in the Coach, and send you soon!— Adieu Dearest; God guide you hither in safety, to my heart!— Ever your own Husband,

T. Carlyle

I have Johnstone's Letter still to write (on business), and the clock strikes half-past four. Put the Note (if you have no ready opportunity) in the penny Post office, tho perhaps the address itself is nearer— Adieu again!—— Take eatable thi[n]gs with you, and a gläschen brandtwein [pick-up of liquor]! Mind this.