July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JANE WILSON; 21 September 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18370921-TC-JWI-01; CL 9:306-308.


Chelsea, London, 21st September 1837.

My dear Miss Wilson,— I know not whether it can by any means be philosophically considered as other than an impertinence, my writing you a letter at present. Nevertheless finding your Address on the table, I do venture to announce in this manner that I have returned to Chelsea some days ago; that Eccleston Street and the Northwest House still stand entire so far as the eye can judge; that the climate here has grown delightful; that I and many friends think you ought to lose no time in coming back to it.1 Our streets are cool, clean, and can be walked on without danger of life: London is become like Paradise, which the Frenchman says must surely ‘be a village,’2 so that all the people may see one another when they like! In a word, you are to come back, the sooner the welcomer.

My stay in Scotland was almost three months; the longest period of absolute idleness I can remember to have had. What benefit was in it we shall see. For a week or two, the very greenness of fields and trees, the rustle of winds and sound of genuine brooks was happiness to me. Afterwards it grew very stagnant, occasionally rather barelooking; all along it was of extreme sadness, but of perfect stillness. I did nothing, thought nothing, said almost nothing. Sun and sky are everywhere; and the vicissitudes of Time,—fearful to behold. I felt in general extremely like a ghost; and dwelt too often, as Jean Paul says he and the woodpecker do, in a scull.3 And now it is over: I left my Mother at Manchester, the last look of her face deeply abiding with me; and am here again, to see what farther it is that the Good Heavens and their kind Earth have in store for me.

The worst is, my wife is not well. She is again coughing somewhat; evidently in no strong way: Malvern and all friendliness of friends have availed little on that side. However I study not to alarm anybody; neither has she any cowardice about the matter; we will go on as I say ‘doing our best and hoping our best.’

I saw Frederick Elliot4 the day before yesterday: brisk as ever; full of dainty speculation, speech and ingenuity: he is not to leave Town again. Taylor also was in his place, but just about departing for Dover with Miss Fenwick, who being shut out from Italy is to winter in that quarter. All this you most likely know better than I. Likewise that Mr. Maurice is to be wedded straightway to a sister-in-law of John Sterling's; and that John himself waits here to do the ceremony, and then fly off to Madeira? These little pieces of Biography are ‘parts of Universal History,’ tho' small ones; to us they have more interest than the greatest Waterloos far off.

People want me to write this or the other ‘Article’; I have yet begun nothing. My Wife says I must infallibly betake me to lecturing again on some subject or other next spring.

There will be ‘popularity,’ there will be &c.——. On the whole, it was a strange thing that Miss Wilson should have happened to find me in my bewilderment, and fling me forth into that arena; which really does promise better than the other would ever do! We shall see and try. But always, be the issue what it may, the goodness of that good guide remains with me, a possession which nothing can take away.

Knocks come to the door; I hope John Sterling's. I let you [letter torn] for this time. Excuse my hurried writing; excuse my writing at all—come soon back to us. Be well and happy till then, you and Mr. Wilson (to whom also our united regards); and believe me ever, Dear Miss Wilson, / Yours most truly,

T. Carlyle.

My brother, writing from Albano near Rome where all is in the confusion panic and peril of cholera, he and his still safe,—desires to be very kindly remembered to Mr. Wilson and you.