A Celebration of Women Writers

"Vol. I (Sect. 1)"
From: Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1883) ed. James Anthony Froude

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom









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THE LETTERS which form these volumes were placed in my hands by Mr. CARLYLE in 1871. They are annotated throughout by himself. The few additional observations occasionally required are marked with my initials.

I have not thought it necessary to give an introductory narrative of Mrs. Carlyle's previous history, the whole of it being already related in my account of the 'first forty years' of her husband's life. To this I must ask the reader who wishes for information to be so good as to refer.

Mr. Carlyle did not order the publication of these Letters, though he anxiously desired it. He left the decision to Mr. Forster, Mr. John Carlyle, and myself. Mr. Forster and [Page vi]  Mr. John Carlyle having both died in Mr. Carlyle's lifetime, the responsiibility fell entirely upon me. Mr. Carlyle asked me, a few months before his end, what I meant to do. I told him that, when the 'Reminiscences' had been published, I had decided that the Letters might and should be published also.

Mr. Carlyle requested in his will that my judgment in the matter should be accepted as his own.


February 28, 1883.

[Page 1] 



'TUESDAY, June 10, 1834,' it appears, was the date of our alighting, amid heaped furniture, in this house, where we were to continue for life. I well remember bits of the drive from Ampton Street; what damp-clouded kind of sky it was; how, in crossing Belgrave Square, Chico, her little canary-bird, whom she had brought from Craigenputtock in her lap, burst out into singing, which we all ('Bessy Barnet,' our romantic maid, sat with us in the old hackney-coach) strove to accept as a promising omen. The business of sorting and settling, with two or three good carpenters, &c., already on the ground, was at once gone into, with boundless alacrity, and (under such management as hers) went on at a mighty rate; even the three or four days of quasi-camp life, or gypsy life, had a kind of gay charm to us; and hour by hour we saw the confusion abating, growing into victorious order. Leigh Hunt was continually sending us notes; most probably would in person step across before bedtime, and give us an hour of the prettiest melodious discourse. In about a week (it seems to me) all was swept and garnished, fairly habitable; and continued incessantly to get itself [Page 2]  polished, civilised, and beautified to a degree that surprised one. I have elsewhere alluded to all that, and to my little Jeannie's conduct of it: heroic, lovely, pathetic, mournfully beautiful, as in the light of eternity, that little scene of time now looks to me. From birth upwards she had lived in opulence; and now, for my sake, had become poor - so nobly poor. Truly, her pretty little brag (in this letter) was well founded. No such house, for beautiful thrift, quiet, spontaneous, nay, as it were, unconscious - minimum of money reconciled to human comfort and human dignity - have I anywhere looked upon where I have been.

From the first, or nearly so, I had resolved upon the 'French Revolution,' and was reading, studying, ransacking the Museum (to little purpose) with all my might. Country health was still about me; heart and strength still fearless of any toil. The weather was very hot; defying it (in hard, almost brimless, hat, which was obbligato in that time of slavery) did sometimes throw me into colic; the Museum collection of 'French Pamphlets,' the completest of its sort in the world, did, after six weeks of baffling wrestle, prove inaccessible to me; and I had to leave them there - so strong was Chaos and Co. in that direction. Happily, John Mill had come to my aid, and the Paris 'Histoire Parlementaire' began to appear. Mill had himself great knowledge of the subject. He sent me down all his own books on the subject (almost a cartload), and was generously profuse and unwearied in every kind of furtherance. He had taken a great attachment to me (which lasted about ten years, and then suddenly ended, I never knew how); an altogether clear, logical, honest, amicable, affectionate young man, and respected as such here, though sometimes felt to be rather colourless, even aqueous - no religion in almost any form traceable in him. He was among our chief visitors and social elements at that time. Came to us in the evenings [Page 3]  once or twice a week; walked with me on Sundays, &c.; with a great deal of discourse not worthless to me in its kind. Still prettier were Leigh Hunt's little nights with us; figure and bearing of the man, of a perfectly graceful, spontaneously original, dignified and attractive kind. Considerable sense of humour in him; a very pretty little laugh, sincere and cordial always; many tricksy turns of witty insight, of intellect, of phrase; countenance, tone and eyes well seconding; his voice, in the finale of it, had a kind of musical warble ('chirl' we vernacularly called it) which reminded one of singing-birds. He came always rather scrupulously, though most simply and modestly, dressed. 'Kind of Talking Nightingale,' we privately called him - name first due to her. He enjoyed much, and with a kind of chivalrous silence and respect, her Scotch tunes on the piano, most of which he knew already, and their Burns or other accompaniment: this was commonly enough the windup of our evening; 'supper' being ordered (uniformly 'porridge' of Scotch oatmeal), most likely the piano, on some hint, would be opened, and continue till the 'porridge' came - a tiny basin of which Hunt always took, and ate with a teaspoon, to sugar, and many praises of the excellent frugal and noble article. It seems to me, in our long, dim-lighted, perfectly neat and quaint room, these 'evening parties' of three were altogether human and beautiful; perhaps the best I anywhere had before or since! Allan Cunningham occasionally walked down; pleasant enough to talk with - though the topic was sure to be Nithsdale (mainly Nithsdale fun), and nothing else. Mrs. Austin, Mrs. Buller, Darwin, Wedgwood, &c., &c. (of this or shortly posterior dates), I do not mention. I was busy; she still more hopefully and gaily so; and in what is called 'society,' or London interests for us, there was no lack. - Of all which, these 'Letters,' [Page 4]  accidental waifs among such multitudes as have carelessly perished, are now the only record.

I perfectly recollect the day this following letter describes, though I could not have given the date, even by year. 'Macqueen and Thomson' were two big graziers of respectability, Macqueen a native of Craigenputtock, Thomson, from near Annan, had been a school-fellow of mine. They had called here without very specific errand; and I confess what the letter intimates (of my silent wish to have evaded such interruption, &c., &c.) is the exact truth.

'Traiked' means perished, contemptuous term, applied to cattle, &c. 'Traik' = German 'Dreckbankrnpe' is to 'bankrupt' (used as a verb passive). 'And then he bankrapit, and geed out o' sicht:' a phrase of my father's in the little sketches of Annandale biography he would sometimes give me. During two wholly wet days, on my last visit to Scotsbrig in 1830, he gave me a whole series of such; clearest brief portraiture and life-history of all the noteworthy, vanished figures whom I had known by look only, and now wished to understand. Such a set of Schilderungen (human delineations of human life), so admirably brief, luminous, true, and man-like, as I never had before or since. I have heard Wordsworth, somewhat on similar terms (twice over had him in a corner engaged on this topic, which was his best); but even Wordsworth was inferior. - T, C.

To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Sept. 1, 1834.

My dear Mother, - Could I have supposed it possible that any mortal was so stupid as not to feel disappointed in receiving a letter from me instead of my husband, I should have written to you very [Page 5]  long ago. But while this humility becomes me, it is also my duty (too long neglected) to send a little adjunct to my husband's letter, just to assure you 'with my own hand' that I continue to love you amidst the hubbub of this 'noble city' [1] just the same as in the quiet of Craigenputtock, and to cherish a grateful recollection of your many kindnesses to me; especially of that magnanimous purpose to 'sit at my bedside' through the night preceding my departure, 'that I might be sure to sleep!' I certainly shall never forget that night and the several preceding and following; but for the kindness and helpfulness shown me on all hands, I must have traiked, one would suppose. I had every reason to be thankful then to Providence and my friends, and have had the same reason since.

All things, since we came here, have gone more smoothly with us than I at all anticipated, Our little household has been set up again at a quite moderate expense of money and trouble; wherein I cannot help thinking, with a chastened vanity, that the superior shiftiness and thriftiness of the Scotch character has strikimgly manifested itself. The English women turn up the whites of their eyes, and call on the 'good heavens' at the bare idea of enterprises which seem to me in the most ordinary course of human affairs. I told Mrs. Hunt, one day, I had been very busy painting. [Page 6]  'What?' she asked, 'is it a portrait?' 'Oh! no,' I told her; 'something of more importance - a large wardrobe.' She could not imagine, she said, 'how I could have patience for such things?' And so, having no patience for them herself, what is the result? She is every other day reduced to borrow my tumblers, my teacups; even a cupful of porridge, a few spoonfuls of tea, are begged of me, because 'Missus has got company, and happens to be out of the article;' in plain unadorned English, because 'missus' is the most wretched of managers, and is often at the point of having not a copper in her purse. To see how they live and waste here, it is a wonder the whole city does not 'bankrape, and go out o' sicht'; - flinging platefuls of what they are pleased to denominate 'crusts' (that is what I consider all the best of the bread) into the ashpits! I often say, with honest self-congratulation, 'In Scotland we have no such thing as "crusts."' On the whole, though the English ladies seem to have their wits more at their finger-ends, and have a great advantage over me in that respect, I never cease to be glad that I was born on the other side of the Tweed, and that those who are nearest and dearest to me are Scotch.

I must tell you what Carlyle will not tell of himself - that he is rapidly mending of his Craigenputtock gloom and acerbity. He is really at times a tolerably social character, and seems to be regarded [Page 7]  with a feeling of mingled terror and love in all companies; which I should expect the diffusion of Teufelsdröckh will tend to increase.

I have just been called away to John Macqueen, who was followed by a Jack Thomson, of Annan, whom I received in my choicest mood, to make amends for Carlyle's unreadiness - who was positively going to let him leave the door without asking him in; a neglect which he would have reproached himself with after.

My love to all. Tell my kind Mary to write to me; she is the only one that ever does.

Your affectionate



Mournfully beautiful is this letter to me; a clear little household light shining, pure and brilliant, in the dark obstructive places of the past!

The 'two East Lothian friends' are George Rennie, then sculptor, and his pretty sister, Mrs. Manderston, wife of an ex-Indian ship captain.

'Eliza Miles' and 'the Mileses' are the good people in Ampton Street with whom we lodged; Eliza, their daughter, felt quite captivated with my Jane, and seems to have vowed eternal loyalty to her almost at first sight; was for coming to be our servant at Craigenputtock (actually wrote proposing it then - a most tempting offer to us, had not the rough element and the delicate aspirant been evidently irreconcilable!). She continued to visit us here, at modest intervals; wrote me, after my calamity befel, the one letter of condolence I could completely read (still extant, and almost worth adjoining here), she was a very pretty and, to [Page 8]  us, interesting specimen of the London maiden of the middle classes; refined, polite, pious, clever both of hand and mind; no gentlewoman could have a more upright, modest, affectionate and unconsciously high demeanour. Her father had long been in prosperous upholsterer business ('Miles and Edwards,' as we sometimes heard), but the firm had latterly gone awry, and poor Miles now went about as a 'traveller' (showing specimens, &c.), where he had formerly been one of the commanders-in-chief. He was a very good-natured, respectable man; quietly much sympathised with in his own house. Eliza, with her devout temper, had been drawn to Edward Irving; went daily, alone of her family, to his chapel, in those years 1831-2, and was to the last one of his most reverent disciples. She did, in her soft loyal way, right well in the world; married poorly enough, but wisely, and is still living, a now rich man's wife, and the mother of prosperous sons and daughters.

'Buller's Radical meeting,' had one an old newspaper, would give us an exact date: it was the meeting, privately got up by C. Buller, but ostensibly managed by others, which assembled itself largely and with emphasis in the London Tavern, to say what it thought on the first reappearance of Peel and Co. after the Reform Bill, 'first Peel Ministry,' which lasted only a short time. I duly attended the meeting (never another in my life); and remembered it well. Had some interest, not much. The 2,000 human figures, wedged in the huge room into one dark mass, were singular to look down upon, singular to hear their united voice, coming clearly as from one heart; their fiery 'Yes,' their sternly bellowing 'No.' (Camille Desmoulins in the Palais-Royal Gardens, not long afterwards![1]) I could notice, too, what new laws there were of speaking to such a mass; [Page 9]  no matter how intensely consentaneous your 2,000 were, and how much you agreed with every one of them; you must likewise begin where they began, follow pretty exactly their sequence of thoughts, or they lost sight of your intention; and, for noise of contradiction to you and to one another, you could not be heard at all. That was new to me, that second thing; and little or nothing else was. In the speeches I had no interest, except a phenomenal; indeed, had to disagree throughout, more or less with every part of them. Roebuck knew the art best; kept the 2,000 in constant reverberation, more and more rapturous, by his adroitly correct series of commonplaces; John Crawfurd, much more original, lost the series, and had to sit down again unheard - ignominiously unheard. Ohe jam satis est. I walked briskly home, much musing; found her waiting, eager enough for any news I had. - T. C.

To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: End of November [Nov. 21], 1834.[1]

My dear Mother, - Now that franks are come back into the world, one need not wait for an inspired moment to write; if one's letter is worth nothing, it costs nothing - nor will any letter that tells you of our welfare and assures you of our continual affection, [Page 10]  be worth nothing in your eyes, however destitute of news or anything else that might make it entertaining.

The weather is grown horribly cold, and I am chiefly intent, at present, on getting my winter wardrobe into order. I have made up the old black gown (which was dyed puce for me at Dumfries), with my own hands; it looks twenty per cent. better than when it was new; and I shall get no other this winter. I am now turning my pelisse. I went yesterday to a milliner's to buy a bonnet: an old, very ugly lady, upwards of seventy, I am sure, was bargaining about a cloak at the same place; it was a fine affair of satin and velvet; but she declared repeatedly that 'it had 'no air,' and for her part she could not put on such a thing. My bonnet, I flatter myself, has an air; a little brown feather nods over the front of it, and the crown points like a sugar-loaf! The diameter of the fashionable ladies at present is about three yards; their bustles (false bottoms) are the size of an ordinary sheep's fleece. The very servant-girls wear bustles: Eliza Miles told me a maid of theirs went out one Sunday with three kitchen dusters pinned on as a substitute.

The poor Mileses are in great affliction. Mr. Miles, about the time we came to London, got into an excellent situation, and they were just beginning to feel independent, and look forward to a comfortable future, when one morning, about a week ago, [Page 11]  Mr. Miles, in walking through his warerooms, was noticed to stagger; and one of the men ran and caught him as he was falling: he was carried to a public-house close by (his own house being miles off), and his wife and daughter sent for. He never spoke to them; could never be removed; but there, in the midst of confusion and riot, they sat watching him for two days, when he expired. I went up to see them so soon as I heard of their misfortune. The wife was confined to bed with inflammation in her head. Poor Eliza was up, and resigned-looking, but the picture of misery. 'A gentleman from Mr. Irving's church' was with her, saying what he could.

A brother and sister, the most intimate friends I ever had in East Lothian, live quite near (for London), and I have other East Lothian acquaintances. Mrs. Hunt I shall soon be quite terminated with, I foresee. She torments my life out with borrowing. She actually borrowed one of the brass fenders the other day, and I had difficulty in getting it out of her hands; irons, glasses, tea-cups, silver spoons, are in constant requisition; and when one sends for them the whole number can never be found. Is it not a shame to manage so, with eight guineas a week to keep house on! It makes me very indignant to see all the waste that goes on around me, when I am needing so much care and calculation to make ends meet. When we dine out, to [Page 12]  see as much money expended on a dessert of fruit (for no use but to give people a colic) as would keep us in necessaries for two or three weeks! My present maid has a grand-uncle in town with upwards of a hundred thousand pounds, who drives his carriage and all that; at a great dinner he had, he gave five pounds for a couple of pineapples when scarce; and here is his niece working all the year through for eight, and he has never given her a brass farthing since she came to London.

My mother gave a good account of your looks. I hope you will go and see her again for a longer time. She was so gratified by your visit. I have just had a letter from her, most satisfactory, telling me all she knows about any of you. She gives a most wonderful account of some transcendentally beautiful shawl which Jane had made her a present of. I am sure never present gave more contentment.

Carlyle is going to a Radical meeting to-night, but there is no fear of his getting into mischief. Curiosity is his only motive - and I must away to the butcher's to get his dinner. I wish you may be able to read what I have written. I write with a steel pen, which is a very unpliable concern, and has almost cut into my finger. God bless you all. A kiss to Mary's new baby when you see it.

Yours affectionately,


[Page 13] 


Postscript to some letter of mine, announcing brother John's speedy advent from Italy, and visit to Scotsbrig as his next step.

The 'wee wains' (weans) are sister Mary's, sister Jean's, and brother Alick's; 'wee Jane,' her namesake, is brother Alick's eldest. 'Mighty nation' had this origin (derived by tradition of mine): My mother, in the act of removing from Ecclefechan to Mainhill (in 1816), which was a serious new adventure to the family and her, had, as she privately told me, remembered vividly the first time she came down that road, riding towards Ecclefechan, as a little girl behind her father - towards an aunt, and unknown fortune in that new country - and how she could now piously say of herself, like Jacob, 'Now hath the Lord made of me a great nation.' Good dear mother!

I almost think this promised visit to Scotland did not take effect - John's own part of it having failed, and general uncertainty having thereupon supervened. I was myself in dreadful struggle[1] with the burnt first volume of 'French Revolution;' miserable accident which had befallen three months before this date; but which (having persisted to finish 'Book i. Vol. II.,' before turning back) I had now first practically grappled with, and found how near it bordered on the absolutely insuperable! certainly the impossiblest-looking literary problem I ever had: 'resembles swimming in an element not of water, but of quasi-vacuum,' said I mournfully, almost desperately: 'by main [Page 14]  force, impossible, I find!' - and so had flung it all by, about this date; and for four weeks was reading the trashiest heap of novels (Marryat's, &c.) to hush down my mind, and, as it were, bury the disaster under ashes for a time. About July I cautiously, gingerly, stept up to the affair again, and gradually got it done. How my darling behaved under all this, with what heroism and what love, I have mentioned elsewhere. I find she renounced Scotland for this year, and instead appointed her mother to come and visit us here, which did take effect, as will be seen. - T. C.

To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: May 2, 1835.

I too am coming, dear mother, and expect a share of the welcome! For though I am no son, nor even much worth as a daughter, you have a heart where there is 'coot and coom again.' [1] I think of nothing so much at present as this journey to Scotland; all the sea-sickness and fatigues of my former journeys do not damp my ardour for this one.

Carlyle has not told you a piece of news we heard yesterday, so curious as to be worth recording. Mrs. Badams, who a year and half ago made such outrageous weeping and wailing over the death of her husband, is on the eve of a second marriage (has been engaged for months back) to a Frenchman who is - her own half-nephew!!! the son of a sister who was daughter to the same father by a former wife! [Page 15]  Such things, it seems, are tolerated in France; to us here it seems rather shocking. Such is the upshot of all poor Badams's labours and anxieties, and sacrifices of soul and body, in amassing money! Himself lies killed, with brandy and vexation, in a London churchyard; and the wreck of his wealth goes to supply the extravagances of a rabble of French who have neither common sense nor common decency.

I have just had a call from an old rejected lover, who has been in India these ten years: though he has come home with more thousands of pounds than we are ever likely to have hundreds, or even scores, the sight of him did not make me doubt the wisdom of my preference. Indeed, I continue quite content with my bargain; I could wish him a little less yellow, and a little more peaceable; but that is all.

What a quantity of wee wains I shall have to inspect! though I doubt if any of them will equal the first wee Jane, whom I hope they are not suffering to forget me. Truly you are become 'a mighty nation'! God prosper it!

Your affectionate



Susan Hunter of St. Andrews, now and long since Mrs. Stirling of Edinburgh, was daughter of a Professor Hunter in St. Andrews University, and granddaughter of a famous do. do., whose editions of Virgil, and various other [Page 16]  Latin classics, all excellently printed in the little county town of Cupar, Fife, are held in deserved esteem, not among ourselves only, but in Germany itself, by the best judges there.

To an elder sister of this Susan the afterwards famous Francis Jeffrey, then a young Edinburgh advocate, had been wedded, and was greatly attached; but she soon died from him and left him a childless widower. A second sister of Susan's, I believe, had married John Jeffrey, younger and only brother of Francis; but she too had died, and there were no children left. John Jeffrey followed no profession, had wandered about the world, at one time been in America, in revolutionary France, but had since settled pleasantly in Edinburgh within reach of his brother, and was a very gentle, affectionate, pleasantly social and idly ingenious man. I remember Susan and her one younger sister as living often with John Jeffrey; I conclude it was at Craigcrook, at Francis Jeffrey's, that we had made acquaintance with her. She was a tall, lean, cleanly trim and wise-looking, though by no means beautiful woman, except that her face and manners expressed nothing that was not truthful, simple, rational, modest though decided. Susan and a brother of hers, John, who sometimes visited here in after times, and is occasionally mentioned in these letters, had a great admiration and even affection for Leigh Hunt, to whom John was often actually subventive. Susan's mild love for poor Hunt, sparkling through her old-maidish, cold, still, exterior, was sometimes amusingly noticeable. - T. C.

To Miss Hunter, Millfield House, Edmonton.

5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: June 1835.

My dear Susan Hunter, - What an infidel you are to dream of my ever forgetting either your existence or your kindness! Woman though I be, and though [Page 17]  Mr. John Jeffrey once said of me (not in my hearing) that I was 'distinguished as a flirt' in my time, I can tell you few people are as steady in their attachments. That I was attached to you, a person of your quick penetration could hardly fail to observe.

You were very kind to me; and that was not all; you were several things that women rarely are, straightforward and clear-sighted, among the rest, and so I liked you, and have continued to like you to this hour. Never have I thought of Edinburgh since we left it without thinking of you and the agreeable evenings I spent with you.

Such being the case, you may believe it is with heartfelt gladness that I find you are again within reach. Do come to-morrow evening or Thursday, whichever suits you best, and know that we possess the rarest of London accommodations, a spare bed; so that if you consider the thing in the same reasonable light that I do, you will undoubtedly stay all night.

My dear Susan (do let me dispense with formalities), I am so glad that I have not even taken time to mend my pen.

Your affectionate friend



Letter to John Sterling; probably her first. Our acquaintance then was but of few weeks' standing. This letter and all the following to the same address were carefully laid [Page 18]  together under sealed cover 'Aug. 14, 1845,' in Sterling's still steady hand; and mournfully came back to us in the course of a few weeks longer. - T. C.

To the Rev. John Sterling, Herstmonceux.

5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday, June 15, 1835.

My dear. Sir, - You did kindly to send the little separate note. The least bit 'all to myself,' as the children say, was sure to give me a livelier pleasure than any number of sheets in which I had but a secondary interest; for, in spite of the honestest efforts to annihilate my I-ety, or merge it in what the world doubtless considers my better half, I still find myself a self-subsisting, and, alas! self-seeking me. Little Felix, in the 'Wanderjahre,' when, in the midst of an animated scene between Wilhelm and Theresa, he pulls Theresa's gown, and calls out, 'Mama Theresa, I too am here!' only speaks out with the charming trustfulness of a little child what I am perpetually feeling, though too sophisticated to pull people's skirts or exclaim in so many words, 'Mr. Sterling, I too am here.'

But I must tell you I find a grave fault in that note - about the last fault I should have dreamt of finding in any utterance of yours - it is not believing, but faithless! In the first place, the parenthesis ('if ever') seems to me a wilful questioning of the goodness of Providence. Then you say, if in some weeks I can bring myself to think of you with [Page 19]  patience, &c., &c. Now, both the 'if' and 'perhaps' displease me. Only the most inveterate sceptic could, with your fineness of observation, have known me for two weeks without certifying himself that my patience is infinite, inexhaustible! that, in fact, I, as well as yourself, combine 'the wisdom of Solomon with the patience of Job!' Far from being offended by your dissertation on the 'Sartor,'[1] I think it the best that has been said or sung of him. Even where your criticism does not quite fall in with my humble views, I still love the spirit of the critic. For instance, I am loth to believe that I have married a Pagan; but I approve entirely of the warmth with which you warn your friend against the delusion of burning pastilles before a statue of Jupiter, and such like extravagances. I suppose it is excessively heterodox, and in a Catholic country I should be burnt for it, but to you I may safely confess that I care almost nothing about what a man believes in comparison with how he believes. If his belief be correct it is much the better for himself; but its intensity, its efficacy, is the ground on which I love and trust him. Thus, you see, I am capable of appreciating your fervour in behalf of the Thirty-nine Articles, without being afflicted because my husband is accused of contumacy against them.

But what do you mean by speaking of 'a few [Page 20]  weeks'? When you went, you said, with an appearance at least of good faith, that you would be back in London in three weeks; and one week and half of another is already gone. I hope you will keep your time for several reasons: chiefly for this one, that our continuance in London has, of late days, become more uncertain, the American speculation having suddenly received a more practical form; and if we depart for Scotland without seeing you any more, and afterwards our good or evil star actually shoots over the Atlantic, surely, to some of us at least it will be a matter of regret rather than of self-congratulation that our acquaintance should have begun.

I have seen your mother twice. She is very good to me. I have, moreover, been reviving one of my young lady accomplishments for her sake; painting flowers on a portfolio, to keep those verses in, which she was so troubled about losing. Your father has been here since I began writing, to ask us to dinner on Saturday. We played a drawn game at chess, and Carlyle and he debated, more loudly than logically, on the subject of Napoleon's morality. He is just gone to inquire about the house in Cheyne Walk, in which good work I was meaning to have forestalled him, and communicated the result in my letter. If a fairy would grant me three wishes this evening, my first would be that we might remain [Page 21]  where we are, my second that you might be settled in Cheyne Walk, and the third, like a thrifty Scotchwoman, I would beg leave to lay by in reserve for future need. And now I must go and array myself with all possible splendour for a rout at Mrs. Buller's,[1] where O'Connell is to be, and all the earth - that is to say, all the Radical earth. Wish me good speed. May I offer my good wishes, and prospective regards to your wife?

Affectionately yours,



To Miss Hunter, Millfield House, Edmonton.

5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Thursday [July ?] 1835.

Dear, - I am too essentially Scotch not to give due heed to the proverb 'it is good to make hay while the sun shines,' which means, in the present case, it is good to catch hold of a friend while she is in the humour. But I have been provokingly hindered from acting up to my principle by the prolonged absence of my usual domestic, which has kept us until the present day in 'the valley of the shadow' of charwoman; and, thoroughgoing as I know you to be, I feared to invite you to participate [Page 22]  therein. Now, however, I have got the deficiency supplied, after a more permanent and comfortable fashion, and make haste to say 'come and stay.' Come, dear Susan, and let us make the best of this 'very penetrating world ' - as a maid of my mother's used to call it in vapourish moods - come and wind me up again, as you have often done before when I was quite run down, so that, from being a mere senseless piece of lumber, I began to tick and tell people what o'clock it was. Will you come in the ensuing week? Name your own time, only remember the sooner the better.

My kind regards to Mr. John when you write, and to your sister. Do you remember her physiological observation on hens?[1]

I hear nothing of his lordship,[2] but the fault is my own.

Yours affectionately,


Do not be after thinking that I have lost the power to write more legibly. I am just out of one of my headaches - my hand shakes. No Miss -----,[3] however, stept in out of space to drive me to extremity. Oh, the horror of that moment!

[Page 23] 


Mrs. Welsh was to come about the end of August. I was now getting tolerably on with my 'burnt MS.,' and could see the blessed end of it lying ahead - had, probably, myself resolved on a run to Annandale, by way of bonfire on that victorious event. At least, I did go for a week or two, it appears, and brought up an Annan maidservant with me, one 'Anne Cook,' who proved peaceable and obedient for a year or more afterwards. The continual trouble my brave little woman bore - all of it kept quiet from me, result quasi-perfect, of its own accord, when it came to me - is now, to look back upon, tragically beautiful! That 'miraculous Irish Roman Catholic' proved utterly a failure before long.

The Wilsons of the 'Madeira hamper,' and of many other kind procedures and feelings towards us, were an opulent brother and sister of considerably cultivated and most orthodox type (especially the sister), whom we had met with at Henry Taylor's, and who held much to us for many years - indeed, the sister did (though now fallen deaf, &c.) till my dear one was snatched away. I think they both yet live (2 Upper Eccleston Street), but I shudder to call, and shall likely see them no more. Many dinners - James Spedding, Reverend Maurice, John Sterling (once or twice), James Stephen (afterwards Sir James), Perrot of Edinburgh (who was the brother of 'Tom Wilson's' Cambridge old friend), &c., &c. - many dinners brilliantly complete, and with welcome glad and hearty, at which, however, I would rather not have been.

The coterie-speech abounds in this letter; more witty and amusing, much, very much, to the first reader than it can now ever be to another. Explanation I must add at any rate. 'Blessings &c. over my head,:' Extempore public [Page 24]  prayer: 'Lord, we thank Thee for the many blessings Thou art making to pass over our heads.' 'Encouragement:' Cumberland man (to me), concerning a squire whose son and he had quite quarrelled: 'Feayther gives him nea encouragement.' 'Arnot,' a little laird, come almost to starvation by drinking, &c. A poor creditor, unpayable, overheard Mrs. A. whispering, 'Let us keep,' &c. 'Victualling:' Old Johnnie Maccaw (McCall), a strange old Galloway peasant of our Craigenputtock neighbourhood, who witnessed the beginning of settlement in 1834, had asked my sister Mary, 'D'ye victual a' thae folk? Ai what a victualling they wull tak!'

I recollect the evening with the Degli Antonis - that evening! all gone, all gone! (Dumfries, August 16, 1868). - T. C.

To Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.

Chelsea: Aug. 1835.

My dear Jane, - Even the doubt expressed in your last letter about the durability of my affection was more agreeable to me than the brief notice which you usually put me off with, 'remember us to Mrs. Carlyle,' or still worse, 'remember us to your lady.' I have told you often that it afflicts me to be always, in the matter of correspondence with you, obliged, like the Annandale man, to thank God 'for the blessings made to pass over my head.' It ought not, perhaps, to make any difference whether your letters be addressed to him or me, but it does. You never in your life answered a letter of mine (and I have written you several), except little business notes from Dumfries, which could not be considered any [Page 25]  voluntary expression of kind remembrance. Had you even expressed a wish to hear from me since I came here, I would nevertheless have written, being of a disposition to receive thankfully the smallest mercies when greater are denied; but, as I said, you have always put me off with a bare recognition of my existence, which was small 'encouragement.' The fact is, we are both of us, I believe, too proud; We go upon the notion of 'keeping up our dignity, Mr. Arnot.' You have it by inheritance from your mother, who (as I have often told herself) with a great profession of humility is swallowed up in this sin; and I have possibly been seduced into it by her example, which I was simple enough to consider a safe one to imitate in all respects.

For my part, however, I am quite willing to enter into a compact with you henceforth to resist the devil, in so far as he interferes with our mutual good understanding; for few things were more pleasant for me than to 'tell you sundry news[1] of every kind,' nay, rather 'every thought which enters in within this shallow mind,' had I but the least scrap of assurance of your contentment therewith.

Now that my mother is actually coming, I am more reconciled to my disappointment about Scotland. Next year, God willing, I shall see you all [Page 26]  again. Meanwhile, I am wonderfully well hefted here; the people are extravagantly kind to me, and in most respects my situation is out of sight more suitable than it was at Craigenputtock. Of late weeks Carlyle has also been getting on better with his writing, which has been uphill work since the burning of the first manuscript. I do not think that the second version is on the whole inferior to the first; it is a little less vivacious, perhaps, but better thought and put together. One chapter more brings him to the end of his second 'first volume,' and then we shall sing a Te Deum and get drunk - for which, by the way, we have unusual facilities at present, a friend (Mr. Wilson) having yesterday sent us a present of a hamper (some six or seven pounds' worth) of the finest old Madeira wine. These Wilsons are about the best people we know here; the lady, verging on old-maidenism, is distinctly the cleverest woman I know.

Then there are Sterlings, who, from the master of the house down to the footman, are devoted to me body and soul; it is between us as between 'Beauty and the Beast':-

Speak your wishes, speak your will,
Swift obedience meets you still.
I have only to say 'I should like to see such a thing,' or 'to be at such a place,' and next day a carriage is at the door, or a boat is on the river to take me if I [Page 27]  please to the ends of the earth. Through them we have plumped into as pretty an Irish connection as one would wish. Among the rest is a Mr. Dunn, an Irish clergyman, who would be the delight of your mother's heart - a perfect personification of the spirit of Christianity. You may take this fact to judge him by, that he has refused two bishoprics in the course of his life, for conscience sake. We have also some Italian acquaintances. An Italian Countess Clementina Degli Antoni is the woman to make my husband faithless, if such a one exist - so beautiful, so graceful, so melodious, so witty, so everything that is fascinating for the heart of man. I am learning from her to speak Italian, and she finds, she says, that I have a divine talent (divino talento). She is coming to tea this evening, and another Italian exile, Count de Pepoli, and a Danish young lady, 'Singeress to the King of Denmark,' and Mr. Sterling and my old lover George Rennie. 'The victualling' of so many people is here a trifle, or rather a mere affair of the imagination: tea is put down, and tiny biscuits; they sip a few drops of the tea, and one or two sugar biscuits 'victuals' a dozen ordinary eaters. So that the thing goes off with small damage to even a long-necked purse. The expenditure is not of one's money, but of one's wits and spirits; and that is sometimes so considerable as to leave one too exhausted for sleeping after. [Page 28] 

I have been fidgeted with another change of servants. The woman recommended to me by Mrs. Austin turned out the best servant I had ever had, though a rather unamiable person in temper, &c. We got on, however, quite harmoniously, and the affairs of the house were conducted to my entire satisfaction, when suddenly she was sent for home to attend a sick mother; and, after three weeks' absence, during which time I had to find a charwoman to supply her place, she sent me word, the other day, that, in the state of uncertainty she was kept in, she could not expect her place to remain longer vacant for her. The next day I lighted on an active, tidy-looking Irish Roman Catholic in a way so singular that I could not help considering her as intended for me by Providence, and boding well of our connection. She is not come yet, but will be here on Wednesday; and in the meanwhile my charwoman, who has her family in the workhouse, does quite tolerably.

One comfort is, that I have not to puddle about myself here, as I used to have with the 'soot drops' at Craigenputtock; the people actually do their own work, better or worse. We have no bugs yet, to the best of my knowledge; and I do not know of one other house among all my acquaintance that so much can be said for. For all which, and much more, we have reason to be thankful.

I must not finish without begging your sympathy [Page 29]  in a disaster befallen me since I commenced this letter - the cat has eaten one of my canaries! Not Chico, poor dear; but a young one which I hatched[1] myself. I have sent the abominable monster out of my sight for ever - transferred her to Mrs. Hunt.

With kindest regards to every one of you, prattlers included,

Yours affectionately,



To Miss Hunter, Millfield House, Edmonton.

5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Sunday, Sept. 22, 1835.

My dear Friend, - I have been hindered from writing to you all this while by the same cause which has hindered me from doing almost everything on earth that I ought to have done these last six weeks - continued illness, namely, taking one day the form of intolerable headache; another day of equally intolerable colic; and many days together animating me with a noble disposition to hang or drown myself. Since you left me especially, I have been at the right pitch of suffering for entitling me to Mr. Jeffrey's warmest sympathy - confined to bed, and not out of danger of 'going to the undertaker' (the cockney idea of a future state).

My projected visit to Herstmonceux did not take [Page 30]  effect, my mother arriving[1] on the very day we should have set out. It seemed when I had received her in a perpendicular posture, and seen her fairly established in the house, that I had nothing more to do, for I made no more fight with destiny, but quietly took to bed.

When I was a little recovered, Mrs. Sterling, who would not give up the fancy for taking me out of town, carried me to her brother's for a few days - about twenty-five miles from London,[2] a perfect Paradise of a place - peopled, as every Paradise ought to be, with angels. There I drank warm milk and ate new eggs, and bathed in pure air, and rejoiced in cheerful countenances, and was as happy as the day was long; which I should have been a monster not to have been, when everybody about me seemed to have no other object in life but to study my pleasure. I returned in high feather - to be sick again the very next day.

Now I am but just arisen from another horrible attack, which being the worst, I fondly flatter myself may be the finale to the business for this time.

I long very much to see you again, and have too much confidence in your kindness of nature to dread that my inability to make your last visit agreeable, or [Page 31]  even decently comfortable, will deter you from giving me again the pleasure which I always have in your company, sick or well.

Carlyle expects to be at the end of his vexatious task this blessed day,[1] and in a week or ten days will probably depart for Scotland. There has been much solicitation on my mother's part that I would go also, and get myself plumped up into some sort of world-like rotundity. But man nor woman lives not by bread alone, nor warm milk, nor any of these things; now that she is here, the most that Dumfriesshire could do for me is already done, and country air and country fare would hardly counterbalance country dulness for me. A little exciting talk is many times, for a person of my temperament, more advantageous to bodily health than either judicious physicking or nutritious diet and good air. Besides, nobody was ever less than I a partaker in the curse of the man who was 'made like unto a wheel.' I have no taste whatever for locomotion, by earth, air, or sea (by the way, did you hear that the aërial ship has been arrested for debt?).

Will you come a while in Carlyle's absence, and help to keep my mother and me from wearying? I think I may safely engage to be more entertaining than you found me last time; and one thing you are always sure of, while I keep my soul and body [Page 32]  together - an affectionate welcome. For the rest, namely, for external accommodations, you, like the rest of us, will be at the mercy of another distracted Irishwoman, or such successor as Heaven in its mercy, or wrath, may provide, for this one also is on the 'move.' My husband, God willing, will bring me a sane creature of the servant sort from Scotland with him; for it is positively a great crook in my present lot to have so much of my time and thought occupied with these mean perplexities.

Your friend Mr. Craik was here lately; he seems a good-hearted pleasant man. Carlyle unites with me in kind love. My mother also begs her remembrances. Forgive scrawling, and many things besides - poverty in the article of paper among others. Remember me to Mr. John and your sister when you write, and believe me always

Your affectionate and amiable



'Sereetha': in the interval of servants (rebellious Irishwoman packed off, and Anne Cook not yet come with me), I remember this poor little Chelsea specimen, picked out as a stop-gap from some of the neighbouring huts here - a very feeble though willing little girl, introduced by the too romantic-looking name 'Seraether' - which, on questioning her little self, I discovered to be Sarah Heather (Sar' 'Eather)! much to our amusement for the moment! [Page 33]  'Peesweep' is peewit, lapwing; with which swift but ineffectual bird Sereetha seemed to have similarity.

'The kindness of these people!' 'I'm sure the,' &c., (interjectional in this fashion) was a phrase of her mother's.

'Beats the world.' Annandale form of speech which she had heard without forgetting from my sister Mary.

'Gamier,' big German refugee, dusty, smoky, scarred with duel-cuts; had picked up considerable knowledge in his wanderings, was of intelligent, valiant, manful character; wildly independent, with tendency to go mad or half-mad - as he did by-and-by. Il Conte 'Pepoli' was from Bologna, exile and dilettante, a very pretty man; married, some years hence, Elizabeth Fergus of Kirkcaldy (elderly, moneyed, and fallen in love with the romantic in distress); and now, as widower, lives in Bologna again. - T.C.

To T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.[1]

Chelsea: Oct. 12, 1835.

Dearest, - A newspaper is very pleasant when one is expecting nothing at all; but when it comes in place of a letter it is a positive insult to one's feelings. Accordingly your first newspaper was received by me in choicest mood; and the second would have been pitched in the fire, had there been one at hand, when, after having tumbled myself from the top story at the risk of my neck, I found myself deluded with 'wun penny'm.' However, I flatter myself you would experience something of a similar disappointment on receiving mine; and so we are quits, and I need not scold you. I have not been a day [Page 34]  in bed since you went - have indeed been almost free of headache, and all other aches; and everybody says Mrs. Carlyle begins to look better - and what everybody says must be true. With this improved health everything becomes tolerable, even to the peesweep Sereetha (for we are still without other help). Now that I do not see you driven desperate with the chaos, I can take a quiet view of it, and even reduce it to some degree of order. Mother and I have fallen naturally into a fair division of labour, and we keep a very tidy house. Sereetha has attained the unhoped-for perfection of getting up at half after six of her own accord, lighting the parlour-fire, and actually placing the breakfast things (nil desperandum me duce!). I get up at half after seven, and prepare the coffee and bacon-ham (which is the life of me, making me always hungrier the more I eat of it). Mother, in the interim, makes her bed, and sorts her room. After breakfast, mother descends to the inferno, where she jingles and scours, and from time to time scolds Sereetha till all is right and tight there. I, above stairs, sweep the parlour, blacken the grate - make the room look cleaner than it has been since the days of Grace Macdonald;[1] then mount aloft to make my own bed (for I was resolved to enjoy the privilege of having a bed of my own); then clean myself (as the [Page 35]  servants say), and sit down to the Italian lesson. A bit of meat roasted at the oven suffices two days cold, and does not plague us with cookery. Sereetha can fetch up tea-things, and the porridge is easily made on the parlour-fire; the kitchen one being allowed to go out (for economy), when the Peesweep retires to bed at eight o'clock.

That we are not neglected by the public, you may infer from the fact that, this very night, Peesweep fetched up four tea-cups on the tray; and when I asked the meaning of the two additional, she inquired, with surprise, 'Were there to be no gentlemen?' In fact, 'the kindness of these people' 'beats the world.' I had some private misgiving that your men would not mind me when you were not here, and I should have been mortified in that case, though I could not have blamed them. But it is quite the reverse. Little Grant[1] has been twice to know if he could 'do anything for me.' Garnier has been twice! The first time by engagement to you; the second time to meet Pepoli, whom he knew in Paris, and wished to re-know, and who proved perfido on the occasion. Pepoli has been twice, and is gliding into a flirtation with - mia madre! who presented him, in a manner molto graziosa, with her tartan scarf. From John Mill I have been privileged with two notes, and one visit. [Page 36]  He evidently tried to yawn as little as possible, and stayed till the usual hour, lest, I suppose, he should seem to have missed your conversation. John Sterling and the Stimabile,[1] of course. The latter was at tea last night to meet Mr. Gibson[2] - one of my fatal attempts at producing a reunion, for they coincided in nothing but tears. The Stimabile was at Brighton for several days, and goes again next week, so that he has not been too deadly frequent.

Our visiting has been confined to one dinner and two teas at the Sterlings', and a tea at Hunt's! You must know, ----- ----- came the day after you went, and stayed two days. As she desired above all things to see Hunt, I wrote him a note, asking if I might bring her up to call. He replied he was just setting off to town, but would look in at eight o'clock. I supposed this, as usual, a mere off-put; but he actually came - found Pepoli as well as Miss -----, was amazingly lively, and very lasting, for he stayed till near twelve. Between ourselves, it gave me a poorish opinion of him, to see how uplifted to the third heaven he seemed by -----'s [Page 37]  compliments and sympathising talk. He asked us all, with enthusiasm, to tea the following Monday. ----- came on purpose, and slept here. He sang, talked like a pen-gun,[1] ever to -----, who drank it all in like nectar, while my mother looked cross enough, and I had to listen to the whispered confidences of Mrs. Hunt. But for me, who was declared to be grown 'quite prim and elderly,' I believe they would have communicated their mutual experiences in a retired window-seat till morning. 'God bless you, Miss -----,' was repeated by Hunt three several times in tones of ever-increasing pathos and tenderness, as he handed her downstairs behind me. -----, for once in her life, seemed past speech. At the bottom of the stairs a demur took place. I saw nothing; but I heard, with my wonted glegness - what think you? - a couple of handsome smacks! and then an almost inaudibly soft 'God bless you, Miss -----!'

Now just remember what sort of looking woman is ----- -----; and figure their transaction! If he had kissed me, it would have been intelligible, but ----- -----, of all people! By the way, Mr. Craik[2] is immensely delighted with you, and grateful to Susan for having brought you together. Mrs. [Page 38]  Cole[1] came the other day, and sat an hour waiting for me while I was out, and finally had to go, leaving an obliging note offering me every assistance in procuring a servant.

Mrs. John Sterling takes to me wonderfully; but John, I perceive, will spoil all with his innocence. He told her the other day, when she was declaring her wish that he would write on theology rather than make verses, that she 'might fight out that matter with Mrs. Carlyle, who, he knew, was always on the side of the poetical.' He (Sterling) has written a positively splendid poem of half-an-hour's length - an allegorical shadowing of the union of the ideal and actual. It is far the best thing he ever did - far beyond anything I could have supposed him capable of. He said, when he was writing it, he thought sometimes, 'Carlyle will be pleased with that.'

To descend to the practical, or, I should rather say ascend, for I have filled my whole paper with mere gossip. I think you seem, so far as human calculations avail, to have made a good hit as to the servant; character is not worth a straw; but you say she looks intelligent and good-humoured, is young and willing.[2] Fetch her, then, in God's name, and I will make the best I can of her. After all, we [Page 39]  fret ourselves too much about little things; much that might be laughed off; if one were well and cheerful as one ought to be, becomes a grave affliction from being too gravely looked at. Remember also meal, and oh, for goodness sake, procure a dozen of bacon-hams! There is no bottom to my appetite for them. Sell poor Harry, by all means, or shoot him. We are too poor to indulge our fine feelings with keeping such large pets (especially at other people's expense). What a pity no frank is to be got! I have told you nothing yet. No word ever came from Basil Montague. I have translated four songs into Italian - written a long excessively spirituosa letter to 'mia adorabile Clementina,'[1] and many graziose cartucie besides. In truth, I have a divino ingegno!

You will come back strong and cheerful, will you not? I wish you were come, anyhow. Don't take much castor; eat plenty of chicken broth rather. Dispense my love largely. Mother returns your kiss with interest. We go on tolerably enough; but she has vowed to hate all my people except Pepoli. So that there is ever a 'dark brown shadd' in all my little reunions. She has given me a glorious black-velvet gown, realising my beau idéal of Putz!

Did you take away my folding penknife? We are knifeless here. We were to have gone to Richmond [Page 40]  to-day with the Silverheaded; but, to my great relief, it turned out that the steamboat is not running.

God keep you, my own dear husband, and bring you safe back to me. The house looks very empty without you, and my mind feels empty too.

Your JANE.


Beautiful Poverty, when so triumphed over, and victoriously bound under foot. Oh, my heroine, my too un-acknowledged heroine! I was in the throes of the 'French Revolution' at this time, heavy-laden in many ways and gloomy of mind. - T. C.

T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Oct. 26, 1835.

Caro e respettabile il mio Marito! - Mi pare, che voi siete assai irrecordevole della vostra povera piccola! Questi i vostri lunghi silenzi, questa la vostra lunqa assenza mi divengono noiosa. Ritornate, mio Marito, ritornate, in nome di Dio, alla vostra casa! In vano stimabili Signori vengono in gran numero mi far' adorazione! In vano mangio carne di porco, e ricomincio esser una bella Gooda! In vano mi sforzo m'occupare, mi divertire, mi fare contenta! Nell' assenza del mio Marito rimango sempre inquieta, sempre perduta! Se però voi trovatevi meglio nel' paese, se la preziosa vostra sanità diviene più forte, la vostra [Page 41]  anima più chiara più tranquilla, non avete pensiero di me. Bisogna ch' io sottometta la mia voglia alla vostra prosperità; e farò il più meglio possibile d'esser paziente.

Ecco come sono stata studiosa, mio Marito! Questa bellissima Italiana è scritta senza dizionario, senza studio, con penna corrente. Il Conte di Pepoli si maraviglia al divino mio talento; lascia i suoi alti complimenti; e dice solamente in sotto voce, 'Ah graziosa! Ah bella bella! Ah, ah!'

Dear my husband, - You have probably enough of this, as well as I; so now in English I repeat that I expect with impatience the letter which is to fix your return. So long, I have reason to be thankful that I have been borne through with an honourable through-bearing.[1] Except for two days before your last letter arrived, I flatter myself I have been conducting myself with a quite exemplary patience and good-nature towards all men, women, and inanimate things. Ecco la bella prova di che, Sereetha sta sempre què, e la mia Madre ed io non siamo ancor imbrogliate.

What a world of beautiful effort you have had to expend on this matter of the servant! Heaven grant it may be blessed to us! I do not know well why; but I like the abstract idea of this woman[2] now much better than the other. It seemed to me rather an objection to the other that she had a brother a [Page 42]  baker. The bakers, you know, trade in servants here, and he would probably have soon been recommending her into more exalted place. Moreover, it was thought displeasing to me that she had been educated in the school of country gigmanism. Macturk-dom-ism, and Gillenbie-rig-ism[1] is just as hateful or more hateful to me than Devonshire-house-ism. The 'uzing' woman, of tarnished virtue,[2] will suit, I think, much better. In fact, it would be difficult for me to say that an Annandale woman's virtue is the worse for a misfortune. I am certain that, in their circumstances, with their views and examples, I should have had one too, if not more! And now that the best is done which could be done, let us quiet ourselves, and look with equanimity towards the issue. If she does not do better than those that have gone before, if no grown servant any longer exists on this earth, why, we can certainly manage with an ungrown one. Sereetha has hardly been a fair trial of the little-girl plan; but she has been a trial, and I am confident of being able to get on quite peaceably with one of such little girls as, I doubt not, are to be found in plenty; with only a giving up of a few hours of my own time, which might easily be worse spent, and the sacrifice of the beauty and ladylike-ness [Page 43]  of my hands. For economy, little, I find, is to be gained by the substitution of a child for a woman. The washing runs away with all the difference in wages, and their consumption of victual is much the same. But then the things are washed beautifully; and I clean beautifully when you do not dishearten me with hypercriticism. So never fear, dearest! Never fear about that, or anything else under heaven. Try all that ever you can to be patient and good natured with your povera piccola Gooda,[1] and then she loves you, and is ready to do anything on earth that you wish; to fly over the moon, if you bade her. But when the signor della casa has neither kind look nor word for me, what can I do but grow desperate, fret myself to fiddlestrings, and be a torment to society in every direction?[2]

Poiche i giorni divengono si freddi, la rispettabile mia Signora Madre diviene infelice assai, e di molto cattivo umore. Ma io sono a presente d'un umore divino! et tutto va mediocremente bene! Mr. Gibson comes to-morrow to take me - to prison! I believe the King's Bench, &c. Quello Signor è, per [Page 44]  mia Madre, il solo angelo di bontà quì, nella nobile città. Tutti i miei signori e signore (a meno il leggiàdro Conte[1]) sono per lei fastidiose persone. Other sights we have seen none, except the British Museum and the King and Queen. Their majesties very opportunely came to visit the College,[2] and the fact being made known to me by the beggar-woman from New Street (with the cobweb shawl), I hurried off my mother to the place, where, without being kept waiting above five minutes, we saw them walk past our very noses.

My mother's enthusiasm of loyalty on the occasion was a sight for sore eyes! 'Poor Queen, after all!'[3] She looked so frost-bitten and anxious! curtsied, with such a cowering hurriedness, to the veriest rabble that ever was seen. I was wae to look at her, wae to think of her, when I heard that the very same night they hissed her at one of the theatres! Poor thing! She would have done rather well, I do believe, looking after the burning of her cinders![4] But a Queen of England in these days! The British Museum charmed my mother, and I myself was affected beyond measure by the Elgin marbles. We [Page 45]  went after to lunch with the Donaldsons.[1] 'The kindness of these people!'[2]

On that day I came, saw, and bought - a sofa! It is my own purchase, but you shall share the possession. Indeed, so soon as you set eyes on it and behold its vastness, its simple greatness, you will perceive that the thought of you was actively at work in my choice. It was neither dear nor cheap,[3] but a bargain nevertheless, being second-hand; and so good a second-hand one is not, I should think, often to be met. Oh, it is so soft! so easy! and one of us, or both, may sleep in it, should occasion require - I mean for all night. It will sell again at any time; it is so sufficient an article. With my velvet gown, I shall need no great outlay for Putz this winter, so I thought I might fairly indulge ourselves in a sofa at last.

The Stimabile conducts himself in a quite exemplary manner since you went, coming but once, or at most twice, in the week. I fear, however, we must not give him too much credit for his self-denial; but rather impute it, in part, to his impossibility of [Page 46]  getting at ease with my mother, and also to some rather violent political arguments which he has had of late with myself. All the men take fright sooner or later at my violence - tant mieux! John I seldom see; he is so occupied in waiting upon his wife. He came one night last week with his mother to meet the Cunninghams. Mrs. S. wished to know Allan. It went off wonderfully well, considering Sereetha was our sole waiter!

There is nothing in the note.[1] Miss Elliot's address was written on it in pencil, which I interpreted to express an expectation that you would call for her. I wrote her, therefore, a courteous little note, stating that you were in Scotland, &c., &c.; that I &c., &c., would be glad to see her here, &c., &c.

Mother's love, of course. Can you bring her from Duncan, Dumfries, one gross of pills? He has her prescription. My head has troubled me a little of late days, but I continue generally much better. Special love to your mother, and a kiss to my Jane's piccola![2] Mill told me it was next to impossible for him to realise a frank, so I need not waste time sending him this. I have hardly room to send love to them all; and to you, dear, kisses senza misura! Mrs. Cole came for a day; her husband in the evening; talkative, niceish people. [Page 47]  My dressing-gown 'likes me very much.' A thousand thanks! And the hams! Oh, I am glad of them! This one is near done. Think you one could have a little keg of salt herrings sent at the same time?

[No signature. These last little paragraphs are crowded in upon every margin and vacant space, so that there is not a bit of blank more. - T. C.]


Mrs. Welsh came to us in the last days in August, by an Edinburgh steamer. I was waiting at the St. Katherine Dock, in a bright afternoon; pleasant meeting, pleasant voyage up the river in our wherry; and such a welcome here at home as may be fancied. About the end of next month I had finished my burnt MS.; and seem then to have run for Scotsbrig, and been there perhaps three weeks (scarcely a detail of it now clear to me) in October following. I was sickly of body and mind, felt heavy-laden, and without any hope but the 'desperate' kind, which I always did hold fast. Our Irish Catholic housemaid proved a mutinous Irish savage (had a fixed persuasion, I could notice, that our poor house and we had been made for her, and had gone awry in the process). One evening, while all seated for supper, Eliza Miles and we two, the indignant savage, jingling down her plates as if she had been playing quoits, was instantaneously dismissed by me ('To your room at once; wages to-morrow morning; disappear!'), so that the bringing of a Scotch servant was one of my express errands. 'Anne Cook,' accordingly, and the journey with her by steamer from Annan, by 'Umpire coach' from Liverpool, some forty or fifty hours, all in a piece, is dismally memorable! Breakfast at Newport [Page 48]  Pagnell (I had given Anne the inside place, night being cold and wet); awkward, hungry Anne would hardly even eat, till bidden and directed by me. Landing in Holborn, half dead, bright Sunday afternoon, amidst a crowd of porters, cabmen, hungry officials, some seven or ten of them, ravenous for sixpences and shillings, till at length I shut the cab-door. 'To no person will I pay anything more at this time!' and drove off, amid a general laugh, not ill-humoured, from the recognising miscellany. Drive home, surrounded by luggage, and with Anne for company, seemed endless. I landed at this door in a state of misery, more like mad than sane; but my darling was in the lobby; saw at a glance how it was, and almost without speaking, brought me to my room, and with me a big glass, almost a goblet, of the best sherry: 'Drink that, dear, at a draught!' Never in my life had I such a medicine! Shaved, washed, got into clean clothes, I stepped down quite new-made, and thanking Heaven for such a doctor.

Mrs. Welsh went away a few weeks after to Liverpool, to her brother John's there - favourite and now only brother - a brave and generous man, much liked by all of us.

John Sterling had turned up in the early part of this year, John Sterling, and with him all the Sterlings, which was an immense acquisition to us for the ten years that followed, as is abundantly betokened in the letter that now follows. - T. C.

To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Dec. 23, 1835.

My dear Mother, - You are to look upon it as the most positive proof of my regard that I write to you in my present circumstances; that is to say, with the blood all frozen in my brains, and my brains turned [Page 49]  to a solid mass of ice; for such has, for several days, been the too cruel lot of your poor little daughter-in-law at Lunnon; the general lot indeed of all Lunnon, so far as I can observe. When the frost comes here, 'it comes,' as the woman said with the four eggs[1]; and it seems to be somehow more difficult to guard against it here than elsewhere; for all the world immediately takes to coughing and blowing its nose with a fury quite appalling. The noise thus created destroys the suffering remnant[2] of senses spared by the cold, and makes the writing of a letter, or any other employment in which thought is concerned, seem almost a tempting of Providence. Nevertheless, I am here to tell you that we are still in the land of the living, and thinking of you all, from yourself, the head of the nation, down to that very least and fattest child, who, I hope, will continue to grow fatter and fatter till I come to see it with my own eyes. I count this fatness a good omen for the whole family; it betokens good-nature, which is a quality too rare among us. Those 'long, sprawling, ill-put-together'[3] children give early promise of being 'gey ill to deal wi'.[4] [Page 50] 

That one of them who is fallen to my share conducts himself pretty peaceably at present; writing only in the forenoons. He has finished a chapter much to my satisfaction; and the poor book begins to hold up its head again. Our situation is farther improved by the introduction of Anne Cook into the establishment, instead of the distracted Roman Catholics and distracted Protestants who preceded her. She seems an assiduous, kindly, honest, and thrifty creature; and will learn to do all I want with her quite easily. For the rest, she amuses me every hour of the day with her perfect incomprehension of everything like ceremony. I was helping her to wring a sheet one day, while she had the cut finger, and she told me flatly it was 'clean aboon my fit' (ability). 'I shall get at it by practice,' said I; 'far weaker people than I have wrung sheets.' 'May be sae,' returned she very coolly; 'but I ken-na where ye'll find ony weaker, for a weaklier-like cretur I never saw in a' my life.' Another time, when Carlyle had been off his sleep for a night or two, she came to me at bedtime to ask, 'If Mr. Carlyle bees ony uneasy through the nicht, and's ga'an staiveren[1] aboot the hoose, will ye bid him gae us a cry[2] at five in the morning?'

We may infer, however, that she is getting more civilisation, from the entire change in her ideas respecting the handsome Italian Count[3]; for, instead [Page 51]  of calling him 'a fley(fright)-some body' any longer, she is of opinion that he is 'a real fine man, and nane that comes can ever be named in ae day with him.' Nay, I notice that she puts on a certain net cap with a most peculiar knot of ribbons every time she knows of his coming. The reward of which act is an 'I weesh you good day' when she lets him out. So much for poor Ann, who, I hope, will long continue to flourish in the land.

I am much better off this winter for society than I was last. Mrs. Sterling makes the greatest possible change for me. She is so good, so sincerely and unvaryingly kind, that I feel to her as to a third mother. Whenever I have blue devils, I need but put on my bonnet and run off to her, and the smile in her eyes restores me to instant good humour. Her husband would go through fire and water for me; and if there were a third worse element, would go through that also. The son is devoted to Carlyle, and makes him a real friend, which, among all his various intimate acquaintances and well-wishers, he cannot be said ever to have had before: this family, then, is a great blessing to us. And so has been my study of Italian, which has helped me through many dullish hours. I never feel anything like youth about me except when I am learning something; and when I am turning over the leaves of my Italian dictionary, I could fancy myself thirteen: whether there be any [Page 52]  good in fancying oneself thirteen after one is turned of thirty, I leave your charity to determine.

We sit in hourly, nay, in momentary, expectation of the meal, &c., which has not yet arrived, but will soon, I am sure; for I dreamt two nights since that I saw them fetching it out of the waggon: meanwhile, we sup on arrowroot and milk; the little bag being done.

Dear mother, excuse all this blash[1] in consideration that I really have a very bad cold, which I am resolved, however, to be rid of on Christmas Day (the day after to-morrow) on which I am engaged to dine at the Sterlings'. Ever since I killed the goose at Craigenputtock (with the determination to make a Christmas pie in spite of nature and fate), and immediately thereupon took a sore throat, my Christmas days have found me ill, or in some way unlucky. Last year I was lying horizontal with my burnt foot; this year, then, I am very desirous to break the spell, and Mrs. Sterling makes a ploy for the purpose.

God keep you all, and make your new year no worse, and, if may be, better, than all that have preceded it.

Your affectionate


[That 'sore foot of Christmas last,' which has never otherwise been forgotten by me, now dates itself. She was [Page 53]  in the kitchen one evening, upon some experiment or other; pouring or being poured to from a boiling kettle, got a splash on her poor little foot, instantly ran with it to the pump (following some recent precept in the newspapers), and then had it pumped upon till quite cold, which, indeed, 'cured' it for about four-and-twenty hours; and then it began anew, worse than ever. It seems to me to have lasted for weeks. Never did I see such patience under total lameness and imprisonment. Hurt was on the instep. No doctor's advice had been dreamt of; 'a little wound, don't hurt it, keep it clean; what more?' - and it would not heal. For weeks I carried her upstairs nightly to her bed - ever cheerful, hopeful one. At length, one Willis, a medical acquaintance, called; found that it needed only a bandage - bandaged it there and then; and in two days more it was as good as well, and never heard of again. Oh, my poor little woman ! - become 'poor' for me !] - T. C.


Helen Welsh was the daughter of John Welsh, of Liverpool, Mrs. Carlyle's uncle on her mother's side. See an account of him in the 'Reminiscences,' vol. ii., p. 142 - J. A. F.

To Miss Helen Welsh, Liverpool.

Chelsea: April 1, 1836.

My dear Cousinkin, - I am charmed to notice in you the rapid growth of a virtue, which for the most part only develops itself in mature age, after many and hard experiences; but which is, nevertheless, highly necessary at all ages, in this world of sin and misery. I mean the virtue of toleration. Rarely is one edified by the spectacle of so young a lady, [Page 54]  meekly acknowledging her own transgressions and shortcomings, when, with perfect justice, she might have adopted rather the tone of accusation. Continue, my sweet little cousin, to cultivate this engaging disposition; this beautiful sensibility to your own imperfections, and beautiful insensibility to the imperfections of your neighbour, and you will become (if indeed you are not such already) an ornament to your sex, and a credit to 'the name of Welsh' (which my mother talks about so proudly; I could never tell precisely why).

In truth you will have added a new lustre of virtue to that name, which I never hoped to see it brightened with; for, as my Penfillan grandfather's physiological observations on his stock had led him to the conclusion that it was capable of producing rascals and vagabonds enough, but not one solitary instance of a blockhead, so mine had hitherto tended to certify me that 'the name of Welsh' had something in it wholly and everlastingly antipathetical to patience and toleration, and was no more capable of coalescing with it than fire with water.

The box came safe, as did also the herrings and the brandy; shame to me that, I should be now for the first time acknowledging them all in the lump! But I trust that my mother reported my thanks, as she was charged to do; and that however much you may all have blamed my laziness, you have not suspected [Page 55]  me of the atrocious sin of ingratitude, 'alike hateful to gods and men:' at least it used to be so; but now that it is so common in the world, people are getting into the way of regarding it, I suppose, as they do other fashionable vices, 'with one eye shut and the other not open' (as an Irish author said to me the other day in describing his manner of reading a certain journal). Rogers, the poet, who professed to be a man of extensive beneficence, and to have befriended necessitous persons without number in the course of his long life, declares that he never met with gratitude but in three instances. I have a mind to ask him to do something for me, just that he may have the pleasure of swelling his beggarly list of grateful people to four. 'For the name of Welsh,' I flatter myself, cherishes the old Athenian notions about gratitude.

We are labouring under a visitation of rain here, which seems to portend the destruction of the world by deluge.

One feels soaked to the very heart; no warmth or pith remaining in one. As one fire is understood to drive out another, I thought one water might drive out another also; and so this morning I took a shower-bath, and have shivered ever since, 'Too much water hadst thou, poor Ophelia!' O Helen! what a fearful recollection I have at this instant of your shower-bathing at Moffat! It [Page 56]  was indeed the sublime of shower-bathing, the human mind stands astonished before it, as before the Infinite. In fact, you have ever since figured in my imagination as a sort of Undine.

Barring the weather, everything goes on here in the usual way: people eat eight o'clock dinners together; talk politics, philosophy, folly together; attend what they call their business at 'the House,' or where else it may happen to be; and fill up the intervals with vapours, and something that goes by the name of 'checked perspiration;' but I can give you no idea of what that precisely means; it seems to comprehend every malady that flesh is heir to; and for my part, as the cockney said to Allan Cunningham of the lottery, 'I am deadly sure there is a do at the bottom on it!'

We expect John Carlyle in some ten days; for this time his lady will surely, for decency's sake, stick to her purpose, lady of quality though she be! I am afraid he is not a man for grappling in a cunning manner with 'checked perspiration;' and accordingly, that there is small hope of his getting into profitable employment here as a doctor. We do not know even yet if he will try; but time will settle that and much else that waits to be settled. In the meanwhile there were no sense in worrying over schemes for a future, which we may not live to see. [Page 57]  'Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof' - at present more than sufficient.

Two of our dearest friends are dangerously ill; John Mill, whom you have often heard me speak of, and John Sterling, whose novel, 'Arthur Coningsby,' I think I lent you at Templand.

My husband is anything but well, nor likely to be better till he have finished his 'French Revolution,' of which there is still a volume to write: he works beyond his strength.

I myself have been abominably all winter, though not writing, so far as I know, for the press. And more evil still is lying even now while I write, at the bottom of my pocket, in shape of a letter from Annan, requiring me to send off, without delay, the servant whom Carlyle so bothered himself to fetch me: her mother being at the point of death, and 'will not,' says the letter-writer, 'leave the charge of the house to any other than her dear Anne'! What is to be the consequence if Anne do not obey this hurried summons, the letter-writer does not state. One is left to conjecture that the poor woman will either take the house along with her, or stay where she is till she can get it settled to her mind; in which last case it is better for all parties that my maid should stay where she is. I am excessively perplexed. Happy cousinkin, that hast, as yet, no household imbroglios to fetter thy glad movement [Page 58]  through life. My husband sends affectionate regards, to be distributed along with mine at your discretion. You may also add a few kisses on my account.

Yours affectionately,


[Soon after the date of the last letter Mrs. Carlyle became extremely ill. June brought hot weather, and she grew worse and worse. Carlyle was working at the 'French Revolution.' His 'nervous system' was 'in a flame.' At such times he could think of nothing but the matter which he had in hand, and a sick wife was a bad companion for him. She felt at last that unless 'she could get out of London she would surely die,' and she escaped to Scotland to her mother. She went by Liverpool, and thence for economy she intended to go on by steamer to Annan. At sea she suffered more than most people. Her Liverpool uncle paid her fare in the mail to Dumfries, gave her a warm handsome shawl as a birthday present (July 14), and sent her forward under better auspices. Mrs. Welsh was waiting to receive her at the Dumfries Coach Office - ' such an embracing and such a crying,' she said, 'the very "boots" was affected with it and spoke in a plaintive voice all the morning after.' At Templand she met the warmest welcome. Mrs. Welsh gave her (for her birthday also) a purse of her own working, filled with sovereigns. She had all the care and nursing which affection could bestow, but sleeplessness, cough, and headache refused to leave hold of her. Her health scarcely mended, and after two months' trial 'desperate of everything here below,' she returned to Cheyne Row, in August. She came back, as she described herself, 'a sadder and a wiser woman,' to find recovered health at home. 'I ought not to regret my flight into Scotland,' she wrote to [Page 59]  Miss Hunter, 'since it has made me take with new relish to London. It is a strange praise to bestow on the Metropolis of the world, but I find it so delightfully still here! not so much as a cock crowing to startle nervous subjects out of their sleep; and during the day no inevitable Mrs. this or Miss that, brimful of all the gossip for twenty miles around, interrupting your serious pursuits (whatever they may be) with calls of a duration happily unknown in cities. The feeling of calm, of safety, of liberty which came over me on re-entering my own house was really the most blessed I had felt for a great while. Soon, through the medium of this feeling, the house itself and everything about it, even my Annandale maid, presented a sort of earnest classic appearance to my first regards, which is hardly yet worn off.'

It was the dead season; but there were a few persons still in London, who came occasionally to Cheyne Row, one of them a remarkable man of a remarkable family, who, for several years was very intimate there, and was then in exile for conspiracy against Louis Philippe. Mrs. Carlyle thus describes him: -

'We have another foreigner who beats all the rest to sticks, a French Republican of the right thorough-going sort, an "accusé d'Avril," who has had the glory of meriting to be imprisoned and nearly losing his head; a man with that sort of dark half-savage beauty with which one paints a fallen angel, who fears neither heaven nor earth, for aught one can see, who fights and writes with the same passionate intrepidity, who is ready to dare or suffer, to live or to die without disturbing himself much about the matter; who defies all men and honours, all women, and whose name is Cavaignac' (Godefroi, brother of the future President). - J. A. F.]

[Page 60] 


To Mrs. Welsh, Maryland Street, Liverpool.

Chelsea: Sept. 5, 1836.

My dear Aunt, - Now that I am fairly settled at home again, and can look back over my late travels with the coolness of a spectator, it seems to me that I must have tired out all men, women, and children that have had to do with me by the road. The proverb says 'there is much ado when cadgers ride.' I do not know precisely what 'cadger' means, but I imagine it to be a character like me, liable to headache, to sea-sickness, to all the infirmities 'that flesh is heir to,' and a few others besides; the friends and relations of cadgers should therefore use all soft persuasions to induce them to remain at home.

I got into that Mail the other night with as much repugnance and trepidation as if it had been a Phalaris' brazen bull, instead of a Christian vehicle, invented for purposes of mercy - not of cruelty. There were three besides myself when we started, but two dropped off at the end of the first stage, and the rest of the way I had, as usual, half of the coach to myself. My fellow-passenger had that highest of all terrestrial qualities, which for me a fellow-passenger can possess - he was silent. I think his name was Roscoe, and he read sundry long papers to himself, with the pondering air of a lawyer. [Page 61] 

We breakfasted at Lichfield, at five in the morning, on muddy coffee and scorched toast, which made me once more lyrically recognise in my heart (not without a sigh of regret) the very different coffee and toast with which you helped me out of my headache. At two there was another stop of ten minutes, that might be employed in lunching or otherwise. Feeling myself more fevered than hungry, I determined on spending the time in combing my hair and washing my face and hands with vinegar. In the midst of this solacing operation I heard what seemed to be the Mail running its rapid course, and quick as lightning it flashed on me, 'There it goes! and my luggage is on the top of it, and my purse is in the pocket of it, and here am I stranded on an unknown beach, without so much as a sixpence in my pocket to pay for the vinegar I have already consumed!' Without my bonnet, my hair hanging down my back, my face half dried, and the towel, with which I was drying it, firm grasped in my hand, I dashed out - along, down, opening wrong doors, stumbling over steps, cursing the day I was born, still more the day on which I took a notion to travel, and arrived finally at the bar of the Inn, in a state of excitement bordering on lunacy. The barmaids looked at me 'with weender and amazement.' 'Is the coach gone?' I gasped out. 'The coach? Yes!' 'Oh! and you have let it away without me! Oh! stop it, cannot [Page 62]  you stop it?' and out I rushed into the street, with streaming hair and streaming towel, and almost brained myself against - the Mail! which was standing there in all stillness, without so much as horses in it! What I had heard was a heavy coach. And now, having descended like a maniac, I ascended again like a fool, and dried the other half of my face, and put on my bonnet, and came back 'a sadder and a wiser' woman.

I did not find my husband at the 'Swan with Two Necks;' for we were in a quarter of an hour before the appointed time. So I had my luggage put on the backs of two porters, and walked on to Cheapside, where I presently found a Chelsea omnibus. By and by, however, the omnibus stopped, and amid cries of 'No room, sir,' 'Can't get in,' Carlyle's face, beautifully set off by a broad-brimmed white hat, gazed in at the door, like the Peri, who, 'at the Gate of Heaven, stood disconsolate.' In hurrying along the Strand, pretty sure of being too late, amidst all the imaginable and unimaginable phenomena which the immense thoroughfare of a street presents, his eye (Heaven bless the mark!) had lighted on my trunk perched on the top of the omnibus, and had recognised it. This seems to me one of the most indubitable proofs of genius which he ever manifested. Happily, a passenger went out a little further on, and then he got in. [Page 63] 

My brother-in-law had gone two days before, so my arrival was most well-timed. I found all at home right and tight; my maid seems to have conducted herself quite handsomely in my absence; my best room looked really inviting. A bust of Shelley (a present from Leigh Hunt), and a fine print of Albert Dürer, handsomely framed (also a present) had still further ornamented it during my absence. I also found (for I wish to tell you all my satisfaction) every grate in the house furnished with a supply of coloured clippings, and the holes in the stair-carpet all darned, so that it looks like new. They gave me tea and fried bacon, and staved off my headache as well as might be. They were very kind to me, but, on my life, everybody is kind to me, and to a degree that fills me with admiration. I feel so strong a wish to make you all convinced how very deeply I feel your kindness, and just the more I would say, the less able I am to say anything.

God bless you all. Love to all, from the head of the house down to Johnny.

Your affectionate



This 'Fairy Tale' I have never yet seen; must have been destroyed by her afterwards. Next bit of MS. sent (Dialogue &c., much admired by Sterling) is still here, and shall be given at the due place. - T. C. [Page 64] 

To John Sterling, Esq., Floriac, Bordeaux.

Feb. 1, 1837.

My ever dear John Sterling, - Here are thirty-three pages of writing for you, which would divide into ten letters of the usual size, so that you see I discharge my debt to you handsomely enough in the long run. But even if you should not be complaisant enough to accept a nonsense fairy-tale in lieu of all the sense-letters I ought to have sent you, still you must not be after saying or thinking that 'Mrs. Carlyle has cut your acquaintance.' John Sterling 'is a man of sense' (as Mrs. Buller, one day, in Carlyle's hearing, said patronisingly of the Apostle Paul), and must know that Mrs. Carlyle is a woman of sense by this token, that she perceived him, John Sterling, the very first time she ever set eyes on him, to be no humbug, after all that had been said and sung about him, but the very sort of man one desires to see, and hardly ever succeeds in seeing in this make-believe world! Now I put it to your candour, whether any woman of sense, in her right senses, having found a pearl of great price, would dream of dissolving it in a tumbler of water and swallowing it all at one gulp? For such, in highly figurative language, would be the foolish use I should have made of your friendship, provided it were true, as you wrote, that I had already cut your acquaintance! [Page 65]  Oh, no! you have only to take a just view of your own merits and mine, to feel as convinced as though I had sworn it before a magistrate that my long silence has proceeded from some 'crook in the lot,' and not in the mind.

The fact is, since I became so sick and dispirited I have contracted a horror of letter-writing, almost equal to the hydrophobia horror for cold water. I would write anything under heaven - fairy-tales, or advertisements for Warren's Blacking even - rather than a letter! A letter behoves to tell about oneself, and when oneself is disagreeable to oneself, one would rather tell about anything else; for, alas! one does not find the same gratification in dwelling upon one's own sin and misery, as in showing up the sin and misery of one's neighbour. But if ever I get agreeable to myself again, I swear to you I will then be exceedingly communicative, in preparation for which desirable end I must set about getting into better health, and that I may get into better health I must begin by growing wise, which puts me in mind of a boy of the 'English Opium-Eater's,' who told me once he would begin Greek presently; but his father wished him to learn it through the medium of Latin, and he was not entered in Latin yet because his father wished to teach him from a grammar of his own, which he had not yet begun to write!

For the present we are all in sad taking with [Page 66]  influenza. People speak about it more than they did about cholera; I do not know whether they die more from it. Miss Wilson, not having come to close quarters with it, has her mind sufficiently at leisure to make philosophical speculations about its gender! She primly promulgates her opinion that influenza is masculine. My husband, for the sake of argument I presume, for I see not what other interest he has in it, protests that influenza is feminine; for me, who have been laid up with it for two weeks and upwards, making lamentations of Jeremiah (not without reason), I am not prejudiced either way, but content myself with sincerely wishing it were neuter. One great comfort, however, under all afflictions, is that 'The French Revolution' is happily concluded; at least, it will be a comfort when one is delivered from the tag-raggery of printers' devils, that at present drive one from post to pillar. Quelle vie! let no woman who values peace of soul ever dream of marrying an author! That is to say, if he is an honest one, who makes a conscience of doing the thing he pretends to do. But this I observe to you in confidence; should I state such a sentiment openly, I might happen to get myself torn in pieces by the host of my husband's lady admirers, who already, I suspect, think me too happy in not knowing my happiness. You cannot fancy what way he is making with the fair intellects here! There is Harriet Martineau [Page 67]  presents him with her ear-trumpet with a pretty blushing air of coquetry, which would almost convince me out of belief in her identity! And Mrs. Pierce Butler bolts in upon his studies, out of the atmosphere as it were, in riding-habit, cap and whip (but no shadow of a horse, only a carriage, the whip I suppose being to whip the cushions with, for the purpose of keeping her hand in practice) - my inexperienced Scotch domestic remaining entirely in a nonplus whether she had let in 'a leddy or a gentleman'! And then there is a young American beauty - such a beauty! 'snow and rose-bloom' throughout, not as to clothes merely, but complexion also; large and soft, and without one idea, you would say, to rub upon another! And this charming creature publicly declares herself his 'ardent admirer,' and I heard her with my own ears call out quite passionately at parting with him, 'Oh, Mr. Carlyle, I want to see you to talk a long long time about - "Sartor"'! 'Sartor,' of all things in this world! What could such a young lady have got to say about 'Sartor,' can you imagine? And Mrs. Marsh, the moving authoress of the 'Old Man's Tales,' reads 'Sartor' when she is ill in bed; from which one thing at least may be clearly inferred, that her illness is not of the head. In short, my dear friend, the singular author of 'Sartor' appears to me at this moment to be in a perilous position, inasmuch as (with the innocence of a sucking [Page 68]  dove to outward appearance) he is leading honourable women, not a few, entirely off their feet. And who can say that he will keep his own? After all, in sober earnest, is it not curious that my husband's writings should be only completely understood and adequately appreciated by women and mad people? I do not know very well what to infer from the fact.

Mr. Spedding is often to be heard of at Miss Wilson's (not that I fancy anything amiss in that quarter, only I mention him because he is your friend). Mr. Maurice we rarely see, nor do I greatly regret his absence; for, to tell you the truth, I am never in his company without being attacked with a sort of paroxysm of mental cramp! He keeps one always, with his wire-drawings and paradoxes, as if one were dancing on the points of one's toes (spiritually speaking). And then he will help with the kettle, and never fails to pour it all over the milk-pot and sugar-basin! Henry Taylor draws off into the upper regions of gigmanity. The rest, I think, are all as you left them.

Your mother was here last night, looking young and beautiful, with a new bonnet from Howel and James's. Your brother is a great favourite with Carlyle, and with me also, only one dare not fly into his arms as one does into yours. Will you give my affectionate regards to your wife, and a kiss for me to [Page 69]  each of the children? Ask your wife to write a postscript in your next letter; I deserve some such sign of recollection from her, in return for all the kind thoughts I cherish of her. I wish to heaven you were all back again. You make a terrible chasm in our world, which does not look as if it were ever going to get closed in. You will write to me? You will be good enough to write to me after all? There is nothing that I do not fancy you good enough for. So I shall confidently expect a letter. God bless you, and all that belongs to you.

I am, ever affectionately yours,


Carlyle has made every exertion to get you a printed copy of the 'Diamond Necklace,' but it is not to be got this day. He adds his brotherly regards.


Early in January 1837 it must have been when book on 'French Revolution' was finished. I wrote the last paragraph of it here (within a yard of where I now am) in her presence one evening after dinner. Damp tepid kind of evening, still by daylight, read it to her or left her to read it; probably with a 'Thank God, it is done, Jeannie!' and then walked out up the Gloucester Road towards Kensington way: don't remember coming back, or indeed anything quite distinct for three or four months after. My thoughts were by no means of an exultant character: pacifically gloomy rather, something of sullenly contemptuous in them, [Page 70]  of clear hope (except in the 'desperate' kind) not the smallest glimpse. I had said to her, perhaps that very day, 'I know not whether this book is worth anything, nor what the world will do with it, or misdo, or entirely forbear to do (as is likeliest), but this I could tell the world: You have not had for a hundred years any book that came more direct and flamingly sincere from the heart of a living man; do with it what you like, you -----!' My poor little Jeannie and me, hasn't it nearly killed us both? This also I might have said, had I liked it, for it was true. My health was much spoiled; hers too by sympathy, by daily helping me to struggle with the intolerable load. I suppose by this time our money, too, was near done: busy friends, the Wilsons principally, Miss Martineau, and various honourable women, were clear that I ought now to lecture on 'German Literature,' a sure financial card, they all said; and set to shaping, organising, and multifariously consulting about the thing; which I unwillingly enough, but seeing clearly there was no other card in my hand at all, was obliged to let them do. The printing of 'French Revolution,' push as I might, did not end till far on in April - 'Lectures,' six of them, of which I could form no image or conjecture beforehand, were to begin with May. - T. C.

To John Welsh, Esq., Liverpool.

Cheyne Row; March 4, 1837.

Dearest Uncle of me, - 'Fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind'! You and my aunt have had the influenza: I also have had the influenza: a stronger bond of sympathy need not be desired: and so the spirit moves me to write you a letter; and if you think there is no very 'wondrous kindness' in that, [Page 71]  I can only say you are mistaken, seeing that I have had so much indispensable writing to do of late days that, like a certain Duchess of Orleans I was reading about the other week, 'when night comes, I am often so tired with writing, that I can hardly put one foot before the other'!

But, with respect to this influenza, uncle, what think you of it? above all how is it, and why is it? For my part, with all my cleverness, I cannot make it out. Sometimes I am half persuaded that there is (in Cockney dialect) 'a do at the bottom on it'; medical men all over the world having merely entered into a tacit agreement to call all sorts of maladies people are liable to, in cold weather, by one name; so that one sort of treatment may serve for all, and their practice be thereby greatly simplified. In more candid moments, however, I cannot help thinking that it has something to do with the 'diffusion of useful knowledge': if not a part of that knowledge, at least that it is meant as a counterpoise; so that our minds may be preserved in some equilibrium, between the consciousness of our enormous acquirements on the one hand, and on the other the generally diffused experience that all the acquirements in the world are not worth a rush to one, compared with the blessedness of having a head clear of snifters! However it be, I am thankful to Heaven that I was the chosen [Page 72]  victim in this house, instead of my husband. For, had he been laid up at present, there would have been the very devil to pay. He has two printers on his book, that it may, if possible, be got published in April; and it will hardly be well off his hands, when he is to deliver a course of Lectures on German Literature to 'Lords and Gentlemen,' and 'honourable women not a few.' You wonder how he is to get through such a thing? So do I, very sincerely. The more, as he proposes to speak these lectures extempore, Heaven bless the mark! having, indeed, no leisure to prepare them before the time at which they will be wanted.

One of his lady-admirers (by the way he is getting a vast number of lady-admirers) was saying the other day that the grand danger to be feared for him was that he should commence with 'Gentlemen and Ladies,' instead of 'Ladies and Gentlemen,' a transmutation which would ruin him at the very outset. He vows, however, that he will say neither the one thing nor the other, and I believe him very secure on that side. Indeed, I should as soon look to see gold pieces, or penny loaves drop out of his mouth, as to hear from it any such humdrum unrepublican-like commonplace. If he finds it necessary to address his audience by any particular designation, it will be thus - ' Men and Women'! or perhaps, in my Penfillan grandfather's style, 'Fool-creatures [Page 73]  come here for diversion.' On the whole, if his hearers be reasonable, and are content that there be good sense in the things he says, without requiring that he should furnish them with brains to find it out, I have no doubt but his success will be eminent. The exhibition is to take place in Willis's Rooms; 'to begin at three, and end at four precisely'; and to be continued every Monday and Friday through the first three weeks of May. 'Begin precisely' it may, with proper precautions on my part to put all the clocks and watches in the house half-an-hour before the time; but, as to 'ending precisely'! that is all to be tried for! There are several things in this world, which, once set a-going, it is not easy to stop; and the Book is one of them. I have been thinking that perhaps the readiest way of bringing him to a cetera desunt (conclusion is out of the question) would be, just as the clock strikes four, to have a lighted cigar laid on the table before him - we shall see!

The 'French Revolution' done, and the lectures done, he is going somewhere (to Scotland most probably) to rest himself awhile; to lie about the roots of hedges, and speak to no man, woman, or child except in monosyllables! a reasonable project enough, considering the worry he has been kept in for almost three years back. For my part, having neither published nor lectured, I feel no call to refresh myself by [Page 74]  such temporary descent from my orbit under the waves; and in Shakespearean dialect, I had such a 'belly-full' of travelling last year as is likely to quell my appetite, in that way, for some time to come. If I had been consulted in the getting up of the Litany, there would have been particular mention made of steamboats, mail-coaches, and heavy coaches, among those things from which we pray to be delivered; and more emphatic mention made of 'such as travel by land or sea.'

My mother writes to me from Dabton, where she is nursing the Crichtons. In my humble opinion she is (as my mother-in-law would say) 'gey idle o' wark.' I have expended much beautiful rhetoric in trying to persuade her hitherward, and she prefers nursing these Crichtons! Well! there is no accounting for taste! She will come, however, she says, when you have been there, but not sooner; so I hope you will pay your visit as early in the season as you can, for it would be a pity if she landed as last time, after all the fine weather was gone, and the town emptied. Give my kindest love to my kind aunt, and kisses to all the children. I owe my cousin Helen a letter, and will certainly be just after having been generous. My husband sends his affectionate regards, and hopes you received the copies of two articles, which he sent.

Mr. Gibson has not been here for some weeks; [Page 75]  he begins to look stiffish, and a little round at the shoulders, otherwise as heretofore.

God bless you all, my dearest uncle.




Monday, May 1, 1837, in Willis's Rooms is marked as date of my first lecture. It was a sad planless jumble, as all these six were, but full enough of new matter, and of a furious determination on the poor lecturer's part not to break down. Plenty of incondite stuff accordingly there was; new, and in a strangely new dialect and tone; the audience intelligent, partly fashionable, was very good to me, and seemed, in spite of the jumbled state of things, to feel it entertaining, even interesting. I pitied myself, so agitated, terrified, driven desperate and furious. But I found I had no remedy, necessity compelling; on the proceeds we were financially safe for another year, that was my one sanction in the sad enterprise.

Mrs. Welsh from Templand was certainly with us a second time at present. Returning to dinner from that first Monday's performance I gave to my darling and her, from some of the gold that had been handed me, a sovereign each 'to buy something with, as handsel of this novelty,' which little gift created such pleasure in these generous two as is now pathetic to me, and a kind of blessing to remember. When this second visit of our kind mother's began, or how long it lasted, I have no recollection. I left her here for company, in setting out for Annandale, whither I made all haste, impatient for shelter and silence as soon as the hurly-burly could be got to end. One wish I had - silence! silence! [Page 76]  In the latter half of June, I got thither. My health had suffered much by 'French Revolution' and its accompaniments, especially in the later months, when I used to ask myself, Shall I ever actually get this savagely cruel business flung off me, then, and be rid of it? - a hope which seemed almost incredible.

Mind and body were alike out of order with me, my nervous system must have been in a horrible state. I remember, in walking up from the Liverpool-Annan steamboat with brother Alick, Alick had to call for a moment in some cottage at Landhead, and I waited looking back towards Annan and the unrivalled prospect of sea and land which one commands there, leaning on a milestone which I knew so well from my school-days; and looking on Solway Sea to St. Bee's Head, and all the pretty Cumberland villages, towns, and swelling amphitheatre of fertile plains and airy mountains, to me the oldest in the world, and the loveliest. What a changed meaning in all that! Tartarus itself and the pale kingdoms of Dis could not have been more preternatural to me, and I felt that they could not have been more so. Most stern, gloomy, sad, grand, yet terrible, steeped in woe! This was my humour while in Annandale. Except riding down to Whinnyrigg for a plunge in the sea (seven miles and back) daily when tide would serve, I can recollect nothing that I did there. All speech (except, doubtless, with my mother), I did my utmost to avoid. Some books I probably had - 'Pickwick' and 'Johannes Müller' (in strange combination, and 'Pickwick' the preferable to me!) I do partly remember, but the reading of them was as a mere opiate. In this foul torpor, like flax thrown into the steeping pool, I seem to have stayed above two months - stayed, in fact, till ashamed to stay longer. As for recovery, that had not yet considerably - in truth, it never fairly - came at all. [Page 77] 

Of my darling's beautiful reception of me when I did return, all speech is inadequate, for now in my sad thoughts it is like a little glimpse of Heaven in this poor turbid earth. I am too unworthy of it; alas! how thrice unworthy! A day or two ago I discovered, crowded into my first letter from Chelsea, as her postscript, these bright words, touching and strange to me [T. C.]: -

To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Sept. 22, 1837.

My dear Mother, - You know the saying, 'it is not lost which a friend gets,' and in the present case it must comfort you for losing him. Moreover, you have others behind, and I have only him, only him in the whole wide world to love me and take care of me, poor little wretch that I am. Not but that numbers of people love me after their fashion far better than I deserve; but then his fashion is so different from all these, and seems alone to suit the crotchety creature that I am. Thank you then for having, in the first place, been kind enough to produce him into this world, and for having, in the second place, made him scholar enough to recognise my various excellencies; and for having, in the last place sent him back to me again to stand by me in this cruel east wind. ... God bless you all. I will write you a letter all to yourself before long, God willing.

J. W. C

[Page 78] 


'More Dialogue' is more of 'Watch and Canary-bird' ('Chico' his name). I had been in Scotland lately, or was still there. The admired little Dialogue I never could get sight of, while she had keeping of it! - T. C.

To the Rev. John Sterling, Blackheath.

Chelsea: Sept. - Oct., 1837.

My dear Friend, - Being a sending of more dialogue, it were downright extravagance to send a letter as well. So I shall merely say (your father being sitting impatiently beating with his stick) that you are on no account to understand that by either of these dialogians I mean to shadow forth my own personality. I think it is not superfluous to give you this warning, because I remember you talked of Chico's philosophy of life as my philosophy of life, which was a horrible calumny.

You can fancy how one must be hurried when your father is in the case.

God bless you.

Always yours,



The Bird and the Watch.

Watch. 'Chirp, chirp, chirp;' what a weariness thou art with thy chirping! Does it never occur to thee, frivolous thing, that life is too short for being chirped away at this rate? [Page 79] 

Bird. Never. I am no philosopher, but just a plain canary-bird.

Watch. At all events, thou art a creature of time that bast been hatched, and that wilt surely die. And, such being the case, methinks thou art imperatively called upon to think more and to chirp less.

Bird. I 'called upon to think'! How do you make that out? Will you be kind enough to specify how my condition would be improved by thought? Could thought procure me one grain of seed or one drop of water beyond what my mistress is pleased to give? Could it procure me one eighth of an inch, one hair's-breadth more room to move about in, or could it procure me to be hatched over again with better auspices, in fair green wood beneath the blue free sky? I imagine not. Certainly I never yet betook myself to thinking instead of singing, that I did not end in dashing wildly against the wires of my cage, with sure loss of feathers and at the peril of limb and life. No, no, Madam Gravity, in this very conditional world, depend upon it, he that thinks least will live the longest, and song is better than sense for carrying one handsomely along.

Watch. You confess, then, without a blush, that you have no other aim in existence than to kill time?

Bird. Just so. If I were not always a killing of time, time, I can tell you, would speedily kill me. Heigh ho! I wish you had not interrupted me in my singing. [Page 80] 

Watch. Thou sighest, 'Chico;' there is a drop of bitterness at the bottom of this froth of levity. Confess the truth; thou art not without compunction as to thy course of life.

Bird. Indeed, but I am, though. It is for the Power that made me and placed me here to feel compunction, if any is to be felt. For me, I do but fulfil my destiny: in the appointing of it, I had no hand. It was with no consent of mine that I ever was hatched; for the blind instinct that led me to chip the shell, and so exchange my natural prison for one made with hands, can hardly be imputed to me as an act of volition; it was with no consent of mine that I was fated to live and move within the wires of a cage, where a fractured skull and broken wings are the result of all endeavour towards the blue infinite, nor yet was it with consent of mine that I was made to depend for subsistence, not on my own faculties and exertions, but on the bounty of a fickle mistress, who starves me at one time and surfeits me at another. Deeply from my inmost soul I have protested, and do and will protest against all this. If, then, the chirping with which I stave off sorrow and ennui be an offence to the would-be-wise, it is not I but Providence should bear the blame, having placed me in a condition where there is no alternative but to chirp or die, and at the same time made self-preservation the first instinct of all living things. [Page 81] 

Watch. 'Unhappy Chico![1] not in thy circumstances, but in thyself lies the mean impediment over which thou canst not gain the mastery.'[2] The lot thou complainest of so petulantly is, with slight variation, the lot of all. Thou are not free? Tell me who is? Alas, my bird! Here sit prisoners; there also do prisoners sit. This world is all prison, the only difference for those who inhabit it being in the size and aspect of the cells; while some of these stand revealed in cold strong nakedness for what they really are, others are painted to look like sky overhead, and open country all around, but the bare and the painted walls are alike impassable, and fall away only at the coming of the Angel of Death.

Bird. With all due reverence for thy universal insight, picked up Heaven knows how, in spending thy days at the bottom of a dark fob, I must continue to think that the birds of the air, for example, are tolerably free; at least, they lead a stirring, pleasurable sort of life, which may well be called freedom in comparison with this of mine. Oh that, like them, I might skim the azure and hop among the boughs; that, like them, I might have a nest I could call my own, and a wife of my own choosing, that I might fly away from, the instant she wearied me! Would that the egg I was hatched from had been addled, or that I had perished while yet unfledged! I am weary of [Page 82]  my life, especially since thou hast constituted thyself my spiritual adviser. Ay de mi! But enough of this; it shall never be told that I died the death of Jenkin's hen.[1] 'Chico, point de faiblesse.'[2]

Watch. It were more like a Christian to say, 'Heaven be my strength.'

Bird. And pray what is a Christian? I have seen poets, philosophers, politicians, bluestockings, philanthropists, all sorts of notable people about my mistress; but no Christian, so far as I am aware.

Watch. Bird! thy spiritual darkness exceeds belief. What can I say to thee? I wish I could make thee wiser, better!

Bird. If wishes were saws, I should request you to saw me a passage through those wires; but wishes being simply wishes, I desire to be let alone of them.

Watch. Good counsel at least is not to be rejected, and I give the best, wouldst thou but lay it to heart. Look around thee, Chico - around and within. Ascertain, if thou canst, the main source of thy discontent, and towards the removal of that direct thy whole faculties and energies. Even should thy success prove incomplete, the very struggle will be productive of good. 'An evil,' says a great German thinker, 'ceases to he an evil from the moment in which we begin to combat it.' Is it what you call loss of liberty that flings the darkest shadow over your soul? [Page 83]  If so, you have only to take a correct and philosophical view of the subject instead of a democratic sentimental one, and you will find, as other captives have done, that there is more real freedom within the walls of a prison than in the distracting tumult without. Ah, Chico, in pining for the pleasures and excitements which lie beyond these wires, take also into account the perils and hardships. Think what the bird of the air has to suffer from the weather, from boys and beasts, and even from other birds. Storms and snares and unknown woes beset it at every turn, from all which you have been mercifully delivered in being once for all cooped up here.

Bird. There is one known woe, however, from which I have not been delivered in being cooped up here, and that is your absolute wisdom and impertinent interference, from which same I pray Heaven to take me with all convenient speed. If ever I attain to freedom, trust me, the very first use I shall make of it will be to fly where your solemn prosy tick shall not reach me any more for ever. Evil befall the hour when my mistress and your master took it into their heads to 'swear eternal friendship,' and so occasion a juxtaposition betwixt us two which nature could never have meant.

Watch. My 'master'? Thou imbecile. I own no master; rather am I his mistress, of whom thou speakest. Nothing can he do without appealing to [Page 84]  me as to a second better conscience, and it is I who decide for him when he is incapable of deciding for himself. I say to him, It is time to go, and he goeth; or, There is time to stay, and he stayeth. Hardly is he awake of a morning when I tick authoritatively into his ear, 'Levez-vous, monsieur! Vous avez des grandes choses à faire;'[1] and forthwith he gathers himself together to enjoy the light of a new day - if no better may be. And is not every triumph he ever gained over natural indolence to be attributed to my often-repeated remonstrance, 'Work, for the night cometh.' Ay, and when the night is come, and he lays himself down, I take my place at his bed-head, and, like the tenderest nurse, tick him to repose.

Bird. And suppose he neglected to wind thee up, or that thy main-spring chanced to snap? What would follow then? Would the world stand still in consequence? Would thy master - for such he is to all intents and purposes - lie for ever in bed expecting thy Levez-vous? Would there be nothing in the wide universe besides thee to tell him what o'clock it was? Impudent piece of mechanism! Thing of springs and wheels, in which flows no life-blood, beats no heart! Depend upon it, for all so much as thou thinkest of thyself, thou couldst be done without. Il n'y a point de montre nécessaire![2] The artisan who [Page 85]  made thee with files and pincers could make a thousand of thee to order. Cease, then, to deem thyself a fit critic and lawgiver for any living soul. Complete of thy kind, tick on, with infallible accuracy, sixty ticks to the minute, through all eternity if thou wilt and canst; but do not expect such as have hearts in their breasts to keep time with thee. A heart is a spontaneous, impulsive thing, which cannot, I would have thee know, be made to beat always at one measured rate for the good pleasure of any time-piece that ever was put together. And so good day to thee, for here comes one who, thank Heaven, will put thee into his fob, and so end our tête-à-tête.

Watch. (With a sigh.) 'The living on earth have much to bear!'

J. W. C.

This is the piece mentioned in Sterling's Life, p. 304 (he had seen it; I never did till now, she refusing me, as usual; nor did I know for certain that it was in existence still). 'Chico' (Tiny, in Spanish) was our canary bird, brought from Craigenputtock hither on her knee. The 'Watch' had been her mother's; it is now (August, 1866) her mother's niece's (Maggie Welsh's, for two months back). A 'Remonstrance,' now placed here, is from the same 'Watch,' probably several years later. Or perhaps this is the 'farther sending' letter referred to in Letter No. 39 (1837) vaguely as in second bit of dialogue? No 'second' otherwise, of any kind, is now discoverable. (August 15, 1869, my last day at present on this sad and sacred task.) - T. C. insomnis (as to much).

[Page 86] 

Remonstrance of my Old Watch.

What have I done to you, that you should dream of 'tearing out my inside' and selling me away for an old song? Is your heart become hard as the nether millstone, that you overlook long familiarity and faithful service, to take up with the new-fangled gimcracks of the day? Did I ever play thee false? I have been driven with you, been galloped with you over the roughest roads; have been 'jolted' as never watch was; and all this without 'sticking up' a single time, or so much as lagging behind! Nay, once I remember (the devil surely possessed you at that moment) you pitched me out of your hand as though I had been a worthless pincushion; and even that unprecedented shock I sustained with unshaken nerves! Try any of your new favourites as you have tried me; send the little wretch you at present wear within your waistband smack against a deal floor, and if ever it stirred more in this world, I should think it little less than a miracle.

Bethink you then, misguided woman, while it is yet time! If not for my sake, for your own, do not complete your barbarous purpose. Let not a passing womanish fancy lead you from what has been the ruling principle of your life - a detestation of shams and humbug. For, believe me, these little watches are arrant shams, if ever there was one. They are [Page 87]  not watches so much as lockets with watch faces. The least rough handling puts them out of sorts; a jolt is fatal; they cost as much in repairs every year as their original price; and when they in their turn come to have their insides torn out, what have you left? Hardly gold enough to make a good-sized thimble.

But if you are deaf to all suggestions of commonsense, let sentiment plead for me in your breast. Remember how daintily you played with me in your childhood, deriving from my gold shine your first ideas of worldly splendour. Remember how, at a more advanced age, you longed for the possession of me and of a riding-habit and whip, as comprising all that was most desirable in life! And when at length your mother made me over to you, remember how feelingly (so feelingly that you shed tears) I brought home to your bosom the maxim of your favourite Goethe, 'The wished-for comes too late.' And oh! for the sake of all these touching remembrances, cast me not off, to be dealt with in that shocking manner; but if, through the caprice of fashion, I am deemed no longer fit to be seen, make me a little pouch inside your dress, and I am a much mistaken watch if you do not admit in the long run that my solid merit is far above that of any half-dozen of these lilliputian upstarts.

And so, betwixt hope and fear, I remain,

Your dreadfully agitated


[Page 88] 

I find so much reason as well as pathos and natural eloquence in the above that I shall proceed no further with the proposed exchange.



From Phoebe Chorley to Thomas Carlyle, London (favoured by H. F. Chorley).

Thus to venture unbidden into thy presence may seem somewhat startling to thee in a woman, and a member of the quiet, unobtrusive Society of Friends; but thou must thank the originality, the first-rate talent, the taste, the poetry of thy three wonderful volumes on the French Revolution for drawing on thee the infliction, it may be, of mere commonplace sentences in my endeavour to express, however inadequately, the deep unspeakable interest with which I am perusing thy admirable narrative of the events which astonished and horrified the civilised world forty-five years ago.

The style, described to me before I saw the work, as 'peculiar and uninviting,' I deem of all others calculated to convey the fervour, the fierceness, and the atrocity alternately possessing the feelings of those the chief actors in that most sanguinary drama. So perfectly graphic, too, a painter need desire no better study to improve his art. I can distinctly see the [Page 89]  ancient Merovingian kings on their bullock-carts; and the chamber of the dying Louis Quinze with all its accompaniments; and the new Korff berlin, and its wretched, vacillating inmates - the poor queen issuing into the street and lost there. Oh! the breathless anxiety of that journey; how one longed to speed them forward, especially, I think, for her sake, whose curse it was, in a new era, when the light broke through the Cimmerian darkness of ages, to be united to a man of that mediocre sort, who is incapable of reading the fiery language of passing events, and yet not content to be wholly passive. Oh! how the very depths of my heart are stirred up responsive to the humiliations and sufferings of that high-minded, erring woman; she stands there before me in the window at Versailles, the untasted cup of coffee in her hand! A spell is completely cast over me by the waving of the enchanter's wand, given to thee to wield for the instruction of thy less-gifted fellow mortals.

Go on and prosper, saith my whole soul. Such abilities as thine were never designed to be folded in a napkin; use them worthily, and they will bless thyself and thousands. I am truly rejoiced a writer has at last sprung up to do justice to modern history - a greatly neglected species of literature - and to present it in colours so attractive that, as certainly as mind recognises mind, and speaks to it, and is comprehended by it, so certainly will 'The French Revolution' [Page 90]  of Thomas Carlyle be read and approved by all men, and all women too, endowed with any of that Promethean fire which he seems to fetch down from heaven at will, and finally win its way through all obstructions to form a part - an important part - of the standard of the English language.

Je le jure (I swear it), Chapter VI., Book i., vol. ii.:

- The opening paragraph on Hope is exquisitely constructed. I cannot recall to memory a more felicitous arrangement of words than this paragraph displays. It has become incorporated with the very texture of my thoughts, 'a sacred Constantine's banner written on the eternal skies.'

Henry Chorley, the bearer of this, can tell thee how his own family and my brother and sister Crosfield, all of them people of mind, have been delighted with thy production. Accept my most cordial individual thanks for the rich intellectual banquet thou hast provided. All other books will appear so tame and flat in comparison with these, that I know not what to turn to when I shall have done with the third volume, which travels into the country to-morrow with

Thy sincere friend and admirer,


[Page 91] 

Copied in her hand for my mother, after which:

Chelsea: March-April, 1838.

There, dear mother! Pretty fairish for a prim Quakeress, don't you think? Just fancy her speaking all these transcendental flatteries from under a little starched cap and drab-coloured bonnet! I wonder how old she is; and if she is, or has been, or expects ever to be married? Don't you? Perhaps the spirit may move her to come hither next, and cultivate still more her 'favourable sentiments.' Well, let her! I could pardon her any absurdity almost, in consideration of that beautiful peculiarity she possessed, of admiring his very style, which has hitherto exceeded the capacity of admiration in all men, women, and children that have made the attempt.

An enthusiastic Quaker once gave Edward Irving a gig. I wonder if this enthusiastic Quakeress will give Carlyle one; it would be excessively useful here.

We have fine weather, and I am nearly rid of my cough again. Carlyle has fallen to no work yet; but is absolutely miserable nevertheless. Ellen is pretty strong again, and I hope will be able to 'carry on ' - at least, 'till Lonsdale coom.'[1] Chico has got a new [Page 92]  cage from a gentleman, not a Quaker. So, you see, all goes tolerably here. Love to Jenny; remember me to Robert.

Your affectionate,



To Miss Helen Welsh, Liverpool.

Chelsea: May 27, 1838.

O Cousin, gracious and benign, - Beautiful is it to see thy tender years bearing such blossoms of tolerance; for tolerance is not in general the virtue of youth, but only of mature or even old age - experienced age, which after long and sore 'kicking against the pricks,' has learned for itself what it would not take on hearsay, that the world we live in is of necessity, and has been, and ever will be, an erring and conditional world; and that in short, all men, women, and children, beginning with ourselves, are shockingly imperfect. So that there is none justified in saying with self-complacency, 'black is the eye' of another. Indeed, I should have felt it hard to have been reproached by you for not writing; you, who have health and no cares, cannot at all estimate the effort I make, in doing anything that can be let alone without immediate detriment to the State or the individual. [Page 93] 

I have had so much to bear, for a long, long time back, from the derangement of my interior, that when a day of betterness does arrive, I am tempted, instead of employing it in writing letters, or in doing duties of whatever sort, to make a sort of child's play-day of it; and then, when my head is aching, or my cough troublesome - Oh, Helen dear, may you never know by experience how difficult it is in such circumstances, to write a letter all about nothing, even to a sweet-faced, well-beloved cousin!

We were just then in the first ferment of our Lectures,[1] which are still going on, and keeping up an extra degree of tumult within and without us. However, he has been borne through the first eight 'with an honourable through-bearing,' and I dare say will not break down in the remaining four. The audience is fair in quantity (more than fair, considering that he is a lecturer on his own basis, unconnected with any 'Royal Institution,' or the like); and in quality it is unsurpassable; there are women so beautiful and intelligent, that they look like emanations from the moon; and men whose faces are histories, in which one may read with ever new interest. On the whole, if he could get sleep at nights, while the lecturing goes forward, and if I might look on without being perpetually reminded by the pain in my head, or some devilry or other, [Page 94]  that I am a mere woman, as the Annan Bailie reminded the people who drank his health at a Corporation dinner that he was a mere man - ('O gentlemen! remember that I am but a man of like passions with yourselves') - we should find this new trade rather agreeable. In the meanwhile, with all its drawbacks, it answers the end. 'O gloire,' says a French poet, 'donnez-moi du pain!' And glory too often turns a deaf ear to this reasonable request; but she is kind enough to grant it to us in the present instance; so, allons, let us 'eat fire,' as Carlyle calls it, since people are disposed to give their money for such exhibition, over and above their applause.

My husband wishes and needs a change; and a climate where I should not need to be confined for months together to the house (I may say to two rooms) were a manifest improvement in my lot. It was dreary work last winter, though by incredible precautions I kept myself perpendicular; and the winter before is horrible to think of, even at this date. A single woman (by your leave be it said) may be laid up with comparative ease of mind; but in a country where a man is allowed only one wife, and needs that one for other purposes than mere show, it is a singular hardship for all parties, when she misgives anyhow, so as to be rendered wholly ineffectual. [Page 95] 

I had a box from mother the other day, which came, I believe, through you.

Everything rich, everything rare,
Save young Nourmahal, was blowing there.

By the way, Carlyle breakfasted with Thomas Moore the other morning, and fancied him.

I hope very sincerely that my aunt is quite well again, and should like to be assured of it by some of you. Give her and uncle, and the whole generation, my warmest affection. Carlyle joins me in good wishes for you all; and behold! I remain your faithfully attached, in-spite-of-appearances, cousin,



This autumn, after lectures, printing of 'Sartor,' &c., I steamered to Kirkcaldy; was in Scotland five or six weeks - to Edinburgh twice or thrice; to Minto Manse (Dr. Aitken's, now married to 'Bess Stoddart,' heiress of old Bradfute, and very rich); thence, after dull short sojourn, through Hawick, Langholm to Scotsbrig (mother absent in Manchester); to Chelsea again, early in October. Vivid at this hour are all these movements to me; but not worth noting: only the Kirkcaldy part, with the good Ferguses, and, after twenty years of absence, was melodiously interesting to me, more or less. Ay de mi, all gone, now, all! - T.C.

[Page 96] 

To T. Carlyle, at Kirkcaldy.

Chelsea: Aug. 30, 1838.

Dear Husband of me, - I was most thankful to hear an articulate cheep (chirp) from you once more, for the little notekin 'did neither ill nor gude.' But this is a clear and comprehensive view of the matter, which may satisfy the female mind, for a time, and deserves a most ample threepenny in return.[1] I would have sat down instantly on receiving it, and made a clean breast of all my thinkings and doings, in the first fervour of enthusiasm, which such a good letter naturally inspired; but the letter came at one, and at two the carriage was ordered to convey me to pass the day with Mrs. C----; so it was plain, you could not get the 'first rush o' the tea,' without being stinted in quantity. But this morning, I have said it, that nothing short of an earthquake shall hinder me from filling this sheet.

First of all, then, dear Ill,[2] I am, and have been, in perfectly good case so far as the body is concerned. 'Association of Ideas' was like to have played the devil with me at first. The first night after your departure, I slept three hours; the second, forty minutes; and the third, none at all. If I had a cow, [Page 97]  I should have bade it 'consider;'[1] having none it was necessary to 'consider' myself. So I applied to Dr. Marshall[2] for any sort of sleeping-draught, which had no opium in it, to break, if possible, this spell at the outset. He gave me something, consisting of red-lavender and other stimulants, which 'took an effect on me.'[3] Not that I swallowed it! I merely set it by my bedside; and the feeling of lying down under new circumstances, of having a resource in short, put me to sleep! One night, indeed, the imagination was not enough; and I did take the thing into my inside, where it made all 'cosy';[4] and since then I have slept as well as usual; nor did these bad [Page 98]  nights do me any visible harm. Helen[1] asks me every morning 'if I have no headache yet?' And when I answer, none, she declares it to be quite 'mysterious!' In fact, I believe Mrs. Elliot's cab is of very material service in keeping me well. And I hope you will become a great Paid, and then we shall sometimes have a 'bit clatch.'[2] I have driven out most days, from two till four, quite regularly. I also take care to have some dinner quite regularly. And I contrive to sup on Cape Madeira, which seems to be as good for me as porridge, after all. For the rest, my chief study is to keep myself tranquil and cheerful; convinced that I can do nothing so useful, either for myself or others. Accordingly, I read French novels, or anything that diverts me, without compunction; and sew no more, at curtains or anything else, than I feel to be pleasant.

For company, I have had enough to satisfy all my social wants. One visitor per day would content me; and I have often had more. Two tea-shines[3] went off with éclat, the more so that the people came, for most part, at their own peril. The first consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Crawfurd, George Rennie and his wife, Mrs. Sterling, Il Conte, Darwin, and Robert Barker,[4] [Page 99]  who was up from Northampton on leave of absence. Do you shriek at the idea of all this? You need not. We all talked through other[1] (except Barker, who, by preserving uninterrupted silence, passed for some very wise man); and we were all happy in the consciousness of doing each our part to 'stave off' ennui, though it were by nothing better than nonsense. The next was a more rational piece of work; but more 'insipid ':[2] Mrs. Rich,[3] and her two sisters, the Marshalls, Mrs. Sterling, and the always to be got Darwin. We talked about the condition of the poor, &c., &c., one at a time; and I am sure the saints think that, all this while, my light has been hid under a bushel - that, in fact, they have 'discovered me.' They kissed me all over, when they went away, and would have me out to Plumstead Common. Then I had Mr. C----- one night, to whom I prated so cleverly about domestic service, and all that, that his eyes twinkled the purest admiration, through his spectacles; and, two days after, he returned with Mrs. C-----! to hear me again on the same topics. But catch me flinging my pearls before swine! But, oh, dear me, dearest, how the paper is getting covered over with absolute nothings; and I have really something to tell. [Page 100] 

I have to tell you one very wonderful thing indeed, which brought a sort of tears into my eyes. The first money from F. R.[1] is come to hand, in the shape of a bill of exchange for fifty pounds, inclosed in a short business letter from Emerson. He says: 'An account has been rendered to me, which, though its present balance is in our favour, is less than I expected; yet, as far as I understand, it agrees well with all that has been promised. At least, the balance in our favour, when the edition is sold, which the booksellers assure me will undoubtedly be done within a year from the publication, must be 760 dollars, and whatever more Heaven and the subscribers may grant.' You are to know, dear, fifty pounds is exactly $224.22, the rate of exchange being 9 per cent. He says nothing more, except that he will send a duplicate of the bill by next packet; and that 'the Miscellanies is published in two volumes, a copy of which goes to you immediately; 250 copies are already sold.' So you see, dear, here is Fortune actually smiling on you over the seas, with her lap full of dollars. Pray you, don't you be bashful; but smile on her in return. Another bit of good luck lies in the shape of a little hamper, full of Madeira, the Calvert wine - I have not unpacked it yet; but I guess it holds a dozen. I too am to have some wine given me. John Sterling [Page 101]  has desired his wine merchant, on receiving a certain basketful of Malmsey from Madeira for him, to send some fraction of it to me.

He himself, John Sterling, you will be surprised to hear, is off this day for good. He spends a week in settling his family at Hastings, and then proceeds to Italy. Such is the order of Sir James Clark, and his own whim! He breakfasted with me this morning, to take leave; apparently in perfect health, and almost too good spirits, I think. I told him, he seemed to me a man who had a diamond given him to keep, which he was in danger of breaking all down into sparks, that everyone might have a breastpin of it. He looked as Edward Irving used to do. I do not think that, morally, he is at all in a good way - too much of virtue 'and all that' on the lips. Woe to him if he fall into the net of any beautiful Italian! People who are so dreadfully 'devoted' to their wives are so apt, from mere habit, to get devoted to other people's wives as well!

Except Emerson's, there have been no letters for you; and of threepennies, only one of apology from Wilson, along with that Globe; and one from your namesake,[1] wanting letters to 'Germany, with which he wants to acquaint himself' - or rather, in the language of truth, where he is going as a missionary [Page 102]  (so Dr. Marshall tells me). I answered it politely.

I must not conclude without telling you a most surprising purpose I have in my head, which, if you have heard of O'Connell's late visit to a La Trappean Monastery, you will not be quite incredulous of. I am actually meditating to spend a week with - Miss Wilson at Ramsgate!! To do penance for all the nonsense I speak, by dooming myself, for one whole week, to speak nothing but real sense, and no mistake! She wrote me the most cordial invitation, and not to me only, but to Helen, whom she knew I did not like to leave; for three weeks I was to come. I answered in a long letter, which you would have liked amazingly, if you had had the good luck to hear it, that when I heard from John,[1] if there was time before his arrival, I would absolutely accept. I have had another letter from her since, gracious beyond expression; and am really meaning to lock up, and go with Helen for a week, if John does not come all the sooner. Address to me always here, however; as Dr. Marshall will send on my letters instanter. They are touchingly kind to me, these good Marshalls; - got up a dinnerchen, &c., &c. Everybody is kind to me. Only I have put the Stimabile in a great fuff - purposely, that I might not have him dangling here in your absence. Thus it is impossible [Page 103]  for me to get a frank. But you will not grudge postage, even for this worthless letter, since it is mine.

I have not heard from my mother, nor written to her yet, so I know not where she is. I have forgot a thousand things. Madame Marcet has not been yet; - is to come,[1] - a friend from Paris has deprived her of the pleasure, &c. Cavaignac was here last Friday. Edgeworth has been; wanted me out to Windsor. The blockhead Hume[2] came to tea one night! No Americans! No strangers! Darwin is going off to the Wedgewoods with Mrs. Rich. Thank you for the particulars to Helen. Yes, try and see her mother. She is very kind to me. Get very very well; and come back so good! and so pooty.

Say all that is kind and grateful from me to the good Ferguses. And tell Elizabeth I will write her a long letter one of these days - to be also in no sorrow about Pepoli. He is merely lackadaisical. God bless you, dearest. Do not, I beseech you, soil your mind with a thought of postage; but write again quick. Be sure you go to Minto.[3]

J. W. C.

[Page 104] 


To T. Carlyle, Esq., Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Sunday, Sept. 10, 1838.

Thou precious cheap! - I am rejoiced to find you working out your plan so strenuously and steadily. That is really one kind of virtue which does seem to me always its own reward. To have done the thing one meant to do, let it turn out as it may, 'is a good joy.'[1] You will come home to me 'more than plumb,' with conscious manhood, after having reaped such a harvest of 'realised ideals.'

For me, I am purposely living without purpose, from hand to mouth, as it were, taking the good the gods provide me, and, as much as possible, shirking the evil - a manner of existence which seems to suit my constitution very well, for I have not had a single headache these three weeks, nor any bodily ailment, except occasional touches of that preternatural intensity of sensation, which, if one did not know it to be the consequence of sleeplessness, would pass for perfection of health rather than ailment; and which I study to keep down with such dullifying appliances as offer themselves, in dearth of 'a considerable hulk of porridge.' The people are very attentive to me - almost too attentive; for they make me talk more than is for the good of my soul, and go through [Page 105]  a power of my tea and bread and butter! Nay, Cavaignac was found sitting yesterday when I came home from my drive, and said, with all the coldbloodedness imaginable, 'Voulez-vous me donner à dîner, madame?' - an astounding question to a woman whose whole earthly prospects in the way of dinner were bounded there and then to one fried sole and two pommes de terre! And when this sumptuous repast was placed on the table, with the addition of a spoonful of improvised hash, he sat down to it exclaiming, à plusieurs reprises: 'Mon Dieu, comme j'ai faim, moi!' However, as Helen remarked, 'It's nae matter what ye gie him; for he can aye mak the bread flee!'

Our first two volumes of the 'Miscellanies' are published. I have sent you a copy. The edition consists of 1,000 copies; of these 500 are bound, 500 remain in sheets. The title-pages, of course, are all printed alike; but the publishers assure me that new title-pages can be struck off at a trifling expense, with the imprint of Saunders and Otley. The cost of a copy in sheets or 'folded' is 89 cents, and bound is $1.15 cents. The retail price is $2.50 cents a copy, and the author's profit is $1.00, and the bookseller's 35 cents per copy, according to my understanding of the written contract. (All of which. I have written off with faith and hope, but with infinite ennui, not understanding any more of cents [Page 106]  than of hieroglyphics.) I think there is no doubt but the book will sell very well there; but if, for the reasons you suggest, you wish any part of it, you can have it as soon as ships can bring your will. We have printed half the matter. I should presently begin to print the remainder, inclusive of the article on Scott in two more volumes; but now I think I shall wait until I hear from you. Of those books we will print a larger edition, say 1,250 or 1,500, if you want a part of it in London; for I feel confident now that our public is a thousand strong. Write me, therefore, by the steam-packet your wishes. So you can 'consider,' cheap![1] and be prepared to answer the letter when I send it in a day or two in the lump.

For my part, I think I should vote for letting these good Americans keep their own wares; they seem to have an art, unknown in our island, of getting them disposed of. I can say nothing of how 'Sartor,'[2] poor beast! is going on, only that people tell me, with provoking vagueness, from time to time, that they have read or heard honourable mention of it; but where, or when, or to what possible purport, they seem bound over by oath to be quite silent upon. Mrs. Buller, for example, the other day when I called at her house, said that she was glad to find it succeeding. 'Was it succeeding?' I asked, for I really was quite ignorant. Oh, she had heard and [Page 107]  seen the most honourable notice of it. The individual most agog about it seems to be the young Catholic, whose name, I now inform and beg you to remember, is Mr. T. Chisholm Anstey. He sat with me one forenoon, last week, for a whole hour and a half, rhapsodising about you all the while; a most judicious young Catholic, as I ever saw or dreamt of. He had been 'in retreat,' as they call it, for three weeks - that is to say, in some Jesuit La Trappe establishment in the north of England - absolutely silent, which he was sure you would be glad to hear; and he is going back at Christmas to hold his peace for three weeks more! He has written an article on you for the 'Dublin Review,' which is to be sent to me as soon as published, and the Jesuits, he says, are enchanted with all they find in you. Your 'opinions about sacrifice, &c., &c., are entirely conformable to theirs!' 'After all,' said Darwin the other day, 'what the deuce is Carlyle's religion, or has he any?' I shook my head, and assured him I knew no more than himself. I told Mr. Chisholm Anstey I could not give him the lecture-book, as I was copying it. 'You copying it!' he exclaimed in enthusiasm; 'indeed you shall not have that toil; I will copy it for you; it will be a pleasure to me to write them all a second time'! So you may give him the ten shillings; for he actually took away the book, and what I had done of it, par [Page 108]  vive force! I wish some other of your admirers would carry off the bed-curtains by vive force, and finish them also; for, though I have had a sempstress helping me for three days, they are still in hand. Perhaps a Swedenborgian will do that?

Baron von Alsdorf came here the other night, seeking your address, to write to you for a testimonial. 'Such is the lot of celebrity i' the world.'[1] Oh! my 'Revolution' and 'Sartor' are come home, such loves of books! quite beautiful; but such a price! seven shillings per volume! for half-binding! 'Was there ever anything in the least like it?'[2] The Fraserian functionary seemed almost frightened to tell me; but seeing I could make nothing of debating about it, I contented myself with saying: 'Well, "French Revolutions" are not written every day, and the outside should be something worthy of the in.' The man, apparently struck with admiration of my sincerity and contempt of money, bowed involuntarily, and said, 'It is indeed a book that cannot have too much expense put upon it.' 'Why the deuce, then,' I was tempted to answer, 'don't you give us something for it?' The 'German Romance' is to be done in calf at 3s. 6d. a volume. Do not trouble your head about my investing so much capital in the binding of these hooks. With such a prospect of cents, it were sheer parsimony not to give them a [Page 109]  good dress. I have unpacked your wine, and even tasted it; and lo! it proves to be two dozen pint bottles of exquisite port! which disagrees with you. Did you not understand it was to have been Madeira? My Malmsey is not come yet. How I laughed, and how Cavaignac shouted at your encounter with Mrs. 'Ickson.[1] Indeed, your whole letter was most entertaining and satisfactory. Do not be long in sending me another; they are very refreshing, especially when they praise me![2] This is not so good 'a return' as I could wish to make you; but in a single sheet one is obliged to manger all superfluous details, though these are more interesting to the absent than more important matter. Robertson called on me the other day, wondering if you were writing anything for him. He has had a splutter with Leigh Hunt - always spluttering. He talked much of Harriet's 'tail of hundreds' at Newcastle[3] till I could not help fancying her as one of those sheep Herodotus tells about. I wonder how many things I have forgotten? Kind regards to them all, and to yourself what you can say of most affectionate. I drive almost every day. Elizabeth's letter is not come yet; but I will write forthwith whether or no.

Your unfortunate


[Page 110] 


A postscript at almost half a year's distance. These are the lecture years, 1837-40; this year's lectures (for it is 'April 12') would be within three weeks.

'First rush o' ye tea,' intelligible now only to myself, was at that time full of mirth, ingenuity, and humour in the quarter it was going to! My mother, many years before, on the eve of an Ecelefechan Fair, happened in the gloaming to pass one Martha Calvert's door, a queer old cripple creature who used to lodge vagrants, beggars, ballad-singers, snap-women, &c., such as were wont, copiously enough, (chiefly from the 'Brig-end of Dumfries '), to visit us on these occasions. Two beggar-women were pleasantly chatting, or taking sweet counsel, outside in the quiet summer dusk, when a third started out, eagerly friendly, 'Come awa', haste; t' ye first rush o' ye tea!' (general tea inside, just beginning, first rush of it far superior to third or fourth!)

'God's Providence.' Peg Ir'rin (Irving, a memorable old bread-and-ale woman, extensively prepared to vend these articles at Middlebie Sacrament, could not by entreaty or logic (her husband had fought at Bunker's Hill) extort from the parish official (ruling elder) liberty to use the vacant school-house for that purpose, whereupon Peg, with a toss of her foolish high head (a loud, absurd, empty woman, though an empty especially of any mischief), 'Ah well; thou canna cut me out of God's Providence.' - T. C.

To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan.

April 12, 1839.

My dear Mother, - It were much pleasanter to write to you if, besides white paper, he would leave me something to say. But away he goes, skimming [Page 111]  over everything, whipping off the cream of everything, and leaves me nothing but the blue milk to make you a feast of. The much best plan for me were to take the start of him, and have the 'first rush o' ye tea' to myself; as I positively design to do in lecture-time, when there will be something worth while to tell.

We see Jeffrey often since he came to London, and he is very friendly still, 'though he could not cut us out of God's Providence.' We had a Roman Catholic Frenchman[1] flying about us, at a prodigious rate, last week, but he has left London for the present. He told us all about how he went to confession, &c., &c., and how he had been demoralised at one period, and was recovered by the spectacle of a holy procession. He seems a very excellent man in his own way, but one cannot quite enter into his ecstasies about white shirts and wax tapers, and all that sort of thing. I hope you are all well, and thinking of me, as heretofore, with kindness; this is cruel weather for Isabella and you and me.

Ever affectionately yours,


[Page 112] 


To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan.

Chelsea: May 6, 1839.

My dear Mother, - Our second lecture 'transpired' yesterday, and with surprising success - literally surprising - for he was imputing the profound attention with which the audience listened, to an awful sympathising expectation on their part of a momentary break-down, when all at once they broke into loud plaudits, and he thought they must all have gone clean out of their wits! But, as does not happen always, the majority were in this instance in the right, and it was he that was out of his wits to fancy himself making a stupid lecture, when the fact is he really cannot be stupid if it were to save his life. The short and long of it was, he had neglected to take a pill the day before, had neglected to get himself a ride, and was out of spirits at the beginning: even I, who consider myself an unprejudiced judge, did not think he was talking his best, or anything like his best; the 'splendids,' 'devilish fines,' 'most trues,' and all that, which I heard heartily ejaculated on all sides, showed that it was a sort of mercy in him to come with bowels in a state of derangement, since, if his faculties had had full play, the people must have been all sent home in a state of excitement bordering on frenzy. The most practical good feature in the business was a considerable increase of hearers - [Page 113]  even since last day; the audience seems to me much larger than last year, and even more distinguished. The whole street was blocked up with 'fine yellow' (and all other imaginable coloured) 'deliveries;'[1] and this is more than merely a dangerous flattery to one's vanity, the fashionable people here being (unlike our Scotch gigmen and gigwomen), the most open to light (above all to his light) of any sorts of people one has to do with. Even John Knox, though they must have been very angry at him for demolishing so much beautiful architecture, which is quite a passion with the English, they were quite willing to let good be said of, so that it were indisputably true. Nay, it was in reference to Knox that they first applauded yesterday. Perhaps his being a countryman of their favourite lecturer's might have something to do with it! But we will hope better things, though we thus speak.[2]

You will find nothing about us in the Examiner of this week; Leigh Hunt, who writes the notices there, did not arrive at the first lecture in time to make any report of it, having come in an omnibus which took it in its head to run a race with another omnibus, after a rather novel fashion, that is to say, each trying which should be hindmost. We go to [Page 114]  lecture this year very commodiously in what is called a fly (a little chaise with one horse), furnished us from a livery-stable hard by, at a very moderate rate. Yesterday the woman who keeps these stables sent us a flunkey more than bargain, in consideration that I was 'such a very nice lady ' - showing therein a spirit above slavery and even above livery. Indeed, as a foolish old woman at Dumfries used to say, 'everybody is kind to me;' and I take their kindness and am grateful for it, without inquiring too closely into their motives. Perhaps I am a genius too, as well as my husband? Indeed, I really begin to think so - especially since yesterday that I wrote down a parrot! which was driving us quite desperate with its screeching. Some new neighbours, that came a month or two ago, brought with them an accumulation of all the things to be guarded against in a London neighbourhood, viz., a pianoforte, a lap-dog, and a parrot. The two first can be borne with, as they carry on the glory within doors; but the parrot, since the fine weather, has been holding forth in the garden under our open windows. Yesterday it was more than usually obstreperous - so that Carlyle at last fairly sprang to his feet, declaring he could 'neither think nor live.' Now it was absolutely necessary that he should do both. So forthwith, on the inspiration of conjugal sympathy, I wrote a note to the parrot's mistress (name unknown), and in five minutes after [Page 115]  Pretty Polly was carried within, and is now screeching from some subterranean depth whence she is hardly audible. Now if you will please recollect that, at Comely Bank, I also wrote down an old maid's house-dog, and an only son's pet bantam-cock,[1] you will admit, I think, that my writings have not been in vain.

We have been very comfortable in our household this long while. My little Fifeshire maid grows always the longer the better; and never seems to have a thought of leaving us, any more than we have of parting with her. My kindest love to all the 'great nation' into which you are grown.

Affectionately yours,



Lectures finished, with again a hint of notice. This was not my last course of lectures; but I infinitely disliked the operation - 'a mixture of prophecy and play-acting,' in which I could not adjust myself at all, and deeply longed to see the end of. - T. C.

To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan.

Chelsea: May 20, 1839.

My dear Mother, - The last lecture was indeed the most splendid he ever delivered, and the people were all in a heart-fever over it; on all sides of me people [Page 116]  who did not know me, and might therefore be believed, were expressing their raptures audibly. One man (a person of originally large fortune, which he got through in an uncommon way, namely, in acts of benevolence) was saying, 'He's a glorious fellow; I love the fellow's very faults,' &c., &c.; while another answered, 'Aye, faith, is he; a fine, wild, chaotic, noble chap,' and so on over the whole room. In short we left the concern in a sort of whirlwind of 'glory' not without 'bread'; one of the dashing facts of the day being a Queen's carriage at the door, which had come with some of the household. Another thing I noticed, of a counter tendency to one's vanity, was poor Mrs. Edward Irving sitting opposite me, in her weeds, with sorrowful heart enough, I dare say. And when I thought of her lot and all the things that must be passing through her heart, to see her husband's old friend there, carrying on the glory in his turn, while hers - What was it all come to! She seemed to me set there expressly to keep me in mind 'that I was but a woman;'[1] like the skeleton which the old Egyptians placed at table, in their feasts, to be a memorial of their latter end.

My love to them all - and surely I will write a [Page 117]  long letter to Jane before long; who is very foolish to imagine I ever had, or could have, any reason for silence towards her, other than my natural dislike to letter-writing.

Ever your affectionate


'After lectures,' Carlyle writes, 'and considerable reading for "Cromwell," talking about scheme of London library, struggling and concocting towards what proved "Chartism," and more of the like, we set out together for Scotland by Liverpool about July 2 or 3, for Scotsbrig both of us in the first place, then she to Templand as headquarters, and, after leaving here, then to return to Scotsbrig, all which took effect, my remembrance of it now very indistinct.'

While absent from him, Mrs. Carlyle paid a visit to Ayr. As she was returning in the coach, Carlyle says in a note: 'a fellow-passenger got talking - "So you are from London, ma'am, and know literary people? Leigh Hunt? ah, so," &c., "and do you know anything of Thomas Carlyle?" "Him; right well - I am his wife," which had evidently pleased her little heart.'

The winter which followed, she had a violent chronic cold, sad accompaniment of many winters thenceforth, fiercely torturing nervous headache, continuous sometimes for three days and nights. 'Never,' says her husband, 'did I see such suffering from ill-health borne so patiently as by this most sensitive of delicate creatures all her life long.'

She had an extraordinary power of attaching to her everyone with whom she came in contact. In a letter to her sister-in-law, Mrs. Aitken, written in the midst of her illness, she says: 'My maid[1] is very kind when I am laid up; she [Page 118]  has no suggestions or voluntary help in her, but she does my bidding quietly and accurately, and when I am very bad she bends over me in my bed as if I were a little child, and rubs her cheek on mine - once I found it wet with tears - one might think one's maid's tears could do little for a tearing headache, but they do comfort a little.'

During this suffering time she wrote little and briefly. Carlyle was preparing his last course of lectures, the six on Heroes and Hero Worship, which were delivered in the coming season. He had a horse now, which had been presented to him by Mr. Marshall, of Leeds. The riding improved his spirits, but his nerves were always in a state of irritation when he was writing. 'Why do women marry?' she says in a little note to John Forster; 'God knows, unless it be that, like the great Wallenstein, they do not find scope enough for their genius and qualities in an easy life.

Night it must be, ere Friedland's star shall burn!'

In the summer matters were made worse by what to him was a most serious trial, described in the letter which follows. He asked Charles Buller if there were no means by which he could be extricated. Buller said he knew of but one. 'He could register himself as a Dissenting preacher.' - J. A. F.


This 'trial by jury' was a Manchester case of patents: patent first, for an improvement on cotton-wool carding machines; patent second, an imitation of that, query theft of it or not? Trial fell in two terms (same unfortunate jury), and lasted three or four days in each. Madder thing I never saw; - clear to myself in the first half-hour ('essential theft'), no advocate doing the least good to it farther, doing harm rather; - and trial costing in money, they said, 1,000l. [Page 119]  a day. Recalcitant juryman (one of the 'Tales' sort), stupidest-looking fellow I ever saw - it was I that coaxed him round and saved a new trial at 1,000l. a day. Intolerable suffering, rage, almost despair (and resolution to quit London), were, on my part, the consequence of these jury-summonses, which, after this, happened to abate or almost cease. On hers, corresponding pity, and at length no end of amusement over my adventure with that stupidest of jurymen, &c., which she used to narrate in an incomparable manner. Ah me! Ah me!

'Poor fellow, after all!' was very often finish of my brother in summing up his censures of men - so often that we had grown to expect it, and banter it. - T. C.

To the Reverend John Sterling, Clifton.

Chelsea: Oct. 5, 1840.

My dear John 'after all,' - In God's name, be 'a hurdy-gurdy,' or whatever else you like! You are a good man, anyhow, and there needs not your 'dying' to make me know this at the bottom of my heart, and love you accordingly. No, my excellent Sir, you are a blessing which one knows the value of even before one has lost it. And it is just because I love you better than most people that I persecute you as I do; that I flare up when you touch a hair of my head (I mean my moral head). So now we are friends again, are we not? If, indeed, through all our mutual impertinences, we have ever been anything else!

You see, I am very lamb-like to-day; indeed, I could neither 'quiz,' nor be 'polite' to you to-day [Page 120]  for the whole world. The fact is, I also have had a fit of illness, which has softened my mood, even as yours has been softened by the same cause. These fits of illness are not without their good uses, for us people of too poetic temperaments. For my part, I find them what the touching of their mother earth was for the giants of old. I arise from them with new heart in me for the battle of existence; and you know, or ought to know, what a woman means by new heart - not new brute force, as you men understand by it, but new power of loving and enduring.

We have been in really a rather deplorable plight here for a good while back, ever since a certain trial about a patent, so strangely are things linked together in this remarkable world! My poor man of genius had to sit on a jury two days, to the ruin of his whole being, physical, moral, and intellectual. And ever since, he has been reacting against the administration of British justice, to a degree that has finally mounted into influenza. While I, poverina, have been reacting against his reaction, till that malady called by the cockneys 'mental worry' fairly took me by the throat, and threw me on my bed for a good many days. And now I am but recovering, as white as the paper I write upon, and carrying my head as one who had been making a failed attempt at suicide; for, in the ardour of my medical practice, I flayed the whole neck of me with a blister. So you see it is a good [Page 121]  proof of affection that I here give you, in writing thus speedily, and so long a note.

God bless you, dear John, and all belonging to you. With all my imperfections, believe me ever faithfully and affectionately,



No lectures to be this spring, or evermore, God willing.


Impossible to date with accuracy; the poor incident I recollect well in all its details, but not the point of time. 'Helen' Mitchell, from Kirkcaldy (originally from Edinburgh), must have come about the end of 1837; she stayed with us (thanks to the boundless skill and patience of her mistress) about eleven years; and was, in a sense, the only servant we ever got to belong to us, and be one of our household, in this place. She had been in Rotterdam before, and found Cheyne Walk to resemble the Boompjes there (which it does). Arrived here, by cab, in a wet blustery night, which I remember; seemed to have cared no more about the roar and tumult of huge London all the way from St. Katherine's Docks hither, than a clucking hen would have done, sitting safe in its hand-basket, and looking unconcerned to right and left. A very curious little being; mixture of shrewdness, accurate observancy, flashes of an insight almost genial, with utter simplicity and even folly. A singular humble loyalty and genuine attachment to her mistress never failed in poor Helen as the chief redeeming virtues. Endless was her mistress's amusement (among other feelings) with the talk and ways of this poor Helen; which as reported to me, in their native dialect and [Page 122]  manner, with that perfect skill, sportfulness, and loving grace of imitation, were to me also among the most amusing things I ever heard. E.g. her criticism of Arthur Helps's book (for Helen was a great reader, when she could snatch a bit of time); criticism of Miss Martineau's (highly didactic) 'Maid of All Work ' - and 'a rail insipid trick in Darwin to tell Miss Martno!' &c., &c. Poor Helen, well does she deserve this bit of record from me. Her end was sad, and like a thing of fate; as perhaps will be noticed farther on.

This letter I vaguely incline to date about autumn 1840, though sure evidence is quite wanting.

'Toam tuik ta hint.' Our little Craw Jean had a long, inane, comically solemn dialogue to report of an excellent simple old Mrs. Clough (brother Alick's mother-in-law); of which this about 'Toam' (her own Tom) was a kind of cardinal point or (solemnly inane) corner-stone.

'Stream of time' &c., 'Oh Lord, we're a' sailing down the stream of time into the ocean of eternity: for Christ's sake: Amen,' was the Grace before meat (according to myth) of some extempore Christian suddenly called on, and at a loss for words.

To Mrs. Carlyle, Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Autumn, 1840.

Dear Mother, - I make no excuse for being so long in complying with your often-repeated hint that I should write to you; it is for the like of 'Tom' to 'take the hint;' but for me, your highly original daughter-in-law, I am far beyond hints, or even direct commands in the matter of letter-writing. I have now, in fact, no character to lose, and make myself quite comfortable in the reflection that, far [Page 123]  from feeling any indignant surprise at my silence, my friends will henceforth receive any communication I may vouchsafe them in the course of years as an unexpected favour for which they cannot be too thankful. What do I do with my time, you wonder? With such 'a right easy seat of it,' one might fancy, I should be glad to write a letter now and then, just to keep the devil from my elbow. But Alick's Jenny and all of you were never more mistaken than when you imagine a woman needs half-a-dozen children to keep her uneasy in a hundred ways without that. For my part, I am always as busy as possible; on that side at least I hold out no encouragement to the devil; and yet, suppose you were to look through a microscope, you might be puzzled to discover a trace of what I do. Nevertheless, depend upon it, my doings are not lost; but, invisible to human eyes, they 'sail down the stream of time into the ocean of eternity,' and who knows but I may find them after many days?

At present, I have got a rather heavy burden on my shoulders, the guarding of a human being from the perdition of strong liquors. My poor little Helen has been gradually getting more and more into the habit of tippling, until, some fortnight ago, she rushed down into a fit of the most decided drunkenness that I ever happened to witness. Figure the head of the mystic school, and a delicate female [Page 124]  like myself, up till after three in the morning, trying to get the maddened creature to bed; not daring to leave her at large for fear she should set fire to the house or cut her own throat. Finally we got her bolted into the back kitchen, in a corner of which she had established herself all coiled up and fuffing like a young tiger about to spring, or like the Bride of Lammermoor (if you ever heard of that profane book). Next day she looked black with shame and despair; and the next following, overcome by her tears and promises and self-upbraidings, I forgave her again, very much to my own surprise. About half an hour after this forgiveness had been accorded, I called her to make me some batter; it was long of coming, and I rang the bell; no answer. I went down to the kitchen, to see the meaning of all this delay, and the meaning was very clear, my penitent was lying on the floor, dead-drunk, spread out like the three legs of Man,[1] with a chair upset beside her, and in the midst of a perfect chaos of dirty dishes and fragments of broken crockery; the whole scene was a lively epitome of a place that shall be nameless. And this happened at ten in the morning! All that day she remained lying on the floor insensible, or occasionally sitting up like a little bundle of dirt, executing a sort of whinner; we could not imagine how she came to be so long in sobering; but [Page 125]  it turned out she had a whole bottle of whisky hidden within reach, to which she crawled till it was finished throughout the day.

After this, of course, I was determined that she should leave. My friends here set to work with all zeal to find me a servant; and a very promising young woman came to stay with me till a permanent character should turn up. This last scene 'transpired' on the Wednesday; on the Monday she was to sail for Kirkcaldy. All the intervening days, I held out against her pale face, her tears, her despair; but I suffered terribly, for I am really much attached to the poor wretch, who has no fault under heaven but this one. On the Sunday night I called her up to pay her her wages, and to inquire into her future prospects. Her future prospects! it was enough to break anybody's heart to hear how she talked of them. It was all over for her on this earth, plainly, if I drove her away from me who alone have any influence with her. Beside me, she would struggle; away from me, she saw no possibility of resisting what she had come to regard as her fate. You may guess the sequel: I forgave her a third time, and a last time. I could not deny her this one more chance. The creature is so good otherwise. Since then she has abstained from drink, I believe in every shape, finding abstinence, like old Samuel Johnson, easier than temperance; but how long she may be [Page 126]  strong enough to persevere in this rigid course, in which lies her only hope, God knows. I am not very sanguine; meanwhile I feel as if I had adopted a child, I find it necessary to take such an incessant charge of her, bodily and mentally; and my own body and soul generally keep me in work enough, without any such additional responsibility.

Carlyle is reading voraciously, great folios, preparatory to writing a new book. For the rest, he growls away much in the old style; but one gets to feel a certain indifference to his growling; if one did not, it would be the worse for one. I think he committed a great error in sending away his horse; it distinctly did him good; and would have done him much more good if he could have 'damned the expense.' Even in an economical point of view, he would have gained more in the long run by increased ability to work than he spent in making himself healthier; but a wilful man will have his way.

My kind love to Isabella, and all of them; I hope she is stronger now - it was all she seemed to want, to be a first-rate wife. I never forgot her kindness to me last year; though I do not write to her any more than to others.

Affectionately yours,


[Page 127] 


To Mrs. Stirling,[1] Cottage, Dundee.

5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Jan. 8, 1841.

My dear Susan, - I always thought you a woman of admirable good sense; and I rejoice to see that marriage has not spoiled you. This speaks well for your husband too; for I defy any woman, unless she be no better than a stone, to hinder herself from taking something of the colour of the man she lives beside all days of the year. We women are naturally so impressible, so imitative! the more shame to men if we have all the failings they charge us with! Our very self-will, I believe, which they make such a fuss about, is, after all, only a reflex of their own! I find in your letter no less than three several proofs of this admirable good sense; first, you love me the same as ever - that is highly sensible in you; secondly, you improve in admiration of my husband's writings - that also is highly sensible; thirdly, you understand that my silence means nothing but - that I am silent, and that (to use my mother's favourite phrase) is sensible to 'a degree.' Indeed, if my silence is indicative of anything at all, dear Susan, it indicates more trust in your steady sentiments of kindness towards me than I have in the generality of people who profess to love me best. If I thought that you imagined me forgetful, when I am only not making [Page 128]  periodical affirmations of my remembrance of you, and that you were to cast me out of your remembrance in consequence, I would write certainly - would conquer my growing repugnance to letter-writing, rather than risk the loss of your affection; but I should not feel so grateful to you as now, with the assurance I have, that I may give way to my indolence, and keep your affection nevertheless.

In fact, in my character of Lion's Wife here, I have writing enough to do, by constraint, for disgusting even a Duchess of Orleans - applications from young ladies for autographs; passionate invitations to dine; announcements of inexpressible longings to drink tea with me; - all that sort of thing, which, as a provincial girl, I should have regarded perhaps as high promotion, but which at this time of day I regard as very silly and tiresome work; fritters away my time in fractionary writing, against the grain, and leaves me neither sense nor spirit for writing the letters which would suggest themselves in course of nature. Dear Susan, I am sorry to say this world looks always the more absurd to me the longer I live in it! But, thank Heaven, I am not the shepherd set over them; so let them go their way: while we, who are a little higher than the sheep, go ours! Now don't be fancying that I am growing into a 'proud Pharisee,' which were even a degree worse than a sheep! Not at all! I have a bad nervous system, [Page 129]  keeping me in a state of greater or less physical suffering all days of my life, and that is the most infallible specific against the sin of spiritual pride that I happen to know of.

I am better this winter, however, than I have been for the last four winters. Only the confinement (I never get across the threshold in frost) is rather irksome, and increases my liability to headache; but it is a great improvement to have no cough and to be able to keep in the perpendicular.

For my husband, he is as usual; never healthy, never absolutely ill; protesting against 'things in general' with the old emphasis; with an increased vehemence just at present, being in the agonies of getting under way with another book. He has had it in his head for a good while to write a 'Life of Cromwell,' and has been sitting for months back in a mess of great dingy folios, the very look of which is like to give me locked-jaw.

I never see Mrs. Empson; she lives at a distance from me, in another sphere of things. Her being here, however, is an advantage to me, in bringing her father oftener to London; and he does what he can to seem constant. I shall always love him, and feel grateful to him; all my agreeable recollections of Edinburgh I owe to him directly or indirectly; the delightful evenings at 'Mr. John's,' and so much else.

By the way, Susan, I can never understand what [Page 130]  you mean by talking of gratitude to me. The gratitude, it seems to me, should be all on my side. But when people love one another, there is no need of debating such points.

I see Mr. C----- once a week or so; he did seem to get a great good of me (perhaps I should say of us; but it is more sincere as I have written it) for a year or two; but latterly I think he has got some new light, or darkness, or I know not what, which makes him seek my company more from habit than from any pleasure he finds in it - 'the waur[1] for himsel','[2] - as they say in Annandale. In London, above all places on earth, 'il n'y a point d'homme nécessaire;' if one gives over liking you, another begins - that is to say if you be likeable, which I may, without outrage to modesty and probability, infer that I am, since so many have liked me, first and last. There is you, away at Dundee, have gone on liking me without the slightest encouragement, for so many mortal years now! And even 'Mr. John,'[3] could not help liking me, though he met me with prepossession that 'I had been a dreadful flirt;' so at least he told his brother, I remember, who in right brotherly fashion reported it to me the first opportunity. If I had only been still unmarried, and had not been obliged to look sharper to my reputation, [Page 131]  I would have made your quiet Mr. John pay for that speech!

What a likeable man, by the way, your brother in Edinburgh is;[1] so intelligent and so unpretentious - a combination not often to be found in Edinburgh; so quietly clever and quietly kind. I love quiet things; and quiet good things will carry me to enthusiasm; though, for the rest, my quality of enthusiasm is pretty well got under.

God bless you, dear. Kind regards to your husband and sister. Carlyle joins me in all good wishes.

Your affectionate



This of the 'bit of lace' I can throw no light on. Some kindly gift of Sterling's, thrust in by an unexpected crevice (in which he had great expertness and still greater alacrity)? The black color too suggestive in the place it went to? - T. C.

To the Rev. John Sterling, Penzance.

Chelsea: April 29, 1841.

My dear John, - I do not know whether for you, as for old Burton, 'a woman in tears be as indifferent a spectacle as a goose going barefoot!' If so, I [Page 132]  make you my compliments, and you need not read any further. But if you have still enough of human feeling (or, as my husband would call it, '"Minerva Press" tendency') about you, to feel yourself commoved by such phenomena, it may interest you to know that, on opening your letter the other day, and beholding the little 'feminine contrivance' inside, I suddenly and unaccountably fell a-crying, as if I had gained a loss. I do not know what of tender and sad and 'unspeakable' there lay for my imagination in that lace article, folded up, unskilfully enough, by man's fingers - your fingers; and wrapped round with kind written words. But so it was, I wept; and, if this was not receiving your remembrance in the properest way, I beg of you to read me no lecture on the subject; for your lectures are hateful to me beyond expression, and their only practical result is to strengthen me in my own course.

My husband is not returned yet, is now at his mother's in Scotland.[1] He will come, I suppose, the beginning of next week. These three weeks of solitude have passed very strangely with me. I had been worn out by what the cockneys call 'mental worry.' His jury-trials, his influenza, &c., all things had been against me. For the first time in my life, I could sympathise with Byron's Giaour; [Page 133]  and, so soon as I had the house all to myself; I flung myself on the sofa, with the feeling,

I would not, if I might, be blest.
I want no Paradise - but rest!

And accordingly the scope of my being ever since has been to approximate, as nearly as possible, to nonentity. And I flatter myself that my efforts have been tolerably successful. Day after day has found me stretched out on my sofa with a circulating library book in my hand, which I have read, if at all, in Darley's fashion - 'one eye shut, and the other not open.' Evening after evening, I have dreamt away in looking into the fire, and wondering to see myself here, in this great big absurdity of a world! In short my existence since I was left alone has been an apathy, tempered by emanations of the 'Minerva Press.' Promising! Well, I shall have to return to my post again presently. One has to die at one's post, has one not? The wonderful thing for me is always the prodigiously long while one takes to die. But

That is the mystery of this wonderful history
And you wish that you could tell!

There is a copy of 'Emerson's Essays' come for you here. I wish you good of them. God bless you

Ever your affectionate




[Page 5]

1 Phrase of Basil Montague's.

[Page 8]

1 'Afterwards:' when Carlyle came to write about Camille in the French Revolution. - J. A. F.

[Page 9]

1 About a month before this date, Edward Irving rode to the door one evening, came in and stayed with us some twenty minutes, the one call we ever had of him here - his farewell call before setting out to ride towards Glasgow, as the doctors, helpless otherwise, had ordered. He was very friendly, calm and affectionate, spoke; chivalrously courteous, to her (as I remember): 'Ah, yes,' looking round the room, 'You are like an Eve, make every place you live in beautiful!' He was not sad in manner, but was at heart, as you could notice - serious, even solemn. Darkness at hand, and the weather damp, he could not loiter. I saw him mount at the door, watched till he turned the first corner (close by the rector's garden-door), and had vanished from us for altogether. He died at Glagow before the end of December coming.

[Page 13]

1 I may mention here a fact connected with the burning of this MS. Mill had borrowed it to read, and when in his hands it was in some way destroyed: he came himself to Cheyne Row to confess what had happened. He sat three hours trying to talk of other subjects. When he went away at last, Mrs. Carlyle told me that the first words which Carlyle spoke were: 'Well! Mill, poor fellow, is very miserable; we must try to keep from him how serious the loss is to us.' - J. A. F.

[Page 14]

1 'The grace of God, brethren,' said some (mythical) Methodist, 'is like a round of beef; there is coot and,' &c.

[Page 19]

1 Herstmonceux, May 29, 1835 (Life of Sterling, 1864 edit., p.274).

[Page 21]

1 I remember this 'Buller Soirée,' with 'O'Connell and all the Radical earth' there; good enough for looking at slightly, as in a menagerie. O'Connell I had already seen the figure of, heard the voice of, somewhere; speak to him I never did, nor, in the end, would have done.

[Page 22]

1 Lost to me, or gone to the remnant of an indistinguishable shadow (1873).

2 Lord-Advocate Jeffrey.

3 A rather bouncing young Edinburgh lady, daughter of -----, not in the highest esteem everywhere. Her 'stepping in' (two years ago, in the Edinburgh winter) I have forgotten.

[Page 25]

1 Some old child's verses of this same 'Craw Jean' (considerably laughed at and admired by us in their time).

[Page 29]

1 Assisted in hatching, or bringing from the shell! Chico was a very bad husband and father.

[Page 30]

1 Came Aug. 31. Herstmonceux, where John Sterling still was, had been the kind project of his mother for behoof of my poor suffering Jeannie.

2 Near Watford (Mr. Cunningham, who tragically died soon after).

[Page 31]

1 Just about to finish his re-writing of Vol. I. French Revolution, a task such as he never had before or since!

[Page 33]

1 Carlyle had gone to Annandale at the beginning of October. - J. A. F.

[Page 34]

1 The Edinburgh servant we brought with us to Craigenputtock; the skilfullest we ever had anywhere.

[Page 35]

1 Official in the India House, a friend and admirer of John Mill's.

[Page 36]

1 A title we had for John's father. Signora degli Antoni, the Italian instructress in these months, setting her pupil an epistolary pattern, had thrown off one day a billet as if addressed to Edward Sterling, which began with Stimabile Signor.

2 Was a massive, easy, friendly, dull person, physically one of the best washed I ever saw; American merchant, 'who had made, and again lost, three fortunes'; originally a Nithsdale pedlar boy, 'Black Wull,' by title; 'Silver-headed Packman,' he was often called here.

[Page 37]

1 Scoticè, gun made of quill-barrel for shooting peas (and 'cracking,' which also means pleasantly conversing).

2 Useful Knowledge Craik, poor fellow!

[Page 38]

1 The now thrice-notable 'Crystal Palace,' 'Brompton Boilers,' &c., &c., Henry Cole's wife.

2 Anne Cook (got for me by sister Mary, at Annan).

[Page 39]

1 Degli Antoni.

[Page 41]

1 Helpless phrase of a certain conceited extempore preacher.

2 Anne Cook.

[Page 42]

1 Annandale 'genteel' places or persons.

2 Appears to have had what they call a 'misfortune' there. The uzing, some misfeature of pronunciation, which I have now forgotten.

[Page 43]

1 Goody, with diminutives 'Goodykin,' &c., the common name she had from me.

2 A poor, but lively and healthy, half-idiot and street beggar, in Birmingham, whom I had grown used to, the dirtiest and raggedest of human beings (face never washed, beard a fortnight old, knee-breeches slit at the sides, and become knee-aprons, flapping to and fro over bare, dirty legs), said, one day, under my window, while somebody was vainly attempting to chafe him, 'Damn thee, I's an ornament to society in every direction.' - T. C.

[Page 44]

1 Pepoli.

2 Chelsea Hospital.

3 'Poor fellow, after all!' a phrase of brother John's

4 William IV., soon after his accession, determined one day to see his cellar-regions at Windsor, came upon a vast apartment filled merely with waste masses of cinders: 'What are these?' asked his Majesty, astonished. Attendant officials obsequiously explained. 'It seems to me those would burn!' said his Majesty, kicking the cinders with his boot; and walked on. - Newspaper of the time.

[Page 45]

1 A Haddington family. Dr. Donaldson (of Cambridge celebrity, &c.) eldest son then.

2 Phrase of Irving's.

3 Melancholy shopkeeper in Lamb's Conduit Street (in 1831, whom she ever afterwards dealt with, for what he sold) had stated, in answer to a puppy-kind of customer, the how-much of something. Puppy replied: 'D'you call that cheap?' Whereupon answer, in a tone of mournful indifference: 'I call it neither cheap nor dear; but just the price of the article.'

[Page 46]

1 Note inclosed, from Miss Elliot, an acquaintance of Lady Clare's and my brother's.

2 The now 'Annie Aitken,' I suppose.

[Page 49]

1 'When I come, I come,' laying down her gift of four eggs.

2 'Suffering Remnant,' so the Cameronians called themselves in Claverhouse's time.

3 'A lang, sprawling, ill-put-together thing.' Such had been my mother's definition to her of me as a nurseling.

4 'Thou's gey' (pretty, pronounced gyei) 'ill to deal wi' - mother's allocution to me once, in some unreasonable moment of mine.

[Page 50]

1 Stumbling.

2 Awaken us.

3 Count Pepoli.

[Page 52]

1 Watery stuff

[Page 81]

1 The name was of my giving.

2 Goethe's Wilhelm Meister.

[Page 82]

1 Annandale comic proverb, originating I know not how.

2 'Danton, point de,' &c.

[Page 84]

1 St. Simon (he of 1825, n.b.!).

2 '... point d'homme,' ... Napoleon used to say.

[Page 91]

1 Old Cumberland woman, listening as the newspaper was read, full of battling, warring, and tumult all over the world, exclaimed at last: 'Aye, they'll karry on till Londsdale coom, and he'll soon settle them aw!' A female partner was provided for Chico; on first introducing this latter to me, with what an inimitable air my bright one, recounting her purchase, parodied that Covent Garden chaunt, 'The all-wise, great Creator saw that he ... !' (See p. 266.)

[Page 93]

1 Second course, delivered in the spring of 1838.

[Page 96]

1 Our name for a post-letter in those days. 'Send him a threepenny, then.'

2 Converse of Goody.

[Page 97]

There was a piper had a cow,
And he had nocht to give her;
He took his pipes, and played a spring,
And bade the cow consider.

The cow considered wi' hersel'
That mirth [sportful music] wad ne'er fill her:
'Gie me a pickle pease-strae,
And sell your wind for siller.'
Old Scotch rhyme, reckoned 'pawky,' clever and symbolical, in this house. Gloire! donnez-moi du pain!

2 Next-door neighbour this Dr. M., faithful but headlong and fanatical. His wife was from Edinburgh, a kind of 'Haddington Wilkie' withal; died not long after. Dr. M., unsuccessful otherwise, then volunteered upon some Philo-Nigger Expedition - scandalously sanctioned by a Government in need of votes, though he considered it absurd - and did die, like the others, a few days after reaching the poisonous, swampy river they were sent to navigate.

3 Rigorous navy lieutenant: 'Why, Richard, you're drunk!' 'I've 'ad my allowance, sir, and it's took an effect on me,' answered Richard (Richard Keevil, a wandering, innocent creature from the Gloucester cloth countries latterly, who came to my father's in a starving state, and managed gently to stay five or six months - a favourite, and study, with us younger ones).

4 'Mamma, wine makes cosy,' Reminiscences, vol. ii., p. 99.

[Page 98]

1 Helen was a new maid, of whom more hereafter.

2 Brother James's name for a humble gig, or the like. To 'clatch' is to drag lumberingly.

3 Scotch peasant's term for such phenomena.

4 Amiable Nithsdale gentleman, a lieutenant of foot, who had seen service, nearly killed at New Orleans, &c.

[Page 99]

1 German, durch einander.

2 Servant Helen's term.

3 Daughter of Sir James Mackintosh; among other elderly religious ladies, was a chief admirer of Rev. A. Scott, now nestled silently at Plumstead (died recently professor in Owens College, Manchester).

[Page 100]

1 French Revolution.

[Page 101]

1 Angel, at Albury, editor of the Globe newspaper.

[Page 102]

1 John Carlyle, then expected in London.

[Page 103]

1 Never did, I think.

2 Ambitious thickhead.

3 To the manse there (reverend couple being old acquaintances of both of us).

[Page 104]

1 One of Leigh Hunt's children, on the sight of flowers.

[Page 106]

1 Converse of 'dear.'

2 Lately republished from Fraser's Magazine.

[Page 108]

1 Parodied from Schiller.

2 Common phrase of her mother's.

[Page 109]

1 Hickson, suddenly in Princes Street, Edinburgh, poor woman!

2 Vide Cicero.

3 Scientific meeting.

[Page 111]

1 A M. Rio, once very current in London society; vanished now many years ago.

[Page 113]

1 'Fine yallow deliveries and a'!' exclaimed a goosey maid-servant at Mainhill, seeing a carriage pass in the distance once (in little Craw Jean's hearing).

2 Common preachers' phrase in Scotland.

[Page 115]

1 True instances both; the first of many hundreds, which lasted till the very end.

[Page 116]

1 The Corporate Weavers at Dumfries elected a deacon, or chief of weavers, who was excessively flattered by the honour. In the course of the installation dinner, at some high point of the hep-hep hurrahing, he exclaimed, with sweet pain, 'Oh, gentlemen, remember I am but a man! - T. C. Mrs. Carlyle tells the story of a Bailie at Annan, see p.94. - J. A. F.

[Page 117]

1 Kirkcaldy Helen, one of the notabilities, and also blessings, of our existence here. - T. C.

[Page 124]

1 See any Manx halfpenny, common similitude on those coasts.

[Page 127]

1 Susan Hunter, now married.

[Page 130]

1 Waur, worse

2 Sel' self.

3 Jeffrey.

[Page 131]

1 John Hunter, a worthy and prosperous law official in Edinburgh, residence Craigcrock (Jeffrey's fine villa), fell weak of nerves and died several years ago (note of 1873).

[Page 132]

1 To Milnes's, at Fryston, in 1841, afterwards to Scotland.


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom