A Celebration of Women Writers

"Vol. I (Sect. 2)"
From: Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1883) ed. James Anthony Froude

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom



[Page 134] 

LETTER 29.

This letter, which I did not know of before, must have produced the 'Foreign Quarterly Review' article, 'Characteristics of German Genius,' which occupies pp. 382-422 in vol. i. of Hare's Book. A letter which tells its own story; solely, in regard to 'Forster' it should be known that he was yet but a new untried acquaintance, and that our tone towards or concerning him, both as 'critic' and as ever-obliging friend, greatly improved itself, on the ample trial there was.

That of 'worst critic in England but one' was John Mill's laughing deliverance, one evening, as I still remember, imitated from Chamfort's Dites l'avant-dernier, car il y a presse. - T. C.

To John Sterling, Esq., Falmouth.

Chelsea: Jan. 19, 1842.

My dear Friend, - I find myself engaged to write you a sort of business letter, a thing which lies, one would say, rather out of my sphere. But as I have not troubled you with many letters of late, you need not quarrel with the present, though on a subject as uncongenial to my tastes and habits as it can possibly be to yours, Mr. 'Hurdy-Gurdy.'

There is alive at present in God's universe, and likely to live, a man, Forster by name, a barrister, without practice, residing at number fifty-eight Lincoln's-Inn Fields, not unknown to fame as 'the second worst critic of the age,' who has gained himself a tolerable footing in our house and hearts, [Page 135]  by, I cannot precisely say, what merits. Latterly, Carlyle has not thought him 'so very bad a critic;' for he finds him here and there taking up a notion of his own, 'as if he understood it.' For my part, I have always thought rather well of his judgment; for, from the first, he has displayed a most remarkable clear-sightedness, with respect to myself; thinking me little short of being as great a genius as my husband. And you, by you also his character as a critic has deserved to be redeemed from contempt; for he it was who wrote the article in the 'Examiner' in praise of 'The Election.'[1] Well! all this preamble was not essential to the understanding of what is to follow; but at least it will not help to darken it, which is as much as could be expected of a female writer.

This man, then, has been taking counsel with me - me of all people that could have been pitched upon - how to give new life to a dying Review, 'The Foreign,' namely.[2] It has passed into the hands of new publishers, Chapman and Hall, active and moneyed men, who are intent on raising a corps of new worthy contributors, who are somehow (I do not understand that part of it) to kill and devour the old editor, a Dr. Worthington, who has been for a long time 'sitting on it as an incubus.' What they are to do next, that they will arrange, I suppose, among themselves. Meanwhile, [Page 136]  of course, they are to be handsomely paid for their pains.

Now, in casting our eyes about for men of genius, fit to infuse new life into dead matter, there naturally slid over my lips your name, 'John Sterling, if the "Review" could be helped by a fifty-page article in rhyme!' 'Why not in prose?' said Forster. 'Ah! that is another question; to persuade him to write prose would not be so easy.' 'At all events,' said Forster, with a burst of enthusiasm, 'he can, and shall, and must be applied to.' And, accordingly, he took your address for that purpose. Having consulted with the publishers, for whom he is acting gratuitously as Prime Minister, for the mere love of humanity and his own inward glory, he finds that it were the most promising way of setting about the thing, to apply to you through some personal friend, and he does me the honour of taking me for such, in which I hope he is not mistaken.

To-day I have a letter from him, from which I extract the most important paragraph (most important for the business in hand that is, for it contains an invitation to dinner, with bright schemes for going to the play):- 'Will you propose the article on Dante to Mazzini, and I want you to write and ask John Sterling (indication of celebrity) to write an article for the next "Foreign Quarterly," placing no restraint on his opinions in any way. If he will but consent [Page 137]  to do anything, he may be as radical as he was in his last contribution to Conservatism; you have, if your kindness will take it, full authority from me. This Dr. Worthington, it seems, is to be got rid of, and as speedily as possible. If these two articles are supplied, it is supposed that they will go far towards knocking him on the head - a matter of much desirability. That done, Carlyle must help these active and excellent publishers to a good man.

'Thackeray proposes' (remember all this is strictly private, you who accuse me of blabbing) 'offering to keep a hot kitchen (the grand editorial requisite) on a thousand a year. To that there are one or two objections. But he is going to write an article on France and Louis Philippe, which, if he chooses to take pains, none could do better, &c., &c.'

So there you have my story. Can you do anything with it? Even if it were only for my private consolation, I should like to see some prose from you once more in this world. Think and answer. There is written on the margin of the letter I have quoted, 'The articles as soon as possible!' To which I answered, 'If John Sterling does the thing at all, to be sure he will do it fast.' Carlyle bids me say that he is purposing to write to you in two days.

Remember me in all kindness to your wife, and believe me,

Ever affectionately yours 'til deth,'

JANE CARLYLE. [Page 138] 

I have your little Florentine Villa framed and hung up, and I look at it very often for its own beauty and your sake.[1]



LETTER 30.

The inclosed notes, I suppose, are from Forster. Mrs. Taylor, who used to be well known to us, became afterwards John Mill's wife. - T. C.

To John Sterling, Esq., Falmouth.

Chelsea: Thursday, Jan.-Feb., 1842.

My dear Friend, - The inclosed notes, one to yourself and another to myself, will settle, I hope, the question of the article in a satisfactory manner, without my playing at editors any further, or even dawning further on your astonished sense as the Armida of the 'Foreign Quarterly' (Cavaignac used to call Mrs. Taylor 'the Armida of the "London and Westminster"'). I was clearly born for the ornamental rather than the useful, and I have no faith in anything being done by going into the teeth of one's nature.

You ask me how I like your last sendings? In answer I must begin a good way off. When you took it into your head to make a quarrel with me about 'The Election,'[2] actually to complain of me to my husband! (complaining of me to myself would not [Page 139]  have been half so provoking); when you thus exposed me to you knew not what matrimonial thunders, which, however, did not on that occasion so much as begin to rumble, my husband knowing me to be innocent in the transaction as a sucking dove; I was angry, naturally. Et tu Brute! Had I loved you little, I should not have minded; but loving you much, I regarded myself as a femme incomprise, and, what was still worse, maltreated. And so, there and then, 'I registered' (like O'Connell) 'a vow in heaven, never to meddle or make with manuscript of yours any more, unless at your own particular bidding. Accordingly, these manuscripts, sent to Carlyle, I have not had once in my hands. The best passages that he found in them he read aloud to me; that was his pleasure, and so I felt myself at liberty to hear and admire. But from hearing only the best passages, one can form no true judgment as to the whole, so I am not prepared to offer any. Now that you have asked me my opinion, I should have fallen with all my heart to reading 'Strafford,' which was still here; but Carlyle, I knew, did not like it as a whole, whereas I liked extremely those passages he had read to me, and I liked better to part with it in the admiring mood than the disparaging one; and who could say, if I read it all, but I should turn to his way of thinking about it? So there you have my confession! Only this I need to tell you - I would [Page 140]  not give your last letter to C. for the best drama of Shakespeare! and I care little what comes of John Sterling the poet, so long as John Sterling the man is all that my heart wishes him to be.

God bless you, and remember me always as

Your true friend,

JANE CARLYLE.

Shortly after this letter there came ill news from Templand - ill news, or which to her vigilant affection had an ill sound in them, and which indeed was soon followed by a doleful and irreparable calamity there. Something in a letter of her mother's, touching lightly enough on some disorder of health she was under, and treating the case as common and of no significance, at once excited my poor Jeannie's suspicion, and I had to write to Dr. Russell,[1] asking confidentially, and as if for myself only, what the real state of matters was! The Doctor answered cautiously, yet on the whole hopefully, though not without some ambiguity, which was far enough from quieting our suspicions here; and accordingly, almost by next letter (February 23 or 21 I find it must have been), came tidings of 'a stroke,' apoplectic, paralytic; immediate danger now over, but future danger fatally evident!

My poor little woman instantly got ready. That same night (wild, blustering, rainy night, darkness without us and within), I escorted her to Euston Square for the evening train to Liverpool. She was deaf, or all but deaf, to any words of hope I could urge. Never shall I forget her look as she sat in the railway carriage, seat next the window, still close by me, but totally silent; her beautiful eyes full of sorrowful affection, gloomy pain, and expectation, gazing [Page 141]  steadily forward, as if questioning the huge darkness, while the train rolled away. Alas, at Liverpool, her cousins (Maggie still remembers it here, after twenty-seven years) had to answer, 'All is over at Templand, cousin, gone, gone!' and with difficulty, and with all the ingenuity of love and pity, got her conveyed to bed. February 26, 1842, her mother had departed; that 'first stroke' mercifully the final one. 'Uncle John,' &c., from Liverpool, had found now no sister to welcome him; blithe Templand all fallen dark and silent now; Sister Jeannie, Father Walter, Sister Grizzie also no more there.

I followed to Liverpool two days after (funeral already not to be reached by me), found my poor Jeannie still in bed, sick of body, still more of mind and heart, miserable as I had never seen her. The same night I went by mailcoach (no railway farther for me) to Carlisle, thence through Annan, &c., and was at Templand next morning for a late breakfast. Journey in all parts of it still strangely memorable to me. Weather hard, hoar-frosty, windy; wrapt in an old dressing-gown with mackintosh buttoned round it, I effectually kept out the cold, and had a strange night of it, on the solitary coach-roof, under the waste-blowing skies, through the mountains, to Carlisle. It must have been Saturday, I now find, Carlisle market-day. Other side of that city we met groups of market-people; at length groups of Scotch farmers or dealers solidly jogging thither, in some of which I recognised old schoolfellows! A certain 'Jock Beattie,' perhaps twelve years my senior, a big good-humoured fellow finishing his arithmetics, &c., who used to be rather good to me, him I distinctly noticed after five-and-twenty years, grown to a grizzled, blue-visaged sturdy giant, sunk in comforters and woollen wrappages, plod-plodding there, at a stout pace, and still good-humouredly, to Carlisle market (as a big bacon-dealer, &c., it afterwards appeared), [Page 142]  and had various thoughts about him, far as he was from thought of me! Jock's father, a prosperous enough country-carpenter, near by the kirk and school of Hoddam, was thrice-great as a ruling-elder (indeed, a very long-headed, strictly orthodox man), well known to my father, though I think silently not so well approved of in all points. 'Wull Beattie,' was my father's name for him. Jock's eldest brother, 'Sandy Beattie,' a Probationer (Licentiate of the Burgher Church), stepping into our school one day, my age then between seven and eight, had reported to my father that I must go into Latin, that I was wasting my time otherwise, which brought me a Ruddiman's 'Rudiments,' something of an event in the distance of the past. At Annan, in the rimy-hazy morning, I sat gazing on the old well-known houses, on the simmering populations now all new to me - very strange, these old unaltered stone-and-mortar edifices, with their inmates changed and gone! - meanwhile there stalked past, in some kind of rusty garniture against the cold, a dull, gloomy, hulk of a figure, whom I clearly recognised for 'Dr. Waugh,'[1] luckless big goose (with something better in him too, which all went to failure and futility), who is to me so tragically memorable! Him I saw in this unseen manner: him and no other known to me there - him also for the last time. Six miles farther, I passed my sister Mary Austin's farmstead in Cummertrees. Poor kind Mary! little did she dream of me so near! At Dumfries, my Sister Jean, who had got some inkling, was in waiting where the coach stopped; she half by force hurried me over to her house, which was near, gave me a hot cup of tea, &c., and had me back again in plenty of time. Soon after 10 A.M. I was silently set down by the wayside, beckoned a hedger working not far off to carry my portmanteau the bit of furlong necessary, and, with thoughts enough articulate [Page 143]  and inarticulate, entered the old Templand now become so new and ghastly.

For two months and more I had to continue there, sad but not unhappy. Good John Welsh with his eldest daughter Helen and a lady cousin of his, good active people, were there to welcome me, and had the house all in order. In about a week these all went, but left an excellent old servant; and for the rest of the time I was as if in perfect solitude - my converse with the mute universe mainly. Much there was to settle, and I had to speak and negotiate with various people, Duke's farm-agents; but that was only at intervals and for brief times; and, indeed, all that could have been finished soon, had the agent people (factor, subfactors, &c., &c.) been definite and alert with me, which they by no means were. Nay, ere long, I myself grew secretly to like the entire seclusion, the dumb company of earth and sky, and did not push as I might have done. Once or twice I drove across the hills to Annandale; had one of my brothers, Jamie or Alick, on this or the other 'errand,' over to me for a day; had my dear old mother for perhaps a week at one time; I had also friendly calls to make (resolutely refusing all dinners); but on the whole felt that silence was the wholesome, strengthening, and welcome element. I walked a great deal, my thoughts sad and solemn, seldom or never meanly painful - sometimes in the great joyless stoicism (great as life itself), sometimes of victorious or high. The figure of the actual terrestrial 'spring' (the first I had seen for years, the last I ever saw) was beautiful, symbolic to me, full of wild grandeur and meanings. By day, now bright sunshine and a tinge of hopeful green, then suddenly the storm-cloud seen gathering itself far up in the centre of the hills, and anon rushing down in mad fury, by its several valleys (Nith, &c., &c., which I could count); a canopy of circular storm, split into [Page 144]  spokes, and whitening everything with snow! I did not read much - nothing that I now recollect: 'Cromwell' books, which were then my serious reading, were, of course, all in Chelsea. By some accident, now forgotten, I had slid into something of correspondence with Lockhart more than I ever had before or after; three or four altogether friendly, serious, and pleasant notes from him I remember there, which I doubt are not now in existence. A hard, proud, but thoroughly honest, singularly intelligent, and also affectionate man, whom in the distance I esteemed more than perhaps he ever knew. Seldom did I speak to him; but hardly ever without learning and gaining something. From 'Satan Montgomery,' too, I was surprised by a letter or two, invoking me (absurdly enough) to 'review' some new book of his (rhymed rigmarole on 'Luther,' I believe), 'Oh, review it, you who can; you who,' &c., &c.! Windy soul, flung aloft by popular delusion, he soon after died with all his vanities and glories!

My plan of business had at first been, 'Let us keep this house and garden as they are, and sublet the land; no prettier place of refuge for us could be in the world !' But my poor darling shrank utterly from that, could not hear of it in her broken heart; which, alas, was natural too; so I had to get the lease valued, cancelled; sell off everything, annihilate all vestige of our past time there, a thing I now again almost regret; and certainly, for the moment, it was in itself a very sad operation. The day of the household sale, which was horrible to me, I fled away to Crawford Churchyard (20 miles off, through the pass of Dalveen, &c.), leaving my brothers in charge of everything; spent the day there by my mother-in-law's grave and in driving thither and back; the day was of bright weather, the road silent and solitary. I was not very miserable; it was rather like a day of religious worship, till in the evening, within short [Page 145]  way of Templand again, I met people carrying furniture (Oh heaven); found Templand a ruin, as if sown with salt; and had, from various causes, an altogether sorry night in Thornhill. Tedious pedantic 'factor' still lingering and loitering, I had still to wait at Scotsbrig, with occasional rides across to him, and messages and urgencies, before he would conclude; 'paltry little strutting creature,' thought I sometimes (wrongfully, I have been told; at any rate, the poor little soul is now dead, requiescat, requiescat!). It was not till the beginning of May that I got actually back to Chelsea, where my poor sorrow-stricken darling with Jeannie, her Liverpool cousin, had been all this while; and of course, though making little noise about it, was longing to have me back.

Her letters during those two months of absence seem to be all lost. I remember their tone of mournful tenderness; the business part, no doubt, related to the bits of memorials and household relics I was to bring with me, which, accordingly, were all carefully packed and conveyed, and remain here in pious preservation to this day: a poor praying child, some helpless enough rustic carving in funeral jet, commemorative of 'John Welsh'; these and other such things, which had pleased her mother, though in secret not her, she now accepted with repentant fondness, and kept as precious. She had great care about matters of that kind; had a real, though unbelieving, notion about omens, luck, 'first foot' on New Year's morning, &c.; in fact, with the clearest and steadiest discerning head, a tremulously loving heart! I found her looking pale, thin, weak; she did not complain of health, but was evidently suffering that way too: what she did feel was of the mind, of the heart sunk in heaviness; and of this also she said little, even to me not much. Words could not avail: a mother and mother's love were gone, irrevocable; the sunny fields of the past had all become sunless, [Page 146]  fateful, sorrowful, and would smile no more! A mother dead: it is an epoch for us all; and to each one of us it comes with a pungency as if peculiar, a look as of originality and singularity! Once or oftener she spoke to me in emphatic self-reproach, in vehement repentance about her mother: though seldom had any daughter intrinsically less ground for such a feeling. But, alas, we all have ground for it! could we but think of it sooner; inexpressible the sadness to think of it too late. That little fact of the 'two candles' mentioned above,[1] reserved in sad penitence to be her own death-lights after seven and twenty years - what a voice is in that, piercing to one's very soul! All her mother's 'poor people,' poor old half-crazy 'Mary Mills,' and several others (for Mrs. Welsh was ever beneficent and soft of heart), she took the strictest inheritance of, and punctually transmitted from her own small pin-money their respective doles at the due day, till the last of them died and needed no gift more. I well remember, now with emotion enough, the small bank cheques I used to write for her on those occasions, always accurately paid me on the spot, from her own small, small fund of pin-money (I do believe, the smallest any actual London lady, and she was ever emphatically such, then had). How beautiful is noble poverty! richer, perhaps, than the noblest wealth! For the rest, I too have my self-reproaches; my sympathy for her, though sincere and honest, was not always perfect; no, not as hers for me in the like case had been. Once, and once only, she even said to me (I forget altogether for what) some thrice-sad words, 'It is the first time you show impatience with my grief, dear' - words which pain my heart at this moment. Ah me! 'too late'; I also too late!

The summer could not but pass heavily in this manner; but it did grow quieter and quieter. Little cousin Jeannie [Page 147]  was very affectionate and good; my own return had brought something of light into the household; various kind friends we had, who came about us diligently. Time itself, the grand soother and physician, was silently assuaging - never fails to do so, unless one is oneself too near the finis! Towards autumn Mrs. Buller, who had at the first meeting, years ago, recognised my Jeannie, and always, I think, liked her better and better, persuaded her to a visit of some three weeks out to Troston in Suffolk, where Mrs. Buller herself and husband were rusticating with the Rev. Reginald, their youngest son, who was parson there. This visit took effect, and even prospered beyond hope; agreeable in every essential way; entertaining to the parties; and lasted beyond bargain. It was the first reawakening to the sight of life for my poor heavy-laden one; a salutary turning aside, what we call diversion, of those sad currents and sad stagnancies of thought into fruitfuller course; and, I think, did her a great deal of good. Lucid account is given of it in the six following letters which we have now arrived at, which I still recollect right well. - T. C.

[Before these letters, I introduce two of many written in the interval by Mrs. Carlyle to other friends after her mother's death. The first is to the wife of the physician who attended Mrs. Welsh in her last illness. - J. A. F.]

LETTER 31.

To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Tuesday, April 1842.

My dear Mrs. Russell, - I sit down to write to you at last! But how to put into written words what lies for you in my heart! If I were beside you, I feel as if I should throw myself on your neck, and [Page 148]  cry myself to rest like a sick child. At this distance, to ask in cold writing all the heart-breaking things I would know of you, and to say all the kind things I would say for her and myself, is indeed quite impossible for me. You will come and see me, will you not, before very long? I can never go there again; but you will come to me? travelling is made so easy now! And I should feel such gratification in receiving into my own house one who was ever so dearly welcome in hers, and who, of all who loved her, was, by one sad chance and another, the only one whose love was any help to her when she most needed our love! She blessed you for the comfort you gave her, and you shall be blessed for it here and hereafter. The dying blessing of such a pure fervent heart as hers cannot have been pronounced on you in vain; and take my blessing also, 'kind sweet' woman! a less holy one, but not less sincerely given!

Will you wear the little thing I inclose in remembrance of me, and of this time? You will also receive, through my cousin in Liverpool, a little box, and scarf, of hers, which I am sure you will like to have; and along with these will be sent to your care a shawl for Margaret Hiddlestone, who is another that I shall think of with grateful affection, as long as I live, for the comfort which she bestowed on her during the last weeks. I think Dr. Russell has some of her books; I desired that he should have them. He has [Page 149]  given me an inestimable gift in that letter; for which I deeply thank him, and for so much else. Remember me to your father. I sent him the poor old Tablet last week; I know he used to get it from her. Will you write two or three lines to my aunt Ann - you sometimes write to her, I believe - and say to her that, although returned to London, and a good deal better in health, I am still incapable of much exertion of any sort, and have not yet set about answering my letters? She sent me a long sermon, to which she has, no doubt, looked for some reply; it was well meant, and I would not offend her, but I am not up to correspondences of that sort just now.

All good be with you all. Think of me, and pray for me; I have much need of more help than lies in myself, to bear up against the stroke that has fallen on me.

Ever affectionately yours

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 32.

To Miss Margaret Welsh,[1] Liverpool.

Chelsea: Friday, July 15, 1842.

My dear Maggie, - It was a good thought in you to send me the little purse, and I feel very grateful to you for it. This last birthday was very sad for me, as you may easily suppose, very unlike what it [Page 150]  was last year, and all former years; and I needed all the heartening kind souls could give me. But, by your kindness and that of others, the day was got over with less of a forsaken feeling than could have been anticipated. Only think of my husband, too, having given me a little present! he who never attends to such nonsenses as birthdays, and who dislikes nothing in the world so much as going into a shop to buy anything, even his own trowsers and coats; so that, to the consternation of cockney tailors, I am obliged to go about them. Well, he actually risked himself in a jeweller's shop, and bought me a very nice smelling-bottle![1] I cannot tell you how wae his little gift made me, as well as glad; it was the first thing of the kind he ever gave to me in his life. In great matters he is always kind and considerate; but these little attentions, which we women attach so much importance to, he was never in the habit of rendering to anyone; his up-bringing, and the severe turn of mind he has from nature, had alike indisposed him towards them. And now the desire to replace to me the irreplaceable, makes him as good in little things as he used to be in great.

Helen's box arrived this morning; so like a Templand box! Alas, alas! those preserves! I had thought about making some all this time, and [Page 151]  never could bring myself to set about it. It was not only to make them, but to learn to make them, for me; and I had finally settled it with myself that I must be stronger before I did such out-of-the-way things. So that in every way Helen's present is welcome; most of all welcome for the kind consideration it shows for my helplessness, and the quantity of really disagreeable labour she has imposed on herself for my sake. Give her my kindest love, and say I will write in a day or two to herself. I have been meaning to write to her every day this week back, but the pigs have always run through the good intention.

Jeannie expresses surprise at the fancy of 'sending coffee to Chelsea'; but, for my share, I find the 'fancy' extremely reasonable, considering that when I was in Liverpool I brought coffee from there to Chelsea, and a very good speculation it turned out.

Thank my uncle for his golden kiss. I am thinking seriously what to do with it, as I never eat snaps; and besides would rather invest such an amount of capital in something of a permanent character, that might remind me of him more agreeably than by an indigestion; but, for my life, I cannot fix upon anything that I need, and to buy something that I feel to be superfluous is so little in my way! I think I shall let it be in the purse for good luck till winter, [Page 152]  and then buy something particularly cosy to put about my throat.

As to 'Miss Jeannie's' return, I can only tell you that neither I nor anybody else hereabouts show any symptoms of 'tiring of her;' the first person to tire, I imagine, will be herself. Her picture is come home from the frame-maker, and looks very fine indeed in its gilt ornamentality. I think it perfectly like, and a beautiful little picture withal, wherein, however, I differ from many persons, who say it 'is not flattered enough'; as if a picture must needs be flattered to be what it ought to be.

We went down the water last night to take tea with the Chaplain of Guy's Hospital; found him and his wife in the country, and had to return tea-less, rather belated, and extremely cold; the consequence of which bêtise is, that to-day I am hoarse, with a soreish head and soreish throat; so you will excuse my horrible writing. God bless you all.

Ever your affectionate Cousin,

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 33.

The Buller family consisted of three sons: Charles, M.P. &c., a man of distinguished faculties and qualities, who was now at length rising into recognition, influence, and distinction; and might have risen far, had his temper of mind been more stubbornly earnest; perhaps I may say, had his bodily constitution been more robust! For he was of weak health, lamed of a leg in childhood; had an airy winged turn of thought, [Page 153]  flowing out in lambencies of beautiful spontaneous wit and fancy, which were much admired in society, and too much attracted him thither; so that, with all his integrity, cleverness, and constant veracity of intellect and of character, he did not, nor ever could, as a 'reformer,' so much express his inborn detestation of the base and false by practically working to undo it, as by showering witty scorn upon it; in which, indeed, I never saw his rival, had that been the way to do good upon it. Poor Charles, only five years afterwards he died, amid universal regret, which did not last long, nor amount to anything! He had procured for his younger brother Arthur, who was my other pupil, some law appointment in Ceylon, which proved sufficient; and for his youngest brother Reginald (who used to dine with me in Edinburgh in the tutor times, an airy, pen-drawing, skipping clever enough little creature then) a richish country living; where, as utterly stupid somnolent 'Reverend Incumbent,' he placidly vegetated thenceforth, and still vegetates. Thackeray the novelist had been a college companion of his own; that perhaps is now his chief distinction.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Buller, senior, who now led a somewhat nomadic life, in the manner of ex-Indians of distinction, were superior people both; persons of sound judgment, of considerable culture and experience, of thoroughly polite manners (Madam considerably in the Indian style, as ex-'queen of Calcutta,' which she was, with a great deal of sheet-lightning in her ways). Charles, senior, was considerably deaf, a real sorrow to one so fond of listening to people of sense; for the rest, like his wife, a person of perfect probity, politeness, truthfulness, and of a more solid type than she; he read (idly, when he must), rode for exercise, was, above all, fond of chess, in which game he rarely found his superior. Intrinsically these excellent people had from the first, and all along, been very good to me; never boggled at my rustic [Page 154]  outside or melancholic dyspeptic ways, but took, with ardent welcome, whatever of best they could discern within - over-estimating all, not under-estimating - especially not 'the benefit,' &c. Charles, junior, was getting of me. Indeed, talent of all real kinds was dear to them (to the lady especially); and at bottom the measure of human worth to both. Nobody in London, accordingly, read sooner what my rural Jeannie intrinsically was; discerned better what graces and social resources might lie under that modest veiling; or took more eagerly to profiting by these capabilities whenever possible. Mrs. Buller was, by maiden name, Kirkpatrick, a scion of the Closeburn (Dumfriesshire) people, which, in its sort, formed another little tie. - T. C.

To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.

Troston, near St. Edmundsbury, Suffolk:
Friday, Aug. 11, 1842.

Here I am then, dearest, established at Troston Rectory, my clothes all in the drawers; one night over; and for the rest, the body and soul of me 'as well as can be expected.' The journey was less fatiguing than we had supposed; the coach got into Bury at three instead of five; and Mr. Buller and the carriage revealed themselves immediately to my searching eyes. Except my parasol, I committed no further stupidity. At eleven o'clock I ate a small Ghent loaf, or the greater part of it (and a very good little loaf it proved to be), a small biscuit, and a bit of Jeannie's barley-sugar; and at two I ate the Ghent ... proved to be grey rye with currants in it. I had also, through the politeness of the gentleman in [Page 155]  the grey jacket, a glass of water, slightly favoured with onions. We did not sit in coach on the railway; they put us into a railway carriage, only leaving the luggage in the coach. The country, most part of the way, reminded me of East Lothian; hereabouts it is richer, and better wooded. The harvest was going on briskly - this to show you that I did not sit 'with my eyes on the apron of the gig.'

My reception here was most cordial: Mrs. Buller met me with open arms (literally), and called me 'dear, dear Mrs. Carlyle'; which, from a woman so little expansive, was highly flattering. She looks dreadfully ill; as if she were only kept alive by the force of her own volition; and is more out of spirits than I ever saw her. No wonder! for little Theresa is gone away, and they feel her loss as much as if she had been their real child. Theresa's mother has fallen ill - of consumption, the doctors say - and is ordered to the South of France, as the only means of prolonging her life for a year or so. She wished to have her child go with her, and Mrs. Buller could not resist her wishes, under the circumstances; so the little thing was sent off to her, attended by a governess, three days ago. The mother is a most amiable and unfortunate woman, Mrs. Buller says; and she seems to have been on the most intimate terms with her. But Mrs. Buller reads George Sand, like me. [Page 156] 

This rectory is a delightful place to be in, in warm weather; but in winter, it must be the reverse of comfortable; all the room-windows opening as doors into the garden, vines hanging over them, &c., &c. It is a sort of compromise between a country parsonage, and an aristocratic cottage; and compromises never are found to answer, I think, in the long run. It stands in the midst of green fields and fine tall trees; with the church (if such an old dilapidated building can be called a church) within a bowshot of it. Around the church is a little quiet-looking church-yard, which, with the sun shining on it, does not look at all sad. A foot-path about half-a-yard wide, and overgrown with green, and strewn with fallen apples, cuts across the bit of green field between the church and the rectory, and being the only road to the church, one may infer from it several things!

I went into the church last night with Reginald, while Mrs. Buller was having her drive; and when I looked at him and it, and thought of the four hundred and fifty living souls who were to be saved through such means, I could almost have burst into tears. Anything so like the burial-place of revealed religion you have never seen, nor a rector more fit to read its burial-service! The church-bell rings, night and morning, with a plaintive clang. I asked, 'Was it for prayers?' 'No, it was to warn the gleaners that it [Page 157]  was their time to go out and to come in.' 'Monsieur, cela vous fera un,' &c.[1]

Let no mortal hope to escape night-noises so long as he is above ground! Here, one might have thought that all things, except perhaps the small birds rejoicing, would have let one alone, and the fact is that, with one devilry after another, I have had hardly any sleep, for all so dead-weary as I lay down. Just as I was dropping asleep, between eleven and twelve, the most infernal serenade commenced, in comparison of which the shrieking of Mazeppa[2] is soothing melody. It was an ass, or several asses, braying as if the devil were in them, just under my open window! It ceased after a few minutes, and I actually got to sleep, when it commenced again, and I sprang up with a confused notion that all the Edinburgh watchmen were yelling round the house, and so on all night! An explosion of ass-brays every quarter of an hour! Then, about four, commenced never so many cocks, challenging each other all over the parish, with a prodigious accompaniment of rooks cawing; ever and anon enlivened by the hooing and squealing of a child, which my remembrance of East Lothian instructed me was some vermin of a creature hired to keep off the crows from the grain. Of course, to-day I have a headache, and if succeeding [Page 158]  nights are not quieter, or if I do not use to the noise, my stay will not be very long. I am now writing in my own room (which is very pleasant to sit in), taking time by the forelock, in case my head should get worse instead of better, and then, if you were cut out of your letter, 'you would be vaixed.'[1] The post leaves Ixworth in the evening, but it is two miles to Ixworth, and the letters get there as they can; Mrs. Buller generally takes her afternoon drive in that direction. Letters come in the morning, and this morning I found the French newspaper on the table for me.

I breakfast with Mr. Buller and Reginald at nine, preferring that to having it brought to my own room as Mrs. Buller recommended.

I will not write any more to-day, but take care of my head, which needs it. So you must give my love to Jeannie, and a kiss, and bid her do the best she can on that short common till I am rested. God bless you, my dear husband. I hope you are rested, and going to Lady Harriet;[2] and I hope you will think of me a great deal, and be as good to me when I return as you were when I came away - I do not desire any more of you.

Your own

J. C.



[Page 159] 

LETTER 34.

To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.

Sunday morning, Aug. 14, 1842.

My Dearest, - There were two notes from you this morning, one on each side of my plate; the first, having the address of Bury, only came along with the third; so be sure you keep by Ixworth in future. As for 'Keeting,' it turned out on investigation to be neither more nor less than Mrs. Buller's way of writing Rectory.

It is much better with me now, and I find myself quite hefted to my new position. But I shall not soon forget the horrors of the first day; feeling myself growing every moment worse; away from you all, and desperated by the notion of confessing myself ill, and going to bed, and causing a fuss among strangers!

After having written to you, I tried sauntering among the trees; tried lying on the sofa in my own room; tried eating dinner (which is rationally served up here at three o'clock), and finally tried a drive in the carriage with Mrs. Buller, all the while saying nothing. But instead of admiring the beauties of Livermere Park, which they took me to see, I was wondering whether I should be able to 'stave off' fainting till I got back. On 'descending from the carriage,'[1] I had [Page 160]  finally to tell Mrs. Buller I was ill and would go to bed. She came upstairs after me, and offered me sal volatile, &c.; but seeing that I would have nothing, and wanted only to be let alone, she, with her usual good-breeding, pinned the bell-rope to my pillow, and went away. A while after, feeling myself turning all cold and strange, I considered would I ring the bell; I did not, and what came of me I cannot tell - whether I fainted, or suddenly fell dead-asleep; but when I opened my eyes, as it seemed, a minute or two after, it was quite dark, and a maid was lighting a night lamp at the table! I asked what o'clock it was? 'Half-past eleven! Would I have tea?' No. 'Did I want anything?' No. She was no sooner gone than I fell naturally asleep; and when the cocks awoke me after daylight, I was quite free of pain, only desperately wearied.

The asses did not return the second night, nor last night, and I manage better or worse to weave the dogs, cocks, and rooks into my dreams. My condition has undergone a further amelioration, from having the mattress laid above the down-bed; it was like to choke me, besides that I lately read somewhere horrible things about the 'miasma' contracted by down-beds from all their various occupants through successive generations! and my imagination got disagreeably excited in consequence.

For the rest, nothing can be better suited to my [Page 161]  wants than the life one has here; so that I feel already quite at home, and almost wishing that you were Rector of Troston - what a blessed exchange would it be for those poor people, whom I hear this moment singing feckless psalms! I could almost find in my heart to run over to the old tower, and give them a word of admonition myself. Reginald does not preach in the morning, he reads service merely, and preaches in the afternoon; I shall go then to see 'how the cretur gets through with it.' I have not made out yet whether there is a downright want in him, or whether his faculties are sunk in shameful indolence. He is grown very much into the figure of Mr. Ogilvie in miniature; when he speaks I dare not look at his mother, and feel it a mercy for his father that he is so deaf. The old people do not mean to remain here, - the climate does not suit Mrs. Buller in winter; but they have not made up their minds whether to remove altogether or to hire some place during the cold weather. Oh dear me! 'They[1] have trouble [Page 162]  that have the worl' and trouble that want it.' I do not know whether it be worst to be without the power of indulging one's reasonable wishes or to have the power of indulging one's whims. So many people we know seem to have no comfort with their money, just because it enables them to execute all their foolish schemes.

Jeannie writes to me that when you discovered my parasol[1] you 'crossed your hands in despair' as if you had seen 'the sun's perpendicular heat' already striking down on me. I thought you would be vexing yourself about it; but I have not missed it in the least; the drive here the first day was cold; and since then I have had a parasol of Mrs. Buller's, [Page 163]  who rejoices in two. And now goodbye, dearest, I have two nice long letters from Jeannie to return some acknowledgment for.

Your own

JANE C.



LETTER 35.

To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.

Troston: Monday, Aug. 15, 1842.

Dearest, - It was the stupidest-looking breakfast this morning without any letters! - the absence of the loaf or coffee-pot would have been less sensibly felt! However, there is no redress against these London Sundays.

I went to church yesterday afternoon, according to programme, and saw and heard 'strange things, upon my honour.'[1]

The congregation consisted of some thirty or forty poor people - chiefly adults; who all looked at me with a degree of curiosity rather 'strong' for the place. Reginald ascended the pulpit in his white vestment, and, in a loud sonorous, perfectly Church-of-England-like tone, gave out the Psalm, whereupon there arose, at the far end of the mouldering church, a shrill clear sound, something between a squeal of agony and the highest tone of a bag-pipe! I looked in astonishment, but could discover nothing; the congregation joined in with the invisible thing, which [Page 164]  continued to assert its predominance, and it was not till the end of the service that Hesketh[1] informed me that the strange instrument was 'a clarionet'! Necessity is the mother of invention.

The service went off quite respectably; it is wonderful how little faculty is needed for saying prayers perfectly well! But when we came to the sermon! - greater nonsense I have often enough listened to - for, in fact, the sermon (Mrs. Buller, with her usual sincerity, informed me before I went) 'was none of his; he had scraped together as many written by other people as would serve him for years, which was much better for the congregation;' but he delivered it exactly as daft Mr. Hamilton[2] used to read the newspaper, with a noble disdain of everything in the nature of a stop; pausing just when he needed breath, at the end of a sentence, or in the middle of a word, as it happened! In the midst of this extraordinary exhortation an infant screamed out, 'Away, mammy! Let's away!' and another bigger child went off in whooping cough! For my part, I was all the while in a state between laughing and crying; nay, doing both alternately. There were two white marble tablets before me, containing one the virtues of a wife and the sorrow of a husband (Capel Loft), the other a beautiful character of a young girl dead of consumption; and both concluded with the [Page 165]  'hopes of an immortality through Jesus Christ.' And there was an old sword and sword-belt hung on the tomb of another, killed in Spain at the age of twenty-eight; he also was to be raised up through Jesus Christ; and this was the Gospel of Jesus Christ I was hearing - made into something worse than the cawing of rooks. I was glad to get out, for my thoughts rose into my throat at last, as if they would choke me; and I privately vowed never to go there when worship was going on again!

We drove as usual in the evening, and also as usual played the game at chess - 'decidedly improper,' but I could not well refuse. I sat in my own room reading for two hours after I went upstairs; slept indifferently, the heat being extreme, and the cocks indefatigable; and now Mrs. Buller has sent me her revised 'Play,' begging I will read it, and speak again my candid opinion as to its being fit to be acted. So goodbye, dearest, I shall have a letter to-morrow. Love to Babbie.[1] I wish she had seen the Queen.

Affectionately yours

JANE CARLYLE.



[Page 166] 

LETTER 36.

To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.

Troston: Wednesday, Aug. 17, 1842.

Dearest, - There will be no news from me at Chelsea this day: it is to be hoped there will not be any great dismay in consequence. The fact is, you must not expect a daily letter; it occasions more trouble in the house than I was at first aware of; nobody goes from here regularly to the Post-office, which is a good two miles off; only, when there are letters to be sent, Mr. and Mrs. Buller take Ixworth in their evening drive and leave them at the post-office themselves. Now, twice over, I have found on getting to Ixworth that, but for my letters, there would have been no occasion to go that road, which is an ugly one, while there are beautiful drives in other directions; besides that, they like, as I observe, to show me the county to the best advantage. They write, themselves, hardly any letters; those that come are left by somebody who passes this way from Ixworth early in the morning. Yesterday after breakfast, Mr. Buller said we should go to Ampton in the evening - a beautiful deserted place belonging to Lord Calthorpe - 'unless,' he added, raising his eyebrows, 'you have letters to take to Ixworth.' Of course I said my writing was not so urgent that it could not be let alone for a day. And to Ampton we went, where Reginald and I clambered over a high gate, with spikes on the top [Page 167]  of it, and enjoyed a stolen march through gardens unsurpassed since the original Eden, and sat in a pavilion with the most Arabian-tale-looking prospect; 'the Kingdom of the Prince of the Black Islands' it might have been! - and peeped in at the open windows of the old empty house - empty of people, that is - for there seemed in it everything mortal could desire for ease with dignity: such quantities of fine bound books in glass bookcases, and easy-chairs, &c., &c. And this lovely place Lord Calthorpe has taken some disgust to; and has never set foot in it again! Suppose you write and ask him to give it to us! He is nearly mad with Evangelical religion, they say; strange that he does not see the sense of letting somebody have the good of what he cannot enjoy of God's providence himself! 'Look at this delicious and deserted place, on the one side, and the two thousand people[1] standing all night before the Provost's door, on the other! And yet you believe,' says Mrs. Buller, 'that it is a good spirit who rules this world.'

You never heard such strange discourse as we go on with, during the hour or so we are alone before dinner! How she contrives, with such opinions or no opinions, to keep herself so serene and cheerful, I am perplexed to conceive: is it the old story of the 'cork going safely over the falls of Niagara, where everything weightier would sink?' I do not think she [Page 168]  is so light as she gives herself out for - at all events, she is very clever, and very good to me.

On our return from Ampton, we found Mr. Loft waiting to tea with us - the elder brother of the Aids-to-Self-Development Loft - an affectionate, intelligent-looking man, but 'terribly off for a language.'[1] Though he has been in India, and is up in years, he looks as frightened as a hare. There were also here yesterday the grandees of the district, Mr. and the Lady Agnes Byng - one of the Pagets 'whom we all know' - an advent which produced no inconsiderable emotion in our Radical household! For my part, I made myself scarce; and thereby 'missed,' Reginald told me, 'such an immensity of petty talk - the Queen, the Queen, at every word with Lady A.'



LETTER 37.

To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.

Troston: Saturday, Aug. 20, 1842.

Oh dear me! how deceitful are appearances! Who would not say, to look at this place, that it was [Page 169]  one of the likeliest places 'here down' on which to be 'poured out of a jug'?[1] and the fact is, that sleep is just the one thing that is not to be had in sufficiency for love or money! Every night brings forth some new variety of assassin to murder sleep! The animals here seem to be continually finding themselves in a new position! And the protests and appeals to posterity[2] that ensue, in shape of braying, lowing, crowing, cackling, barking, howling, &c., are something the like of which I have not found in Israel! Last night it was hardly possible for me to close my eyes a minute together, with the passionate wailing of what seemed to be a most ill-used dog, not only (I fancied) excluded from its proper home, but also robbed of its young; another or two other such nights will send me home 'with my finger in my mouth to two people both alike gleg!'[3] For I feel that no country air, or country diet, or country drives, or country anything, can make up for such [Page 170]  deprivation of my natural rest. It was horrible really! - an everlasting wail as of 'infants in the porch'[1] mixed up with howls of fury and denunciation, from eleven at night till six in the morning, when I trust in Heaven the poor brute fell down dead. And no whisper of it has since reached my ears; but,

Once give the fish a frying,
What helps it that the river run?[2]
All is quiet now externally; but my heart is jumping about in me like Mrs. Grove's frog after the first drop of tea! In the few moments that I slept, I dreamt that my mother came to me, and said that she knew of 'a beautiful place where it was so quiet!' - and she and I would go there by ourselves, for some weeks. But somehow we got into different railway trains; and when I could not find her any more, I [Page 171]  screamed out, and awoke,[1] and the dog was giving a long howl.

They are very anxious you would come, 'and bring Miss Jeannie along with you. Regy would be delighted to have a young lady' - more delighted, I imagine, than the young lady would be to have Regy! although he does improve on acquaintance. Laziness, and what his mother calls 'muddling habits,' are the worst things one can charge him with - one of the people who, with the best intentions, are always unfortunate;[2] but he is very sweet-tempered and kindly; deserves really the only epithet that remained to him - seeing that there was already 'the clever Buller' and 'the handsome Buller' - viz.: 'the good Buller.' If he were not so completely the victim of snuff, I should think an attractive Babbie might be beneficial to him; but I would as soon undertake the reformation of a drunkard as of anybody that snuffs as he does.

If it were not for the sleeping part of the business, I would back Mrs. Buller's exhortations to you to come, with my own. But when one of us prospers so badly in that matter, I see not what would become of two! Write a line to Mrs. Buller herself, anyhow, that she may not think her kind invitations quite overlooked.

I shall return, I think, the week after next; if this [Page 172]  dog goes on, sooner. They do not seem to be at all wearying of me; but it were too long if I waited to see symptoms of that. So far, I am confident I have not been in their way, but quite the reverse; the chess is a great resource for Mr. Buller in the first loneliness occasioned by the loss of little Theresa; and Mrs. Buller seems to get some good of talking with me: as for Reginald, now that he has conquered, or rather that I have conquered, his first terror, he does not seem to have anything to object to me very particularly.

[Last leaf wanting.]



LETTER 38.

To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.

Troston: Tuesday, Aug. 23, 1842.

My dear Husband, - The pen was in my hand to write yesterday; but nothing would have come out of me yesterday except 'literature of desperation;'[1] and, aware of this, I thought it better to hold my peace for the next twenty-four hours, till a new night had either habilitated me for remaining awhile longer, or brought me to the desperate resolution of flying home for my life. Last night, Heaven be thanked, went off peaceably; and to-day I am in a state to record my last trial, without danger of becoming too tragical, or alarming you with the prospect [Page 173]  of my making an unseemly termination of my visit. (Oh, what pens!)

To begin where I left off. On Sunday, after writing to you, I attended the afternoon service! Regy looked so wae when I answered his question 'whether I was going?' in the negative, that a weak pity induced me to revise my determinition. 'It is a nice pew, that of ours,' said old Mr. Buller; 'it suits me remarkably well, for, being so deep, I am not overlooked; and in virtue of that, I read most part of the Femme de Qualité this morning!' 'But don't,' he added, 'tell Mr. Regy this! Had Theresa been there, I would not have done it, for I like to set a good example!' I also turned the depth of the pew to good account; when the sermon began, I made myself at the bottom of it, a sort of Persian couch out of the praying-cushions; laid off my bonnet, and stretched myself out very much at my ease. I seemed to have been thus just one drowsy minute when a slight rustling and the words 'Now to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,' warned me to put on my bonnet, and made me for the first time aware that I had been asleep! For the rest, the music that day ought to have satisfied me; for it seemed to have remodelled itself expressly to suit my taste - Scotch tunes, produced with the nasal discordant emphasis of a Scotch country-congregation, and no clarionet. I noticed in a little square gallery-seat, the only one [Page 174]  in the church, a portly character, who acts as blacksmith, sitting with a wand, some five feet long, in his hand, which he swayed about majestically as if it had been a sceptre! On inquiring of our man-servant what this could possibly mean or symbolise, he informed me it was 'to beat the bad children.' 'And are the children here so bad that they need such a functionary?' 'Ah, they will always, them little 'uns, he doing mischief in the church: it's a-wearisome for the poor things, and the rod keeps them in fear!'

In the evening, the drive, as always, with this only difference, that on Sunday evenings Mr. Buller only walks the horse, from principle! After this conscientious exercising, the game at chess! My head had ached more or less all day, and I was glad to get to bed, where I was fortunate enough to get to sleep without any violent disturbance. The next day, however, my head was rather worse than better; so that I would fain have 'declined from'[1] calling on Lady Agnes; but Mrs. Buller was bent on going to Livermere, and so, as I did not feel up to walking, it was my only chance of getting any fresh air and exercise that day. To Livermere we went, then, before dinner, the dinner being deferred till five o'clock to suit the more fashionable hours of our visitees. 'The Pagets' seem to be extremely like [Page 175]  other mortals, neither better nor bonnier nor wiser. To do them justice, however, they might, as we found them, have been sitting for a picture of high life doing the amiable and the rural in the country. They had placed a table under the shadow of a beech-tree; and at this sat Mr. Byng studying the 'Examiner;' Lady Agnes reading - 'Oh, nothing at all, only some nonsense that Lord Londonderry has been printing; I cannot think what has tempted him;' and a boy and girl marking for a cricket-party, consisting of all the men-servants, and two older little sons, who were playing for the entertainment of their master and mistress and their own; the younger branches ever and anon clapping their hands, and calling out 'What fun!' I may mention for your consolation that Mr. Byng (a tall, gentlemanly, blasé-looking man) was dressed from head to foot in unbleached linen; while Babbie may take a slight satisfaction to her curiosity de femme from knowing how a Paget attires herself of a morning, to sit under a beech-tree - a white-flowered muslin pelisse, over pale blue satin; a black lace scarf fastened against her heart with a little gold horse-shoe; her white neck tolerably revealed, and set off with a brooch of diamonds; immense gold bracelets, an immense gold chain; a little white silk bonnet with a profusion of blond and flowers; thus had she prepared herself for being rural! But, with all this finery, she looked a good-hearted, rattling, [Page 176]  clever haveral[1] sort of a woman. Her account of Lord Londonderry's sentimental dedication to his wife was perfect - 'from a goose to a goose!' - and she defended herself with her pocket handkerchief against the wasps, with an energy. When we had sat sufficiently long under the tree, Mrs. Buller asked her to take me through the gardens, which she did very politely, and gave me some carnations and verbenas; and then through the stables, which were, indeed, the finer sight of the two.

All this sight-seeing, however, did not help my head; at night I let the chess go as it liked; took some medicine, and went early to bed, determined to be well on the morrow. About twelve, I fell into a sound sleep, out of which I was startled by the tolling of the church-bell. The church, you remember, is only a stone-cast from the house; so that, when the bell tolls, one seems to be exactly under its tongue. I sprang up - it was half after three by my watch - hardly light; the bell went on to toll two loud dismal strokes at regular intervals of a minute. What could it be? I fancied fire - fancied insurrection. I ran out into the passage and listened at Regy's door, all was still; then I listened at Mrs. Buller's, I heard her cough; surely, I thought, since she is awake, she would ring her bell if there were anything alarming [Page 177]  for her in this tolling, it must be some other noise of the many they 'have grown used to.' So I went to bed again, but, of course, could not get another wink of sleep all night; for the bell only ceased tolling at my ear about six in the morning, and then I was too nervous to avail myself of the silence. 'What on earth was that bell?' I asked Regy the first thing in the morning. 'Oh, it was only the passing bell! It was ordered to be rung during the night for an old lady who died the night before.' This time, however, I had the satisfaction of seeing Mrs. Buller as angry as myself; for she also had been much alarmed.

Of course, yesterday I was quite ill, with the medicine, the sleeplessness, and the fright; and I thought I really would not stay any longer in a place where one is liable to such alarms. But now, as usual, one quiet night has given me hopes of more; and it would be a pity to return worse than I went away. I do not seem to myself to be nearly done; but Mr. Buller is sitting at my elbow with the chess-board, saying, 'When you are ready I am ready.' I am ready. Love to Babbie; I have your and her letter; but must stop.

Ends so, without signature, on inverted top-margin of first leaf: day of the week is Tuesday, date August 23.

[Page 178] 

LETTER 39.

To T. Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea.

Troston: Thursday, Aug. 25, 1842.

Dear, - I hardly expected my letter from you this morning, so that I was all the gladder to find it beside my plate as usual. Along with it was one from Elizabeth Pepoli; the chief merit of which, besides the kindness of writing at all, is that 'it expects no answer.'

I hope you have the same refreshing rain in London which is reviving our drooping spirits here; for it is easy to see, although you try to put the best face on everything for me at a distance, that you are suffering horribly from the heat. My only consolation in thinking of your being in the town and I in the country in such weather is, that if you might have felt a less degree of suffocation, sitting out of doors here during the day, certainly the improvement would have been counterbalanced by the superior suffocation of our nights. Even with door and window wide open, it is hardly possible to realise a breath of air; the cottage roof collects and retains the heat so very much more than any other sort of roof I ever lived under. After the first few days, I was obliged to give up remaining during the mornings in my own room; my head got into a swimming condition, as when I poisoned myself with the charcoal.[1] [Page 179]  Mrs. Buller, I find, goes out of her room into some back apartment; but even there I am sure the closeness is very hurtful to her. The drawing-room is the coolest place, and is left to myself till Mrs. Buller comes down; except for occasional inroads of Mr. Buller and Regy to seek some volume of a French novel, repeated cargoes of which are sent for from Rolandi's. 'A very bad stock, this last,' I observed last night. 'Yes,' says Mr. Buller, raising his eyebrows; 'when French novels are decorous, they are monstrous stupid!'

What do I think of Clifton?[1] What do you think? 'Plunges in the sea' - I am afraid it is not very conveniently situated for that; but if you were there, it would be the easiest thing to run over for a few days to your admiring Welshman,[2] who is really one of the sensiblest admirers you have; a man who expresses his enthusiasm in legs of mutton and peaches, &c &c. I imagine he would make a better host than you think. Mrs. Buller says it is an excellent scheme, being so very easy to execute; 'nothing would be easier, except staying over September and November here, where I am already, and having you to join me!' With such an extravagant invitation [Page 180]  as this, I need not hesitate about staying another week from any apprehension of exhausting their hospitality. She says that she can quite sympathise with your nervous dislike to making up your mind; and what you have to do in such a mood is just to come off without making up your mind at all; the first cool morning to put yourself in the coach, without any previous engagement or determination. The only objection to this is that, without being warned, Mrs. Buller could not meet you at Bury; but there is another coach from London which passes through Ixworth (from which you could walk, being only two miles), 'and a coach,' she says, 'just made for you, being called the Phenomenon!' I deliver all this long message, without the expectation that you will lay it duly to heart. I am thankful to hear that the leg is in reality mending, for it has been a great detriment to my repose of conscience while here; I should never have dreamt of leaving my post if I had foreseen that there was to be such a long puddlement before it healed. I cannot understand how it had gone back, for really it was almost closed when I left.

You may tell Babbie that my ardour for nightcap muslin, that morning, was the most superfluous in nature; for except twice, to mend a hole in my black silk stockings, I have not had a needle in my hand since I left London, nor 'wished to.' Neither [Page 181]  have I so much as wound the skein of silk for my purse. I do little in the way of reading, and of writing as you know, and a great deal of nothing at all. I never weary, and yet there is no company comes, and, except the evening drive and the chess, we have no amusements. The chess, however, is getting into the sphere of a passion. Mr. Buller 'does not remember when he had such good playing as this;' and so, to make hay while the sun shines, he must have a game before dinner as well as the one after tea. Sometimes a game will last two hours, and then there are generally three hours consumed in the drive; so that there remains no more time on my hands than I can find ways and means to get rid of without calling in the aid of needlework. Last night we drove to a place called New House; which is in fact a very old house, bearing the date 1612. The wainscoat and floors were polished to such a pitch with wax and turpentine, that I am certain I could have skated on them! The Lady, a married sister of Mr. Loft's, showed me an original portrait of 'Fergusson, the self-taught Philosopher, who had been her mother's preceptor': I was ashamed to ask, 'What does't doe?'[1] I never heard of him in my life. There were various pictures besides - Queen Elizabeth, Charles II., and honourable women not a few. To-night [Page 182]  we are to go, if it fairs, to take tea at a show place called The Priory, belonging to 'Squire Cartwright.' Mrs. Buller is infinitely kind in her exertions to find me amusement.

Bless thee,

Your own JANE.

[One other letter followed from Troston. In a day or two more I went thither myself; walked about, nothing loth (as far as Thetford one day), sometimes with escort, oftener with none. Made at last (mainly by Mrs. Buller's contrivance, and delicate furtherance), 'till Charles should come,' a riding tour into Cromwell's Country; which did me much benefit in the future Book, and was abundantly impressive at the time, as indeed in memory it still is, strangely vivid in all its details at this day. Saw Hinchinbrook for the first time, St. Ives, Godmanchester (Ely, Soham, &c.); from Godmanchester to Cambridge trotted before a thunder cloud, always visible behind, which came down in deluges half a minute after I got into the Hoop Hotel, &c. &c. Can have lasted only about four days (three nights). Can it be possible? I seem as if almost a denizen of that region, which I never saw before or since. - T. C.]

LETTER 40.

Follows Troston, seemingly at short distance. Good old Mr. Dobie's visit (Rev. Emeritus, Mrs. Dr. Russell's father) I remember well, and that it was in her absence. He never 'came back.' Letter is infinitely mournful to me, and beautiful in a like degree.

The 'Margaret' is Margaret Hiddlestone, whom she wanted for a servant, but could not get. - T. C. [Page 183] 

To Mrs. Russell, Thornhill.

5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea: Sept. 1842.

My dear Mrs. Russell, - I meant to have written to you yesterday, along with my letter to Margaret; - but how to write to you without mentioning the purport of my writing to her, and how very much I had it at heart that she should come! And then if it so happened that she applied to you for advice, as is likely enough, and that your real opinion was she had better remain with her children? Between the two you were thus, it seemed to me, going to find yourself in a constraint, in which it was hardly fair to place you. But now this morning comes another consideration (I have such a way of tormenting myself with all sorts of out-of-the-way considerations!), viz, that you might think it unkind of me to send a letter to your care without a word, and unkindness towards you is what I could not bear to lie under the smallest suspicion of even for a moment. Oh, no, my dear Mrs. Russell, though I should never see you more, nor hear from you more, I shall think of you, and love you, and be grateful to you as long as I live. But for the knowledge of what you did for her,[1] and how thankfully she felt it, I know not how I should ever have brought myself to think of her last weeks with any degree of composure. As it was, God knows there still remains enough to feel eternal regrets about; - but without a friend like you, to make her [Page 184]  feel that she was not quite alone with her sickness and her vexations, it would have been unspeakably worse for her then, and for me now.

How grieved I was that I happened to be absent during your father's stay in London! I felt somehow as if he had come from her - had brought me kind messages from her, and I had missed him! I would have returned immediately on purpose to see him but they knew that I would, and so did not tell me until it was too late. But he will come again, having found how easy it is, will he not, and bring you with him? Oh, I should like so well to have you here!

I am always very weakly in health, though better than when I last wrote to you. At present my brother-in-law has put me on a course of blue-pill for pain in my side. But, until I turn what health and strength I have to better account, I have no business to regret that I have not more.

I wish you would write to me some day, and tell me about old Mary and all the people. Thornhill and Templand and everything about there is often as distinct before my eyes as the house and street I am actually living in - but as it was; as it must be now, I can never bring myself to figure it.

Give my kindest regards to your father and husband. I felt your father's letter very kind.

God bless you, dear Mrs. Russell.

Ever your affectionate

JANE W. CARLYLE.



[Page 185] 

LETTER 41.

Fragment (very mournful), first small half of it lost.

To Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.

Chelsea: (Early Summer) 1843.

What you say of my coming to Scotland is very kind; Isabella, too, has sent me the heartiest invitations, and I should like so well to see you all again. But when I try to fancy myself on the road, to fancy myself there, everything the same for me there as it used to be - and beyond, nothing of all that used to be - I feel so sick at heart, and so afraid of encountering the pain that seeing all those places again, and going about like a ghost in them, would cause me, that I can do no otherwise but say I will not go. It looks very cowardly to you, this? - perhaps, too, unkind and ungrateful towards the living. But fancy yourself in my place, looking out on the hills, at the back of which there had so lately lain a little loving home for you, where your mother had run to meet you with such joy; and now nothing for you there but the silence of death. If you do not feel that you would be just as weak, at least you will understand how I might be so without unkindness. If I were going beside your mother and all of you, I should think myself bound to be cheerful, and to look as if I were happy among you; and until I know myself up to that, is it not right to stay [Page 186]  away? At present it seems to me I could do nothing at Scotsbrig or Dumfries but cry from morning till night. All this is excessively weak; I am quite aware of that, and if anybody will show me a way of being stronger, I will follow it to my best ability: but merely telling me or telling myself to be stronger is of no use. Ever your affectionate

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 42.

To Miss Helen Welsh, Liverpool.

Chelsea: March 1843.

My dearest Helen, - After (in Dumfries and Galloway-Courier phraseology) 'taking a bird's-eye view' of all modern literature, I am arrived at the conclusion that, to find a book exactly suited to my uncle's taste, I must write it myself! and, alas, that cannot be done before to-morrow morning!

'La Motte Fouqué's "Magic Ring,"' suggests Geraldine[1] (Jewsbury). 'Too mystical! My uncle detests confusion of ideas.' 'Paul de Kock? he is very witty.' 'Yes, but also very indecent; and my uncle would not relish indecencies read aloud to him by his daughters.' 'Oh! ah! well! Miss Austin?' 'Too washy; water-gruel for mind and body at the same time were too bad.' Timidly, and after a pause, 'Do you think he could stand Victor Hugo's [Page 187]  "Notre Dame"?' The idea of my uncle listening to the sentimental monstrosities of Victor Hugo! A smile of scorn was this time all my reply. But in my own suggestions I have been hardly more fortunate. All the books that pretend to amuse in our day come, in fact, either under that category, which you except against, 'the extravagant, clown-jesting sort,' or still worse, under that of what I should call the galvanised-death's-head-grinning sort. There seems to be no longer any genuine, heartfelt mirth in writers of books; they sing and dance still vigoureusement, but one sees always too plainly that it is not voluntarily, hut only for halfpence; and for halfpence they will crack their windpipes, and cut capers on the crown of their heads, poor men that they are!

I bethink me of one book, however, which we have lately read here, bearing a rather questionable name as a book for my uncle, but, nevertheless, I think he would like it. It is called 'Passages from the Life of a Radical,' by Samuel Bamford, a silkweaver of Middleton. He was one of those who got into trouble during the Peterloo time; and the details of what he then saw and suffered are given with a simplicity, an intelligence, and absence of everything like party violence, which it does one good to fall in with, especially in these inflated times.

There is another book that might be tried, though [Page 188]  I am not sure that it has not a little too much affinity with water-gruel, 'The Neighbours,' a domestic novel translated from the Swedish by Mary Howitt. There is a 'Little Wife' in it, with a husband, whom she calls 'Bear,' that one never wearies of, although they never say or do anything in the least degree extraordinary.

Geraldine strongly recommends Stephen's 'Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia, and Petrea,' as 'very interesting and very short.' Also Waterton's 'Wanderings in South America.' There are two novels of Paul de Kock translated into English, which might be tried at least without harm done, for they are unexceptionable in the usual sense of that term, the 'Barber of Paris,' and 'Sister Anne.'

I have read the last, not the first, and I dare say it would be very amusing for anyone who likes 'Gil Blas,' and that sort of books; for my taste it does not get on fast enough.

There! enough of books for one day. Thank you for your letter, dear. If I had not wee angels to write me consolatory missives at present, I should really be terribly ill off. My maid continues highly inefficient, myself ditto; the weather complicates everything; for days together not a soul comes, and then if the sun glimmers forth a whole rush of people breaks in, to the very taking away of one's breath!

Yesterday, between the hours of three and five, [Page 189]  we had old Sterling, Mr. and Mrs. von Glëhen, Mr. and Mrs. Macready, John Carlyle, and William Cunningham. Geraldine professed to be mightily taken with Mrs. Macready, not so much so with 'William.' Poor dear William! I never thought him more interesting, however. To see a man, who is exhibiting himself every night on a stage, blushing like a young girl in a private room is a beautiful phenomenon for me. His wife whispered into my ear, as we sat on the sofa together, 'Do you know poor William is in a perfect agony to-day at having been brought here in that great-coat? It is a stage great-coat, but was only worn by him twice; the piece it was made for did not succeed, but it was such an expensive coat, I would not let him give it away; and doesn't he look well in it?' I wish Jeannie had seen him in the coat - magnificent fur neck and sleeves, and such frogs on the front. He did look well, but so heartily ashamed of himself.

Oh, I must tell you, for my uncle's benefit, a domestic catastrophe that occurred last week! One day, after dinner, I heard Helen lighting the fire, which had gone out, in the room above, with a perfectly unexampled vengeance; every stroke of the poker seemed an individual effort of concentrated rage. What ails the creature now? I said to myself. Who has incurred her sudden displeasure? or is it the red herring she had for dinner which has disagreed [Page 190]  with her stomach? (for in the morning, you must know, when I was ordering the dinner, she had asked, might she have a red herring? 'her heart had been set upon it this a good while back;' and, of course, so modest a petition received an unhesitating affirmative.) On her return to the subterranean, the same hubbub wild arose from below, which had just been trying my nerves from above; and when she brought up the tea-tray, she clanked it on the lobby-table as if she were minded to demolish the whole concern at one fell stroke. I looked into her face inquiringly as she entered the room, and seeing it black as midnight (morally, that is), I said very coolly, 'A little less noise, if you please; you are getting rather loud upon us.' She cast up her eyes with the look of a martyr at the stake, as much as to say, 'Well, if I must be quiet, I must; but you little know my wrongs.' By-and-by Geraldine went to the kitchen for some reason; she is oftener in the kitchen in one day than I am in a month, but that is irrelevant. 'Where is the cat?' said she to Helen; 'I have not seen her all night.' She takes a wonderful, most superfluous charge of the cat, as of everything else in this establishment. 'The cat!' said Helen grimly, 'I have all but killed her.' 'How?' said Geraldine. 'With the besom,' replied the other. 'Why? for goodness' sake.' 'Why!' repeated Helen, bursting out into new rage; 'why indeed? Because she ate my red herring! I set it all [Page 191]  ready on the end of the dresser, and she ran away with it, and ate it every morsel to the tail - such an unheard of thing for the brute to do. Oh, if I could have got hold of her, she should not have got off with her life!' 'And have you had no dinner?' asked Geraldine. 'Oh, yes, I had mutton enough, but I had just set my heart on a red herring.' Which was the most deserving of having a besom taken to her, the cat or the woman?

My love to Babbie; her letter to-day is most comfortable. Blessings on you all.

Your affectionate cousin,

J. WELSH.



LETTER 43.

To Miss Helen Welsh, Liverpool.

Chelsea: March 1843.

Now do you deserve that I should send you any letter, any autograph, anything, thou graceless, 'graceful Miss Welsh'? I think not; but 'if everyone had his deserts, which of us should escape whipping?' And besides I see not what virtues remain possible for me, unless it be the passive ones of patience and forgiveness; for which, thank Heaven, there is always open course enough in this otherwise tangled world!

Three of the autographs, which I send you to-day, are first-rate. A Yankee would almost give a dollar apiece for them. Entire characteristic letters from Pickwick, Lytton Bulwer, and Alfred Tennyson; the [Page 192]  last the greatest genius of the three, though the vulgar public have not as yet recognised him for such. Get his poems if you can, and read the 'Ulysses,' 'Dora,' the 'Vision of Sin,' and you will find that we do not overrate him. Besides he is a very handsome man, and a noble-hearted one, with something of the gipsy in his appearance, which, for me, is perfectly charming. Babbie never saw him, unfortunately, or perhaps I should say fortunately, for she must have fallen in love with him on the spot, unless she be made absolutely of ice; and then men of genius have never anything to keep wives upon!

JANE CARLYLE.



LETTER 44.

To John Sterling, Esq., Falmouth.

Chelsea: June (?) 1843.

My dear John, - Thank you passionately for giving me Vittoria Accoramboni; and thank you even more for knowing beforehand that I should like her. Your presentiment that this was 'a woman exactly after my own heart' so pleases my own heart! proves that I am not universally 'a woman misunderstood.' But you said nothing of the man after my own heart, so that Bracciano took me by surprise, and has nearly turned my head! My very beau-idéal of manhood is that Paul Giordano; could I hear of the like of him existing anywhere in these degenerate times, I would, even at this late stage of the business - send him - my [Page 193]  picture! and an offer of my heart and hand for the next world, since they are already disposed of in this. Ah! what a man that must be, who can strangle his young, beautiful wife with his own hands, and, bating one moment of conventional horror, inspire not the slightest feeling of aversion or distrust! When a man strangles his wife nowadays he does it brutally, in drink, or in passion, or in revenge; to transact such a work coolly, nobly, on the loftiest principles, to strangle with dignity because the woman 'was unworthy of him,' that indeed is a triumph of character which places this Bracciano above all the heroes of ancient or modern times; which makes me almost weep that I was not born two centuries earlier, that I might have been - his mistress - not his wife!

But what think you befel? In the simplicity of my heart I lent the book to a friend, a man of course, whose hitherto version of me has borne a considerable resemblance to the Santa Maria; lent it too with all my marginal marks (as Carlyle would say) 'significant of much'! And when the man[1] brought it back he could neither look at me nor speak to me; but blushed and stammered, as if he were in the presence of a new goddess of reason. Disliking all that sort of thing, I asked him plain out, what ailed him? 'The truth is,' said he, 'Mrs. Carlyle, that book' (looking at it askance) 'has confused me! May I ask who [Page 194]  recommended to you that book?' 'A clergyman,' said I; for the first and probably the last time in my life recognising your sacred vocation; 'John Sterling gave it to me.' 'The son?' 'Yes, to be sure, the son,' and then I laughed outright, and the man looked at me with a mingled expression of pity and alarm, and changed the subject.

JANE CARLYLE.



Fragments of letters to T. Carlyle, July 1843.

The house in Cheyne Row requiring paint and other re-adjustments, Carlyle had gone on a visit to Wales, leaving his wife to endure the confusion and superintend the workmen, alone with her maid. - J. A. F.

July 4, 1843. - The first night is over, and we are neither robbed nor murdered. I must confess, however, that I observed last night for the first time with what tremendous facility a thief with the average thief agility might swing himself, by laying hold of the spout, off the garden wall into my dressing closet, leaving me no time to spring my rattle, or even unsheath my dagger. 'You must excuse us the day;' I am in a complete mess, and my pen refuses to mark. I shall be in a complete mess for a time, times and a half. I will perhaps go for a few days to the Isle of Wight, for breathing, in the midst of it; but I shall not be done with my work this month to come. You [Page 195]  see you do so hate commotion that this house gets no periodic cleanings like other people's, and one must make the most of your absence.

July 11. - It has been such a morning as you cannot figure: a painter filling the house with terrific smells, the whitewashers still whitewashing, Pearson and men tearing out the closet, and the boy always grinding with pumice stone. Having been taught politeness to one's neighbours by living next door to Mr. Chalmers, I wrote a note to Mr. Lambert, No. 6, regretting that his and his family's slumbers were probably curtailed by my operations, and promising that the nuisance would have only a brief term. This brought Mr. Lambert upon me (virtue ever its own reward), who stayed for an hour, talking, you know how. Then I. ... And you do not like my beautiful 'Vittoria'! oh, what want of taste!

July 12. - If you had seen me last night asleep you would have seen a pretty sight. The paint was smelling, of course - one can't make a household revolution, any more than a State one, with rose water; and so this house did not smell of rose water, I can assure you. Old Sterling had said so much about its costing me my life, and the absolute necessity of my at least sleeping at his house, that I did begin to think it might cause me a headache! So I took all wise precautions against it, kept my door carefully shut all [Page 196]  day, and slept with both my windows open, so that I really suffered very little inconvenience from the smell. But just when I was going to bed, it occurred to me that in this open state of things, with several ladders lying quite handy underneath the window, 'heavy bodies might,' as Helen phrased it, 'drop in,' and be at my pillow before I heard them; so, feeling it my duty to neglect no proper precaution, I laid my dagger and the great policeman's rattle on the spare pillow and went to sleep quite pleasantly, without any more thought about thieves.

I have got such a pretty writing establishment - a sort of gipsy's tent, which I have mounted in the garden 'with my own hands,' constructed out of the clothes ropes and posts and the crumb cloth of the library! I sit under its 'dark brown shade - wh'[1] - the Macready of Nature - an arm-chair, and the little round table, with my writing materials, and my watch to keep me in mind that I am in a time world, a piece of carpet under foot, and a foot-stool. Behold [Page 197]  all that is necessary for my little garden house! Woman wants but little here below - an old crumb cloth mainly, you perceive. But one has no credit in being jolly in such a pretty bower. By-and-by I shall have to return indoors, 'to come out strong.'

July 17. - Tout va bien. The work goes well, and myself goes well. The early rising and the shower-bathing and the having something to look after agrees with me wonderfully. The degree of heat also is exactly suited to my needs. This and the other person drops in and asks me if I do not feel very lonely? It is odd what notions men seem to have of the scantiness of a woman's resources. They do not find it anything out of nature that they should be able to exist by themselves; but a woman must always be borne about on somebody's shoulders, and dandled and chirped to, or it is supposed she will fall into the blackest melancholy. When I answered that question from Arthur Helps yesterday, 'Why should I feel lonely? I have plenty to do, and can see human beings whenever I look out at the window,' he looked at me as if I had uttered some magnanimity worthy to have place in a 'Legitimate Drama,' and said, 'Well, really you are a model of a wife.'



[Page 198] 

LETTER 45.

To John Welsh, Esq., The Baths, Helensburgh.

Chelsea: July 18, 1843.

Dearest, dear only Uncle of me, - I would give a crown that you could see me at this moment through a powerful telescope! You would laugh for the next twelve hours. I am doing the rural after a fashion so entirely my own! To escape from the abominable paint-smell, and the infernal noise within doors, I have erected, with my own hands, a gipsy-tent in the garden, constructed with clothes lines, long poles, and an old brown floor cloth! under which remarkable shade I sit in an arm-chair at a small round table, with a hearth rug for carpet under my feet, writing-materials, sewing-materials, and a mind superior to Fate!

The only drawback to this retreat is its being exposed to 'the envy of surrounding nations'; so many heads peer out on me from all the windows of the Row, eager to penetrate my meaning! If I had a speaking trumpet I would address them once for all: - 'Ladies and Gentlemen, - I am not here to enter my individual protest against the progress of civilisation! nor yet to mock you with an Arcadian felicity, which you have neither the taste nor the ingenuity to make your own! but simply to enjoy Nature according to ability, and to get out of the [Page 199]  smell of new paint! So, pray you, leave me to pursue my innocent avocations in the modest seclusion which I covet!'

Not to represent my contrivance as too perfect, I must also tell you that a strong puff of wind is apt to blow down the poles, and then the whole tent falls down on my head! This has happened once already since I began to write, but an instant puts it all to rights again. Indeed, without counteracting the indoors influences by all lawful means, I could not stay here at present without injury to my health, which is at no time of the strongest. Our house has for a fortnight back been a house possessed by seven devils! a painter, two carpenters, a paper-hanger, two non-descript apprentice-lads, and 'a spy;' all playing the devil to the utmost of their powers hurrying and scurrying 'upstairs, down stairs, and in my lady's chamber!' affording the liveliest image of a sacked city!

When they rush in at six of the morning, and spread themselves over the premises, I instantly jump out of bed, and 'in wera desperation' take a shower bath. Then such a long day to be virtuous in! I make chair and sofa covers; write letters to my friends; scold the work-people, and suggest improved methods of doing things. And when I go to bed at night I have to leave both windows of my room wide open (and plenty of ladders lying quite handy underneath), [Page 200]  that I may not, as old Sterling predicted, 'awake dead' of the paint.

The first night that I lay down in this open state of things, I recollected Jeannie's house-breaker adventure last year, and, not wishing that all the thieves who might walk in at my open windows should take me quite unprepared, I laid my policeman's rattle and my dagger on the spare pillow, and then I went to sleep quite secure. But it is to be confidently expected that, in a week or more, things will begin to subside into their normal state; and meanwhile it were absurd to expect that any sort of revolution can be accomplished. There! the tent has been down on the top of me again, but it has only upset the ink.

Jeannie appears to be earth quaking with like energy in Maryland Street, but finds time to write me nice long letters nevertheless, and even to make the loveliest pincushion for my birthday; and my birthday was celebrated also with the arrival of a hamper, into which I have not yet penetrated. Accept kisses ad infinitum for your kind thought of me, dearest uncle. I hope to drink your health many times in the Madeira[1] when I have Carlyle with me again to give an air of respectability to the act. Nay, on that evening when it came to hand, I was feeling so sad and dreary over the contrast between this Fourteenth of July - alone, [Page 201]  in a house like a sacked city, and other Fourteenths that I can never forget, that I hesitated whether or no to get myself out a bottle of the Madeira there and then, and try for once in my life the hitherto unknown comfort of being dead drunk. But my sense of the respectable overcame the temptation.

My husband has now left his Welshman, and is gone for a little while to visit the Bishop of St. David's. Then he purposes crossing over somehow to Liverpool, and, after a brief benediction to Jeannie, passing into Annandale. He has suffered unutterable things in Wales from the want of any adequate supply of tea! For the rest, his visit appears to have been pretty successful; plenty of sea-bathing; plenty of riding on horseback, and of lying under trees! I wonder it never enters his head to lie under the walnut-tree here at home. It is a tree! leaves as green as any leaves can be, even in South Wales! but it were too easy to repose under that: if one had to travel a long journey by railway to it, then indeed it might be worth while!

But I have no more time for scribbling just now; besides, my pen is positively declining to act. So, God bless you, dear, and all of them.

Ever your affectionate

JANE CARLYLE.



[Page 202] 

LETTER 46.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Llandough, Cowbridge.

Chelsea: July 18, 1843.

Dearest, - I take time by the pigtail, and write at night after post-hours. During the day there is such an infernal noise of pumice-stone, diversified by snatches of 'wild strains;' the youth who is scraping the walls (as if it were a hundred knife-grinders melted into one) consoling himself under the hideous task by striking up every two minutes 'The Red Cross Knight,' or 'Evelyn's Bower,' or some such plaintive melody, which, after a brief attempt to render itself 'predominant,' 'dies away into unintelligible whinner.'[1] Yesterday forenoon Mrs. Chadwick came; and had just seated herself on the sofa beside me, and was beginning to set forth amiabilities; when bang, bang, crash, screech, came the pumice-stone over the room-door, to the tune

Oh rest thee, my darling,
Thy sire is a knight; &c., &c.,

making us both start to our feet with a little scream and then fall back again in fits of laughter. Then the stairs are all flowing with whitewash; and 'altogether' when I fancy you here 'in the midst of it,' I do not know whether to laugh, or to cry, or to shriek. [Page 203] 

But it will be a clean pretty house for you to come home to; and should you find that I have exceeded by a few pounds your modest allowance for painting and papering, you will find that I have not been thoughtless nevertheless, when I show you a document from Mr. Morgan,[1] promising to 'indemnify us for the same in the undisturbed possession of our house for five years!' A piece of paper equivalent to a lease of the house for five years, 'with the reciprocity all on one side,' binding him and leaving us free. 'Such a thing,' old Sterling said, who attended me to Pope's Head Alley, 'as no woman but myself would have had the impudence to ask, nor any lawyer in his senses the folly to grant.' I do not see but we might get a lease of the house after all for as long as we pleased, if I went about it, instead of the volupchious Perry.[2] This was one of those remarkable instances of fascination which I exercise over gentlemen of a 'certain age;' before I had spoken six words to him it was plain to the meanest capacity that he had fallen over head and ears in love with me; and if he put off time in writing me the promise I required, it was plainly only because he could not bear the idea of my going away again! No wonder! probably no such beatific vision as that of a real live woman, in a silk bonnet and muslin gown, ever [Page 204]  irradiated that dingy, dusty law-chamber of his, and sat there on a three-feet-high stool, since he had held a pen behind his ear; and certainly never before had either man or woman, in that place, addressed him as a human being, not as a lawyer, or he would not have looked at me so struck dumb with admiration when I did so. For respectability's sake, I said, in taking leave, that 'my husband was out of town, or he would have come himself.' 'Better as it is,' said the old gentleman, 'do you think I would have written to your husband's dictation as I have done to yours?' He asked me if your name were John or William - plainly he had lodged an angel unawares.

By the way, that other angel[1] is becoming a bore. Charles Barton, with whom I dined at Sterling's in returning from Pope's Head Alley, told me that he had been making quite a sensation in Berlin, and been invited to a great many places, on the strength of the 'French Revolution.' He (Charles B.) was asked to meet him - that is, 'Thomas Carlyle, author of "The French Revolution,"' at the Earl of Westmorland's. 'Is he here?' said Charles; 'I shall be delighted to see him, I know him quite well;' and accordingly, on the appointed day, he 'almost ran into the arms of the announced Thomas Carlyle, and then retreated with consternation.' It was so far good that he had an opportunity to disabuse these people at [Page 205]  least by declaring 'that was not Thomas Carlyle at all!' But is it not a shame in the creature to encourage the delusion, and let himself be feted as a man of genius when he is only a 'crackbrained enthusiastic'?[1]

I have awoke at four every morning since you went away; and the night before last I slept just half an hour in all; it is always the effect of finding one's self in a new position. When the workpeople come at six, I get up, which makes a prodigiously long day; but I do not weary, having so many mechanical things to do. This morning I took, or rather failed to take, a shower bath; I pulled with concentrated courage, and nothing would come; determined not to be quite baffled, however, I made Helen pour a pitcherful of water on me instead.

Mazzini came this forenoon, for the first time; very pale and weak, but his face pretty well mended. He was horribly out of spirits; and no wonder. They have brought out the 'British and Foreign Review' without his article!! a most untimely contretemps for him, in an economical point of view; and besides very mortifying to him morally, as he is sure it is 'merely because of his being a foreigner that he is so ill-used.' I was strongly advising him to - run away, to hide himself from all people, friends and creditors and disciples, in Switzerland or some cheap, quiet place; and I should not wonder if he did [Page 206]  some such thing in the end - a man cannot live 'in a state of crisis' (as he calls it) for ever.

I do not see how I am to get to the Isle of Wight. I cannot leave the house with workpeople coming and going; and Helen declares, naturally, that without me she could not stay a night in the house for the whole world. But I daresay I am quite as content here, studious of household good, as I should be, dragged about to look at picturesque views, at the Isle of Wight, or anywhere else that 'fool[1] creturs go for diversion;' but London, be it e'er so hot, is ne'er too hot for me![2] To-day we have had the beautifullest soft rain, to make all fresh again; and on the whole, the weather is charming; and I never go into the dusty streets on foot. Good night.

Saturday. - Well! you cannot come back here just now at all rates, that is flat. What think you of going to this -----? Here indeed you would not 'come out strong' under the existing circumstances. It is only I who can be 'jolly' in such a mess of noise, dirt, and wild dismay! I said to the lad in the lobby this morning, who was filling the whole house with 'Love's young dream:' 'How happy you must feel, that can sing through that horrible noise you are making!' 'Yes, thank you, ma'm,' says he, 'I am happy enough [Page 207]  so far as I knows; but I's always a-singing any how! it sounds pleasant to sing at one's work, doesn't it, ma'm?' 'Oh, very pleasant,' said I, quite conquered by his simplicity, 'but it would be still pleasanter for me, at least, if you would sing a song from beginning to end, instead of bits here and there.' 'Thank you ma'm,' says he again, 'I will try!' But he does not succeed.

I have the most extraordinary letter from * * *, which I would send, only that it would cost twopence of itself. He writes to tell me that 'he did not like his reception,' that, 'often as he came and long as he stayed, I treated him indeed with perfect civility, did not yawn, or appear to be suppressing a yawn; but I seemed to labour under a continual feeling of oppression! and to be thinking all the while of something else!' 'What did I see to offend me in him?' he asks me with great humility; from what he heard of preferences and saw of my society, he was inclined to suppose that what I objected to in him must be the want of that first great requisite, earnestness. But he begged to assure me, &c., &c. - in short, that he had as much earnestness 'as he could bear'!! A letter from a man calling himself bishop to a woman whom he calls infidel, and pleading guilty to her of want of earnestness - Bah! I wish I could snort like Cavaignac.

There, now I must stop. I daresay I have [Page 208]  wearied you. God keep you, dear. Be quite easy about me.

Ever yours

J. C.



LETTER 47.

Cuittikins (old Scotch word for spatterdashes, 'cuits' signifying feet) means * * * * *, now become 'Bishop,' so-called, 'of -----' (title we used to think analogous to Great Mogul of London?), in whose episcopal uniform, unsuitable to the little bandy-legged man, the spats were a prominent item. Indisputable man of talent and veracity, though not of much devoutness, of considerable worldliness rather, and quietly composed self-conceit - gone now, ridiculously, into the figure of 'a bandy-legged black beetle,' as was thought by some.

'Old Morrah,' or Murrough, was an Irish surgeon of much sense and merit, well accepted by the Sterlings and us.

The policeman's 'rattle' was a thing she actually had on her night-table at this time.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Carmarthen.

Chelsea: Thursday, July 20, 1843.

Dearest, - I quite fretted, last night, at your having been cheated out of your letter. D'abord, I had a headache; but that was not the reason, for it was not an even-down headache, under which no woman can write; I could have written, better or worse; but I put off, thinking always I should get into 'a freer and clearer state'[1] before the post left; [Page 209]  and, as the copy-line says, 'procrastination is the root of all evil.' From two till four I had visitors, and not of free and easy sort who could be told to go away and return at a more convenient season; first, Mrs. Prior[1] and her companion Miss Allan, the primmest pair; but meaning well, and making me a long first visit of ceremony, in testimony of Mrs. Prior's sense of my 'goodness to her poor brother.'

By the way, I really believe that I have been the instrument, under Providence, of saving old Sterling's life. I told you how Dr. Fergusson seemed to me to be ruining him with recommendations of 'a plentiful use of porter, wine, and other stimulants to restore the tone of his nervous system'(!) Then he recommended him vapour baths. I saw him after his first bath, all scarlet as a lobster and pale as milk by turns, and shivering and burning by turns. I had an uncomfortable feeling about him all the evening; was not sure whether I ought not to write to John; he looked to me so much in danger of some sudden stroke. Two days after, he came and told me he had been twice cupped; had been so ill that he had himself proposed the thing to Fergusson, who approved. Now this was quite enough to show what sort of person this Fergusson must he, feeding a man up with porter and wine, and cupping him at the same time. I told Sterling most seriously that he [Page 210]  looked to me in a very critical state; and that if he did not go home, and send at once to old Morrah, who was no quack, and had never flattered his tastes, I would not answer for his living another week. He was furious at my suspicion of Fergusson; but on the way home thought better of it, and did send for Morrah; who immediately proceeded to scour him with the most potent medicines. Morrah called for me two days ago, and said that he did not think he could have gone on another week under Fergusson's system, without a stroke of apoplexy; that his pulse was a hundred and thirty, and his tongue quite black. Now he is sleeping well, and much better every way.

After Mrs. Prior, came the Dundee Stirlings, and the sister who is going to India. I liked the big bald forehead and kind eyes of Stirling very much indeed. He looks a right good fellow. They are to return to Dundee in a few days. But the most unexpected, the most stroke-of-thunder visitor I have had was Cuttikins!![1] I declare when Helen told me he was below, I almost sprung the rattle. I had not answered his letter, had made up my mind not to answer it at all; a man puts one in quite a false position who demands an explanation of one's coldness - coldness which belongs to the great sphere of silence; all speech about it can only make bad worse. Was he come there because, like ----, [Page 211]  he 'had found it so easy' to ask me for an answer? Was the small chimera gone out of his wits? When I came down, though outwardly quite calm, even indifferent, I was in a serious trouble. He put me speedily at ease, however, by telling me that he had been sent for express, to see his aunt, who had thought herself dying (and from whom he has expectations); she was now recovering, and he hoped to be able to go back in a few days - I hope so, too. I said I had not answered his letter, because it seemed to me that was the best way to counteract the indiscretion of his having written it; that, 'although, as a man much older than myself, and a dignitary of the church, he ought to be wiser than I, I could not help telling him that I had learned a thing or two, which he seemed to be still in ignorance of - among the rest, that warmth of affection could not be brought about by force of logic.' He said 'I was right, and he did not design to bore me this time,' and so we parted with polite mutual tolerance. But you may figure the shock of having that little Cuttikins descend from the blue so suddenly when I was relying on seeing no more of him for three years.

Only think what human wickedness is capable of! Some devils broke into Pearson's workshop the night before last, and stole all the men's tools. The poor creatures are running about, lost, their occupation quite gone. They have never any money laid by, [Page 212]  so they cannot buy new tools till they get money, and they cannot make money till they get tools. It is the cruellest of thefts - a man's tools. Last night six or seven pounds' worth of glass was cut out of a new house - out of the windows that is to say.

Your letter is just come; I thank you for never neglecting me. Yesterday looked such a blank day; no letters came, as if in sympathy with your silence. You must feel something of a self-constituted impostor in your present location. I have a good many little things to do, and an engagement with Mrs. Prior, who is to come to take me a drive at two o'clock. Oh, if you could mend me some pens! Bless you, dearest.

Your own

J. C.



LETTER 48.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Liverpool.

Chelsea: Monday night, July 31, 1843.

Dearest, - The postman presented me your letter to-night, in Cheyne Walk, with a bow extraordinary. He is a jewel of a postman; whenever he has put a letter from you into the box, he both knocks and rings, that not a moment may be lost in taking possession of it. In acknowledgment whereof, I crossed the street one day, when Cuttikins, who stayed a week and returned twice, was with me, and at that moment doing the impossible to be entertaining, for the purpose of saluting his (the postman's) baby, [Page 213]  which he was carrying out for an airing. The rage of Cuttikins at this interruption was considerable; he looked at me as if he could have eaten me raw, and remarked with a concentrated spleen, 'Well, I must say, never did I see any human being so improved in amiability as you are. Everybody and everything seems to be honoured with a particular affection from you.' 'Everything,' thought I, 'except you;' but I contented myself with saying, 'Isn't it a darling baby?' Poor Cuttikins, his aunt did not die; so he is gone with the prospect of - alas! - of having to return ere long. The last day he came, John Sterling exploded him in a way that would have done your heart good to see. John looked at me as much as to say, 'Does he bore you?' and I gave my shoulders a little shrug in the affirmative; whereupon John jumped to his feet and said in a polite undertone, as audible, however, for the Bishop as for me, 'Well, my good friend, if you cannot keep your engagement with me, I must go by myself - I am too late already.' The cool assurance of this speech was inimitable, for I had no engagement in the world with him; but the bishop, suspecting nothing, sprang to his feet, and was off in a minute with apologies for having detained me.

Well, I actually accomplished my dinner at the Kay Shuttleworths'. Mrs. ----- was the only lady at dinner; old Miss Rogers, and a young wersh-looking[1] [Page 214]  person with her, came in the evening; it was a very locked-jaw sort of business. Little Helps was there, but even I could not animate him: he looked pale and as if he had a pain in his stomach. Milnes was there, and 'affable' enough, but evidently overcome with a feeling that weighed on all of us - the feeling of having been dropped into a vacuum. There were various other men, a Sir Charles Lemon, Cornewall Lewis, and some other half-dozen insipidities, whose names did not fix themselves in my memory. Mrs. ----- was an insupportable bore; she has surely the air of a retired unfortunate female; her neck and arms were naked, as if she had never eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil! She reminded me forcibly of the Princess Huncamunca, as I once saw her represented in a barn. She ate and drank with a certain voracity, sneezed once during the dinner, just like a hale old man, 'and altogether' nothing could be more ungraceful, more unfeminine than her whole bearing. She talked a deal about America and her poverty with exquisite bad taste. Indeed, she was every way a displeasing spectacle to me.

Mazzini's visit to Lady Baring (as he calls her) went off wonderfully well. I am afraid, my dear, this Lady Baring of yours, and his, and John Mill's, and everybody's, is an arch coquette. She seems to have played her cards with Mazzini really too well; [Page 215]  she talked to him with the highest commendations of George Sand, expressed the utmost longing to read the new edition of 'Lelia'; nay, she made him 'a mysterious signal with her eyes, having first looked two or three times towards John Mill and her husband,' clearly intimating that she had something to tell him about ---- which they were not to hear; and when she could not make him understand, she 'shook her head impatiently, which from a woman, especially in your England, was - what shall I say? - confidential, upon my honour.' I think it was. John Mill appeared to be loving her very much, and taking great pains to show her that his opinions were right ones. By the way, do you know that Mill considers Robespierre 'the greatest man that ever lived,' his speeches far surpassing Demosthenes'? He begins to be too absurd, that John Mill! I heard Milnes saying at the Shuttleworths' that 'Lord Ashley was the greatest man alive; he was the only man that Carlyle praised in his book.' I dare say he knew I was overhearing him.

I am quite rid of the paint-smell now; but I have the whitewasher coming again to-morrow. I could not turn up the low room till the upstairs one was in some sort habitable again, and all last week, nothing could be got on with, owing to Pearson's absence. It is surprising how much easier it is to pull down things than to put them up again.



[Page 216] 

LETTER 49.

Welsh Tour done. Leaving Liverpool for Scotsbrig I get this. - T. C.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Liverpool.

Chelsea: Thursday, Aug. 3, 1843.

Dearest, - If you go on board to-night, this letter will reach you no sooner than if written to-morrow and addressed to Scotsbrig; but if you do not, and to-morrow there be a second day for you without any news, you will be 'vaixed;' and on no account must you be vaixed if one can possibly help it. I cannot, however, make much of writing to-day; for it is thundering and raining in a quite soul-confusing manner; that in the first place, then, in the second, I have a headache. Last night the Stickwoman, who is always showing me small civilities, brought me a present of ass's milk (God knows where she got hold of the ass to milk it!), and she bade Helen tell me that if I would please to drink it to my supper, I should feel great benefit in the morning. I drank it, more for curiosity than for any superiority I could taste in it over cow's milk; and awoke, after two hours' sleep, with such a headache, and such a detestation of ass's milk! I was able to get up early to my breakfast; but am not recovered yet, nor shall be till I have had a night's sleep. I did myself no good by cleaning the lamp in the morning. It had ceased [Page 217]  to act some time ago, and was beginning to lie heavy on my conscience, besides that light is one of the things I do not like to economise in, when I am alone; just the more alone I am, the more light I need, as I told Darwin, the night he drank tea with me, and, when the lamp was brought in, remarked that 'it was surely far too much light for a single woman'! Darwin, by the way, has gone out of sight latterly; it is a fortnight, I am sure, since he was here; he talked then of paying a visit to his brother and then going to the Mackintosh's.

I am sitting in the upstairs room now, while the earthquake is rumbling beneath it, and this and the thunder together are almost too much for me. They have washed the ceilings, and Helen is now washing the paint, and doing the impossible to clean the paper with bread. 'Ah!' it takes such a quantity of labour, for a man quite inconceivable, to make what is dirty look one shade more near to clean. But here it is all quite clean, and so pretty! I feel like a little Queen sitting in it, so far as what Mazzini calls 'the material' is concerned; indeed, I suppose no Queen ever got half the comfort out of a nice room; Queens being born to them as the sparks fly upwards. There are still some finishing strokes to be given, the bookshelves all to be put up, and the window curtains; and a deal of needlework has to go to the last. But when all is done, it will be such a pleasure to receive [Page 218]  you and give you tea in your new library! when you have exhausted the world without.

Thanks for your constant little letters; when you come back, I do not know how I shall learn to do without them, they have come to be as necessary as any part of my 'daily bread.' But, my dear, I must stop, you see that my head is bad and that I am making it worse.

Bless you,

Yours, J. C.



LETTER 50.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Scotsbrig.

Pier Hotel, Ryde:[1] Wednesday morning, Aug. 9, 1843.

Dearest, - Here I actually am, and so far as has yet appeared, 'if it had not been for the honour of the thing,' I had better have stayed where I was. The journey hither was not pleasant the least in the world. What journey ever was or shall be pleasant for poor me? But this railway seems to me particularly shaky, and then the steamboating from Gosport, though it had not time to make me sick - the water, moreover, being smooth as the Thames - still made me as perfectly uncomfortable as need be; a heavy dew was falling; one could not see many yards ahead; everybody on board looked peevish. I wished myself at home in my bed. [Page 219] 

We reached Ryde at eight in the evening, and, the second hotel being filled, had to take up our quarters for that night at the first, which 'is the dearest hotel in Europe,' and the hotel in Europe, so far as I have seen, where there is the least human comfort. I had to make tea from an urn the water of which was certainly not 'as hot as one could drink it;'[1] the cream was blue milk, the butter tasted of straw, and the 'cold fowl' was a lukewarm one, and as tough as leather. After this insalubrious repast - which the Stimabile,[2] more easily pleased than I, pronounced to he 'infinitely refreshing, by Jove!' - finding that, beyond sounding the depths of vacuum, there was nothing to be done that night, I retired to my bed. The windows looked over house-roofs and the sea, so I hoped it would be quiet; but, alas, there was a dog uttering a volley of loud barks, about once in the five minutes; and rousing up what seemed to be a whole infinitude of dogs in the distance! Of course, fevered and nervous as I was at any rate from the journey, I could not sleep at all; I do not mean that I slept ill, but I have absolutely never been asleep at all the whole night! So you may fancy the favourable mood I am in towards [Page 220]  Ryde this morning! I feel as if I would not pass another night in that bed for a hundred pounds!

Nor shall I need. Clark[1] has been out this morning to seek a lodging; and has found one, he says, very quiet, quite away from the town. If I cannot sleep there, I will return to my own red bed as fast as possible. I did not bind myself for any specified time. To Helen I said I should most likely be back in three or four days; but in my own private mind, I thought it possible I might make out a week. It was best, however, to let her expect me from day to day; both that she might get on faster and that she might suffer less from her apprehension of thieves, for she flattered herself nobody would know I was gone before I should be returned. I left Elizabeth with her, with plenty of needlework to do; alone, she would have gone out of her senses altogether, and most probably succeeded in getting the house robbed.

And now let me tell you something which you will perhaps think questionable, a piece of Hero-Worship that I have been after. My youthful enthusiasm, as John Sterling calls it, is not extinct then, as I had supposed; but must certainly be immortal! Only think of its blazing up for Father Mathew! You know I have always had the greatest reverence for that priest; and when I heard he was in London, attainable to me, I felt that I must see him, shake him [Page 221]  by the hand, and tell him I loved him considerably! I was expressing my wish to see him, to Robertson, the night he brought the Ballad Collector;[1] and he told me it could be gratified quite easily. Mrs. Hall had offered him a note of introduction to Father Mathew, and she would be pleased to include my name in it. 'Fix my time, then.' 'He was administering the pledge all day long in the Commercial Road.' I fixed next evening.

Robertson, accordingly, called for me at five, and we rumbled off in omnibus, all the way to Mile End, that hitherto for me unimaginable goal! Then there was still a good way to walk; the place, the 'new lodging,' was a large piece of waste ground, boarded off from the Commercial Road, for a Catholic cemetery. I found 'my youthful enthusiasm' rising higher and higher as I got on the ground, and saw the thousands of people all hushed into awful silence, with not a single exception that I saw - the only religious meeting I ever saw in cockneyland which had not plenty of scoffers hanging on its outskirts. The crowd was all in front of a narrow scaffolding, from which an American captain was then haranguing it; and Father Mathew stood beside him, so good and simple-looking! Of course, we could not push our way to the front of the scaffold, where steps led up to it; so we went to one end, where there were [Page 222]  no steps or other visible means of access, and handed up our letter of introduction to a policeman; he took it and returned presently, saying that Father Mathew was coming. And he came; and reached down his hand to me, and I grasped it; but the boards were higher than my head, and it seemed our communication must stop there. But I have told you that I was in a moment of enthusiasm; I felt the need of getting closer to that good man. I saw a bit of rope hanging, in the form of a festoon, from the end of the boards; I put my foot on it; held still by Father Mathew's hand; seized the end of the boards with the other; and, in some, to myself (up to this moment), incomprehensible way, flung myself horizontally on to the scaffolding at Father Mathew's feet! He uttered a scream, for he thought (I suppose) I must fall back; but not at all; I jumped to my feet, shook hands with him and said - what? 'God only knows.' He made me sit down on the only chair a moment; then took me by the hand as if I had been a little girl, and led me to the front of the scaffold, to see him administer the pledge. From a hundred to two hundred took it; and all the tragedies and theatrical representations I ever saw, melted into one, could not have given me such emotion as that scene did. There were faces both of men and women that will haunt me while I live; faces exhibiting such concentrated wretchedness, making, [Page 223]  you would have said, its last deadly struggle with the powers of darkness. There was one man, in particular, with a baby in his arms; and a young girl that seemed of the 'unfortunate' sort, that gave me an insight into the lot of humanity that I still wanted. And in the face of Father Mathew, when one looked from them to him, the mercy of Heaven seemed to be laid bare. Of course I cried; but I longed to lay my head down on the good man's shoulder and take a hearty cry there before the whole multitude! He said to me one such nice thing. 'I dare not be absent for an hour,' he said; 'I think always if some dreadful drunkard were to come, and me away, he might never muster determination perhaps to come again in all his life; and there would be a man lost!'

I was turning sick, and needed to get out of the thing, but, in the act of leaving him - never to see him again through all time, most probably - feeling him to be the very best man of modern times (you excepted), I had another movement of youthful enthusiasm which you will hold up your hands and eyes at. Did I take the pledge then? No; but I would, though, if I had not feared it would be put in the newspapers! No, not that; but I drew him aside, having considered if I had any ring on, any handkerchief, anything that I could leave with him in remembrance of me, and having bethought me of a pretty memorandum-book in my reticule, I drew him aside and [Page 224]  put it in his hand, and bade him keep it for my sake; and asked him to give me one of his medals to keep for his! And all this in tears and in the utmost agitation! Had you any idea that your wife was still such a fool! I am sure I had not. The Father got through the thing admirably. He seemed to understand what it all meant quite well, inarticulate though I was. He would not give me a common medal, but took a little silver one from the neck of a young man who had just taken the pledge for example's sake, telling him he would get him another presently, and then laid the medal into my hand with a solemn blessing. I could not speak for excitement all the way home. When I went to bed I could not sleep; the pale faces I had seen haunted me, and Father Mathew's smile; and even next morning, I could not anyhow subside into my normal state, until I had sat down and written Father Mathew a long letter - accompanying it with your 'Past and Present!' Now, dear, if you are ready to beat me for a distracted Gomeril[1] I cannot help it. All that it was put into my heart to do, Ich konnte nicht anders.

When you write, just address to Cheyne Row. I cannot engage for myself being here twenty-four hours longer; it will depend on how I sleep to-night; and also a little on when I find Elizabeth Mudie[2] will [Page 225]  be needed in Manchester. I must be back in time to get her clothes gathered together.

Bless you always. Love to them all.

Your J. C.

I began this in the hotel; but it has been finished in our lodging, which looks quiet and comfortable so far.



LETTER 51.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Scotsbrig.

Ryde: Friday, Aug. 11, 1843.

Dearest, - The sky-rocket will be off to-morrow morning, on the strength of its own explosiveness; the red-hot poker may stay till it has burnt a hole in its box, if it like! 'Oh! what had I to do for to travel? I was well, I would be better, and I am here!' To be sure, Ryde is a place well worth having seen, and knowing about with a view to future needs; but what I get out of it for the time being, moi, is sleeplessness, indigestion, and incipient despair.

I finished my letter to you the first thing I did on taking possession of the lodging. It (the lodging) looked passable enough, so far; a small but neat sitting-room, with two bed-rooms, of which the roomiest was assigned to me - plainly in the expectation that I should modestly prefer the inferior one. But not at all; my modesty remained perfectly passive; - for I knew that he could have had two bed-rooms [Page 226]  equally good for two or three shillings a week more; and if he chose to make a sacrifice of comfort for so paltry a saving, I was resolved it should be of his own comfort, not mine.

I went to bed in fear and trembling. I do think another such night as the preceding would have thrown me into brain fever; but I slept, mercifully, not well, but some. On looking, however, at my fair hand in the morning, as it lay outside the bedclothes, I perceived it to be all - 'what shall I say?' 'elevated into inequalities,'[1] 'significant of much!' Not a doubt of it, I had fallen among bugs! My pretty neck too, especially the part of it Babbie used to like to kiss, was all bitten infamously; and I felt myself a degraded Goody, as well as a very unfortunate one. As I sat, exceedingly low, at something which, in the language of flattery, we called breakfast, Clark brought me your letter and one from Babbie and three from Geraldine (who always outdoes you all); administering comfort each after a sort, but Geraldine's most, for they offered me the handsomest pretext for returning home suddenly. One of her letters was to announce the safe arrival of Juliet Mudie, whom she expressed herself outrageously pleased with; the other two were to say that I must get Elizabeth off immediately, as the lady could not [Page 227]  wait; and in case of missing me, she had written to this effect to Chelsea and Ryde at the same time. I was not to mind clothing her; all that could be done there; if I was absent, I must employ Mazzini or somebody to see her off. But I was too glad of the excuse, to dream of employing anybody; besides, one always does one's own business best oneself; should she miss the thing, through any interference from the mother or other hindrance which my presence could have obviated, who knows but it might be the losing of her whole chances in life! So I wrote to her instantly to go home and take leave of her mother on receiving my letter (to-day), and make one or two small preparations, which were indispensable unless she should go among strangers like a beggar - which, of course, poor thing, being very handsome or whether or no, she would not like to do; and that I would be there to-morrow, to take her to the railway to-morrow evening. Meanwhile I am getting together one decent suit of clothes for her in the Isle of Wight. That is what I call taking time by the middle.

To-day I have another letter from you, as a sort of marmalade to one's bad bread and tea-urn skimmed-milk tea. Do you know, I pity this poor old man. The notion of saving seems to be growing into a disease with him; and he has still a sufficient natural sense of what looks generous, and even magnificent, to make it a very painful disease. [Page 228]  He is really pitiable in every way; and if it were possible for me to stay with him, I would out of sheer charity. He is incapable of applying his mind to reading or writing or any earthly thing. And he cannot move about to 'distract himself' as he used to do, he suffers so much from incessant pain in one of his thighs. He cannot even talk, for every minute needing to roar out, 'This is torture, by Jove!' 'My God, this is agony,' &c. &c. He always will go out to walk, and then for hours after he pays the penalty of it.

I went this morning (while a man was taking down my bedstead to look for the bugs, which were worse last night, of course, having found what a rare creature they had got to eat), and investigated another lodging, which Clark had taken for us, and Sterling gave it up, for no other reason one could imagine, than just because Clark had taken it, and he likes to do everything over again himself. I thought it would be good to know something about lodgings here, in case you might like to try it next time.

Ryde is certainly far the most beautiful sea-bathing place I ever saw; and seems to combine the conveniences and civilisation of town with the purity and quiet of the country in a rather successful manner. The lodging I looked at was quite at the outside of the town: a sitting-room and two bedrooms, in the house of a single lady; the sitting- [Page 229]  room beautiful, the bedrooms small, but, in compensation, the beds very large; good furniture, and, I should expect, good attendance, 'sitting' in a beautiful little garden, villa-wise, rejoicing in the characteristic name of Flora Cottage; and within two minutes' walk of the sea and romantic-looking bushy expanses: a very superior place to Newby, and the cost just the same - two guineas a week. God knows whether there be bugs in it. There is no noise; for the lady remarked to me, par hasard, that she sometimes felt frightened in lying awake at night, it was so still; nothing to be heard but the murmuring of the sea. We might 'put this in our pipe' for next year; and I shall look about farther during this my last day. I wonder John never recommended Wight to you with any emphasis; it must surely have some drawback which I have not discovered; for it seems to me a place that would suit even you. And now, dear, if you think my letter hardly worth the reading, remember that I am all bug-bitten and bedevilled and out of my latitude,

Your own

J. C.

Kind remembrances to all; a kiss to my kind, good Jamie.

[We never went to Ryde; we once tried Brighton, once inspected Bournemouth, &c., but the very noises, in all [Page 230]  these pretty sea-places, denoted flat impossibility, especially to one of us. How heavenly, salutary, pure is silence; how unattainable in the mad England that now is! - T. C.]

LETTER 52.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Scotsbrig.

Chelsea; Sunday, Aug. 13, 1843.

Dearest, - I have not for a long time enjoyed a more triumphant moment than in 'descending'[1] from the railway yesterday at Vauxhall, and calling a porter to carry my small trunk and dressing box (of course) to a Chelsea steamer! To be sure, I looked (and felt) as if just returning from the Thirty-years' War. Sleepless, bug-bitten, bedusted and bedevilled, I was hardly recognisable for the same trim little Goody who had left that spot only four days before; but still I was returning with my shield, not on it. A few minutes more, and I should be purified to the shift, to the very skin - should have absolutely bathed myself with eau de Cologne - should have some mutton-broth set before me (I had written from Ryde to bespeak it!), and a silver spoon to eat it with (these four days had taught me to appreciate my luxuries), and prospect of my own red bed at night! That of itself was enough to make me the most thankful woman in Chelsea!

Helen screamed with joy when she saw me (for I [Page 231]  was come about an hour sooner than I was expected), and then seized me round the neck and kissed me from ear to ear. Then came Bessie Mudie, with her head quite turned. She could do nothing in the world but laugh for joy, over her own prospects so suddenly brightened for her; and from consciousness of her improved appearance, in a pair of stays and a gown and petticoat which she had got for herself here by my directions. And when I showed her the shawl and other little things I had fetched her from Ryde, she laughed still more, and her face grew so very red that I thought she was going to burst a blood-vessel. She had been home, and had taken leave of her mother - no hindrance there whatever, but was extremely thankful. So all was in readiness for taking her to the railway that evening according to programme.

Mazzini called just when I had finished my dinner, to inquire if there had been any news from me; and was astonished to find myself; still more astonished at the extent to which I had managed to ruin myself in so short a time: I looked, he said, 'strange, upon my honour! - most like,' if he might be allowed to say it, 'to Lady Macbeth in the sleeping scene!' No wonder! Four such nights might have made a somnambulant of a much stronger woman than me, poverina.

At half after seven, I started with Bessie for [Page 232]  Euston Square; committed her to the care of a very fat benevolent-looking old man, who was going all the way; pinned her letter for Geraldine to her stays; kissed the poor young creature, and gave her my blessing; came back wondering whether these two girls that I had launched into the world would live to thank me for it, or not rather wish that I had tied a stone about each of their necks and launched them into the Thames! Impossible to predict! So I went to bed and was asleep in two minutes!

After some hours of the deadest sleep I ever slept on earth, I was wakened with pain in my head; but where I was I could not possibly make out. I sat up in the middle of my bed, to ascertain my locality, and there 'I happened'[1] the oddest mystification you can fancy: I actually lost myself in my bed! could not find the right way of lying down again! I felt about for pillows, none were findable! and I could not get the clothes spread upon me again! They seemed to be fixed down. At last, still groping, with my hand, I felt the footboard at my head! I had lain down 'with my head where my feet should be; and it was a puzzling business to rectify my position! I went to sleep again, and rose at half after eight; and took my coffee and good bread with such relish! Oh, it was worth while to have [Page 233]  spent four days in parsimony; to have been bitten with bugs; to have been irritated with fuss and humbug, and last of all to have been done out of my travelling expenses back! it was worth while to have had all this botheration to refresh my sense of all my mercies. Everything is comparative 'here down;' this morning I need no other Paradise than what I have: cleanness (not of teeth), modest comfort, silence, independence (that is to say, dependence on no other but one's own husband). Yes, I need to be well of my headache, over and above; but that also will come, with more sleep.

I found on my return three book-parcels and your last letter: parcel first, John Sterling's 'Strafford' for myself; you will see a review of it in today's 'Examiner,' which will make him desperately angry (Really Fuzz,[1] that brother of ours, improves by keeping sensible company); second, Varnhagen's three volumes from Lockhart, with a note which I inclose; third, a large showy paper book in three volumes, entitled 'The English Universities,' Hunter and Newman, 'With Mr. James Heywood's compliments' on the first page. At night another parcel came from Maurice, 'Arnold's Lectures' returned, and Strauss (which latter I purpose reading - I!). I brought with me from Ryde a volume of plays by one Kleist (did you ever hear of him?) which [Page 234]  Sterling greatly recommends. The tragedian himself had the most tragic end.[1]

I did not forget about the name of Varnhagen's pamphlet; but at the time you asked it of me, it was lying at the bottom of the sofa, with the other books of the low room and Pelion on Ossa on the top of it; to get at it would have cost me an hour's hard work. The name, now it is restored to the upper world, is Leitfaden zur Nordischen Alterthumskunde.

I have a negotiation going on about a place for Miss Bölte;[2] but the lady is on the Continent, and it cannot be speedily brought to an alternative. Meanwhile the poor girl is gone to some friend in the country, for a month. I am very sorry indeed for poor Isabella. Give her my kind remembrances - my sympathy, if it could but do anything for her.

Are you - or rather would it be very disagreeable for you - to go to Thornhill, and see the Russells, and Margaret and old Mary? If you could without finding it irksome, I should like. Oh, to think of your going to Thornhill to see only the Russells![3] Oh, my mother, my own mother. [Page 235] 

Monday, Aug. 14. - I had to give up writing yesterday, my head was so woefully bad. But a dinner of roast mutton, with a tumbler of white-wine negus, made me a more effectual woman again; you see I am taking care of myself with a vengeance! But I 'consider it my duty' to get myself made well again - and to tell you the truth I was starved at Ryde, as well as bug-bitten.

In the evening I had Miss Bölte till after ten (I thought she had gone to the country, but she goes to-day), she is really a fine manly little creature, with a deal of excellent sense, and not without plenty of German enthusiasm, for all so humdrum as she looks.

This morning I got up immensely better, having had another good sleep; and, in token of my thankfulness to Providence, I fell immediately to glazing and painting with my own hands (not to ruin you altogether). It is now just on post-time. I have had your letter, for consolation in my messy job, and I must send this off; trusting that you found other two letters from me waiting you on coming back; and then return to finish my painting. Pray for me.

Ever your unfortunate

Goody.



[Page 236] 

LETTER 53.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Scotsbrig

Chelsea: Thursday, Aug. 17, 1843.

I write to-day, dearest, without any faculty for writing; merely to keep your mind easy, by telling you that I have a headache; if I said nothing at all, you might fancy I had something worse. 'Ah' - I could not expect to get off from that vile Wight business so cheaply as with one headache or even two.

Since I wrote last, I have had a sad day in bed, another only a little less sad out of it; besides the pain in my head, such pains in my limbs that I could hardly rise or sit down without screaming. I have taken one blue pill and mean to take another. I am better to-day, though still in a state for which stooping over paper and making the slightest approach to thinking is very bad. So 'you must just excuse us the day.' God bless you. I hope your 'feverish cold' is driven off.

Elizabeth was seeking your address for the Kirkcaldy people, who mean to send you an invitation, I suppose. Perhaps it would be your best way of coming back.

Affectionate regards to them all.

Your J. C.



[Page 237] 

LETTER 54.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Friday morning, Aug. 18, 1843.

Dearest, - If you expect a spirited letter from me to-day, I grieve that you will be disappointed. I am not mended yet: only mending, and that present participle (to use Helen's favourite word for the weather) is extremely 'dilatory.' The pains in my limbs are gone, however, leaving only weakness; and my head aches now with 'a certain' moderation! still enough to spoil all one's enjoyment of life - if there be any such thing for some of us - and, what is more to the purpose, enough to interfere with one's 'did intends,' which in my case grow always the longer the more manifold and complicated.

Darwin came yesterday after my dinner-time (I had dined at three), and remarked, in the course of some speculative discourse, that I 'looked as if I needed to go to Gunter's and have an ice!' Do you comprehend what sort of look that can be? Certainly he was right, for driving to Gunter's and having an ice revived me considerably; it was the first time I had felt up to crossing the threshold, since I took Bessie Mudie to the railway the same evening I returned from Ryde. Darwin was very clever yesterday; he remarked, apropos of a pamphlet of Maurice's (which by the way is come for you), entitled, 'A [Page 238]  Letter to Lord Ashley respecting a certain proposed measure for stifling the expression of opinion in the University of Oxford,' that pamphlets were for some men just what a fit of the gout was for others - they cleared the system, so that they could go on again pretty comfortably for a while. He told me also a curious conversation amongst three grooms, at which Wrightson had assisted the day before in a railway carriage, clearly indicating to what an alarming extent the schoolmaster is abroad! Groom the first took a pamphlet from his pocket, saying he had bought it two days ago and never found a minute to read it. Groom the second inquired the subject. First groom: 'Oh, a hit at the Puseyists.' Second groom: 'The Puseyists? Ha, they are for bringing us back to the times when people burnt one another!' First groom (tapping second groom on the shoulder with the pamphlet): 'Charity, my brother, charity!' Third groom: 'Well, I cannot say about the Puseyists; but my opinion is that what we need is more Christianity and less religionism!' Now Wrightson swears that every word of this is literally as the men spoke it - and certainly Wrightson could not invent it.

I had a long letter from old Sterling, which stupidly I flung into the fire in a rage (the fire? Yes, it is only for the last two days that I have not needed fire in the mornings!); and I bethought me afterwards that I had better have sent it to you, whom its cool Robert [Page 239]  Macaire impudence might have amused. Only fancy his inviting me to come back, and 'this time he would take care that I should have habitable lodgings.' His letter began, 'The last cord which held me to existence here is snapped,' - meaning me! and so on. Oh, 'the devil fly away with' the old sentimental -----!

I had letters from both Mr. and Mrs. Buller yesterday explaining their having failed to invite me; she appears to have been worse than ever, and is likely to be soon here again. Poor old Buller's modest hope that the new medicine 'may not turn Madam blue' is really touching!

Here is your letter come. And you have not yet got any from me since my return! Somebody must have been very negligent, for I wrote to you on Sunday, added a postscript on Monday, and sent off both letter and newspapers by Helen, in perfectly good time. It is most provoking after one has been (as Helen says) 'just most particular' not to vaix you, to find that you have been vaixed nevertheless.

You ask about the state of the house. Pearson and Co. are out of it. Both the public rooms are in a state of perfect habitableness again; a little to be done in the needlework department, but 'nothing' (like Dodger's Boy's nose) 'to speak of.' Your bedroom, of which the ceiling had to be whitened and the paint washed, &c. &c., will be habitable by to-morrow. The front bedrooms, into which all the [Page 240]  confusion had been piled, are still to clean; - but that will soon be done. My own bedroom also needs to have the carpet beaten, and the bed curtains taken down and brushed; all this would have been completed by this time but for a most unexpected and soul-sickening mess, which I discovered in the kitchen, which has caused work for several days. Only fancy, while I was brightening up the outside of the platter to find in Helen's bed a new colony of bugs! I tell you of it fearlessly this time, as past victory gives me a sense of superiority over the creatures. She said to me one morning in putting down my breakfast, 'My! I was just standing this morning, looking up at the corner of my bed, ye ken, and there what should I see but two bogues! I hope there's na mair.' 'You hope?' said I immediately kindling into a fine phrenzy; 'how could you live an instant without making sure? A pretty thing it will be if you have let your bed get full of bugs again!' The shadow of an accusation of remissness was enough of course to make her quite positive. 'How was she ever to have thought of bogues, formerly? What a thing to think about! But since, she had been just most particular! To be sure, these two must have come off these Mudies' shawls!' I left her protesting and 'appealing to posterity,'[1] and ran off myself to see into the business. She had not so much as taken off the curtains; I tore them off [Page 241]  distractedly, pulled in pieces all of the bed that was pullable, and saw and killed two, and in one place which I could not get at without a bed-key, 'beings' (as Mazzini would say) were clearly moving! Ah, mercy, mercy, my dismay was considerable! Still, it was not the acme of horror this time, as last time, for now I knew they could be annihilated root and branch. When I told her there were plenty, she went off to look herself, and came back and told me in a peremptory tone that 'she had looked and there was not a single bogue there!' It was needless arguing with a wild animal. I had Pearson to take the bed down, and he soon gave me the pleasant assurance that 'they were pretty strong!' Neither did he consider them a recent importation.

Helen went out of the way at the taking down of the bed, not to be proved in the wrong to her own conviction; which was 'probably just as well,' as she might have saved a remnant in her petticoats, being so utterly careless about the article. Pearson, who shared all my own nervous sensibility, was a much better assistant for me. I flung some twenty pailfuls of water on the kitchen floor, in the first place, to drown any that might attempt to save themselves; then we killed all that were discoverable, and flung the pieces of the bed, one after another, into a tub full of water, carried them up into the garden, and let them steep there for two days; - and [Page 242]  then I painted all the joints, had the curtains washed and laid by for the present, and hope and trust there is not one escaped alive to tell. Ach Gott, what disgusting work to have to do! - but the destroying of bugs is a thing that cannot be neglected. In the course of the bug investigation I made another precious discovery. That the woollen mattress was being eaten from under her with moths. That had to be torn up next, all the wool washed and boiled, and teased; and I have a woman here this day making it up into a mattress again. In your bed I had ocular conviction that there were none when it was in pieces; in my own I have inferential conviction, for they would have been sure to bite me, the very first Adam and Eve of them; in the front room nothing is discoverable either. But I shall take that bed all down for security's sake before I have done with it; - either that, or go up and sleep in it a night: - but then imagination might deceive me, and even cause spots! 'The troubles that afflict the just,' &c.

We have warm weather these two days; not oppressive for me, but more summer-like than any that has been this season.

Oh, I always forgot to tell you that in the railway carriage, going to Ryde, my next neighbour was Robert Owen (the Socialist); he did not know anything of me, so that I had the advantage of him. I [Page 243]  found something of old Laing in him, particularly the voice. I like him on the whole, and in proof thereof gave him two carnations.

Your affectionate

GOODY.

I have heard nothing farther of Father Mathew. Knowing how busy he was, and supposing him not much used to corresponding with women of genius, I worded my letter so as to make him understand I looked for no answer. As to the stuffed Pope,[1] I thought of him (or rather of it); but I felt too much confidence in Father Mathew's good sense to fear his being shocked.



LETTER 55.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Monday, Aug. 21, 1843.

Dearest, - I meant to have written you an exceedingly long and satisfactory letter last evening; but a quite other work was cut out for me, which I cannot say I regret. It is but little good one can do to a sane man, whereas for an insane one much is possible; and I did even the impossible for such a one last night. Poor Garnier[2] walked in at five, and stayed till after nine. And if you had seen the difference in him at his entrance and exit, you would have said that I had worked a miracle! [Page 244] 

Poor fellow! they may all abuse him as they like; but I think, and have thought, and will think, well of him: he has a good heart and a good head; only a nervous system all bedevilled, and his external life fallen into a horribly burbled state about him. I gave him tea, and took him a walk, and lent him some music, and soothed the troubled soul of him, and when he went away he said the only civil thing to me he ever said in life. 'I am obliged to you, Mrs. Carlyle; you have made me pass one evening pleasantly; and I came very miserable.' He desired his kind regards to you, and has a scheme, a propagation, of small schools, to propound to you. His uncle in Germany is dead, which will ultimately make an amendment in his economics, he seems to say.

I am very quiet at present, so few people are left in town. Even poor Gludder[1] (the infamy of giving a Christian such a name!) has been gone some time to Tottenham Park; but his patience seems near the end of its tether, and he purposes emancipating himself shortly, 'before he loses his faculties altogether.' Then Darwin is always going off on short excursions. The Macready women, however, came the day before yesterday, the first time I had seen them since your departure. And I have something to ask on the part of Mrs. Macready: 'If you could give William any letters of introduction for America, it would be [Page 245]  such a favour!' She cannot hear the idea of his 'going merely as a player, without private recommendations.' They looked perfectly heart-broken, these women. The letters to America will be needed within ten days. To Emerson? Who is there else worth knowing in America? I promised to spend a day with them before he went.

Poor Father Mathew, they say, is getting into deep waters here. He does not possess the Cockney strength of silence; his Irish blood gets up when he is angered, and he 'commits himself.' I am all the more pleased at having given him my most sweet voice, for there is plainly a vast deal of party spirit taking the field to put him down. One thing they laugh at him for is, to my thinking, highly meritorious. Somebody, trying to stir up the crowd against him, said, 'What good can come to you from that man? - he is only a Popish monk!' Whereupon Father Mathew burst out, 'And what do you mean by saying no good can come from a Popish monk? Have you not received just the greatest blessings from Popish monks? Have you not received Christianity from a Popish Monk? the Reformation from a Popish monk - Martin Luther?' There was something so delightfully Irish, and liberal at the same time, in this double view of Luther!

No letter from you to-day; but perhaps there will come one in the evening. You cannot be accused of [Page 246]  remissness in writing, at all rates, whatever your other faults may be. Oh, no! you need not go to Thornhill.[1] It was a selfish request on my part. I would not go myself for a thousand guineas. But send the five pound for poor old Mary before you leave the country: her money falls entirely done at the end of this month. I computed it quite accurately, when Mrs. Russell wrote that she had still thirty shillings. She will not be long to provide for, poor old soul! I have sent the books for Lockhart.

I am busy with a little work just now that makes me so sad. You remember the new curtains that came from Templand. When she made them, she wrote to me, 'they looked so beautiful that she could not find in her heart to hang them up till I should be coming again;' and the first sight I was to have of them was here! - and it was here, not there, that they were to be hung up. It needed a deal of scheming and altering to make them fit our high room; and picking out her sewing has been such sorrowful work for me: still I could not let anybody meddle with them except myself; and to keep them lying there was just as sorrowful. Oh, dear, dear!

I hope you are quite free of your cold; the weather is quite cool again. God bless you.

Your affectionate

JANE CARLYLE.

[Page 247] 

'Garnier'[1] was from Baden; a revolutionary exile, filled with mutinous confusion of the usual kind, and with its usual consequences; a black-eyed, tall, stalwart-looking mass of a man; face all cut with scars (of duels in his student time), but expressive still of frankness, honesty, ingenuity, and good humour; dirty for most part, yet as it were heroically so: few men had more experience of poverty and squalor here, or took it more proudly. He had some real scholarship, a good deal of loose information; occasionally wrote, and had he been of moderate humour could always have written, with something of real talent. Cole, the now great Cole, of 'the Brompton boilers,' occasionally met him (in the Buller Committee, for instance), and tried to help him, as did I. Together we got him finally into some small clerkship under Cole, Cole selecting the feasible appointment, I recommending to Lord Stanley, who, as 'whipper-in,' had the nomination and always believed what I testified to him. 'You called me a rhinoceros' (not to be driven like a tame ox), said Garnier to me on this occasion, pretending, and only pretending, to be angry at me. In a year or two he flung off this harness too, and took to the desert again. Poor soul! he was at last visibly now and then rather mad. In 1848 we heard he had rushed into German whirlpool, and, fighting in Baden, had perished. John Mill, in 1834, had been his introducer here.

'Gludder' was one Plattnauer (still living hereabouts and an esteemed tutor in noble families), whom Cavaignac had (on repeated pressure) lately introduced here, and who has hung about us, lovingly, and much pitied by her, ever since. I never could much take to him, had called him 'Gludder' (a word of my father's) from the sad sound he made in articulating (as if through slush), or get real good of him, nor now can when he has grown so sad to me. On the [Page 248]  whole, one rapidly enough perceived that the foreign exile element was not the recommendable one, and, except for her picturesque æsthetic, &c. interest in it, would have been very brief with it here. As indeed I essentially was; nor she herself very tedious. Except with Cavaignac I never had any intimacy, any pleasant or useful conversation, among these people - except for Mazzini, and him any real respect - and from the first dialogue, Mazzini's opinions were to me incredible, and (at once tragically and comically) impracticable in this world. She, too, even of Mazzini, gradually came to that view, though to the last she had always an affection for Mazzini, and for the chivalrous and grandly humorous Cavaignac (and for the memory of him afterwards) still more. - T. C.

LETTER 56.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan.

Chelsea: Sunday night, Aug. 27, 1843.

Dearest, - Another evening, in thought set apart for you, has been eaten up alive by 'rebellious consonants.' I had told Helen to go after dinner and take herself a long walk, assuring her nobody could possibly arrive, for the best of reasons, that 'there was not a human being left in London.' And just when I had fetched up my own tea, and was proceeding to 'enjo-oy it'[1] quite in old-maid style, there arrived Darley,[2] the sight of whom gave me a horrible [Page 249]  foretaste of fidgets and nameless woe, which was duly fulfilled to me in good time. However, it is to be hoped that he got a little good for having a mouthful of human (or rather, to speak accurately, inhuman) speech with someone; and in that case one's care being 'the welfare of others,' &c. &c. For myself individually, I feel as if I had spent the evening under a harrow.

I hardly know where a letter now shall find you. But perhaps to-morrow will direct me before sending this away. It is very stupid of the Ferguses - a fact almost as absurd as speaking to Elizabeth of sending us potatoes last year, and never sending them. But if you want to see the battle ground at Dunbar, I am sure you need not miss it for lack of somewhere to go. The poor Donaldsons - nay, everybody in Haddington - would be so glad to have you. The Donaldsons, you know, formally invited you 'for a month or two' this spring. I cannot detect the association, but it comes in my head at this moment, and I may as well tell you, that the Rev. Candlish is in great raptures over 'Past and Present;' so Robertson told me the last time I saw him. Garnier also told me that the book had a success of an unusual and very desirable kind; it was not so much that people spoke about it, as that they spoke out of it; in these mysterious conventions of his, your phrases, [Page 250]  he said, were become a part of the general dialect. The booksellers would not have Garnier's translation: that was the reason of its being given up; not that he was too mad for it. It was I who told you about the Lord Dudley Stuart affair; Garnier gave me his own version of it that night, and it seemed quite of a piece with his usual conduct - good intentions, always unfortunate; a right thing wrongly set about.

Well, the Italian 'Movement' has begun; and also, I suppose, ended. Mazzini has been in a state of violent excitement all these weeks, really forcibly reminding one of Frank Dickson's goose with the addle egg. Nothing hindered him from going off to head the movement, except that, unexpectedly enough, the movement did not invite him; nay, took pains to 'keep him in a certain ignorance,' and his favourite conspirator abroad. The movement went into Sicily 'to act there alone,' plainly indicating that it meditated some arrangement of Italy such as they two would not approve, 'something - what shall I say? - constitutional.' He came one day, and told me quite seriously that a week more would determine him whether to go singly and try to enter the country in secret, or to persuade a frigate now here, which he deemed persuadable, to revolt openly and take him there by force. 'And with one frigate,' said I, 'you mean to overthrow the Austrian Empire, amidst the general peace of Europe?' 'Why not? the [Page 251]  beginning only is wanted.' I could not help telling him that 'a Harrow or Eton schoolboy who uttered such nonsense, and proceeded to give it a practical shape, would be whipt and expelled the community as a mischievous blockhead.' He was made very angry, of course, but it was impossible to see anybody behaving so like 'a mad,' without telling him one's mind. He a conspirator chief! I should make an infinitely better one myself. What, for instance, can be more out of the role of conspirator than his telling me all his secret operations, even to the names of places where conspiracy is breaking out, and the names of people who are organising it? Me, who do not even ever ask him a question on such matters; who on the contrary evade them as much as possible! A man has a right to put his own life and safety at the mercy of whom he will, but no amount of confidence in a friend can justify him for making such dangerous disclosures concerning others. What would there have been very unnatural, for example, in my sending a few words to the Austrian Government, warning them of the projected outbreaks, merely for the purpose of having them prevented, so as to save Mazzini's head and the heads of the greater number, at the sacrifice of a few? If I had not believed that it would be, like the 'Savoy's Expedition,' stopped by some providential toll-bar, I believe I should have felt it my duty as Mazzini's friend to do this thing. [Page 252]  Bologna was the place where they were first to raise their foolscap-standard. The 'Examiner' mentions carelessly some young men having collected in the streets, and 'raised seditious cries, and even fired some shots at the police;' cannon were planted, &c., 'Austrians ready to march' - not a doubt of it; and seditious cries will make a poor battle against cannon. Mazzini is confident, however, that the thing will not stop here; and, if it goes on, is resolute also in getting into the thick of it. 'What do you say of my head? what are results? are there not things more important than one's head?' 'Certainly, but I should say that the man who has not sense enough to keep his head on his shoulders till something is to be gained by parting with it, has not sense enough to manage, or dream of managing, any important matter whatever.' Our dialogues became 'warm,' but you see how much I have written about this, which you will think six words too many for.

Good-night; I must go and sleep.

Monday.

Dearest, - Thanks for your letter, and, oh, a thousand thanks for all this you have done for me! I am glad that you have seen these poor people,[1] that they have had the gladness of seeing you. Poor old Mary! it will be something to talk and think over for a year to come. Your letter has made me cry, to be [Page 253]  sure, but has made me very contented nevertheless. I am very grateful to you. Did Mrs. Russell say anything about not having answered my letter? I sent a little shawl, on my last birthday, to Margaret, to Mrs. R.'s care, and a pound of tea (that is money for it) to old Mary, in a letter to Mrs. Russell, and, as I have never heard a word from Thornhill since, I have sometimes feared the things had been taken by the way; it is very stupid in people not to give one the satisfaction of writing on these little occasions.

I am afraid you will think London dreadfully solitary when you return from the country. Actually there never was so quiet a house except Craigenputtock as this has been for the last fortnight. Darwin finally is off this morning to Shrewsbury for three weeks. He gave me a drive to Parson's Green yesterday; 'wondered if Carlyle would give admiration enough for all my needlework, &c., &c., feared not; but he would have a vague sense of comfort from it,' and uttered many other sarcastic things, by way of going off in good Darwin style. Just when I seemed to be got pretty well through my sewing, I have rushed wildly into a new mess of it. I have realised an ideal, have actually acquired a small sofa, which needs to be covered, of course. I think I see your questioning look at this piece of news: 'A sofa? Just now, above all, when there had been so much else done and to pay for! This little woman is [Page 254]  falling away from her hitherto thrifty character, and become downright extravagant.' Never fear! this little woman knows what she is about; the sofa costs you simply nothing at all! Neither have I sillily paid four or five pounds away for it out of my own private purse. It is a sofa which I have known about for the last year and half. The man who had it asked 4l. 10s. for it; was willing to sell it without mattress or cushions for 2l. 10s. I had a spare mattress which I could make to fit it, and also pillows lying by of no use. But still, 2l. 10s. was more than I cared to lay out of my own money on the article, so I did a stroke of trade with him. The old green curtains of downstairs were become filthy; and, what was better, superfluous. No use could be made of them, unless first dyed at the rate of 7d. per yard; it was good to be rid of them, that they might not fill the house with moths, as those sort of woollen things lying by always do; so I sold them to the broker for thirty shillings; I do honestly think more than their value; but I higgled a full hour with him, and the sofa had lain on his hands. So you perceive there remained only one pound to pay; and that I paid with Kitty Kirkpatrick's sovereign, which I had laid aside not to be appropriated to my own absolutely individual use. So there is a sofa created in a manner by the mere wish to have it. [Page 255] 

Oh, what nonsense clatter I do write to thee! Bless you, dearest, anyhow.

Affectionately your own,

JANE CARLYLE.

[I did go to Dunbar battle-field, remember vividly my survey there, my wild windy walk from Haddington thither and back; bright Sunday, but gradually the windiest I was ever out in; head wind (west), on my return, would actually hold my hat against my breast for minutes together. It was days before I got the sand out of my hair again. Saw East Lothian, all become a treeless 'Corn Manchester' - a little more money in its pocket - and of piety, to God or man, or mother-earth, how much left? At Linton in the forenoon, I noticed lying on the green, many of them with Bibles, some 150 decent Highlanders; last remnant of the old 'Highland reapers' here; and round them, in every quarter, such a herd of miserable, weak, restless 'wild Irish,' their conquerors and successors here, as filled me with a kind of rage and sorrow at once; all in ragged grey frieze, 3,000 or 4,000 of them, aimless, restless, hungry, senseless, more like apes than men; swarming about, leaping into bean-fields, turnip-fields, and out again, asking you 'the toime, sir.' - I almost wondered the Sabbatarian country did not rise on them, fling the whole lot into the Frith. Sabbatarian country never dreamt of such a thing, and I could not do it myself; I merely told them 'the toime, sir.'

The excellent old Misses Donaldson, how kind, how good, and sad; I never saw one of them again. Vacant, sad, was Haddington to me: sternly sad the grave which has now become hers as well! I have seen it twice since. - T. C.

[Page 256] 

LETTER 57.

Brother 'John' is on the way to Italy - never one of the quietest of men in this house! - 'Time and Space,' &c., is a story of Mrs. Austin's, about two metaphysical spouses (I quite forget whom) on their wedding day: 'Come, my dear one, and let us have,' &c.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at Scotsbrig.

Chelsea: Thursday, Aug. 31, 1813.

Dearest, - The enclosed note from John arrived last night, along with yours announcing his departure for Liverpool. I wish he had been coming after you, or even with you. I had set my heart on your hanselling the clean house yourself, and that there would have been a few days in peace to inspect its curiosities and niceties before he came plunging in to send all the books afloat, and litter the floors with first and second and third and fourth scrawls of verfehlt letters. But, like Mademoiselle L'Espinasse, son talent est d'être toujours hors de propos! If he cared about seeing oneself, it would be quite different; but if the house would go on like those charming palaces one reads of in the fairy tales, where clothes are found hanging ready at the fire to be put on by the wearied traveller, and a table comes up through the floor all spread to appease his hunger, oneself might be a thousand miles off, or, like the enchanted Princess of these establishments, might be running [Page 257]  about in the shape of a 'little mouse,' without his contentment being disturbed, or indeed anything but increased, by the blank. Howsomdever! - Only, when you come, I shall insist on going into some room with you, and locking the door, till we have had a quiet comfortable talk about 'Time and Space,' untormented by his blether. Meanwhile, 'the duty nearest hand' is to get on the stair-carpet that he may run up and down more softly.



LETTER 58.

From the Dunbar expedition I seem to have gone again to Scotsbrig for a few final days; thence homewards, round by Edinburgh, by Kirkcaldy, and at length by Linlathen, for the sake of a Dundee steamer, in which I still remember to have come hence. Vivid enough still that day of my embarkation at Dundee; between Dunbar and that, almost nothing of distinct. 'The good Stirlings' are Susan Hunter, of St. Andrews, and her husband, a worthy engineer, now resident at Dundee - pleasant house on the sea-shore, where I must have called, but found them gone out. The good Susan (I remember hearing afterwards) had, from her windows, with a prospect-glass, singled me out on the chaotic deck of the steamer about to leave; and kept me steadily in view for about an hour, in spite of the crowds and confusions, till we actually steamed away. Which seemed curious! An hour or two before, in driving thither from Linlathen, I distinctly recognised, on the pathway, John Jeffrey ('Frank' or Lord Jeffrey's brother), quiet, amiable man, with his face (which was towards me, but intent on the constitutional walk only) grown strangely red since I had [Page 258]  seen him; the guest of these Stirlings I could well guess, and indeed not far from their house. He died soon after; my last sight of him this.

T. Carlyle, Esq., at T. Erskine's, Esq., Linlathen, Dundee.

Chelsea: Sept. 12 (?), 1843.

Dearest, - I could almost have cried, last night, when the letter I had sent off on Thursday came back to me from Scotsbrig; though I knew, after receiving yours from Dumfries, that it would not reach you there, I made sure of their sending it on to Edinburgh, and that so there would be something for you at the post-office. But for this fond illusion I should not have let a slight headache, combined with a great washing of blankets, hinder me from doing your bidding in that small matter. When you are so unfailing in writing to me - and such kind, good letters - it were a shame indeed if I wilfully disappointed you. You will not have been anxious anyhow I hope, for that would be a worse effect of my silence than to have made you angry with me.

All is going on here as well as could be expected; not so comfortably indeed as when I was alone, but I shall 'be good,' you may depend upon it, 'till you come.' John arrived in due course, in a sort of sublimely self-complacent state, enlarging much on his general usefulness wherever he had been! Since then I have had his company at all meals, and he [Page 259]  reads in the same room with me, in the evenings, a great many books simultaneously, which he rummages out one after another from all the different places where I had arranged them in the highest order. The rest of his time is spent as you can figure: going out and in, up and down, backwards and forwards; smoking, and playing with the cat in the garden; writing notes in his own room and your room alternately; and pottering about Brompton, looking at Robertson's lodgings and Gambardella's lodgings over and over again, with how much of a practical view no mortal can tell. For just when I thought he was deciding for Gambardella's, he came in and told me that he thought he would have an offer from Lady Clare's brother to go to Italy, and expressed astonishment on my saying that I had understood he did not want to go back to Italy. 'Why not? He could not afford to set up as doctor here, and keep up a large house that would be suitable for the purpose.' That is always a subject of discussion which brings the image of my own noble father before me; making a contrast, under which I cannot argue without losing all temper. So I quitted it as fast as possible, and he has not told me anything more of his views. I should really be sorry for him, weltering 'like a fly among treacle' as he is, if it were not for his self-conceit, which seems to be [Page 260]  always saying to one, '----- you, be wae for yoursel!'[1]

I have nothing to tell you of the news sort, and of the inner-woman sort; I feel as if I had now only to await your coming in silence. The note from Cole came this morning. Nickison's was returned from Scotsbrig along with my letter last night. Do not forget that we have a cousin in Fife.[2] The thing being a novelty might easily slip your memory, and if you go back to Edinburgh do try to see poor Betty,[3] who would be made happy for a year by the sight of any of us. Her address is 15 East Adam Street; my aunts', in case you should have any leisure for them, is 30 Clarence Street. And Sam Aitken?[4]

I do not see how you are to get home by Saturday's steamer, after all. If you go to Dundee, you might spend a day very pleasantly with those good Stirlings, besides there being 'St. Thomas'[5] to see. Do not hurry yourself an hour on my account; all will go well till you come. Remember me kindly to everybody that cares for me; if you have time, look [Page 261]  in on Helen's sister,[1] and say I have been very well satisfied with her this long while.

Poor Macready called to take leave of me and to leave with me his 'grateful regards' for you. His little wife, who accompanied him, looked the very picture of woe. I could not help thinking, if he met the fate of Power.[2] And when I bade him farewell I turned quite sick myself in sympathy with the little woman. Garnier was back last night uncommonly sane, with a very bad coat, but clean; had been working very hard, and drinking, I should say, not at all.

God bless you, dear; thank you a thousand times for all that you told me in your last two letters; they were very sad but very precious to me.

Your affectionate

JANE C.



LETTER 59.

To John Forster, Esq., 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Chelsea: Friday morning, Sept. 1843.

Oh, my good Brother, - For two things accept my 'unmitigated' thanks! First for having done the King of Prussia so famously that the innocent heart of old Krazinski leapt for joy; - secondly for a more 'questionable' kindness, viz., having done for Strafford! Hang the 'Legitimate Drammar!' or in my husband's more poetical dialect, 'the devil fly away [Page 262]  with it!' I have told him (Sterling) all along that it was poor stuff, and had better not see the light, or at least have the light see it. But, no! it was a great and glorious piece of work in its author's opinion; and I, and all who failed to recognise it for such, were blinded by envy or some other of the evil passions. I was so glad you did not praise it, and so undo all the salutary influence which my abuse of it might ultimately exert on him.

My husband is likely to turn up here in about a week. His shadow (his brother) is cast before him, - arrived last night.



LETTER 60.

I had sent out 'Past and Present' I think in the early part of this summer, and then gone on a lengthened tour of expected 'recreation' into Wales (to my poor friend Redwood at Llandough, Cowbridge, there), thence to Carmarthen (three days) to the Bishop of St. David's there, days mostly wet; thence by Malvern to Liverpool; met my brother, and with him to North Wales (top of Snowdon cloaked in thick mist on our arrival there) - at Bethgellert and Tremadoc deluges of rain, &c. &c. - back to Liverpool, and thence to Annandale for three weeks; after all which home to Chelsea, as noticed in this letter; all the subsequent details of which rise gradually into clearness, generally of a painful nature to me. The fittings and refittings for me full of loving ingenuity, the musical young lady other side the wall; the general dreary and chaotic state of inward man while struggling to get 'Cromwell' started, all this 'and the bright ever-cheering presence in it, literally the only cheering element there [Page 263]  was, comes back into my heart with a mournful gratitude at this moment.

'The Mudies' were two grown daughters of a Mr. Mudie whom I recollect hearing of about 1818 as a restless, somewhat reckless, and supreme schoolmaster at Dundee. He had thrown up his function there in about 1820, and marched off to London as a literary adventurer. Here for above twenty years he did manage to subsist and float about in the 'mother of dead dogs,' had even considerable success of a kind; wrote a great many miscellaneous volumes mostly about natural history, I think, which were said to display diligence and merit, and to have brought him considerable sums. But by this time the poor fellow had broken down, had died and left a family, mostly daughters, with a foolish widow, and next to no provision whatever for them. The case was abundantly piteous, but it was not by encouragement from me, to whom it seemed from the first hopeless, that my dear one entered into it with such zeal and determination. Her plans were, I believe, the wisest that could be formed, and the trouble she took was very great. I remember these Mudies - flary, staring, and conceited, stolid-looking girls, thinking themselves handsome, being brought to live with us here, to get out of the maternal element, while 'places' were being prepared for them; but no amount of trouble was, or could be, of the least avail. The wretched stalking blockheads stalked fatefully, in spite of all that could be done or said, steadily downwards toward perdition, and sank altogether out of view. There was no want of pity in this house. I never knew a heart more open to the sufferings of others, and to the last she persisted in attempts at little operations for behoof of such; but had to admit that except in one or two small instances she had done no good to the unfortunate objects she attempted to aid. - T. C., March 1873.

[Page 264] 

Mrs. Aitken, Dumfries.

October 1843.

My dear Jane, - Carlyle returned from his travels very bilious, and continues very bilious up to this hour. The amount of bile that he does bring home to me, in these cases, is something 'awfully grand!'[1] Even through that deteriorating medium he could not but be struck with a 'certain admiration' at the immensity of needlework I had accomplished in his absence, in the shape of chair-covers, sofa-covers, window curtains, &c. &c., and all the other manifest improvements into which I had put my whole genius and industry, and so little money as was hardly to be conceived![2] For three days his satisfaction over the rehabilitated house lasted; on the fourth, the young lady next door took a fit of practising on her accursed pianoforte, which he had quite forgotten seemingly, and he started up disenchanted in his new library, and informed heaven and earth in a peremptory manner that 'there he could neither think nor live,' that the carpenter must be brought back and 'steps taken to make him a quiet place somewhere - perhaps best of all on the roof of the house.' Then followed interminable consultations with the said carpenter, yielding, for some days, only plans [Page 265]  (wild ones) and estimates. The roof on the house could be made all that a living author of irritable nerves could desire: silent as a tomb, lighted from above; but it would cost us 120l.! Impossible, seeing that we may be turned out of the house any year! So one had to reduce one's schemes to the altering of rooms that already were. By taking down a partition and instituting a fire-place where no fireplace could have been fancied capable of existing, it is expected that some bearable approximation to that ideal room in the clouds will be realised. But my astonishment and despair on finding myself after three months of what they call here 'regular mess,' just when I had got every trace of the workpeople cleared away, and had said to myself, 'Soul, take thine ease, or at all events thy swing, for thou hast carpets nailed down and furniture rubbed for many days!' just when I was beginning to lead the dreaming, reading, dawdling existence which best suits me, and alone suits me in cold weather, to find myself in the thick of a new 'mess:' the carpets, which I had nailed down so well with my own hands, tumbled up again, dirt, lime, whitewash, oil, paint, hard at work as before, and a prospect of new cleanings, new sewings, new arrangements stretching away into eternity for anything I see! 'Well,' as my Helen says (the strangest mixture of philosopher and perfect idiot that I have met with in my life), 'when [Page 266]  one's doing this, one's doing nothing else anyhow!' And as one ought to be always doing something, this suggestion of hers has some consolation in it.

John has got a very pleasant lodging, in the solitude of which it is to be hoped he may discover 'what he wanted and what he wants.'[1] There is an old man who goes about singing here, and accompanying himself on the worst of fiddles, who has a song about Adam that John should lend all his ears to: it tells about all his comforts in Paradise, and then adds that he nevertheless was at a loss; to be sure,

'He had all that was pleasant in life,
But the all-wise, great Creator
Saw that he wanted a wife!'[2]

But you could form no notion of the impressiveness of this song unless you could hear the peculiar jerk in the fiddle in the middle of the last line, and the old [Page 267]  man's distribution of emphasis on thee different words of it.

Here is come a son of Mrs. Strachey's, to be talked to; wersh enough, but there is no help for it. I do not think you shall have such reason to reproach me again, now that the ice is broken. Kind regards to your husband. God keep you all.

Affectionately yours,

JANE CARLYLE.

Mrs. Carlyle fills out the picture of the 'domestic earthquake' in a letter to Mrs. Stirling.

'Up went all the carpets which my own hands had nailed down, in rushed the troop of incarnate demons, bricklayers, joiners, whitewashers, &c., whose noise and dirt and dawdling had so lately driven me to despair. Down went a partition in one room, up went a new chimney in another. Helen, instead of exerting herself to stave the torrent of confusion, seemed to be struck (no wonder) with temporary idiotcy; and my husband himself at sight of the uproar he had raised, was all but wringing his hands and tearing his hair, like the German wizard servant who has learnt magic enough to make the broomstick carry water for him, but had not the counter spell to stop it. Myself could have sat down and cried, so little strength or spirit I had left to front the pressure of my circumstances. But crying makes no way; so I went about sweeping and dusting as [Page 268]  an example to Helen; and held my peace as an example to my husband, who verily, as Mazzini says of him, 'loves silence somewhat platonically.' It was got through in the end, this new hubbub; but, when my husband proceeded to occupy his new study, he found that devil a bit he could write in it any more than beside the piano; 'it was all so strange to him!' The fact is, the thing he has got to write - his long projected life of Cromwell - is no joke, and no sort of room can make it easy, and he has been ever since shifting about in the saddest way from one room to another, like a sort of domestic wandering Jew! He has now a fair chance, however, of getting a settlement effected in the original library; the young lady next door having promised to abstain religiously from playing till two o'clock, when the worst of his day's work is over. Generous young lady! But it must be confessed, the seductive letter he wrote to her the other day was enough to have gained the heart of a stone.

Alas, one can make fun of all this on paper; but in practice it is anything but fun, I can assure you. There is no help for it, however; a man cannot hold his genius as a sinecure.


[Next]

FOOTNOTES



[Page 135]

1 Sterling's poem, so named.

2 Foreign Quarterly, that is.



[Page 138]

1 It is still here, in my dressing-closet (April 1869).

2 Sterling's poem, some secret about which Sterling supposed Mrs. Carlyle to have revealed.



[Page 140]

1 Of Thornhill, near Templand.



[Page 142]

1 See Reminiscences vol. i. p.93.



[Page 146]

1 Reminiscences, vol. ii. p.302.



[Page 149]

1 Daughter of John Welsh, sister of Helen.



[Page 150]

1 Carlyle never forgot her birthday afterwards. Regularly, as July came round, I find traces of some remembrance - some special letter with some inclosed present. - J. A. F.



[Page 157]

1 Grand plaisir, perhaps.

2 A wild horse, which we sometimes hear stamping, &c., here.



[Page 158]

1 A foolish, innocent old Scotch lady's phrase, usually historical or prophetic, and not a little unimportant.

2 Lady Harriet Baring afterwards Lady Ashburton.



[Page 159]

1 'Scende da carrossa,' &c., said the Signora degli Antoni, describing the erratic town life of a brilliant acquaintance here.



[Page 161]

1 In pious Scotland 'the worl',' or 'worl's gear,' signifies riches. Margaret (Smith) Aitken, an Annandale farmer's wife, of small possessions, though of large and faithful soul, had (perhaps a hundred years ago), by strenuous industry and thrift, saved for herself twenty complete shillings - an actual £1 note, wholly her own, to do what she liked with and was much concerned to lay it up in some place of absolute safety against a rainy day. She tried anxiously all her 'hussives,' boxes, drawers, a cunning hole in the wall, various places, but found none satisfactory, and was heard ejaculating, to the amusement of her young daughters, who never forgot it, 'They have trouble that hae the worl', and trouble that haena't!' There is a Spanish proverb to the same purpose: 'Cuidados acarrea el oro, y cuidados la falta de él.' This Margaret Smith, a native of Annan, and, by all accounts, a kinswoman [Page 162] to be proud of (or, silently, to be thankful to heaven for), was my mother's mother. It was my mother (Margaret Aitken Carlyle) who told us this story about her, with a tone of gentle humour, pathos, and heart's love, which we were used to on such a subject. I doubt whether I ever saw this good grandmother. A vivid momentary image of some stranger, or, rather, of a formidable glowing chintz gown belonging to some stranger, who might have been she, still rises perfectly certain to me, from my second or third year; but more probably it was her sister, my grand-aunt Barbara, of Annan, with whom I afterwards boarded when at school there (1806-1808), and whom I almost daily heard muttering and weeping about her 'dear Margaret,' and their parting 'at the dyke-end' (near Cargenbridge, Dumfries neighbourhood, I suppose, perhaps six years before), 'sae little thinking it was for the last time!' It is inconceivable (till you have seen the documents) what the pecuniary poverty of Scotland was a hundred years ago; and, again (of which also I for one, still more indubitably 'have the documents'), its spiritual opulence - opulence fast ending in these years, think some? Californian nuggets versus jewels of Heaven itself, that is a ruining barter! I know rather clearly, and have much considered, the history of my kindred for the third and second generations back, and lament always that it is not in my power to speak of it at all to the flunkey populations now coming and come.



[Page 162]

1 Left behind.



[Page 163]

1 Phrase of Mazzini's, frequently occurring.



[Page 164]

1 Mr. Buller's butler.

2 Old Haddington phenomenon.



[Page 165]

1 Cousin Jeannie.



[Page 167]

1 Paupers, probably, but I have forgotten the incident.



[Page 168]

1 Rev. Dr. Waugh, principal Scotch preacher in London, was noted, among other things, for his kindness to poor incidental Scotchmen, who, in great numbers, applied to him for guidance, for encouragement, or whatever help he could give, in their various bits of intricacies and affairs here. One of these incidental clients, a solid old pedlar ('up on business,' second-hand, most probably) had come one day, and was talking with 'the mistress,' who said, at one point of the dialogue: 'Well, Saunders, how do you like the people here?' 'Oh, very weel, m'em; a nice weel-conditioned people, good-natured, honest, very clever, too, in business things; an excellent people - but terribly aff for a lang-aitch, m'em!' (This story was current in Edinburgh in my young time; Dr. Waugh much the theme in certain circles there.)



[Page 169]

1 Driving up Piccadilly once, on a hot summer day, I had pointed out to her a rough human figure, lying prostrate in the Green Park, under the shade of a tree, and very visibly asleep at a furlong's distance. 'Look at the Irishman yonder; in what a depth of sleep, as if you had poured him out of a jug!' I still remember her bright little laugh.

2 'Vous êtes des injustes,' said a drunken man, whom boys were annoying; 'je m'en appelle à la postérité!' (One of Cavaignac's stories.)

3 Wull Maxwell, Alick's ploughman at Craigenputtock, one of the stupidest fellows I ever saw, had been sent on some message down the glen, for behoof of Alick, and 'That'll no duih for an answer,' Wull had said to the be-messaged party; 'what'll a duih wi' that for an answer, and twae men, baith alike gleg' (acute, alert; German, klug), 'sitting waiting for me yonder?'



[Page 170]

1
Continuo auditæ voces, vagitus et ingens,
Infantumque animæ flentes in limine primo:
Quos dulcis vitæ exsortes, et ab ubere raptos,
Abstulit atra dies, et funere mersit acerbo.

VIRGIL, Æneid, vi. 426-430.

2

COMFORTERS.
'Oh, cease this well-a-daying;
Think of the faithful saying,
"New joy when grief is done!"'

JOB.
'To mock me are you trying?
Once give the fish a frying,
What helps him that the river run?

GOETHE.



[Page 171]

1 Ah, me, what a dream!

2 Phrase of brother John's.



[Page 172]

1 Litteratur der Verzweiflung was Goethe's definition of Victor Hugo and Co.'s new gospel.



[Page 174]

1 The phrase of a rustic cousin of ours, kind of solemn pedant in his way.



[Page 176]

1 Good-humoured, foolish person. I should not wonder if it came from Avril (which in old Scotch is corrupted into Averil, and even Haver Hill), and had originally meant 'April fool.'



[Page 178]

1 Dangerous silent accident at Craigenputtock, in 1828, from stooping to the floor in a room upstairs, where a chauffer was burning against damp.



[Page 179]

1 Invitation from a friend.

2 Charles H. Redwood, Esq., Llanblethian, Glamorganshire, called the 'Honest Lawyer' in those parts; a man whom I much esteemed and still regret.



[Page 181]

1 Anne Cook's question, when 'Lord Jeffrey,' having called, she reported him 'Lurcherfield' (to general amazement!), and, getting rebuked: 'But what is a "Looard" then? What diz't duih?'



[Page 183]

1 She means her mother.



[Page 186]

1 Miss Geraldine Jewsbury, with whom Mrs. Carlyle had just become acquainted, remained her most intimate friend to the end of her life. - J. A. F.



[Page 193]

1 Can't guess what 'man.'



[Page 196]

1 'Dark brown shade' was to both of us infinitely ridiculous in this place, though the spirit of it is now fled irrevocably. Dr. Ritchie, divinity professor in Edinburgh, was a worthy, earnest, but somewhat too pompous and consciously eloquent, old gentleman. He had no teeth, a great deal of white hair, spoke in a sonorous, mumbling voice, with much proud, almost minatory, wagging of the head, and to a rhythm all his own, which loved to end always with an emphatic syllable, with victorious grave accent, and a kind of 'wh,' or 'h,' superadded. For confutation of Gibbon, his principal argument - the only one that I can recollect - was that Gibbon in his later years, grown rich, famous, &c., &c., confessed that the end of life to him was involved in a 'dark brown shade - wh.'



[Page 200]

1 Present sent from Liverpool.



[Page 202]

1 My father's account of a precentor who lost his tune, desperately tried several others, and then 'died away into an,' &c.



[Page 203]

1 Lawyer in the city; virtual proprietor here.

2 Pedant carpenter and house agent here; characterised the unthrift of the poor by that adjective.



[Page 204]

1 'T. Carlyle,' of the Irvingite church, long a double-ganger of mine.



[Page 205]

1 My father's epithet for Mrs. Carruthers, long ago.



[Page 206]

1 Definition of poetry, 'Pack o' lies, that fuil craitures write for,' &c.

2 Mrs. Siddons, replying to her host, apologetic for his salt fish: 'Fish, be it ne'er so salt,' &c.



[Page 208]

1 Brother John's favourite phrase.



[Page 209]

1 Elder Sterling's sister.



[Page 210]

1 See preface to this letter.



[Page 213]

1 Waterish, an emphatic Scotch word.



[Page 218]

1 Mrs. Carlyle had gone to Ryde with old Mr. Sterling.



[Page 219]

1 Lady mistress and guests have sat down to tea; butler is summoned up in haste: 'John, John, how is this? Water in the urn not boiling!' John (attempts to deny, then finding he cannot): 'A weel, me'm; I kenna whether it's a'together boiling, A'm sure it's better than you can drink it!' and retires with the feeling of a maltreated man.

2 See note, p.36.



[Page 220]

1 The valet.

[Page 221]

1 Peter Buchan, poor phantasm!



[Page 224]

1 Scotch for good-natured fool.

2 One of two girls in difficult circumstances, for whom, with her sister Juliet, Mrs. Carlyle was endeavouring to provide (see p. 263). - J. A. F.



[Page 226]

1 Euphemism of a certain rustic goose (in our Craigenputtock time) to express the condition of his brow bitten by midges. The preceding locution is established Mazzinian; the following clearly mine.



[Page 230]

1 Note, p.159.



[Page 232]

1 Maid at Ampton Street: 'This morning, m'em, I've 'appened a misfortune, m'em' (viz, broken something).



[Page 233]

1 Forster, then editor, or critic, of the Examiner.



[Page 234]

1 Killed himself.

2 'This was a bustling, shifty little German governess, who, in few years, managed to pick up some modicum of money here, and then retired with it to Dresden, wholly devoting herself to 'literature.'

3 I went duly, sat in poor old Mary Mills's cottage, one morning early, by the side of her turf-pile, &c. She had been on pilgrimage to Crawford churchyard, found the grave; 'It was a' bonnie yonder, vera bonnie,' said she, in her old broken pious tone. I never saw her again.



[Page 240]

1 Note, supra.



[Page 243]

1 In Past and Present.

2 See pages 33 and 247.



[Page 244]

1 See page 247.



[Page 246]

1 See supra, page 234, note. I hope devoutly it was that time. Ah, me!



[Page 247]

1 See page 33.



[Page 248]

1 The good W. Graham, of Burnswark, a true and kind, and very emphatic, friend of mine, had thoughtlessly bragged once (first time she saw him), at a breakfast with us dyspeptics, how he 'enjo-oyed' this and that.

2 'Darley' (George), from Dublin, mathematician, considerable actually, and also poet, an amiable, modest, veracious, and intelligent man; much loved here, though he stammered dreadfully.



[Page 252]

1 At Thornhill, to which Carlyle had gone, at her request.



[Page 260]

1 A conceited, quizzing man, to poor Rae, an industrious simpleton, nursing his baby at that moment, on the street of Ecclefechan: 'Rae, I's wae for you.' 'Damn ye, be wae for yersel!' answered Rae sharply, with laughter from the bystanders.

2 Rev. Walter Welsh, Auchtertool.

3 'Betty' is the old servant at Haddington, now married, in Edinburgh, still living near; one of the most pious, true, and affectionate of women.

4 Obliging bookseller, successor of Bradfute.

5 T. Erskine, of Linlathen, to whom I did go. Home thence by steamer.



[Page 261]

1 At Kirkcaldy.

2 Comic Irish actor, sailed to America, had 'splendid success' there. On the return voyage steamer itself went down; mouse and man never heard of more.



[Page 264]

1 Newspaper phrase.

2 Literally and arithmetically true, thou noble darling! richer to me than all the duchesses of the creation!



[Page 266]

1 Character in one of Zechariah Werner's plays.

2 In a quiet street near Covent Garden, one sunny day, with a considerable straggle of audience, I found this artist industriously fiddling and singing what seemed to be a succinct doggerel 'History of Man' (in Paradise as yet). Artist was not very old, but wanted the front teeth; was rather dirty, had a beard of three weeks, &c., and for the rest a look of great assiduity and earnestness in his vocation; insisting on longs and shorts, with clear emphasis, by fiddle and voice. These were the words I heard (accentuated as here):

   ''E (Adam evidently) 'ad 'ounds and 'osses for 'unting
   'E 'ad all things was pleasant in life;
   The all-wise great Creator [with a deep scrape of the fiddle]
   Saw that 'e wanted a wife.'

Ay de mi! how strange at this moment (April 29, 1869)!

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom