CARLYLE 595 a message to deliver to mankind, and his comrades, he gradually relented so far as to say that she would marry thought, were making literature a trade instead of a voca- if he could achieve independence. She had been brought tion, and prostituting their talents to frivolous journalism. up in a station superior to that of the Carlyles, and could He went once to see Coleridge, who was then delivering his not accept the life of hardship which would be necessary in oracular utterances at Highgate, and the only result was the his present circumstances. Carlyle, accustomed to his father’s singularly vivid portrait given in a famous chapter in his household, was less frightened by the prospect of poverty. life of Sterling. Coleridge seemed to him to be ineffectual He was determined not to abandon his vocation as a man as a philosopher, and personally to be a melancholy instance of genius by following the lower though more profitable of genius running to waste. Carlyle, conscious of great paths to literary success, and expected that his wife should abilities, and impressed by such instances of the deleterious partake the necessary sacrifice of comfort. The natural reeffects of the social atmosphere of London, resolved to settle sult of such discussions followed. The attraction became in his native district. There he could live frugally and stronger on both sides, in spite of occasional spasms of achieve some real work. He could, for one thing, be the doubt. An odd incident precipitated the result. A friend interpreter of Germany to England. A friendly letter from of Irving’s, Mrs Basil Montague, wrote to Miss Welsh, to Goethe, acknowledging the translation of Wilhelm Meister, exhort her to suppress her love for Irving, who had reached him at the end of 1824 and greatly encouraged married Miss Martin in 1823. Miss Welsh replied by him. Goethe afterwards spoke warmly of the life of announcing her intention to marry Carlyle; and then told Schiller, and desired it to be translated into German. him the whole story, of which he had previously been Letters occasionally passed between them in later years, ignorant. He properly begged her not to yield to the imwhich were edited by Professor Norton in 1887. pulse without due consideration. She answered by coming Goethe received Carlyle’s homage with kind complacency. at once to his father’s house, where he was staying; and The gift of a seal to Goethe on his birthday in 1831 the marriage was finally settled. It took place on 17th “ from fifteen English friends,” including Scott and Words- October 1826. worth, was suggested and carried out by Carlyle. The Carlyle had now to arrange the mode of life which interest in German, which Carlyle did so much to promote, should enable him to fulfil his aspiration. His wife had suggested to him other translations and reviews during the made over her income to her mother, but he had saved a next few years, and he made some preparations for a history small sum upon which to begin housekeeping. A passing of German literature. British curiosity, however, about suggestion from Mrs Carlyle that they might live with her such matters seems to have been soon satisfied, and the mother was judiciously abandoned. Carlyle had thought demand for such work slackened. of occupying Craigenputtock, a remote and dreary farm Carlyle was meanwhile passing through the most im- belonging to Mrs Welsh. His wife objected his utter portant crisis of his personal history. Jane Baillie Welsh, incapacity as a farmer; and they finally took a small house born 1801, was the only child of Dr Welsh of Hadding- at Comely Bank, Edinburgh, where they could live on a ton. She had shown precocious talent, and was sent to the humble scale. The brilliant conversation of both attracted school at Haddington where Irving was a master. After some notice in the literary society of Edinburgh. The her father’s death in 1819 she lived with her mother, and most important connexion was with Jeffrey, still editor of her wit and beauty attracted many admirers. Her old the Edinburgh Review. Though Jeffrey had no intellectutor, Irving, was now at Kirkcaldy, where he became tual sympathy with Carlyle, he accepted some articles engaged to a Miss Martin. He visited Haddington for the Review and became warmly attached to Mrs occasionally in the following years, and a strong mutual Carlyle. Carlyle began to be known as leader of a new regard arose between him and Miss Welsh. They con- “ mystic ” school, and his earnings enabled him to send his templated a marriage, and Irving endeavoured to obtain a brother John to study in Germany. The public appetite, release from his previous engagement. The Martin family however, for “mysticism” was not keen. In spite of held him to his word, and he took a final leave of Miss support from Jeffrey and other friends, Carlyle failed in Welsh in 1822. Meanwhile he had brought Carlyle from a candidature for a professorship at St. Andrews. His Edinburgh and introduced him to the Welshes. Carlyle brother, Alexander, had now taken the farm at Craigenwas attracted by the brilliant abilities of the young lady, puttock, and the Carlyles decided to settle at the separate procured books for her, and wrote letters to her as an dwelling-house there, which would bring them nearer to intellectual guide. The two were to perform a new Mrs Welsh. They went there in 1828, and began a hard variation upon the theme of Abelard and Heloise. It is, struggle. Carlyle, indomitably determined to make no however, difficult to speak with confidence of the precise concessions for immediate profit, wrote slowly and carecharacter of their relations. The letters which contain the fully, and turned out some of his most finished work. necessary information have been read by no one except He laboured “ passionately ” at Sartor Resartus, and made Carlyle’s biographer, Froude, and Professor Norton. Pro- articles out of fragments originally intended for the fessor Norton (in his edition of Carlyle’s Early Letters, history of German literature. The money difficulty soon 1886) declares that Froude had distorted the significance became more pressing. John, whom he was still of this correspondence in a sense injurious to the writers. helping, was trying unsuccessfully to set up as a doctor He gives significant instances of misconception, and the in London; and Alexander’s farming failed. In spite presumption is certainly not in favour of Fronde’s accuracy. of such drawbacks, Carlyle in later years looked According to Professor Norton, Miss Welsh’s previous back upon the life at Craigenputtock as on the whole affair with Irving had far less importance than Eroude a comparatively healthy and even happy period, as it ascribes to it; and she soon came to regard her past love was certainly one of most strenuous and courageous as a childish fancy. She recognized Carlyle’s vast in- endeavour. Though often absorbed in his work and made tellectual superiority, and the respect gradually deepened both gloomy and irritable by his anxieties, he found relief into genuine love. The process, however, took some time. in rides with his wife, and occasionally visiting their Her father had bequeathed to her his whole property (£200 relations. Their letters during temporary separations are to £300 a year). In 1823 she made it over to her mother, most affectionate. The bleak climate, however, the but left the whole to Carlyle in the event of her own and solitude, and the necessity of managing a household with her mother’s death. She still declared that she did not a single servant, were excessively trying to a delicate love him well enough to become his wife. In 1824 she woman, though Mrs Carlyle concealed from her husband
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