Jane Welsh Carlyle

Jane Welsh Carlyle

Jane Welsh Carlyle

Jane Welsh Carlyle

Excerpt

THEY were veterans of many walks together, these two young men tramping for their pleasure from Edinburgh towards Haddington, seventeen miles southeast of the city. The finest spirit of their friendship, its deepest intimacy, had grown from just such excursions as this. In earlier days they had visited the lakes and glens of Perth. They had crossed the Trossachs side by side, starting the long excursion, rather insanely, late one evening with a twenty-two mile reach from Kirkcaldy along the Forth to Torryburn, Irving striding on the way as though he owned the sands and sea.

Notwithstanding their youth--Edward Irving was on the threshold of his twenty-ninth birthday, Thomas Carlyle half- way between his twenty-fifth and sixth--they were veterans, too, of the warfare that ambitious boys, with no advantages other than their wits, must fight if they refuse to accept the clinging obscurity to which they were born. For neither of them was the battle over, though Irving, at least, had some cause to believe that his hardest struggles lay in the past.

Both came from humble enough lineage, from many generations of Scottish peasant stock, enriched now and then by an infiltration of the blood of the proprietors of small landholdings in the neighborhood. Yet this peasant origin carried a richer heritage than that which was brought by occasional unions with the local lairds--it drew strength from the unfailing grit, stubbornness, and independence of a long line of sharp, tough- minded, tough-handed men who kept Scotland the home of a free race although fate prevented its retaining national liberty. The family of each young man had sacrificed to send the fittest among the children through school and college--Tom, the son of an Annandale stonemason and farmer; Irving, the son of a tanner in the burgh town of Annan.

When a poor Scotsman, at the turn of the nineteenth century . . .

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