Before daylight this morning, I finished the second of two volumes of The Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, the collection of 333 letters, letter fragments, and journal entries I wrote about briefly on the fourth day of this month. Not quite sixty-five, the author died suddenly in her carriage of heart failure, after having jumped out to rescue her injured dog, which had been scampering alongside. In the words of a close friend, “She was leaning back in one corner of the carriage, rugs spread over her knees; her eyes were closed, and her upper lip slightly, slightly opened. Those who saw her at the hospital and when in the carriage speak of the beautiful expression upon her face.”
The editor concludes with Jane’s epitaph, the truth of which is borne out on every page of these two books, the tragic-witty substance of which serves as one far more complete:
Mrs. Carlyle was buried by the side of her father, in the choir of Haddington Church. These words follow on the tombstone after her father’s name:
Here Likewise Now Rests
Jane Welsh Carlyle
Spouse of Thomas Carlyle, Chelsea, London.
She was born at Haddington, 14th July, 1801, only daughter
of the above John Welsh, and of Grace Welsh Caplegill,
Dumfriesshire, his wife. In her bright existence she
had more sorrows than are common; but also a soft
invincibility, a clearness of discernment, and a noble
loyalty of heart, which are rare. For forty years she
was the true and ever-loving helpmate of her husband,
and by act and word unweariedly forwarded him, as none
else could, in all of worthy, that he did or attempted.
She died at London, 21st April, 1866; suddenly snatched
away from him, and the light of his life, as if gone out.