Jane Welsh Carlyle

Jane Welsh CarlyleJane Welsh Carlyle
Wife of Essayist Thomas Carlyle
1801 – 1866 A.D.

Jane Welsh Carlyle, the wife of Thomas Carlyle. She was descended through her father from John Knox and on her mother’s side claimed relationship with William Wallace. When only fourteen she had written a tragedy, and for years continued to write poetry. She became a private pupil of Edward Irving, and their friendship would have culminated in marriage had it not been for Irving’s previous engagement to Miss Martin.

In 1821 Irving introduced her to Carlyle, but it was not until four years later that she was married to him, and for forty years these two lived together, not always happy, and she no doubt often sorely tried by the uncertain temper of the great genius. His dyspepsia, the interference of his family, and her critical disposition which is said was stimulated by jealousy and narcotics, all these gave cause for jarring notes, but on the whole, she was proud of her distinguished husband and her criticisms were of much service to him, while his letters to her show a deep fondness.

A few days after her death, he writes:

“The stroke that has fallen on me is immeasurable, and has shattered in pieces my whole existence, which now suddenly lies all in ruins round me. In her name, whom I have lost, I must try to repair it, rebuild it into something of order, for the few years or days that may remain to me. If I but can, that should be my way of honouring her, whose history on earth now lies before me, all bathed in sorrow, but beautiful exceedingly, nay, of a kind of epic grandeur and heroic nobleness, known only to one heart now.”

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Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.

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