The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 4 July 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390704-TC-AC-01; CL 11: 149-151


3. Maryland Street, Liverpool, Thursday, 4th july, 1839—

My dear Brother,

After making a great bustle to get out of London in time, we arrived here by the Railway, safe and well, on Tuesday evening; calculating that we should find a steamer for Annan, or at worst for Dumfries, probably on Wednesday or Thursday. Yesterday morning we ascertained, on inquiry, as Macdiarmid's Courier on its coming in like wise indicated, that the Steamers for this week had all sailed, that there was no way of getting across the Frith till Monday! After some vain murmuring, we found that it could not be helped; that we must simply reconcile ourselves to stay here, and make the best of it, till the time did come. I sent our Mother a Liverpool Newspaper yesterday; which I suppose will this day have signified to her that we are here. So far good. I now write you a hasty word, one word is enough, to say that, if all go right, we may be expected at the Annan Jetty by Hudson's Steamship, seemingly at a pretty early hour, on Tuesday morning next. Both Sewell and Hudson seem to sail from this at the same hour that night; but we will aim for Hudson; he if I remember is reckoned the best:—however, even failing him (which is altogether unlikely) we are not entirely desperate for you till Sewell too have arrived without us. The hour of sailing from Liverpool is 7 o'clock (Monday night): I suppose that indicates 7 in the morning of Tuesday? But you will know that better than I. By Hudson, at whatever his hour is, we may be looked for.1 The “Gig,” I dare say, under some trustworthy person's guidance (do not you, my dear Brother, leave your work inconveniently on that account), will be in waiting at the shore; and Mary will have breakfast for us: we shall be happy to have a cup of her tea once again. None but Jane and I will be there; the Servant Ellen2 is sent to Kirkcaldy, in place of coming with us; things suddenly assumed a new face on that side, and we judged it better that she should go home than come with us. She is to join us at our return. Jane and I, then, with a quantity of luggage that may go mostly direct off to Dumfries: that will be the cargo. We must go up to Scotsbrig directly; and see how our dear Mother is, how you all are. Next day I have appointed to take Jane forward to Templand,—not knowing how they may be situated for accommodation at Scotsbrig; Jane, besides, being very impatient to get to sleep beside her Mother. I calculate on returning by myself, if not with her, down to Middlebie, in a day or two. This is our arrangement for the present.— I expect there will be a big frank with Proofsheets3 in it for me at Ecclefechan on Monday morning: will you look after it, and take it out if it be there.

My story, dear Alick, has spun itself out far beyond the due length; “I have not time to make it shorter,”—as I once said. You will contrive to gather from it what I mean. No other word need be added on the subject; for words would but darken counsel.4

This is not a place for resting in, as you have often heard; but it is quieter at present than it used to be. I got a fine bathe in the sea yesterday; today I am to have a ride. The weather is cool enough, indeed today almost cold; however, it was very beautiful yesterday, and my swatter [splash] in the Solway brine (tho' on the wrong coast) did me considerable good. I hope in spite of the late hour and difficulty of sleeping here, we shall not come to you in an enfeebled state, but fully fresher than when we started.— The Master of the House is but in poor health here,—he has lost both his Wife and his Partner5 in trade since we were here last, and is in great fret just now shifting his wareho[use t]o a new quarter of the town &c: I never saw him in worse spirits[;] gets little sleep he says; and indeed is not well. An honest true hearted man as I have ever known. The Goodwife is greatly missed. Nothing here or elsewhere on this Earth will continue, but all is in perpetual restless movement; and Change, and Mortality, and Eternity, waits for us all! These things, old as the world, have still a kind of novelty for us, a kind of surprise for us,—so unfathomable, fearful and wonderful, is their significance.

I will add no more words today. God grant us all a happy meeting such as we hope for now, before many hours. We shall get all one another's news by a better method than writing, ere long. Our united love and blessings to you all.

I am ever, / Your affectionate Brother /

T. Carlyle