The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 3 May 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410503-TC-JWC-01; CL 13: 123-124


Scotsbrig, 3 May, 1841—

Dear Bairn,

I can hear nothing from thee in these days; nothing till I hear it from thy own mouth,—hearing and seeing, and much else, all at once! It is my own blame and Fortune's; it is my own sorrow and no other's.

Jamie and I made out Templand on Saturday, as prophesied; we drove, in the beautifullest Mayday sun, thro' the Hills of Æ water, silent, clear, with small groups of peasants planting potatoes in the hollows of them;—we arrived, not unlooked for, not unwelcome, about 5 in the evening. All is as before, in those Nithsdale spaces: one finds it strange to come upon them after absence and oblivion; they have not been dead or sleeping tho' forgotten; they still exist there, and are green with the new Spring! I saw old Mundell1 in the distance, very clean and stiff-looking; poking about his Garden in the Saturday afternoon. Little Bennett2 also appeared on his glebe; a smooth soft oilbag, basking in Heaven's ray, at the end of an enlarged Manse he has been getting built. Walter and Maggy were your Mother's only guests; a fine quiet sensible girl, poor Maggy; Walter too is gathering sense,— “a real fine chiel',” Jamie calls him: he is to finish his trials and get his licence tomorrow.3 Your Mother looked well, tho' somewhat of a flurry was perceptible. All right: she, Templand House, the garden, and all the rest of it, fit to be put in bandboxes, so perfect was their state of order. I am very glad I went up. I had to talk all evening till late; and again all morning, after imperfect sleep. I was not improved by my journey; as indeed what journey does improve me?

My dear Jeannie, what a shock would it be to your heart, the news that poor Uncle Robert was already no more! Your Mother had the melancholy message for me: nothing more she could tell me, if not that his decease had been generally anticipated. The letter I wrote for him, had gone off some few hours before he died.4 How strange that Postscript now looks,—what the people call fey [unnatural, under doom]. Alas, I thought of poor Robert; I thought of my poor Jeannie who has now as it were no kindred; none at all but me—who am worth as good as nothing to her! My poor Jeannie, yet thou must cleave to me; I will not forsake thee, such as I am.— It is to me also very mournful to reflect on Robert: but was thut's [what's the use of it]? it is all a mournfulness together this sad and solemn, beautiful and awful life of ours.—

On Saturday morning I wrote to Miss Martineau, asking if I could see her by “calling” on Tuesday Evening. Contrary to my expectation, but owing most probably to the Posts, there is no answer this morning. If no answer come at all, or none before breakfast tomorrow, it will be impossible for me to manage Newcastle, and I must take the Liverpool Steamer on Wednesday,—and see thee on Thursday! It is a day shorter at both ends; a day later here, and a day sooner in London, than if you go by Newcastle. My Letter to Harriet was one of the kindest: at bottom, alas, what good can I do her; what good can she do me?

Nether Auldby House5 is not a beauty on the outside. Rough roads, unclipt hedges, a rude savage-Annandale Dandy-Dinmont6 air, but in a beautiful hollow of the Kirtle Valley; a mile or two from fair Helen's Grave:7aus dem wird Nichts [nothing will come of this], I think.— O that I were home beside thee, my Dearikin; home even in London!

Tomorrow I must write again, some half word: Newcastle or Liverpool. Adieu; do not weep for Robert: let us weep for nothing; let us hope in God and love one another. Auf ewig[Forever]

T. C.

A terrible defect of paper here today