January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 28 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420428-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 171-173


Scotsbrig, 28 April, 1842—

My dear Wife,

Your long Letter of Sunday night, one of the best that could be written, which you wrote when “too useless for anything else,” had arrived in Ecclefechan yesterday morning, and lay ready there with the Examiner, as Jamie and I, weary dusty, cold and belated, passed hastily thro' the village. We did not get away from Dumfries “in an hour”; it was very nearly three hours before with my utmost diligence I could get thro' my small affairs there.— By the way, I find your last two Letters have both been posted too late in the day: Good's physiognomy1 did not leave London till Monday morning; neither had your last letter left it till Tuesday morning. In the last Letter too I discover, not without astonishment, an old letter of my own enclosed! What does that foreshadow? That you filled up your cover in haste not knowing well what you stuffed into it? Or perhaps that the railway things had already arrived, and you were too busy to announce it,—for this letter of mine is the one written on the Templand packing day! It is very mysterous.2

Gambardella, if he will actually shoot cocks for one, ought to be encouraged as one of the usefullest of men. He will lend one his gun at any rate, I suppose. I have an idea that there is talent in him; but he riots and rattles at a fearful rate,—and perhaps his very talents, his very virtues, are somewhat those of a “Pan's Satyr”!3 It was a pity, however, for that thunder-shower. The electric virtue must have been spread over all the British air: the evening before, they had thunder and rain at Carlisle, at Sanquhar &c; and that very day while roving over the Scotsbrig moor I heard thunder in the distance,—tho' here all continues thunderless, rainless, blistered, hard and burnt.

Tonight if your post go aright, I may ascertain whether the Railway things did arrive on Tuesday; at all events, whether you got the two keys. That will be a sad litter again, sorrowful outwardly, sorrowful within! But that too will have to pass, and we shall leave it behind us. Allons [Forward]!

If I promised you long details of my late pilgrimage, I must break my word, at least keep it on another day: at present I am literally incapable of writing. The want of sleep is rising to a kind of real misery for me. My eyes are swoln with yesterday's wind and dust: I have managed to sleep two hours in the daytime, and at present (before tea) am as stupid as an owl.——— I wait for some Dumfries Courier or other Steamboat Document to begin fixing on my day of return. That perhaps is the best “detail” I can give you! I will throw down the pen till after tea.— (after tea)— Little Jane4 has come with your wae small Note of Wednesday; I am very sorry for thee, my poor Wifie! The first brunt of it will be over now; I shall wait for tomorrow's letter with still more anxiety.

You did well to write to all these parties. I think Mrs Russell is actually one of the best-conditioned softest-hearted women I have seen: it is and continues one's chief consolation that she remained near and ever accessible, affectionate and helpful in those last times. She was knocking at the outer door of Templand just at the moment when that stroke, which proved of Death, had struck within! She ran, she struggled and busied herself, as the kindest sister, the kindest daughter or mother could have done. I like her and her good old Father extremely well. Dr Russell too behaved all along, especially towards the end, like a friend and a man of sense and true courteous humanity to me. They were all about crying (except the Doctor I think all were crying) yesterday, when Jamie and I came away.— I called for Margt Hiddlestone; found her ironing clothes in a small clean upper-room: poor body, she had bought a gill of whisky to mix among water for me, and as I, not apprised at the moment, preferred simple water, she got Jamie up afterwards, and made him drink. I gave her two half sovereigns wrapt in paper to buy frocks for her two girls; at which she seemed heartily delighted,—and not in an avaricious manner; for I think her very affectionate, poor Margaret. I also searched out poor old Mary Mills; found her scraping potatoes in a strange witch-like apartment, full of dirt, piled fuel-wood, with old bedimmed penny-pictures and strange etceteras hung over the walls. She had begun to draw her pension: I charged Mrs Russell, if anything befel the poor old creature, to let us know.

That night I called upon the Factor Maxwell, I consented, after finishing our business, to step in with him to the other room (for it was evening) and “drink a glass of wine with us.” The “us” were Major Creighton5 and he. The Major looks precisely what he did when we saw him last; fresh and brisk as ever: but he has now no memory at all I think, no mind at all; he begins to speak, and ends in a murmur without uttering any word: Maxwell made him punch that night, and he drank it in silence.— Farewell to all that!—

The light has left me, my poor little lassie, and I must leave thee. Tomorrow I shall certainly be better; I have taken a shower-bath &c; I do expect to sleep. On Monday you shall have better news of me,—and, the Courier having now arrived, of the date I am thinking of for coming!

Love to Cousin Jeannie; my Mothers love to you. And so, Good Night, dearest!

Ever your affectionate /

T. Carlyle