August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 8 August 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430808-TC-JWC-01; CL 17: 24-26


Scotsbrig, 8 Augt, 1843—

Thanks, Dearest, for your good little Note, which contrary to expectation came home for me by the Messenger last night. It had arrived on Sunday by the evening mail; they got me a Newspaper which had been in Liverpool, by the Morning Mail. Perhaps there will be something tonight too. I am well supplied with Canty [lively] little Notes; and a great comfort they are to me.

All day I have done nothing,—but read drowsily in my dull Icelandic Grammar, which is nearly done now; and talk drowsily. I have slept four long sleeps in succession, during these nights I have been here: a feat which is unparalleled with me these several years. If there be credit in that, I may be honoured: if not, alas not; for my whole function at present is to sleep. All day again it has rained; I have sat in this little eastern room (where you used to sleep) with a fire and the window generally up; something eminently stagnant in that grey infinite of dim wet, far from the haunts of “busy men,”1—a few turnip-hoers returning home from their attempt at labour the only event all day. Pigs too have grunted, ducks quacked; and one immense woman wrapt in plaid took to raking the cattleyard; Middlebie burn beginning to run red! Human nature could require no stiller kind of life.

I did intend partly to write to Robertson as you request: I suppose “the Reform Club” is his address?2 But on the whole there is nothing pressing. Your Peter Buchan (his Christian name is Peter), as he emerges in my memory, figures there as somewhat of a goose: I suppose I shall have to subscribe for his poor Book, but to recommend it in any way will be questionable. My recollection of the last rather is that it was a watery very questionable jumble of old doggrel pieced together with new: in fact it is very dim in my memory; the only thing clear is the effigies of Peter himself, one of the mournfullest Pilgarlocks smit with the poetic furor you could see in a summer day!3 Probably I shall get Robertson written to tomorrow.

Garnier is evidently fit for St. Luke's;4 poor Garnier! Poor little Bölte too: really that orthodox lady is getting too bad; if Hayward were to despatch her a Note it might do good:5 she will otherwise ruin poor Bölte. Let her by all means consult him whether there is no way of stopping her mouth for the future at least. Amends for the Past will be out of the question, I fear.

Geraldine paints our Paulet transaction en beau [in fine colors]. What I most approved of was the greatly ameliorated aspect of Geraldine herself: so much quieter acting, you would have said, almost as a kind of “Man with the Lamp”6 (Speculative Reason) in Pauletdom. The German Tutor too is unforgettable: he asked Jeannie at dinner, being terribly off for a language, and also for anything to say with one: You have rede all de works of your parent?” (de votre parent). Jack and I laughed all night at it when she told us. Mrs Paulet remains very dim to me; a mixed phenomenon,—terribly inferior to my Moon-face!7

Thursday does not look well for Dumfries: but we shall see. The last light of evening shines bleared and rainless now over Burnswark;8 the sky cannot pour forever. Annandale speech, I find more and more, is Icelandic: what terrible climates these illustrious Norse Peoples have been fated to inhabit!

Well, duckykin, will there be any Letter for me tonight? I do not deserve any; yet I do love thee very well. I am better today; I shall be well in health tomorrow. Good night, good night; all here salute you lovingly. Isabella is weak as water, the strength all gone from her, tho' with not much pain to suffer. I never see her.—Bless thee, Dearest

T. C.