August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 14 August 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430814-TC-JWC-01; CL 17: 45-46


Scotsbrig, 14 August (Monday Evg), 1843—


There are still a few minutes left for me of the idlest of sick (medicinal) days to write thee a few words in: the Tailor is to carry them over to Ecclefechan, whence if steam and Post prove true they will depart tomorrow morning, and reach Chelsea on Wednesday. It is of importance to keep a poor Goody just returned from Ryde and bug-biting from being vaixed. You would get a Letter this day? I put one into the Post-Office at Ecclefechan with that view: it was all crumpled by lugging along in my pocket, having been written at Dumfries. By the same occasion, in reward of my virtue, I got your first Letter from Ryde: it lay there with one from Spedding, which I now send, and with another from Robertson on the Peter-Buchan business too insignificant for sending.

Thanks to thee dear Goody for such diligent writing. The two Letter[s],1 of which I read great part to the hearth-circle here gave universal satisfaction, excited universal admiration—“she is a hand!” &c &c. Even the Father Mathew exploit was approved of; my Mother declared that “she could have done the same.” On the whole, however, does it not seem wonderful now in sober hours? On the whole ought I not to “beat” so foolish a Goody when I get back to her? I will think about it; and perhaps do it. Who knows but it may be useful to her! Father Mathew is a kind of hero, tho' a very simple one: the scene of his labour in Liverpool affected me to the neighbourhood of tears, to the lifting of my hat and saying of “So be it.” It is a God that inspires such men. On the whole one must not beat poor Goody! But I want to know the good Priest's answer,—and what he will think of the wood-and-leather Pope when he gets to that!2

Much sadder is the Ryde business. Thou poor sleepless one! And then the bugs, the blue milk, the vainglorious beggarliness! It was a real relief to me to figure thee in our own clean house at Chelsea again; free at least from all that. Thanks too for looking at the lodgings: some day we will go ourselves, and have a temporary household of our own there. At Beaumaris3 I also looked at lodgings: the price seems to have been much the same as Ryde; the situation also was delightful, and furnished with all conveniences for civilized living. It is better to tolerate a few Cockneys walking in your path, I suppose, than go where “the foot of men,”4 and also the contriving hand of man, has not preceded you.

Three Tailors sit below stairs working for me; and I have castor in me for a petty kind of feverish cold: such has been the equipment of existence provided for this day. Plenty of warm clothes will be tacked together for winter's storms;—but I am a little doubtful about the tailoring! Tomorrow is Lockerby Fair, and all the world is in attendance, even Garthwaite my Tailor and his 2/9 of men are off. I read, in the extremest state of laziness attainable by man, a most simple, foolish but yet excellent Book by a Missionary Williams, about the South-Sea Islands, where he long laboured and at last perished: a Book almost equal to Robinson Crusoe become a fact.5 The time flows on gently as Dutch canals; surely I shall be rested, the petty feverish cold once gone. I remember Gilfillan in Dumfries with a certain softness of heart: poor fellow, so modest, so ardent, so entirely Scotch-Burgherish,6—so heartily attached to me; and his smooth life will yet have to be broken by Niagaras! I remember many a one here with a certain softness, who provoked me while I was near him in my time of fret, in his time of fret. O Goody, Goody!— Perhaps I shall go to this Spedding yet;7 the weather is bright and hot: we shall see. Congratulations for the Mudies: it has been a right successful thing, and Goody comes out of it with drums beating. Good night, dearest; write, O write;—if thou do not I will—kiss thee? T. C.