August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 19 August 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430819-TC-JWC-01; CL 17: 65-67


Scotsbrig, 19 August (Saturday) / 1843—

My poor little Dame,

I am very sorry for thy headache; for the complication of mischances that have attended this Ryde expedition. Tell me soon that it is over now, that all is right again.

If you have weather at Chelsea like ours here, it must be frightful! I remember nothing hotter; the sun blazing, hardly a breath of air stirring. Till today too, there has not even been a country view to comfort one; all was hot steamy haze, falling at night as a very shower of dew. Today however, one sees Cumberland again; sitting under the shade of a tree, it is not so bad. We are bound for Burnswark; all to go and dine there, tho' the Gig will only hold two: it is the inevitable! Poor Grahame has his back at the wall; one must humour him in this sad whim he has. Jack is to walk beforehand, by a shorter road, and announce us; my Mother and I are to drive together.

Jack arrived last night, bringing your Letter with him: he is studiously bent on good order and quiet hitherto; but it will of course be impossible: I must get him over into Cumberland, up to Craigenputtoch or somewhither: my days of repose here cannot now be long!— If the Ferguses write to me,1 I am not sure but I may go. It would really be the handiest way of getting home again; besides I do want to see the ground of Dunbar Battle,—it is the last locality of Cromwell I had in view! If, after that, I do not write a Cromwell of one sort or the other, localities at least will do nothing for me. On the whole, I believe, I must set to work, and handsel [use for the first time] the new Library and Goody's repairs by writing a thing of the sort in it. We shall make the attempt, shall we not?

This morning I read the article “Thomas Carlyle” in the Border Magazine: you once saw an extract from it in the newspapers.2 I intended to cut the whole thing out, and send it you; but Jean's own copy is lost, and this which she has borrowed is to be returned intact. Little matter! But the thing is good enough: the poor writer of it has quitted his School-office for Non-Intrusionism; Duncan of Ruthwell and the others have made him Editor of a Newspaper they are about starting in Dumfries and mean to call the Standard:3 poor fellows! The reading of Ralph Erskine has given me strange reflexions as to the profoundly enveloped state in which all Sons of Adam live. This poor Ralph, and his formulas casing him all round like the shell of a beetle: what a thing it is! “Chraist” and so ma[n]y poor AEneas Raits,4—ach Gott! And yet what better have the rest of us made of it;—far worse the most of us: in our Benthamisms, Jacobinisms George Sandisms. Man is a born owl. I consider it good however that one do not get into the state of a beetle; that one try to keep one's shells open, or at least openable: I mean to persist in endeavouring that.

I am getting a third pair of trowsers made today; coarse, for sitting in thro' winter, for wearing while I travel &c. The tailor is to end this night: I am moderately well satisfied with him, as Goody too will be.

Jack saw Mrs Cunningham, as you noticed in his Note; she had not been in Dumfries while I was there; she was to leave it today for London, for Brompton (I think) where her son Peter was getting up a new house for himself,—I hope not for her too; Mrs Peter being of the Martins who are all wildish in the head!5 Poor Mrs Cunningham: Jack says she had still a tendency to cry,—no wonder, poor woman. If she come down to you, or if you learn her address, pray go and see her straightway:— My cold is gone; I have the shower-bath in action, I have stript all flannel, and resist this sick heat. Tell me, poor Jeannie, that thou too art well again. Do not write if it hurt you; but a word at any rate. Surely I shall hear a word tonight? I begin again to wish you could get out into the green Earth for a few weeks,—without bugs! Adieu dear little Jeannie. / T. C.

Dr Carson, I see in the Herald, is dead; somewhere in the neighbourhood of Liverpool, whither he had retired.6