August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 27 August 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430827-TC-JWC-01; CL 17: 89-91


Scotsbrig, 27 August, 1843—

My Dearest,

Last night we got hither, as anticipated: we did not go by Gillenbie, the day proving wet; we only drove round by Lockerby, and left there a written apology, indicating withal a velleity to have drunk tea at least had the weather altered;—such was Jack's scheme, which had become almost a fixed-idea with him; to which, as he had managed the negociation, I for silence sake willingly acceded! Poor old Lochmaben lay stagnant as of old; the big-bellied clouds sailing over it in the bleared sky; certain parties practising in the chief Loch for a “Dumfries & Lochmaben regatta” that is coming. Lockerby was full of glar [mud]; the people whom we met wore mostly an air of sulky embarrassment.1 An open Cab of very humble character, with two horses, and a postilion all in duds and waving with a high grey head (very curious to see), shewed us at Milk-Bridge two dismissed Members of Parliament,2 such we supposed them to be, posting home; I, smoking my long pipe at the moment, was an object of extreme interest to them, as it seemed! Such visions flit across this Earth. Finally at Ecclefechan not without difficulty we procured a pocketful of Letters; and two from my dear Goody were still decipherable to me. The buttons are of the most exquisite quality! The Tailor is to come on Monday evening, and sew them on; and take another waistcoat over with him which he has to make for me. Thanks for the buttons, for the Letters, for all things, my Goody! The plan for Bölte is sagacity itself; really a neat plea for getting rid of that atrocious Genesis affair;3 truly glad am I that it is like to take effect. You say nothing of Mrs. Buller's journey this time; or of her turning blue?

On arriving here we discovered not without a momentary alarm that the two M'Kinnows4 had arrived! Two trim handy Roxburghshire lasses; one of them coughing considerably, poor young creature,—one fears not in a very good way. She is her Mother over again with a change of eyes from bright black to bright grey. Tibbie, I rem[em]ber5 “Aunt Tibbie” from very early days: she died, after many sufferings, last year. My poor Mother, at sight of this lassie at the door, had “burst into greeting [weeping]”: Time the All-devourer! The lassie herself, both the lassies grat [wept],—their Mother's counterpart risen there on them out of foreign space. Ah me.— They are good sensible girls these; nor was a feasible arrangement for the hour difficult to fall upon. A fire was kindled in the east room for John and me; a stricter division of apartments enforced; and so we shall do for a day no worse than before. The rather as Jack talks of going off to Liverpool “tomorrow”! He has no work to do there, or none that could not easily be done by Letter: but on the whole what work has he anywhere? I never in my life have seen a rational man hanging as completely like a leaf in the wind. A kind of thought strikes me at moments that he still has a sort of half lingering eye to little Jeannie:6 I declare if he do not mend immensely I could not advise the little Cousin that way. She is far too good for what he is;—unless perhaps she could make him what he might be? Be silent, silent as a stone!— I do not dissuade him from going; he is a real distress in this quarter. I too shall shortly have to go.

But whitherward? Aye, look; there are certain of my last night's “pocketful” of Letters; and all this blessed day I have been answering others of them,—and have already written above a dozen: to Macready with Emerson & Greig, to Haddington Brown,7 to &c &c (the Devil confound them all)—and Spedding and Fergus are still to answer (nay the decision has yet to be taken on them), and they must be answered tomorrow. My mind rather points to Fife; but the details are very dim, the weather doubtful: tomorrow I am bound to decide. All this day Jack has been off with my Mother at Gill, where Mary is still unwell: They have arrived within the last five minutes, and report her better. They bring also a Letter from Fitzgerald, with a new scheme about Naseby! Eheu; I shall have to unsay my half promise of meeting him there?

Dearest, in a word, I think I should be best of all at home now? Now that the house is swept, the “bogues” all dead, and my own little Goody still so kind and lively. There are worse Goodies I do believe! Well I wish I saw her again the little gypsey. God bless thee, Dearest / T. C.