August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 12 September 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430912-TC-MAC-01; CL 17: 130-131


LINLATHEN, DUNDEE, Tuesday, 12th Sep. 1843.

MY DEAR MOTHER,—According to promise, I write you another little word to announce that I am safe so far on my way, that I embark tomorrow and hope to be home on Friday afternoon. I am heartily desirous of it! This last part of my travels has been considerably the weariest, for I have been all along eager chiefly to have done with it. Jamie knows how fain I would never have entered upon it all. He took notice of my reluctance at Dumfries and how welcome a shower of rain would have been to me! However it is near ending now; and I shall enjoy the quiet of home all the more. One thing, dear Mother, let me straightway tell you; that I have not left one of my new shirts, that the whole six, when I fold them duly out, are here. I grieve that you should have had a moment's uneasiness about that matter, which is due only to my own blindness and numbness; my hope is that you did not take it up too earnestly, but left the matter over “till Jenny came.”

I have now got two letters from Jane, the last of them only yesterday! All is well at Chelsea; Jack not yet settled in any lodging, nor in the least decided what to do, but “in a state of torpor” as Jane says “playing with the cat.” He was dining with Lady Clare; that was the last feat recorded of him. I was much grieved to hear that you had somehow missed Alick's letter: has it never yet turned up for you? I am too ignorant about the business to form any conjecture how it could have come about. Meanwhile it was very lucky that there came another letter of the same date for Jack:—this I am in hopes will be ready for me at London when I arrive. By the bye, might it not be that Alick had only meant and fully intended to write you a letter, and then had suddenly found that he would not have time by that mail? Of course the two letters, if there had been two, would come together: it is unaccountable how one of them should drop by the way. What a blessing to us to hear that poor Alick is safe there and ready to begin his adventure on fair terms. Jane says his letter is of very composed tone and “very practical looking.” She seems to like the tone of it well. I went over to Edinburgh since I last wrote. I there saw Gordon, saw various other friends—with more or less of labour and fatigue. I spent a forenoon with Jeffrey who is very thin and fretful I think; being at any rate weakly, he is much annoyed at present by a hurt on his shin—a quite insignificant thing otherwise, which however disables him from walking. Poor Jeffrey! he does not make a nice old man, he has too little real seriousness in him for that. On the whole I was heartily glad to quit Edinburgh again and get away from it into quietude across the Frith. I wrote to Jean at Dumfries one day. […] on my first Letter to her? At all events she now knows what is become of me.

Yesterday, by appointment, the good Thomas Erskine took me up at Kirkcaldy; carried me off hither on the top of the coach, bag and baggage. The day was damp and dim, not exactly wet, yet in danger of becoming ra[in]y. There had been rain in the night time (Sabbath night or early on Monday morning); but there fell no more. This day again is oppressively hot, dry, yet without sun or wind,—a baddish “day for a stook.” But they prophecy fair weather now;—which I shall be glad of; and the whole country will be glad, for all is white here, in sheaves and stooks and little got into ricks yet.— We got here about five in the evening; a great party of people in the house (a big laird's house, with flunkies &c &c): I was heartily tired before I got to bed. I do not think I shall be rightly at rest till I get on Shipboard: there I will lie down, and let all men have a care of stirring me; they had better let the sleeping dog lie!——— The Dundee Steamers are allowed to be the best on these waters; large swift ships, and very few passengers in them at present. I spoke for my place yesterday, and am to have the best; the kind people here will whirl me down (it is four miles off); and then, about four o'clock in the afternoon, I shall—light a pipe in peace, and think of you all speaking not a word! I expect to sleep well there too; and then on friday perhaps about 3 o'clock, I may be at London Bridge, and home by the most convenient conveyance to Chelsea for dinner. This, if all go well, this ends for the present my pilgrimings up and down the world.

Dear Mother, I wish I had gone direct home when I left you; for it is not pleasant somehow to be still in Scotland, and far from you. I speak not the thoughts I send towards you, for speech will not express them.— If I arrive noon on friday, you may perhaps find a Newspaper at Ecclefn on Sabbath morning. Monday much likelier. God bless you all!

T. Carlyle