January-September 1845

The Collected Letters, Volume 19


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 26 September 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450926-TC-JWC-01; CL 19: 217-219


Scotsbrig, 26 Septr, 1845—

Dearest,—I still continue in bad case for writing, my apparatus and self much out of order here in that particular; I would write no Letters if it were not to get answers from you. Today I did mean to write at some length with a view that way: but, behold, all my Christie Index, my Titlepage &c, in a very abstruse state, has arrived; and I really must, much as it is against my will, buckle to the rectifying of it. A few words in great discomposure are all that I can give you today.— — My mood of mind here, my way of life here, is utterly confused; essentially taciturn it ought to be; would much sooner be spoken to than speak! Very sad withal, but not useless to me. It is good to hold a day of Humiliation and Reflexion sometimes; and that is what I do in this old Annandale Chaos,—extremely chaotic to me indeed! My poor old Mother is much weakened; nothing of her that is not old but her affections, her interest in all that is divine and noble according to her own version of that. Alas, old Annandale is all grown strange to me; a mournful Hall of the Past. Nevertheless it too asserts itself, it too is there; thou shalt take note of it too!—My thoughts within my own cell, contrasted with the current thoughts of the world, look very strange indeed. Poor John's removal to his Furnished Lodgings will be a considerable improvement in your situation; I could have wished him here for a day or two, to break the harshness of my departure: but it is better for himself, perhaps for all parties, that he is fixed again tho' but to that small extent. A man flying about “to see his way” in that fashion, with a head of that colour, is sufficiently mournful.— And now the moths and thou for it! Say nothing in complaint of “thy work such as it is”: all work; if it be nobly done, is about alike;—really so: one has not reward out of it, except even that same: the spirit it was done in. That is blessed, or that is accursed; that always. I wish we could learn to be wise—ah, me!—

My business was all got pretty tolerably done in Dumfries. M'Queen, at present an enormous Cattle-dealer, is now tenant of Craigenputtoch, himself not resident there: M'Adam was not put away; he mulishly refused to give any reasonable rent (resisted his Wife's urgencies, Adamson's and Stewart's and hers combined), acted like a mule in fact: and so M'Queen had to come in. Corson1 too being off, he has the whole thing;—abatement £20; which Stewart, on survey of the thing (Adamson and he were both on the ground), considered would be enough. Stewart advises to try for sale again; which I am very willing to do. The place he says is growing and will grow yearly rather worse. Enough of it.

I saw no other person in Dumfries but Aird, or hardly any. Small pleasure in fools gaping round you; and of friends or even acquaintances. I cannot be said to have any stock now left there! To save appearances, having one night an odd Twenty minutes, I went down to M'Diarmid's.2 The poor Editor sat there, in his old flimsy condition: he and I could have done very well; but he insisted on my going up stairs,—Dinner-guests there and Mrs M'D. Good Heavens, she was—what shall I say, or Mazzini say?—drunk as Chloe!3 My hand in both of hers, face red as a moon, tongue almost striking work; the whole figure threatening almost to fall into my arms! Ought not this to be one's finale there? I was very glad to get out into the street again. What boundless articulate and inarticulate compliments were sent “to Mrs Carlyle” I shall not report to that Lady. Ach Gott!— — We got home to Annandale next day; and I have remained entirely silent ever since. The Tailor is coming on Monday; I have got immense stocks of clothes, trowsers, waistcoats, flannel-shirts, drawers: I wish they may get Goody's approval, but rather doubt it for some of them.

Thanks for the Narrative of the Fuz-Dickens dramaturgy; of Alfred Tennyson, Creek and all the rest. Mrs Paulet's Letter is very affectionate to you, very hearty and honest; but nothing like so entertaining as yours. She is terribly astray too when she speaks of “the greatest man in Europe”:4— Good Heavens, he feels himself in general the Smallest man in Annandale almost! Being very bilious, confused and sleepless. Let him never trouble his head about what magnitude he is of.— — O Goody, Goody,—let these words stand in place of a volume to thee; for they mean all manner of things.— Here is the dinner (of cock-broth). Adieu, Dearest.