October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 4 October 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18451004-TC-JWC-01; CL 20: 10-11


Scotsbrig, Saturday 4 Octr 1845—

Blessings on thee, dear little woman under difficult circumstances! Here is my second letter received duly this morning, and nothing but good news comes from an indefatigable Goody. That Dog was more or less the sorrow of my life all the time you were away, tho' I said nothing of it: Bow-wow-wow! at all hours of the day, especially at night when one was shut in, expecting a little composure. Never was bottle of whisky better bestowed, if it quiet the damnable brute even for a month or two.— Alas, one cannot get much quiet in this world. Here, in mornings when one awakes before five, there is a combination of noises, the arithmetical catalogue of which might interest a mind of sensibility. Cocks, pigs, calves, dogs, clogs of women's feet, creaking of door-hinges, masons breaking whinstone, and carts loading stones! But I have learned to care nothing about it: I think, “It is the law of Nature; and are not thy poor Brothers and Sisters, thy poor old Mother too, toiling away in the midst of it!” Once or twice I have fallen sound asleep in the middle of the whole concert of Discords. We shall be quiet one day; the Destinies, I think, do mean that at least for us.—

This day we are in the tail of sixty hours of continuous rain; a little uncertain whether we shall give it up, or continue for another twenty-four! Nobody got out yesterday; except persons totally aquatic: happily the fire did not smoke in this room; I had “books, tobacco and gugkuk,”1—passed, when fairly left private, really very happy and not useless hours. Dined on two eggs, a slice of bread (half an ounce in extent), and a small bowl of curds and cream. Today, however, I decided that not even Annandale rain should keep me altogether destitute of a walk under the sky; set out accordingly after breakfast, with an umbrella, to meet the Post; met him on Middlebie Brae, got my Letter from him, read it under the umbrella, then splashed along, thro' the Hamlet of Middlebie,2 up towards Burnswark, a fair modicum of walk, and have here returned, gone thro' my letter a second time. And now the rain may end or not, as it likes. Few modes of life are more in contrast with each other; than my present temporary mode with my usual one! Instruction lies in it, profit may lie in it:—at any rate, it is swiftly ending. I wait for the final Proofsheets of my Index &c (not wishing to hear of that subject after my return at all): and then I think of lifting my luggage again with my face homeward. You are still safe in answering this Letter: answer it; but observe in the next Letter what is said about Addresses.— Eheu! I wish I were at anchor again.

Poor old lonely Sterling—poor Nell Gwyn, Maria Magdalen without the penitence! If you can manage it as you predict, there will be no harm: but otherwise Maria, as the Queen of all that is pinchbeck in London Quality, is not a good connexion! Poor Nell!—

Shall I go by Liverpool or not? You, I suppose, have no interest in it; can advise me only to please myself? I really am defective in wrappage; contemplate with some horror the being bottled up for 24 hours all in a piece. We shall see. The Tailors have all ended, in a satisfactory manner; nothing but the Proofsheets, which may now come any day; and then if the weather improve not, I really ought to be off.

If you promised Lady Harriet to stay “the whole winter,” there will be no possibility of keeping such a promise! Indeed, as Mr Croaker3 says, I wish we may be all as well at the end of that business as at the beginning! For which purpose we will try to take in our ground well; and dealing wisely hope to get thro' well too: why not? Decidedly it is a good the gods provide,—“and a credit to you,” as Mahomet says!4— Here is her Note; a free-flowing merry thing: put it into a drawer, for there are some dates in it, and an answer must be sent.— What are the Moons and Stars for? Thou ever-inventive Goody!— Blessings on thee my brave little woman! Ewig [Always] T.C.