August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 8 August 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460808-TC-JWC-01; CL 21:6-8.


Scotsbrig, Saturday 8 Augt, 1846—

My Dearest, I should have written a small word to you yesterday; but I was dead asleep at the hour of post, for I had got no sleep or almost worse than none in the Steamer, and arrived here very wae and weary indeed. The voyage was, as all voyages are, a misery to me; but otherwise it passed without misfortune of any kind, the Vessel, crew and fellow-passengers all preferable to those I last had in the like case; and we arrived safe at Annan shortly after 10 o'clock, where Jack, seated in his old Gig, was at last discernible waiting for me. A dim, soft, mournful-looking, almost pathetic looking morning, with many old pathetic reminiscences clinging to it! Jack drove me up, amid idle insignificant talk, with distant mutterings of thunder, and some scuddings of rain; and two minutes after our arrival, it became a very deluge which lasted for hours. My poor old Mother met me once again on the close here, with a moist radiance of joy in her old eyes;—once again: not many times more, perhaps never once more, and then it is all done, and that part of the universal destiny is for me also complete It is not a merry place this world; it is a stern and awful place.— As was said, I soon after my arrival flung myself upon a bed, and fell fast asleep. I am very unwell, so far as biliary and other confusions go: yesterday I did not sleep long, and today I awoke at four o'clock: deep silence, and some friendly pillow watched by some victorious loving one to lay my head on,—that were the thing for me; and that is not to be had here. The loving ones here are all unvictorious too! I do not remember a more miserable set of hours for most part than those since I left you.— But we will hope for a good issue out of them too; nay believe in it, and manfully strive with our best strength for it! That will do something; that will do instead of all. O my Dearest, how little I can make thee know of me; in what a black baleful cloud for myself and thee are all our affairs involved to thy eyes at this moment; threatening shipwreck if we do not mind!—

There will clearly be no continuing for me here, beyond a very few days: Jack has adjusted himself into direction of all the mechanism of this house, and there is not room for both of us at all. I cannot hope for more than to get along without offence till I do the indispensably necessary, and then fly else whither to look for shelter,—back to Chelsea I sometimes think. But indeed today I am below par in my dispiritment, and have very much the feeling of a hanged man,—one of those “weel-wight men” that sing after they are hanged! Courage, courage, I say; we will not surrender to the Devil yet; we will defy him yet, and do the best we can to set our foot on the throat of him yet.— In addition to all, it has rained ever since I arrived here; and is raining heavily with prospect of continuing even now. I meant to go to Annan partly with an eye to look at that “House and Grounds” now for sale; partly for a drive and to get tobacco-pipes: but the rain forbids all outgate of that sort; I have bargained for an hour of privacy (here in Jack's room, the Eastern one, which is now all papered and improved), and here am I scribbling confusions to thee as the one good or half-good thing I have any chance to do today. I said “to look at that House and Grounds”; but, I fear, without much chance of doing more at present: Annandale is too mournful for me; besides “all property is risen much in price,” all the country is torn up with railways, the most solitary lanes swarming with foreign Navvies and Peel Policemen,1 all the world expecting to find Heaven by steam. A quiet place among green fields, anywhere under the sky, would do me much good: but how to get it I do not well see just yet. Rain, rain: the rain is falling heavier than ever!— — My Mother enters with a message for kind remembrances to you; emphatic earnest message, evidently far sincerer than such almost ever are. Poor old woman, she said yesterday, Does Jane never mean to see us again then at all? Today she repeats in other form the same sad thought,—as sad and kind, and truly affectionate, I do believe, as dwells in any heart but my own for you at present. But indeed you could do no good here at present, except perhaps for a day; and I will not again urge that on you, except your own mind incline. There would be much here to make you sad; and Jack is poor company for one in that humour. Poor fellow, I am very sorry for him too. He seems almost to have cast anchor here; to have adjusted himself here to a life of vegetating on thrifty terms,—has been making various improvements, wooden-bridge &c; and goes idle with a cheerful face for months long: to my Mother I think his company is rather cheering than otherwise; to Isabella also he is useful; and Jamie I suppose does not mind him much.

You will tell me about Haddington when your resolution on it is once clear. I shall be ready at the end of next week,—sooner if the Barings, warned by these thunders and rains, decide on not coming. How incredible is it to my poor little Jeannie, and yet how certain in fact, that an intimation to that effect would be among the gladdest I could get, in a small way, during these days! I will write to the Lady tomorrow that I am here according to engagement: but of invitation to her I cannot have much. This too, by God's blessing, what of integrity and propriety there was in all this, will one day become clear to all parties. O my Dearest to think that my affection for thee— But I will not speak on that thing at present. Speech is not the sacredest; Speech is very inadequate sometimes; and indeed silence too is inadequate, but it is harmless.—— —— I have inquired about Mr Paulet's matter; but will not put it on this Paper. Adieu my own Jane, whom nothing can divide from me. God bless thee ever.

T. Carlyle