August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 20 August 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460820-TC-JWC-01; CL 21:19-21.


Scotsbrig, 20 Augt (Thursday) 1846—

Thank Heaven I have heard from you! Two Letters lying here on my return, and another very swift and hasty which has arrived since.1 You are better too, far better, than my gloomy notions had represented you in those late watching nights. I will thank Geraldine too, for she has done me a great service, the poor Zoe!— Meanwhile a word “by return of post”; and it must be a brief one, as all words from this scene of rainy confusion ought to be.

My five days expendition has been one of the unsuccessfullest (if pleasure in any sort had been my object) that I ever undertook. We had the worst of weather; I the worst of sleep,—noisy cabins in confused whiskey inns; an average of 3 hours sleep per-night! The Lady herself takes ill with rain; indeed grows quite miserable till the fair weather come again: the patience of Baring seemed to me immense! We came to Langholm in rain-torrents; weathered it out there, with difficulty till Monday morning: on Monday morning,—alas, the Buccleugh house-hold gave notice that it had hooping-cough; no visit thither was possible;2 the time to be spent there, till new engagements and rendezvouses at Glasgow could take effect, must now be spent elsewhere. Beattock, by Moffat, after much sorrowful consulting was at last decided on; I to stay two days till Beattock also were done. Beattock also, with rain and drunken Navvies, was very bad: in blinks of fair weather we did tolerably well, but they were rare;—and all nights the noise and sleeping was of the rate I told you! During rain we had to sit in a little room, where neither fire in the grate nor the smallest chink of ventilation otherwise could be permitted; one grew half-distracted naturally in such an element, and prayed for fair weather as the alternative of suicide. The brave Baring's cheerfulness and calmness never failed him for a moment. Happily yesterday we had a good day: moors, clear brooks and Moffat Well much admired &c: I left my Hosts just setting out for the Grey Mare's Tail (which I think they would hardly reach),3 and got upon the Glasgow Mail hitherward,—glad to the heart of one thing, That I was to get away, and have a chance of sleep and freedom again! The kindness of friends is surely precious; but sleep too and practical sense and the free use of tobacco are good! O my Goody, my Goody what a daft creature art thou in thy sick imaginations! I have had many thoughts of thee in these nights; of which perhaps there will be notice by and by.—This morning, once more in rain, my kind Hosts (I doubt not) are forward towards Glasgow and the wet Highland glens; I on the contrary have got some coarse but copious sleep (thank Heaven), and find myself, tho' much brashed and stupified, considerably better: and so this weighty matter has had its end. On one of the Beattock nights I scrawled you in much hubble from our little airless room a kind of Note, directing it at a venture to Maryland Street; next night Lady Harriet presented me with another sealed, of which I completed the address in like manner: mine I think you may be reading at this moment; hers will come tomorrow: of little use either of them, except to keep your fancy quiet.4

I rather judge you are right in not coming farther at this time. Haddington without a rest here is a long laborious journey from where you are; and the weather is wet, and the result uncertain. Perhaps it will actually be better to return home, taking Cousin Helen with you;—certainly so if that is your own spontaneous will. I think I shall perhaps follow before long:—but a clearer head will be necessary before I can specify days and times. I still think of Ireland; if the weather would mend, I could think of several things,—but it will not mend.— Write to me at large: What you decide to do; what you are at present doing, what this “change of purpose” is, when and how &c &c. ——O Goody I am awfully stupid; and may as well conclude and do nocht ava' [do nothing at all]. My Mother expressly charges me with the usual regards. Her joy to hear that nothing is wrong after all,—poor old Mother!— Thank Geraldine for me, many thanks and regards.

Ever yours /

T. Carlyle

n.b. Post from Manchester or Liverpool is “before 2 o'clock,” if a Letter wd reach me here next morning. Otherwise the Letter arrives at Ecclefn in the evening, and lies still till the morrow.