August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 24 August 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460824-TC-JWC-01; CL 21:26-28.


Scotsbrig, (Monday) 24 Augt, 1846

Dearest, what has become of you again? Surely you are growing a very bad correspondent! On Wednesday night I had a hasty notice that your schemes had a little altered, that I was to write by return of post: I punctually wrote accordingly; and ever since wait in vain for any note from you, uncertain even what your address is. Really you should have written me one word; one word is easily written, and the postage is but a penny! On Saturday, on Sunday, on Monday I long eagerly, to no purpose. On saturday I would have written myself, but an expedition to Annan hindered; yesterday still more surely I would have written, but it involved an express to Ecclefechan, for on Sunday we have no “moveable post-office.”1 Today, again disappointed, I can write a word, and walk out to meet the post with it myself. My Goody was once a better writer,—ah me, and will be so again, I hope!

Since you heard last of me I have done nothing; altogether literally nothing. One has not room here even to prosecute one's own thoughts, one has to talk trivialities, or lie idly ruminating; work, exertion of any kind is as good as an impossibility. On Saturday, as you heard, I was at Annan; the day being good I decided to overtake that small problem of looking at the Country house for sale near Annan;2 got myself, not without confusions conquered, driven down to Annan; saw Wull Carruthers (the managing Writer),3 saw above all things the “Country house” in question,—a detestable Peat-pot full of rushes and alder-bushes and green stagnancies of moss-water in a very fetid state, expected to sell at a rate like the neighbourhood of the New Jerusalem;—and instantly decided that it was not worth speaking of for one other instant! Beside Annan, I may venture henceforth to assure myself, there is no “quiet residence” like to be provided for me. After new misventures (owing to my charioteer, the Dr, always intent on original methods) I got home to tea, in the beautifullest bright silent afternoon; having walked most of the way, and dined—upon two-thirds of a new penny-loaf, which I purchased from a cadger incidentally wending thro' those parts. On Annan street, I noticed Waugh, very ruinous-looking indeed, and spoke a word to him.4 There or over Annandale in general I find little but ruins left for me; not one face in the thousand that I have ever seen before; a new race that know not Joseph.5 Yesternight I went up to Grahame's with Jamie; accomplished another dull duty that always waits me here. I have now little else to do except meditate when and how I should take myself away. Happily the weather is grown beautiful: to sit silent in a furze-bush on Scotsbrig moor, and look over the old well-remembered region all commented upon by assiduous sad ghosts of the Past, is not without its uses to me.— Bobus is sold; price £36: one of the Waterbeck lads has got him home at that price, and is immensely taken with him. One botheration therefore has ended.

In spite of the confusion and interrupted sleep I improve perceptibly in health; so genial is the quiet air to me,—a rarely attainable blessing! I think sometimes of Spedding's (would you like to meet me there, and see the Lakes?)—more frequently of Ireland by Portpatrick;6 in a much fainter way of Fergusdom:—and in fact am totally inert, and in the calm silver-bright weather lie passive.— Mrs Paulet, answering about the Cow,7 is yet unanswered: will you say, Jamie will at any time be ready if they need him.— Beside Darwin's good kind Note I have got nothing, except two distracted Foreign Letters, a French and a German, which are not worth their additional stamp to you. For God's sake write to me instantly!—T. C.