July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO GERALDINE E. JEWSBURY ; 12 September 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470912-TC-GEJ-01; CL 22: 62-64


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan, 12 Septr 1847—

Dear Geraldine,

According to covenant, let me now apprise you of my safe arrival in these parts; no pitch of indolence should incapacitate me for a function such as that!

The Carlisle Railway, like a mere colt of a railway, not yet broken to work, proved very rough and jolty; stopped long at Preston, and did other misdemeanours; but nevertheless set me down, not far from its time, in that ancient city (built, they say, in the time of King Solomon, and very rainy at the moment of my arrival); after which I had to take to the Glasgow Coach, the Scotch part of the line not being yet in action, after all! It is owing to some law controversies, they say, which could not be adjusted for a day or two. Not till after midnight was I set out in my native village; which looked abundantly strange to me; all sunk in sleep, in the pale ghastly twilight, rain dripping lazily from the eaves, and the poor inhabitants within all silent,—most that I had known lying still more silent, in the Churchyard hard by. But the little Brook was singing as of old, the big huge shadow of the Earth was “stretched beyond the Moon”1 ever as of old; and the universe in general was travelling its way: what could I make of it, but unfurl my umbrella, and do the rest of my journey as speedily as possible on foot! At one o'clock, I was in my old Mother's house, and half an hour after, sound asleep: which ends my history for the present; sleep, sleep, and the nearest attainable approach to silence, being all I have attempted ever since.

Of Manchester, and the warm welcome that greeted me there, and the strange things and interesting persons I saw, a vivid, grateful, and I daresay fruitful, remembrance remains with me: I feel as if a great black mass, with bright streaks in it too, but black and inarticulate generally, had got into my mind; and would require to be long manipulated, and held in solution, before I could fully get the meaning of it out. The meaning of it? Alas, nobody knows in the least the full meaning of it; Manchester itself as little as any one! A huge roaring, smouldering, unconscious thing; very ill off, even now, for some small knowledge of itself! Neither do I regret the Wednesday's mistake;2 it brought, among other things, Bamford and the Brights into my sack; curious phenomena both, which I should have missed otherwise. Kind thanks to all kind Friends, to yourself and your good Brothers, first of all, whose trouble with me, whose eagerness to do all hospitalities to me, how shall I sufficiently acknowledge.3 I have only a poor exchequer of thanks at present; and must beg you to be my chancellor,—which is a nice little office for you, I think!

There lay a Note from Barnsley for me here; indicating that Friday was to be the last day in that region: nothing has come since; but I suppose a Note from Chelsea now must be under way. You, I have no doubt, will write;—Brother Frank and you, let us hope, did not take the rail in person to Barnsley that day! And my faithful Achates and Namesake,4 whom I left unwell, what has become of him? A certain remorse haunts me, that the fatigues on that day of sights would make a bad combination with the official mutiny I heard you speak of! But we cannot help it. If any of the Examiner people turn up,5 my best regards best regards6 to them. Adieu, dear Geraldine: nothing can excel my laziness this blessed day; and besides my paper is quite done. Ever truly yours, T. Carlyle