July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 5 October 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471005-TC-JWC-01; CL 22: 114-115


Dumfries Tuesday, 4 [5] Octr 1847—

One word, my dear little Jeannie, lest you get uneasy about me, for there was no Letter yesterday either,—and indeed not a moment's time to write one. Neither have I heard anything, yesterday being at any rate the vacant day; but tonight at Scotsbrig I hope there will be something lying for me.

I rode off yesterday, according to appointment, thro' the grey silent moors, towards Noon; had a pleasant pensive pilgrimage of it; found Stewart, both the Stewarts, and over and above a kind of dinnerparty forsooth! We had the Free kirk minister of Lockerby, a heavy-browed, heavy-bodied, brown-eyed, watery-mouthed young man, full of radical ecclesiastical energy, not at all without talent and other worth.1 A gleg [smart] little jennyspinner of a Highlandman, M'Callum by name, a kind of road or rail surveyor; a blithe little all-knowing body (by “all” I mean all in his own district and department): he also made a very tolerable figure.2 A poor dinner, and “excellent wines” neat as imported, with plenty of intelligent talk about matters practical and speculative, and cordial welcome to season all: I spent a quite pleasantish afternoon; and came swiftly thro' the dusk and dark on Jamie's Pony; having well ended that small segment of my affairs.— Stewart's claret, of which I had four glasses or so, did not suit so well with this day's enterprise, or last night's sleep: there's the rub! However, Jamie and I have come whirling up; and having done our little no-errands, expect to whirl down again, resisting the bitter east wind with success; after which, except for packing, there are to be two days of rest,—rest, ah me!—and then, at a very early hour, I am to roll off on my travels southward and homeward!— That is the whole narrative; not so important as the Siege of Troy, or so spirit-stirring as the Fight of Sheriffmuir;3 but veracious, and the best I have to give. “Quoi [What]!” as the French say.

One thing is really worth writing: I have hopes of honeycomb! Certain pounds of a thing calling itself “virgin honeycomb” are actually getting themselves packed in tin at this moment: a “bit memorandum,” as my poor Mother urges it shall be, of her to Jane. May it prove acceptable when the tin-case is opened, and matters come to proof! Hitherto except the outer surface of the tin I have seen nothing of it, and expect to see nothing till you shew it me. I hope Shoe-strings,—ever-recurring want of shoestrings, those of Matlock Bath have proved rotten!—must also be provided; and I have even thoughts of a horse-cloth, the temperature threatening really to be severe! We shall see, however.

Aird has gone by the window since I began to write; but I scarcely think of going to bother myself with him in such a hurry as I am at present in.— This meagre Note, I think, will still go from Dumfries; at all events, we can carry it to Ecclefechan, and leave it in passing.— A second miscrea[n]t4 some one about Lockerby as is reported, had laid a tree or “obstacle” across the new railway the other night; which was again discovered in time, and no harm done. Was such service of the Devil ever done before in

“Moral Scotland.” Moral! Adieu Dearest. T. Carlyle