July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 13 October 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471013-TC-MAC-01; CL 22: 127-129


Chelsea, 13 octr, 1847—

My dear Mother,

Here I am, safe since yesternight; and I make haste to tell you so much, lest any delay might give rise to anxieties in you. This is the first Letter I write; and indeed, to judge by the flurried condition I feel in, it may possibly be the only one I shall attempt today.

You had a Letter, I suppose, on Monday, which told you I was to set out next day. “Next day” (that is yesterday) proved an excellent day for weather; and my long journey, the longest I ever made in one day, was accomplished without any mischance whatever, and without other suffering than that of the fatigue naturally inseparable from such an enterprize. I found I should have got more easily and sooner, as well as cheaper, from Ecclefechan itself than I could from Keswick; however, I could not grudge a little inconvenience for the sake of seeing friends who were so kind to me. It was a kind of duty done, moreover; and is now off my hands.

The “Coach” that should have run from Keswick to the Railway “at nine in the morning,” we suddenly discovered, late on Monday evening, to have been given up two days ago! Having announced myself here at a certain hour, I found that there would be nothing for it but to take a hired Gig for that part of the journey, 22 miles; and such accordingly was the conveyance; a highly agreeable tho' a rather dearer one; which set me down in excellent time, near the foot of Windermere Lake; about 1 o'clock, after a drive of 3 hours or more (from half past 9 when I left Spedding's): one of the beautifullest mornings, and thro' a range of the finest “scenery” I ever saw. There I sat in my own hired “clatch,” and smoked tobacco; thinking of you all, as I rolled across the mountains. From the foot of Windermere Lake, a Railway took me to Kendal (perhaps some 20 miles or so);1 and there, in few instants the “Carlisle and London Express Train” came steaming up; into which I got; and was whirled home, at the utmost pitch of human speed all the way,—hardly time to snatch the hastiest mouthful of victual, if I had even had the appetite for eating;—and so, without any adventure whatever (for I studied to sit silent all the while) we got to the London end, on the stroke of 11 at night (it is just about 12 hours from Ecclefechan); and in less than an hour after I was set down with all my packages in my own little habitation at Chelsea,—where Jane and Anne were waiting for me with “tea and bacon,” and other welcomes and refections. My head is a little aky today, and I feel in a kind of hot condition, as is usual after such a whirl: but I have had a right sound sleep, am otherwise “doing well,” and shall be quite round into the old track in a day or two. So end my travels for this year. I find another invitation, “from a person of quality,” lying here for me, or rather two others; but I have not the smallest notion to embark in either as times now stand.

Jane is looking thinner than when I last saw her; but professes to be rapidly improving from her late illness. Jack was here yesterday; very well, and very busy; I expect to see him after dinner today, but it will not be till this Letter is out of my hand. Jane receives your Pair of Stockings with grateful heart; and the Honeycomb—alas, alas, she is even now deeply engaged with that! On opening the lower half of the Portmanteau, which had remained untouched since Scotsbrig, it was discovered that the unfortunate Box of Honeycomb had taken to leaking; that the internal Comb had broken itself very small, in the shuddering and shivering of the Railway motion; and so had yielded a large supply of the purest liquid honey; the copious supply of which had proved too much for the Tin Box and its gummed paper! James Aitken had proposed soldering, which is indeed the only effectual way; I considered gum and paper would do, and so it has come to this. Jane thinks about a Pound or more must have leaked out; but happily it did not get upon the Books or anything it could hurt,—only dirty clothes, in fact, or little more,—and so, as it is the one misfortune of the journey, we must take it calmly! Jane seems much pleased with the Gift in itself; and professes to think that she will yet filter it all into a right condition, so that the loss will not be considerable.

Dear Mother, I need not go on clattering in this manner; for really the one important thing I had to say is already said by the mere appearance of any Letter from me. I will write again very soon when as I hope my head will be calmer. Tell Jamie and Isabella they shall hear about the Butter and Meal in a day or two. My thanks and affectionate regards to them both; they were very kind to me,—as you all were, and ever have been, unworthy that I am. Jenny, I suppose, is gone over to Gill, yesterday or monday. You will now be very quiet; rather lonely, I fear you may feel it sometimes. But Jack, I hope, will return to you before long. We must try also to get you some Books.— I told Jane of the Moffats;2 but have not yet handed them to her, meaning first to write her name and yours on them, as you bade me. Adieu, dear Mother, for this day; Jane sends her love to you and to all the rest.

Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle