April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 16 August 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490816-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 194-195


Dumfries, Thursday [16 August 1849]

Alas, my Dear, Monday proved such a storm of wind and rain, we could not venture toward Dumfries; Tuesday too (the Lockerby Lam[b]-fair day)1 was stormy, nevertheless we did set out, my Mother and I, by Gill &c ah me!—and here we still are, stress of weather and various other stresses having detained us yesterday. This morning, in spite of all things present or likely to come, we are decided to go; and I write you a word (with very bad apparatus) in great haste and confusion, to be ready for you at Kirkcaldy when you come tomorrow. The weather seems completely broken here, air full of “electricity,” of rain and other confused tumult,—potatoes all likely to rot, they say; travelling is not a good job at all in these circumstances.

I got your Letter on Tuesday before I started. Plattnauer's inclosure was to thank me for a Dante which had arrived, sent by John, from London, at my request: the other letters were babble and moonshine. Donovan proves himself again a skillful physiognomist: one or two points he hits well, in others he conspicuously misses; but manages to involve himself handsomely in the vague, and escapes like a soaped pig. I wonder anybody can be much bothered with him.

I have not yet got any right fund of sleep laid in; feel much “detached,”2 very vacant, very taciturn, very lazy and sad. Considerably “dadded [driven] about” by this present expedition, and the awful plooster of children &c. I have seen nothing here, but the old phenomena, a genial but dull and unfurnished Mr Aird, ungenial sing-songing Mrs M'Diard3 and husband,—bad luck to her (no, good luck to her, if it be possible!) the canting, whining, utterly wearisome uncomfortable female soul! She and Mac (which latter I had not seen in calling) came sailing over hither, yesterday afternoon, “to see my Mother” forsooth; and gave us a wearier half-hour than usual. Ah me, ah me!— Aird has been assaulted by a certain ancient Miss Aird,4 a sentimental Governess from the Cumberland side, who appears to have settled within her own mind that she would wed the said Ad: he has escaped hitherto, and hopes to escape. Poor Miss Corson,—or rather I think it was the younger of the two,5—she is dead, in a tragic manner: “Child to a married man-servant,” ach Gott!—came to Dumfries to transact the thing in secret; and then in some ten days, died. There is something beyond measure miserable in the burbles of this life occasionally!—

But enough of this chatter—especially with a pen soft as if of camel's hair.— Today I have to leave two pairs of trowsers and a waistcoat (needful especially the first) with Garthwaite at Ecclefechan: it seems to me odds he will not get them done in the course of tomorrow, in which case I cannot come on “Saturday”; and if so, as Sunday is a dies non, I shall be obliged to put off till Monday. Expect me very slightly, if at all, therefore on the Saturday evg; and then with confidence, if you hear nothing farther, on Monday Evg— Devil take such a pen!— Mr Fergus will tell you which is the last Kirkcaldy Boat, or the Boat that will suit me best, and by that I will come. Write me a word to tell that, and to say you have arrived safe. And Oh be good to me, for I am very sad and solitary, and could be right grateful for such a blessing. If not, I must try if I can learn to do “by mysel'‘”:—my humour is of the loneliest this long while. Adieu God bless thee always. Here has my Mother returned from shopping, and we must off between the showers

Ever yours /

T. Carlyle

Kind regards (of course) to our kind Hosts; say what is fit to be said, for you know what basis and authorization there is—

Sorrow once more on such a pen! And so Adieu my poor little Dear—dear to me forever

T. C.