April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 15 September 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490915-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 231-233


Scotsbrig, Saturday Evg, 15 Septr 1849—

Thanks, dear Goody, here is your last Letter come safe to hand, which has set things to rights again: the Tuesday one, which it seems you did write and despatch here, must have been misused somewhere on its course; for there arrived nothing of it at Glen Truim on the due morning, and I had to take the road with only the hope that you had not fallen ill again, and with some uncertainty as to where you actually were in those hours. Milnes & Lord A. had returned late the evening before, from a visit to Inverness, to Peel and other notabilities; Mildmay as well as I, tho' by a route of his own, went away that Thursday morning; the fluctuating Party at Glen Truim was reduced to Milnes & Lady Grey (a wearisome official Lady); but was to be reinforced by Charteris, by Rutherford,1 and others, whom it was interesting not to meet. A weary, mad world this, and no mistake!

The Inverness Coach had been once overset (with many broken bones), and once nearly drowned, in an overflooded Brook, with all skins wetted, in the early part of this week; so when I waited for it, about midday, by the shelter of a small scraggy wood, at the land end, it came up with diminished capabilities (a smaller borrowed Coach, in fact), and no seat for me but the end of a plank, sticking from below the Guard, and depending on his weight for not canting one into the road, a very precarious-looking seat in the wild gusty day among the moors! However, I got up without scruple; effected some improvements by means of a couple of big nails at Dalwhinny;2 and so, in result came along with tolerable success thro' the wild heather solitudes, with their dashing streams and loud blustery winds, and got to Perth and an abominable gas-lighted Bagman Inn about nine of the clock, unscathed, and ready enough for tea, having dined on sandwiches and whisky only, with Killiecrankie for dumb waiter as I came along. Oh the disgusts of gas and bagmanhood! I took to the streets and smoked in solitude. My bed too was French; and hardly had I flung myself in right weariness and sleepiness upon it, when, “Brm, Glrr—r!” the steady hum of a neighbour snoring, below, above or I could not tell where, saluted me; and the hope of sleep fled far! Sorrow on all unhandsome noses;—in fact I had little sleep; and Boots too roused me, by mistake, at 5 instead of a ¼ to 6.— The morning, however, was beautiful; the country, with its yellow corn and shady woods, and diligent innocent Scotch creatures (I left alone too, no comrade in my carriage) was quite an idyl to look upon. I drove past Fergusdom, close, but “too early” for breakfast; disembarked in Princes Street, and drove, self and luggage, direct for Craigcrook. Alas, poor Jeffreydom was all in distress; most of them sickly before, and just yesterday poor little Jeffrey and Mrs had both tripped themselves over a rope, while walking about Newhaven; which made a bad job of it indeed! However, Mrs Empson,3 just at breakfast, gave me some tea; and the others sent pressing messages that I was to stay and talk with them: of attempting to lodge there in these circumstances there was clearly no possibility. The poor little Duke4 looked very feeble; his talk was of friendly sound, but feeble likewise, and hardly to be kept from falling into the old strain of “contentt with common things” &c &c, ach Gott! Mrs E. almost shocked me, so ghastly strange and old had she grown; and the children seemed other tha[n] lovely, very strange Empsonisms, upon my honour! About 2 o'clock, no porter being readily procurable Jeffrey himself undertook to drive both luggage and me to the Caledonian Railway, where, after really friendly farewell from Mrs Jeffrey, he did finally set me down and leave me.5 Alone upon the pavement; yet always with the rail-train to fall back upon. No Mackenzie6 was at home, no John Hunter, no nobody;—I rushed therefore into a Tavern of “hot joints”; devoured some morsel of food; and set myself into the Carlisle Train, which without other than insignificant adventures conducted me safe hither, to a bowl of porridge and good sleep last night about 9½ or 10; and so my travels' history7 can end for the present. Your missing Letter will perhaps come tomorrow; from me thro' John (by this same post) you will perhaps hear tomorrow. Long I do not design to stay here; and my course now, unless I can conveniently deflect for one night to Neuberg's, is straight. They are all pretty well here; and retain a lively sense of poor Goody's presence among them.

What you say of poor Cousin Helen is abundantly afflicting! By all means wait till you exhaust what of help lies in you in such a case. If John can do any medical service, certainly he will be willing: certainly too, by one means or other, a clear understanding of the case, medically speaking, ought to be arrived at, without delay. Poor Helen, poor little soul!

You do only well to keep away, quite clear away from Pauletdom, so long as it is engaged in its present course of “bursting blood-vessels,” and the like: away from it you, away!

I will write to Manchester, if I have the smallest news to give, even shd time be scarcer than it is like to be. For the present, adieu Dear Goody,—and Gootluck go with thee. It is now dark (a candle lit), and some Mower goes with this to Ecclefechan.

Peter Robison's blotch of a Note came, round by Chelsea, this day.8 Good night.

Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle