April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 21 September 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490921-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 242-243


Scotsbrig, 21 Septr (Friday) 1849

We were all much disappointed today when, going to the Postman's place of deposit, the answer was, He had not called at all! No remedy for it. On coming home, however, a Note of Geraldine's1 with a Dumfries Newspaper lay here: The Postman had given them to one of Jamie's harvest-people by the wayside; and so, tho' not by an abbreviated route, they had arrived.

Poor creature, you have had a “bad headache” again; a most sad preparation for a long journey! Could not travel on Wednesday, but had to lie in sick misery instead. I rather dreaded such a thing, as the residue of past ailments. However I do now infer from Geraldine's Note, which seems to bear tho' indistinctly the London Postmark according to its intention, that you are at least in your own home at Chelsea; which is one point gained, and a great one.2 Tomorrow surely will bring me a Note from your own hand: may it report all well, especially your poor little self well. A good sleep in your own old bed would cover a multitude of cracks. We shall lie in wait for the Postman tomorrow, and catch his Letter at first hand!— I must have written you today at any rate, independent of Geraldine's Letter, for tomorrow there will be no post to London.

Repose here, excellent sleep nightly, and a day of the most perfect vacancy from effort or disturbance of any kind, are duly vouchsafed me: no other news have I, or can I have. About 8 o'clock usually I awaken; find a Tub of excellent rain-water with two big sponges waiting me from the previous night; get into these, and splash (a blessing denied me, all the time, at Glen Truim); splashing is hardly done when in my Mother's room a neat hot breakfast, of coffee, toast, and an excellent egg, waits me: after which a day of “sauntering about the doon,”3 reading some foolish, empty but not entirely insane Book (Voyage en Espagne, an old image of Spanish grandeur, folly and wickedness of Louis XIV's time, has served me these last 3 days); dinner of chicken-broth with a slice of excellent ham, is “on the table at 4” (an hour or more too early,—except when, as yesterday, I omit it altogether); tea at 5, all ready for tea by that time: after which I sally forth with a stick in my hand, and take a long stretch of walking. One night round by Castlebank, Grahamhall (if you knew all these localities, on the Pennersaughs side) and Ecclefechan: last night, by Cushat Hill, and damp shady woods, which brought me home by Waterbeck;—a strange impressive kind of course for me, with the autumn wind soughing over the back wildernesses, and “ghosts” sitting on the tail of every cloud for me! After porridge, I have a little more reading sometimes, at all events an ultimate smoke is due; and then I tumble into bed. Such a life as I say to myself, cannot last forever! Yesterday Grahame came, poor old fellow; I had to omit dinner, get him some tea quam primum [as soon as possible], and set him on his way again. Wearisome extremely was the good man's talk to me, is indeed almost all talk.— I wait your report on Chelsea, and shall then try to fix my day.

Jamie is ending his cutting operation today; busy too in “carrying,” has already two ricks in: a loud grey northwind blowing everywhere. Irish beggars abound; hardly any other new phenomenon at all. A poor vagrant Irishman coming from Langholm4 was taken with cholera on the edge of this Parish; nobody wd take him in; he was carted to Waterbeck; still nobody had pity enough to overcome his cowardice and horrow;5 the poor man was again carted to and fro for hours; finally was carted back to Langholm, with difficulty there was got into a house, and in a short space after died: no more shocking history have I heard this long while.— The express train (from Lockerby a little before 1 p.m.), which reaches Eustn Sqre at 11, that seems the Train for me. God bless thee, dear little Goody! Write, write.

T. Carlyle