The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO THOMAS STORY SPEDDING ; 17 September 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500917-TC-TSS-01; CL 25: 218-219


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan N.B. 17 Septr, 1850—

Dear Spedding,

I fear I have been too late in writing to you. It is now almost three weeks that I have sat here, doing my utmost to sleep, and escape all action or exertion whatever; looking daily over withal into Cumberland and the Greta-Bank locality, with some pleasant hypothesis in that direction;—till now the time is come when I must bethink me of actually lifting anchor, and unless a sight of you be accomplished soon, it too must vanish to the realm of impossible possibilities. The truth is I am very low in bodily health and what they call “animal spirits,”—indeed mere carrion considered as an “animal”;—and am fitter for a place in some hospital of incurables than for roaming up and down in such a screeching railwaying tornado of a world as this now is.

However, I have discerned that there does a train start from this neighbourhood on Saturday mornings, “a market train” so-called, which fits to a quarter of an hour at Carlisle with the Maryport1 early train (¼ to 10 a.m. from Carlisle); a route that leads me towards Keswick but will by no means set me down there;—indeed I know not in the least what it will do with me, and am reduced to question you on that and the cognate points.

Tell me therefore as soon as possible, First, whether you are at home on Saturday first,2 and disposed for a dyspeptic visitor till about Tuesday or Wednesday next; Secondly, what are the methods of arriving at you by that train I speak of, especially the method by the minimum of bother (my nerves being really unequal to much just now):—if said method be not too heavy for my imagination and me, I will surely make some attempt towards screwing myself to the sticking place,3 and seeing you on the day mentioned! If anything be wrong for next Saturday, or if I myself and my poor imagination go wrong for that day,—then alas I fear the project is off; and I am wandering uncertain over space, not near you for a year again. What loads of “pavement” a certain Place gets from poor souls like me whom human health has forsaken!—

Tell me also whether the Colonial Secy4 is in your parts: I heard an echo of him from Chelsea not long since. And please remember me kindly to Mrs. Spedding,5 and the Genius of Cumberland in general, whh has always been an azure kind of country to me.

Yours ever truly,

T. Carlyle