1824- 1825

The Collected Letters, Volume 3


JBW TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE; 9 October 1825; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18251009-JBW-MAC-01; CL 3:385-387.


Templand 9th October [1825]—

My dear Mrs Carlyle

Mr Carlyle has heard from me so often since we parted, that writing to any one else of the family seemed superfluous. But I am not by any means unmindful of my promise to you; and purpose sending you a long letter at no distant day.— In the meantime my Friend will tell you all about me;—how shockingly I look, and how discontented I am, and various other particulars which you may care to know; and, moreover, he will give you a piece of muslin for a gown (provided he does not lose it on the road) which I send in the hope that, while it lasts, it will sometimes bring me to your remembrance. I wish you may not think the pattern over-gay; but I noticed that you looked best in a light colour. Nevertheless should you dislike the thing, on no account wear it; but give it to Mag who is young enough for all the hues of the rainbow1

It was exceedingly vexatious that we did not meet on the fair-day, in Dumfries— Had I been my own mistress, I would have made a point of seeking you out; but on that occasion as on too many others, I was subject to a bondage which you who live out of the cold ceremony of towns are happily ignorant of. Let us hope that it will not be always thus!

Now that the harvest is concluded, you must not fail in your promise, to let Jane have leisure for her Latin lessons. You know “she is good for nothing else,” and this, I am confident, will be of use to her. Were it but permitted me to take charge of her education myself! Such an arrangement, in my present circumstances, is out of the question, but perhaps it may be managed at some future time— I do not despair—

God bless you all— I am going far from you; and who knows when we shall meet again? But wherever I go, I shall never cease to rem[ember] dear Annandale, and the friends I have left behind, with so much regret. In the words of the song (as Dr Waugh would say) “Nor change o' place nor change o' folk can gar [make] my fancy gee [swerve]” And with this assurance I remain yours truly

[and] affectionately

Jane B Welsh


How kind, how simple, true and good! Beautifully welcome, in my sombre vacancy here! (Dumfries, Septr, 1868)

This Letter to my Mother (dear kind Letter!) I must have brot with me from Templand. Legible witht commentary,—or with almost none. The Nithsdale Visit is abt terminating; and dull distant Haddington, with an uncertn future, lies ahead.

‘The fair’ is Dumfries Roods-mass Fair, called “Rood Fair,”2 the chief one of the year in that locality. ‘Mag’ is our lamented Margaret, my eldest Sister (4 Brothers of us, and four sisters; all yet left alive, except this one), who died five years after, at Dumfries, whither we (in Craigenk then) had brot her for better medical aid, to no purpose, or less than none. …3

‘Dr Waugh,’ a cousin of my Mother's (only son of her Mother's Sister) tho' but a few years older than I,—had been my schoolfellow at “Annan Academy”; and still came occasionally over to us from Annan, his native place; where he had commenced medical practice, and in spite of his bits of pedantries, flat-soled affectatns, and ridiculosities, was held in kind enough esteem. He proved, however, more and more, a foolish indolent fellow; sluttishly squandered considerable gifts, qualities, and resources, lumbering abt in that region; and died there utterly poor, lazy, and obscure, age perhaps abt 60. The last time I saw him was in Feby 1842, silently and witht his guessing or dreaming of it,—I sitting muffled on the top of the Mail Coach (hurrying from Liverpool towards Templand, on my Mother-in-law's death), he lazily and gloomily stepping across the street, on some dull errand he had, thro' the dim rimy morning, while our horses were being changed.4 His Father, in whose house I had boarded while at school, was a strange, awkward but excellt terrae filius [son of the earth] and original; much laughed at but still more esteemed: a man of many thots (heterodox considerably, it was surmised), and of no speech except in rude bursts; but who was (if any man ever) absolutely witht mendacity of word or mind, and wd not do injustice (as I often noticed) to a very dog. Prosperous Shoemaker by craft;—and far the best that ever cut leather for me. Poor “Old Waugh,” he rises bright & luminous on my memory still;—as if I too had seen a bit of a living Hans Sachs!5 [underscored twice]—— But, alas, alas, what wandering is all this?—