The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE; 13 November 1827; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18271113-TC-JCA-01; CL 4:275-278.


Comley Bank, 13th November 1827—

My dear Jane,

I will not keep you another day in suspense; being indeed well aware that you have been kept too long so already. To tell you the truth there was a letter as good as ready for you last night, chiefly from the pen of your sister; but by some malarrangement it was not sent; and now I think it may be as well for me to write myself. If she have leisure, I suppose she will add a postscript.

In the first place, however, thank Sister Mag very particularly, in my name, for her share in concocting that Letter; which really might be called a labour of love between you, to relieve me from a multitude of anxieties. Alick poor fellow had made what inquiries he possibly could at Dumfries, and sent me the result; but little was to be gathered from them; and the state of our Father's health might still have been uncertain to me. Alick thinks, as I do, that it is a “black burning shame” no one of the Scotsbrig people will undertake to write regularly; but I hope that now, a beginning being made, there will be no falling off, nay indeed that Maister Cairlil1 himself will be aroused to a sense of his duty, and join his Sister in so good and brotherly a work.

As to thy own little self, we are perfectly of opinion that it is every way adviseable to put an end to talking about this journey, and now in Heaven's name to get it done. There is nothing in the world to hinder such a shifty little Craw to travel twenty times as far; and help herself thro' twenty times greater difficulties. Come, then; set about it, and let us see thee here in a few days! Tell my Mother, that I do think, she must not stand in your way; but if she will not come herself at present, no longer hinder you from coming. Nay tell her I have sometimes been of opinion that it might even be better if you were here some little while before her, and so partly knew Edinr when she arrived in it. At all events there is not a particle of risk, come when you will.— I am in considerable haste tonight, being busy with more Reviews: so attend to me carefully for I must direct you in few words.

The Carlisle Coach, I find, still comes thro' Langholm northwards every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at the usual hour (I believe, 8 o'clock). Now let Jamie take you up with him; and pack you in at Langholm, in the inside (the fare is 16/); and there with a sufficient piece in the pocket you may sit, if you like, without ever stirring out, till you are set down in Edinr. Or if you like better, you can come out where they breakfast (at Hawick), or at any or every other stage. There will be two drivers most probably; to whom you will give what you see the rest giving (in all probability a shilling each): and farther than this, you have nothing whatever to do that I know off till you arrive in Princes Street, Edinburgh, where I (being duly forewarned) will be found standing in waiting to bring you hither, about half past 4 o'clock, where ready-meat and all needful things will be appointed you. Be sure, however, to let me know in time what day you are coming: if from failing in a seat, or any other cause, you do not come on the appointed day, I will look for you by the next coach. But even without me, you will have no difficulty: the Guard will find you a porter for guide and luggage-carrier, and he will lead you without fail to this very door, if you but recollect No 21. However I myself will take care not to be absent: and do you take care not to disappoint me; for it is two miles off, and I cannot dine till I see you.

Jane says you already know what clothes to bring: some petticoats, shifts, night-shifts, and the like; what is wanting may be completed here; and as to articles of upper apparel, you are not to attempt them. This is all that I think you need for your direction; being a shrewd little Craw, of yourself, and able to pick out your way thro' things of that kind without help. Tell us what day you are coming then; and come speedily, and safely, and be happy beside us.— Poor soul! It is needless “dashing the cup of fame from thy brow,” as Tommy Bell2 said: otherwise I could predict to thee that Edinr is not half so grand a place as thou supposest; and Number 21. will be found to be like all other numbers and tenements on this lower Earth, at best a mixed place you know not rightly whether good or ill. Nevertheless come and try it, my little Jean, and we will be as good to the[e] as we can. Thou wilt learn something; and if thou do not like it, good old Annandale is still behind thee.

Tell my Mother that I am very busy, and as well as usual, or perhaps better. I will write to her specially, the day after you arrive! There is no word of news from Jack; indeed I do not expect any for perhaps a fortnight: my letter will just be in his hands about this very time. The only dangerous or indeed unpleasant part of his journey was over at Rotterdam.— I am coming down by and by (tho' it must be some weeks first); and then to a certainty I will fetch my Mother up, and my Father too (or at least he will come himself, and fetch her home again!) and show them all the wonders.— You must mention to Mag that the butter is doing its appointed work, and passes current for about the best that we have ever tasted.— Did you get the newspaper on Monday? Bid the curious call again every Saturday (or Friday night, if your mail come down in the evening), and they will find a similar Dumfries Courier waiting for them; the Templand people being now otherwise supplied. Also say that they must in conscience send some kind of word to poor Alick, sparrow-like companionless, on the moor-top alone!3— Bring me special word how my Father is: I have a capital pair of gloves lying for him, if I knew how to send them. Does Jenny still keep her medals? Tell her that I still love her, and hope to find her a good lassie, and to do her good. But I have left Jane no room. Good night my dear Poetess! I am ever thy Brother— T. Carlyle—

[JWC's postscript:] My dear Jane, I find Sir Thomas has left me nothing to say, except merely to add my supplication to his, that you will come without more ado. There is nothing in the world to hinder you; and you have already been kept too long in expectation. My only fear is that the hopes you have been all this while pleasing yourself with, will hardly be realized—for I do not recollect that any hope of mine ever was to the full extent but you perhaps will be more fortunate; Anyway you are sure of one thing—the heartiest welcome. My kind regards to your Father and Mother and all the rest. Tell them we will take the best care of you; so they need not fear to let you go. Your affectionate

Jane Welsh4