July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 2 July 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18370702-TC-JWC-01; CL 9:234-239.


Scotsbrig, 2nd July 1837

Dear Wifie Jane,

It will be about a fortnight after my departure b[efore] you can get this; too long a time to remain without hearing of me. I meant [to] write on Friday last, my first day of leisure; but Clow of Land1 came stumbling in [breaking?] up my forenoon; next day I was bathing at Annan by engagement: not [till?] this Sunday morning can I get myself postured. I have sent Newspapers, three [or?] so; one of which came back to Annan yesterday, tho' there was no “N.B.” on it [nor] were there any “two strokes”: nevertheless I will hope that with thee there, as [with] me here, all is tolerably well.

We had a hot day and a crowded Ship that Wednesday; a voya[ge] would have been uncomfortable exceedingly had it not been for the excellent weather. [Berths] the size of a large drawer, were 5 shillings a piece; in the course of the afternoon [a] young tender boy who seemed to have been asleep in one of them came on deck[. On] his face were above a dozen bug-bites: I did not deal in the drawer-berth [and the] women, ladies you could have called them, lay mostly on deck, wrapt in blankets stret[ched on?] rugs and mattrasses [sic]; their long bonnets sticking up like the bills of birds; they them[selves] with their party-coloured wings all folded in this manner had a certain resembl[ance to] birds, and our deck to the floor of a poulterer's shop. I lay down several times; a[nd suc]ceeded in sleeping once about two minutes. I spake no word to any mortal, except [for a] half dozen monosyllables in answer to questions: I meditated silently, How ill-natured I had [been, wha]t my poor Goody might be about, &c &c; and at rare intervals smoked. The pale brandy, one half [of] which still survives, did me occasional good service. Do not thou ever think of coming by Hull.— [It] was eight-and-twenty hours, instead of four-and-twenty when we arrived there: the Selby & Leeds [co]nveyance was gone some six hours; and after infinite deception, confusion and argumentation, it be[ca]me evident in the course of the afternoon that one must needs stay at Hull till the morrow. I wrote [to] Adam Hunter, with my paper lying on the binnacle of a Selby Steamer; rushed off towards the Post-[of]fice, begging a wafer by the way; had tribulations enough in that Hull, and the worst of all the beds I [ev]er slept in in this world: of all which my Goody shall hear in due season. Nevertheless by unheard [of] magnanimity I did not lose my peace of mind; I even slept for an hour or two, and blessed Heaven [at] five o'clock that the Sun had risen again, that in two hours more I should be again upon the [w]ay. The Humber river or frith is red as blood mixed with Spanish brown, and as thick; an infern[al] looking river: the Selby and Leeds Railway2 amused me amazingly, the day was bright, the world green: [at] noon, so excellently had the measures been taken, a man in laced hat spoke into the Leeds [om]nibus, asking for “Mr Carlyle”; in three minutes more I was in the Doctor's Gig by the Doctor's side, [dri]ving thro' the sooty streets to his dwelling place; and nothing would serve but I must stop till the [m]orrow, which I with small difficulty agreed to do. He is one of the absurdest worthy men I have seen [fo]r a good while this Dr Adam: an obstinate pepticity, hope, health and perseverance; this seems the [n]ucleus of him; with froth, of self-conceit, fair-speech, palaver and blether without limit: cunning and [s]implicity beautifully wedded and imbedded,—as in Archy Dunlop's case: I could see well enough how [h]e had succeeded so well. His Wife at this time was invisible: her Father a worthy old Yorkshire [c]lothmaker lives in the house with them; I withdrew to his room, and found warm welcome, when I would [co]nsent to join him in smoking. Adam, as I heard often, is “first Physician in Leeds,” and making mon[e]y fast: he seems half distracted with Toryism; otherwise prospering as man need. His inquiries were mani[f]old but desultory: he was kind both from natural sociality and ostentation. He wrote you a Letter overnight, which I have here, which he read to me before sealing: it will wait very well till we get a frank; [co]ntaining nothing but an invitation to you and your Mother, should you ever pass that way; with request that you would be so good as convert me to Toryism; which I told him you were of all persons [th]e least likely to do, being yourself the deepest radical now extant; whereat he stared, hair almost standing on end, and blew out a long breath thro' his teeth, a habit he has. Three fourths of his whole talk to me was an argumentative sermon on the necessity there was for my becoming a Tory immediately; I answered at rare intervals in a way to extinguish hope. We did very well together, and parted good friends.— On Saturday night I was at Manchester; Rob and Jenny both at their door to welcome me. They live now on the Northern verge of the Town, a very quiet clear little placekin, where I managed extremely well till monday night. The address is 7. Bank Street, Oldfield Road, Salford, if you should chance to need it: there are no bugs, noises or incumbrances, and poor Jenny still makes chickenbroth. She had nearly died in Edge-street, she says; but has grown better every day since. On Monday night about 7, I got to Maryland street: they were, contrary to my hope, still at dinner, with a guest called M'Corkindale; and I, to avoid confusion, had to start and eat a kind of second dinner. All were as hospitable as ever; the lassie Jeannie become a young lady with golden hair; the two young men looking graver and manlier; Helen, as I thought not so radiant; the Mother perennial; your Uncle looking quiet, steady and healthier than I expected, as healthy indeed as formerly. He has put Walter to the foot of the table; he takes little; retires to bed at a reasonable hour, let the others go when they will. He has still a kind of plan for seeing Scotland this summer, but it is not fixed: I offered to go and keep him company at Templand for a few days; your Mother would give us the Key, Mary would be assiduous, &c: we laughed over it, and left it hanging: he said he aimed rather towards Moffat this year. They accompanied me to the quay next night; and so on the Wednesday morning3 about seven o'clock, we came snoring [rushing] up the river Annan; moored a[t a] wooden jetty; and after a time I got sight of a head bowing to me, and with great joy recogn[ised it] to be Alick's. In half an hour more I was at breakfast in the house he still temporarily has in Annan; and all was well. No pleasanter journey, no less unpleasant journey, have I made these many years. My health was decidedly improved by it: my spirits, still inexpressibly sad, pointed with more and more decision to the near remedy, that of being let alone.— So Goody has my travel's history.

Things are going on here much as I anticipated: all grown older, the old a little feebler, the young a little noisier: Jamie's boy4 one of the most mischievous I ever saw, whom I am forced to take sharp measures with, and keep aloof from my premises somewhat. Alick seems still not to know what the course will be. He shudders a good deal at parting with our Mother; she, in her old age, makes piteous complaint about it: yet I think it will have to be. The Craigenputtoch speculation is as good as flung out. Alick's mood is sad and dispirited, as is natural: but his habits seem improved not worsened. I am extremely sorry for him; but have good hope that America will prove a free new field wherein he may prosper better than he has ever yet done. He is here with me today; came up yesterday: Grahame called yesternight, and engaged us two to dinner this afternoon. My Mother and the rest give many thanks for your Mother's gifts and yours: she is also “muckle obliged by the bits of letters, they were o'er short but very welcome and kind.” She regrets much that you are not here to enjoy the quiet with me. We had a Letter from Jack5 the night before last; he has some prospect of being in London in September: he wishes you to send him the Guide Newspaper, I sending the Courier too: I know not well what to do in that; but think you had better send him a No or two of it (tho' under the new management)6 till I write next: the address is Dr &c Countess of Clare's, Poste Restante, Rome, and must be written very plain and large, the cover fixed with wafers and tight: also do not forget the two strokes, nor to me either! Ellis7 will get you the paper: if on reading a No or two of it, you decidedly think it bad, give up sending it without word from me.— Do you write daily a piece for me? I fear not. If yes, then there must be a frank-ful by this time. My poor Goody: ach Gott!

I regret daily that you are not here with me, or somewhere where you could be as wholesomely situated. The greenness of these fields, the tune of that clear Scotsbrig burn is beauty and melody to me: I am as yet fast growing better. The railway will be open from Birmingham in two days; only 4½ hours from Birm to Liverpool, and you can go in bed all the way!8 How you would prosper here can only be conjectured: if you could pig in with me, and give up all things in exchange for freedom, quiet, fresh air and true welcome, it would do very well. Amusement or resource there is absolutely none: but one is left at peace, O heaven at peace. Tell me candidly what you yourself wish and think. Is not London far too hot for you too? I feel as if I would rather tend cattle on the wayside here, than be a potentate amid everlasting soot and din. I have read almost none; literally not above a few pages. I am going daily to Annan to bathe all next week; Jamie has a coarse little Galloway that carries me well enough: that occupies my day in far niente [doing nothing]. While this will last it is good for me.

I know not why I should not enclose this to Buller; but I somehow feel reluctant, and shall take the post. O my dear Jeannie the wae things I have thought in my heart about thee thou will never know. Keep a good heart; courage, my brave Wife. Better days surely are now coming for us; nameless miseries and all manner of obstruction, surely we were not doomed to them always. O why am I so cross? Why is my whole being such a perpetual fret and misery from the beginning of it even till now. Enough of this. Do thou get firmer, then stronger, lastly fatter; as thou wert doing! Perhaps the Upper Powers did not me[a]n to crush us down, but only to try us how much we could carry. Courage, courage ever; and march by my side. More specially still, write me directly what thou art about.— I have Mary's best thanks to your Mother, my Mother's compliments and thanks, many thanks and last not least my own: tell her to interpret silence into the best that silence may mean[;] there is no room for speech here. Is John Sterling come?9 Welcome him as a Brother. Other names I must wholly omit. God [bless you. T.C.

Ben] Nelson seems to have sunk down here at home first into his real sadness. He was crying in [my pre]sence that day I came, for he too was out to meet me. In money he is said to be ruined also.— Enough at present. Post time is nigh. Adieu dear bairn: be well and love me.

Our Fr Revolution has not yet taken fire here at least. Alick alone of our party, I think, has read it quite out; “very hard to understand.” I see Mill's Review announced. Graham told me of a critique (laudatory he said) in the Morning Chronicle.10 All very good.

This Document
Right arrow Similar letters
Right arrow Alert me to new volumes
Right arrow Add to My Carlyle Folder
Right arrow Download to citation manager
Right arrow Purchase a volume of the print edition
Right arrowSubject terms:
Right arrowRecipient terms: