The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 13 September 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380913-TC-MAC-01; CL 10: 173-175


Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan, 13th Septr, 1838—

My dear Mother,

Here I am again, at my old table, with my old apparatus, writing to you, to see if I can forward a meeting betwixt us soon.

I left Kirkcaldy on Tuesday morning gone a week; went on that day to Minto by a very tedious route, and arrived very cold, with dull companions (two Edinburgh friends of the Minister's),1 about seven in the evening. Robert's Newspaper, which had wandered about for some time, being addressed “Hiwick,” did nevertheless arrive at “Minto, Hawick, N.B.” the next morning after myself; and was right gladly welcomed by me, the one stroke indicating as I thought that all had turned out well with you;2 as I have since, with great satisfaction, specifically ascertained that it did. Minto, in rainy weather, with dull people, was no sojourn for me after Kirkcaldy; so, in the gracefullest manner possible for me, I made myself loose of it on Saturday morning; was whirled along in the Minister's vehicle to Hawick; and then found an Edinburgh and Carlisle Coach with a seat on it, which swiftly brought me on to Langholm.3 I remembered Tibbie and Hugh at Hawick, but had no time at all to make any inquiry about them.4 From Langholm I got a Gig with a squinting talkative driver to forward me; and arrived here safe about five in the afternoon. Poor Isabella5 was, as she now constantly is, in bed; I was very sorry to find her ill and helpless. I had not calculated on that. However, I got into your premises here; Jamie soon came home from the hill; a daughter of Ben Rae's,6 a smart young woman happened to be here: they were all as kind as possible; Jamie is most assiduous; and so ever since we have lived along here wonderfully well. I am greatly bettered by my Kirkcaldy expedition; for I bathed daily, and rode daily: if I had you safe here, we should be all very right as things go.

Sandy would have it that yesternight you would come. I accordingly went down to Annan, and waited anxiously enough till the Steamer got to shore: Passengers many, but no Mother there for me! I had to return to Mary's; calculating that you would not come now, till you heard from me; that perhaps you were waiting for Jack (of whom I had then heard no word at all), or perhaps for me, to escort you over. I determined to write to-day; and went jogging home on my work-horse again. But now this morning there is a Letter from Jack: he has been detained by various etceteras; but does calculate now on being home either on Saturday or Monday first.7 Jane I suppose has already told you this; for she said to me she had written to you by the same post as the frank came by. If we now knew that Jack were arrived, and what his motions were in London, we should have it all before us. My notion is, he will not stay long in London, perhaps only a day or two; but one cannot say for certain; nor do I know rightly how you are situated at Manchester as to that yourself; so that there is something still of vague left about your journey as well as his. Jamie and Isabella have much need of you here; we are all eager enough to see you back again. On the other hand, I do not think it is right or safe for you to travel in railways &c by yourself; I decidedly say you must be escorted at least into the Steamer and out of it. My notion was, and in good part still i[s] that, without counting on Jack's motions, Robert should accompany you to Liverpool on Monday evening next, and see you safe put into the Royal Victoria which sails that night: on no account are you to go by yourself, on no account to take other than a Cabin place (a sofa there is far preferable to nothing): about eleven o'clock some of us will be on the Annan shore to receive you next morning; and in this way it will be all right. Nay Robert might send word before to Liverpool, and secure you a berth. Take a thimbleful of brandy with you too, and on the whole lie still; most of the sailing will be in the night. But on the other hand, dear Mother, if you would rather wait for John; pray do it without any scruple on my account: I am going up to Templand for a day (where Mrs Welsh I find still is); I have a visit to pay in Cumberland, if I like:8 in short can shift about here very well till you do come.— So it remains uncertain. All we can fix is that some of us will be at Annan-foot on Tuesday to try for you: if you do not come, we will of course look for a Letter either then, or sooner which will be better. Sandy got me an old gig from Dumfries yesterday; I will drive you up in that if you come.

They are all well at Dumfries and hereabouts, all except poor Isabella, whose ailment too is not reckoned dangerous. Jane sends nothing but good news from London. We are all heartily glad that poor Jenny has got thro': give my affectionate regards to her, and to the poor little new Margaret[. May she get good9 and ill of Life then. May she grow to be a big Margaret and a good and happy one!— There is not a moment of time remaining; I have been writing other Letters: Jamie waits impatient. On Tuesday then? Adieu, dear Mother.

Ever affectionately yours

T. Carlyle

If you do come on Tuesday, pray send a Newspaper to Jane in London with one stroke on it; I will appoint that to be a sign that you are off. Send it off on Sabbath, Saturday if you can. If Jack be there, he will then know about you.