The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 1 September 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410901-TC-JWC-01; CL 13: 234-235


Greta Bank, Keswick / 1 Septr 1841 (Wednesday)

Dear Jeannie,

You must be content with one brief word today; it is much, in the mood I am in,—on the morrow after my arrival.

Monday, which proved wet as Noah, over all this quarter of the Island, happily declared itself in a manner reckoned decisive some few minutes before Jamie had yoked and taken me away. “It is going to be nothing but wet,” said he: whereupon I decided to wait; having prepared my Keswick hosts for such a result in such a case. My baggage stood packed; the little portmanteau, hatcase, and my Mother's old carpetbag (for I have taken dressing-gown and all); Isabella washed my remaining shirts;—the shirt-collars of Ecclefechan manufacture, passable not excellent, were all ready the day before. And so yesterday morning we did get off. Jamie had me at Carlisle, thro' a damp gradually brightening morning, about one o'clock; at two I was rolling off in a melancholy vehicle drawn by two bad horses named the “royal victoria Keswick Coach”; faring in which over hilly laborious roads in the brightest afternoon with the beautifullest occasional views (up beyond you in Nithsdale and elsewhere!) I got sluggishly along to Cockermouth about sunset, and then hither 13 miles farther by beautiful moonlight, along the edge of Bassenthwaite Lake, some time between 9 and 10. I had got no dinner, had no appetite for any! The good Thomas Spedding was waiting for me with a gig. The lady was all smiles;1 had tea standing,—I preferred mutton chops and a glass of punch. I had to talk, talk,—ach Gott! At one o'clock I got to sleep, in a sumptuous commodious bed (except that there was no fire); and awoke, in a most lively humour a little before five. A footman enters about 7; half past 9 does at last arrive, and we have breakfast. I have smoked 3 cigars since I awoke, and am here in my own upper-room about 11 o'clock, writing to poor Goody. The day again, as if by miracle, is bright; a talk exists about horses and riding if my Letters were done. My head is none of the wholest;—I shall be better tomorrow. James Spedding is not here, but with his Father some miles off; I rather conjecture he and Pollock who is with him are coming to dine here today.2 I find all hospitable, elegant, honest and good here; I shall do well enough for a day or two. It is a new large many-winged House, on smooth elevated lawns, with woods, with walks, the everlasting moan of the Greta water (rather louder than Newby) heard far down under these windows. On looking out at 6 o'clock this morning, my view was up Borrowdale; gnarled mountains, umbrageous, verdant craggy, spotted and fretted with shadow sunshine rock and tree; about the beautifulest view I ever in my life looked on. “What's ta use on't?” I wish my poor Goody had been here to see with me! But she has not strength for it more than I. Great regret is expressed for her,—expressed and understood!

I have my Mother to write to, then Jack (for cigars), then Miss Fenwick. Sister Jean is very poorly at Dumfries with a gathering in the breast; poor Jean. Jenny I believe is coming back, for good, to my Mother.— Jamie says if you want to get carried away Tynewards, or anywhither, before my return,—you have only to let him know, and he will meet you “ainy day.” I got your two Letters, as perhaps the strokes would testify: thanks to you. I answered the two philosophical chickens; poor fellows.3— Are you well, dear Bairn? Write, write; perhaps you have already written. Adieu, Basta [Enough]!