January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 23 April 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420423-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 161-163


Scotsbrig, Saturday Evening, 23 April / 1842—

My dear Wife,

Your letter of yesterday comes to me just now, after tea; your Thursday one I got about two hours ago as I passed thro' Ecclefechan. It is verily only 22 hours that the Letters take in travelling; but this, for example, that I am now writing will not get away from Ecclefechan till tomorrow morning at 5 o'clock; and if the poor little Postmaster be wearied and neglectful, it will lie with him till 2 next day, and so not reach you till the following evening. Let us rejoice in such a penny-postage, with all its inequalities, and make diligent use of it to one another. Thanks to you for writing two such long nice letters; they are right satisfactory for me to read here. I do not wish you to “get up your spirits again” in the way poor Mrs S.1 recommends. No; I do not see the basis of such a proceeding as that. One's “spirits” in such a case have a good right to continue low. Sad thoughts belong to those that have left us here; sad, but soft and pious: I find it good to look sorrow steadily in the face, and admit first of all that it is exceeding sorrowful. You have behaved yourself in this sore trial, my dear, like a true little woman, and I love you better for all your sorrows and such a manner of bearing them.

The Letter that accompanies yours of tonight is from the unfortunate Mooncalf Dodds:2 I do not read it till there be nothing else to occupy me. Why do you not open my Letters, if you even hope that they could by possibility entertain you? Nay perhaps you did open this, and find it no catch! Mrs Strachey's Letter is very light, and not so illegible as it looks: I will enclose it tonight.

It seems to me if Helen is to leave us at all, it ought not exactly to be when she fell into drunkenness: she would in that case refuse to go to Scotland, and perhaps fling herself over Battersea Bridge! If you find her continue troublesome at present, take steps with her at present. I am inclined to be pretty sure that I could really engage Margaret; and if you give me the commission I will at once try when I go back to Thornhill. She is a considerably superior woman to Helen, I think, in every or almost every way.

If John did fall in love with Jeannie,—the first question that arises, is: Would Jeannie fall in love with him? If I were in her pumps, I think I should perhaps demur considerably there!— Doubtless it would be the very saving of poor Jack if he could get wedded to any reasonable woman. I can see no other anchorage for him in the world. But do not let us begin forestalling the stars! I consider it in the very highest degree unsafe to interfere with Nature at all in those cases.

Yesterday as you were aware, I set off for Gill; thence to Kinmont at 4 o'clock, where Stewart, sole lord of the manor at present, and master of an apartment of his own at all times, was appointed to meet me. My Mother went to Gill in the gig with me: Jenny is a little better off; stays now in a part of the Austin house at a rent. She is much to be lamented. I have set about employing her to make me some shirts; the stock I have are beginning ominously to tear, since I left you.— Stewart sat at one of the front windows of Kinmont waiting for me. It is a huge square-piled ashlar house, like a great pile of packing-boxes put together,—Smirke the Architect3 has made nothing of it on the outside: but within it is really a noble house; the square packing-boxes turn out to be square stately spacious apartments with every kind of completeness. Stewart had a neat little dinnerkin waiting for me; he was the first civilized man or almost the first I had met since I quitted London. He told me a thing or two; but made me tell him a thousand times as many! The little dog set me talking on a great many subjects,—and then observed that it was now too late for driving to Scotsbrig, that he had admirable beds! I consented to stay; was lodged in the most sumptuous manner, slept six hours, and got off after breakfast; with nerves,—alas, with the feeling of a man that had got his pocket picked, for there had I talked myself into such a state of head! I have had a shower-bath since my return; tomorrow I will take more vigorous measures than ever, and actually have some reform worked on myself.

Have you any counsel to give about the shirts? Jean is to buy the stuff for them at Dumfries; but will not stir in it, till I hear whether you have anything to say.

My Mother asks me yesternight: “Dost thou send Jane my poor regards now, when thou writes?” I answer, “Yes, when you bid me.”— “But I always bid thee, then!”——— ——— Poor Scott: it is really excessively absurd.4 Such a quantity of midwives about the poor soul; which cannot get to birth after all;—which alas is not in the family way perhaps, and that the reason of it!——— Good night, Dearest. I need not write any more such stuff, even if the paper were not done. Adieu. Be very good.— Thanks, many thanks for the Cock-negociation! My clever Jeannie!