January-July 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 14


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 3 May 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420503-TC-JWC-01; CL 14: 177-179


Scotsbrig, 3 May, 1842—

My dear Wife,—This is likely to be the last Note I write to you from Scotsbrig on the present occasion. Being now to set about packing, and having it in view to put this poor little black Desk into the bottom of my Trunk, I finish writing to you before I begin anything else. Nothing new is to be communicated; your expected Letter has not yet arrived; the day has passed over till this hour (4 o'clock) absolutely without recordable incident. I have been twice upon the moor (since six, when I awoke); I have seen poor cattle straying over their barren bogs, poor ploughmen toiling in the red furrow, their ploughshares gleaming in the sun,—a most innocuous flash: they and their huts and their whole existence looking sad almost pathetic to me. They are very poor in purse; poor in purpose, principle, for most part, in all that makes the wealth of a man. Poor devils! The Farmer of Stennybeck, the next place to this, has a Mother stone-blind, whom I remember out of infancy as a brisk buxom lass that sat in the Kirk with me: utter poverty, financiering equal to a Chancellor of the Exchequer's, has attended them these many years, ever in the near background a jail; and now yesterday the poor blind woman, searching down some heavy churn from the garret (for she works and bustles all over the house), tumbled thro' a trap-door and nearly killed herself: unfortunate souls! The man asked Jamie one day, “What d'ye think will come of me?” Peel's tariff has taken some twenty-pounds worth from him. And Hoggan his Laird1 is rioting thro' the world like a broken blackguard;—I am wae to look on poor old Annandale, poor old England. The Devil is busy with us all!

My visits to Manchester and Rugby look extremely questionable today: but I shall “be at Liverpool on Thursday morning,” and that was all I engaged for! We shall see how it turns then. What a pity a man cannot sleep, and so live something like other men! For the rest, it is no secret to me that he ought still to keep a bridle on himself, and not let insomnolence nor any other perversity drive him beyond limits. Perhaps it will do me good to go to those places. If I find it look so when the facts come before me, I will make myself go. Allons [Let us go]. About the end of the week I may hope to be home beside you, rallying at Chelsea, to see whether Richard cannot be himself again2

Yesterday I got my hair cropt; partly by my own endeavour (in the front part), chiefly by Sister Jenny's in the rear: I fear you will think it rather an original cut; but in this hot weather the growth of the hair is very rapid. I have also been, for the last time, today in the showerbath; and omitting, this time, the bathing-cap, in honour of my new hair, it was pretty pungent. The sense of clean-skin is always wholesome for me. Isabella and her maids are washing the last vestiges of soiled linen or handkerchiefs, that I may start fair. She is very sickly, poor Isabella, haunted with the thought that she is to die soon: instinctively a most delicate, courteous kind of character;—and makes very tolerable coffee now!—

Tomorrow evening about this time, if all prosper, I shall probably be near Liverpool; I think I may hope to take tea with them in Maryland Street. Will there be a Letter from you on the morrow morning?— I wish I heard that the headache was away; that the mournful hurly-burly were getting hushed about you again. What a two months these have been!

All has grown dim here this afternoon, the Sun veiled, wind suddenly turned to west; as if after long praying and lamenting the thirsty husbandmen were about to get rain,—precisely at the wrong moment for me! For the sake of many thirsty creatures, biped, quadruped, animal and vegetable I will not regret; but I could have liked it better next week, if all the same to you.— What came of the china? For you are into that now. I will quit the pen, empty this inkglass, and leave space for a word when once the post-boy (Sandy's Tom) shall have come. Adieu.—

7. o'clock. Tom is come; your Letter of Sunday night here now. The Steamer to sail, Nelson again writes, at 20 minutes before seven. The Packing still all to do.— Poor Spedding, he also has lost his good Mother;3 a very amiable old lady, as she seemed to me: the poor old husband is perhaps still more to be pitied. Adieu: wish me a good journey and voyage. Ever your affectionate