August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 7 September 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430907-TC-JWC-01; CL 17: 119-121


Kirkcaldy, Thursday (7 Septr) 1843—

O Goody, Goody! Not a word yet!The Carrier came home with my Portmanteau yesternight, and no Letter from the Edinr Post-Office; and today has brought me only a Note from Thomas Erskine. Art not thou a careless disobedient Goody? I wrote twice on the two last days of my stay at Scotsbrig; the second time not many minutes before departure; I wrote from Edinr on Saturday, from Haddington on Monday; and still not a syllable of response. Art not thou a disobedient faithless goody? This morning I was getting really alarmed, tho' not very prone to do so: but Fergus computed for me that there could be no answer to my Haddington letter till tomorrow morning; wherefore I pacify myself, and suppose merely that you did not like to risk the “Edinr Post-Office”; that being lazy you said, “He has not given me precise enough instructions.” Well, if I hear tomorrow, and all right— —But if I do not?

This morning Erskine's note, which you read here, has settled my plans. It is added only that I invite the good Saint Thomas to pass the friday night here; and go over to Edinr with him myself on the morrow: this I have done, and the Note is off by express; but I do not much think he will come. At all events I am to go northward with him at Noon on Monday, and then finally to embark at Dundee on Wednesday, and come home to my Goody and her new house and old heart as fast as the Steam can go! That is the arrangement. The Boat takes some 45 hours, arrives along with the Edinburgh one; some time in the day of Friday the Chelsea Steamer brings me up, and I dine with poor Goody, if it please the beneficent Powers. My long pilgrimage will then have ended,—thank God. O Goody, Goody; I have seen many things; but a thing half as good as my Goody, my own Goody? Thou little wretch!

Yesterday our pilgrimage to Lesslie in the softest vehicle with two swift horses accomplished itself altogether handsomely. I saw an Infant School, ridiculous in the extreme; I saw green countries; bleaching women, spinning boys, hatchelling (hackling) men;1 and slept half an hour on three chairs,—awakening with a start as I dreamt that the horse was falling with me! My three bruises, ancle, elbow, breast, were considerably improved on my return; today they are a stage better still, my last night's sleep having proved luckier,—tho' still capable of some amelioration. In fact the two first nights here, especially the second with a rattling window curtain and the flurry of my tumble, I slept somewhat wretchedly; and yesterday I did not deem it prudent to bathe, which might have helped me. But I have now got my portmanteau, my pipes and equipments; today I begin to feel at home,—had I but a Letter from Goody! As for these same bruises, trouble not thy head with them; they are totally insignificant; nearly gone in fact, if it be not the one on the breast-bone and throat, which is also fast going: the Stupid Quadruped (for it was the quadruped's main blame all of it) must have struck me there, I think with its head as it got up again. I sat on till my feet, and its nose, got fairly to the ground; it then heeled with me, and of course the lower ancle and elbow came to suffer. Fergus received the news with extreme propriety,—the hurt on his pony's knees going for nothing, total nothing. Truly I am sorry that it fell in my hands; but that it has fairly fallen and disgraced itself, has perhaps saved another man from broken bones or neck, for undoubtedly it had been at the trade before: at least so Mrs Nixon says,2 and I love to believe.

Today there lies close before us a drive to “Mrs Royd's,”3 ten or a dozen miles off; Miss Jessie,4 with some chance of John, my companion. Please the Pigs! I am to bathe, however, as I come back; to be set down; that is, on the cliffs south of this, and left to bathe. Till one o'clock too I have solitude, and a big beautiful Library-room, fire blazing (tho' the Sun also blazes), and writing materials and equipments all round me. Could one but continue such a thing till one did get entirely sated of it! Six months or so.

I will write to Gordon that Saturday shall be my day in Edinr, that he must have Dodds &c up at the scratch on that day. If my spirits serve, I may go and dine with the Duke; if not, not. I saw old Laing at Edinr on the street;5 his cordiality did not seem to me excessive; I shall go no more near him. Dr Irving ditto, whom I went down with Laing to call for in the way of civility; and found the same old stiff pedantic man only flabbier a little; and shall not need to call for again.6 Napier (Montrose's Napier, “ tumultuante calamo [at top speed] of whom you have heard me talking) I likewise saw, with the eye only at the door of the Outer House; a slender Scotch Dandy, with luminous eagerness of look, and face crow-footed before its time;—who will never set the Thames on fire.7 Jamie Simpson too was there, from whom I fled, clearly seeing him tend towards me.8 A Professor Spalding Gordon did propose likewise to “introduce you to”: but horrible was the thought to me.9 No, thank God, I have nothing more to do with Edinr; let it go its lean rattrap course; and let me in Cockney dust, and at least another kind of meannesses, go mine.

You will write to me without let or fail were it only one word, to Linlathen, Dundee, on Saturday:—or, hang it, if this should not reach you till Monday? Eheu! Well, Monday will be too late; I must yield to evil destiny, and the incomputability of posts. From Linlathen I will write to you at any rate.

Adieu, dear Goody mine. Regards to Brother Jack; tell him I did write a second letter to Liverpool, but it was to Cousin Jeannie, he being justly supposed to have gone. No Letter came from Alick, tell him; the M'Kinnows were to go over to Gill on Monday last; our poor old Mother will be alone at present. God bless thee, dear little Wife.

T. Carlyle