October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 1 October 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18451001-TC-JWC-01; CL 20: 3-5


Scotsbrig Wednesday 1 Octr / 1845—

My poor little Goody ought surely to have slept after writing me such a Letter!1 Virtue is not its own reward; something particular always occur to prevent it!— My Mother handed me in the Packet this morning shortly after six,—a welcome interruption to my watching; for I sleep ill here, as the general rule, and had been awake today from five. It was worth being awake for such a message; which I was not in the least looking for, till ten o'clock at soonest; the tailors had forestalled the Post this time.

Poor old Sterling! It is really very melancholy that sinking down of his in so isolated and forsaken a condition. Alone, left alone in the theatre of Life, the fellow actors almost all gone, the lights almost all snuffed out! Certainly if one can in any way alleviate him, poor old fellow, it is one's clear call to do it. Anthony wanders at large; but I suppose if he even were at home, he could be of next to no comfort, such is the relation between them. Poor old Thunderer! There were worse men, whose ill qualities did not lie so apparent. Of course you will do for him whatever you can. We will still hope the poor old fellow may get to his feet again.—

I am very glad to hear of your visit at Bath House, “gay firm about the feet!”2 There is nothing to hinder you, in spite of Mrs Buller's prediction, to get on very well there, I should hope. Persons of sense, with no talebearer or other piece of concrete Insanity between them, can get on very well. The Lady Harriet has a genius for ruling? Well, I don't know but she may. And on the whole did you ever see any Lady that had not some slight touch of a genius that way, my Goodykin! I know a Lady— But I will say nothing, lest I bring mischief about my ears. Nay, she is very obedient too, that little Lady I allude to, and has a genius for being ruled withal, Heaven bless her always! Not a bad little Dame at all. “She and I did ay very weel together; and 'tweel it was not every one that could have done with her!”— —

Eheu [Alas]! This day I have walked twice; one of the times above ten miles: round by Blawerry (you may remember it on the wild hilltop by the moor road from Lockerby hither); by Banks Hill, and home by the mountains again. Solitary almost as Arabic Petrea,3—only some straggling reaper-fields visible in the distance; and the mountains all coated in grey woolen (or fog); a wild grey wind howling and moaning. For rain of late I have had no right walking. My health in spite of sleeplessness and mud-weather does certainly not deteriorate. I am very idle, however; and ought to think of returning.— — The four Tailors are struggling to have done this night. We have only been moderately successful; the dressing-gown looks better than I expected, but I fear hardly fits so well; and seems as if it would need lining farther. Black coat seemingly rather tolerable; two waistcoats tolerable, two pairs of trowsers really worthy of praise! I long for Goody's vote upon the subject of them all. I do wish I were beside her again, Sorrow of my Life as she is.

It begins to strike me I shall perhaps have to go in one of those wretched Steamers after all. I have no wrappage worth a farthing; nothing that can in the least stand the outside of a Coach at this Season; and except perhaps Mackintoshes I do not see what is to be bought here. I wish I had a P. jacket;4—but wishing won't bring it: I must wait till I get home.— — Miss Julia's5 Letter is very like herself; but the hand, something of a quidquid as Sam Aitken6 would say, is against the effect of it. One feels as if it might be very sad to stand her chances of a Destiny in this putrescent world,—poor Julia; and yet to herself the outlook is doubtless beautiful enough. “The cheek of that young enthusiasm.”7— Poor Mrs Paulet herself is really interesting to me, and her situation not without its pathos. A musical genial soul like that, planted amid the Calvinist Gigmanity of Liverpool: it is really like Life under a nightmare,—which, alas, all Life is, and has been, for us all!

Good night, my brave little Wifie. Grey shades are gathering behind Burnswark; the wind piping mournfully thro' every crevice. My Mother enters to bid me send “her kindest respects and not forget.” Good night my own little Dame. Blessings always— T. C.

Emerson's Letter8 is hardly worth sending: however, here it is. I had already as it were answered it.