July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 23 September 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470923-TC-JWC-01; CL 22: 83-84


Scotsbrig, 23 Septr, 1847—

Alas, my poor little Jeannie, what a business is this! So unwell, and I far off, and never hearing of it;—and here too is the Letter I sent yesterday, the want of which is not my blame! Today, in the middle of roaring wind and grey muddy mist, with showers, I went out desperate for a walk: returning, after a long circuit, by the cottage at Middlebie where our Postman calls, I found your new Letter with the news of illness, and my own Letter of yesterday, all daubed with dirt, still lying. If, on any future day, you find my promises unfulfilled, think that perhaps the Cottage people and the Postman are alone the cause.

Surely it has for this time turned out well that I never heard of thy sickness: but do not try that method again! It leaves one uncertain at all times: there is nothing like telling one the matter as it is; one then knows the worst, and the imagination at least is kept silent.— I am truly grateful to John for his good conduct this time; tell him so: and be careful now of cold and other mistreatment; and let me hear (if possible, tomorrow!) that all is going well, and the affair fairly over. Ah me!— Poor Campbell too, it seems, is dead. One feels oneself as if half dead. Let us do a little work first, if we only can, and then; but also not till then, if it please the Heavens!

Profound idleness being the rule of my existence here, I can of course have no history. I walked last twilight and night for two hours, “backwards and forwards,” under the shelter of a hedge in one of Jamies fields, the Brownmoor Hill, the Solway, some ghost of Cumberland, and the driving clouds and moaning winds my only company. Not very impressive either; for my heart is shrunk into its cell, and refuses to be impressed: I said silently to the muddy Universe, however, “Yes, thou art true, then; the fact is no better than so; let me recognise the fact, and admit it and adopt it.” A poor little Foal came up to me; full of reverence for such a sublime genius; but we could hold very little intercourse together. Reasonably wearied I came home, and had porridge with sour milk and sweet.

At Dumfries I found Aird suffering from internal biliary distemper; very heavy, dull, and perceptibly fatter than last time. Poor Aird, a much hebetated, irresuscitable man. Macdiarmid sat doing his “leading-article” (bless the mark), as brisk as a bee; took me down to his Wife, wd have me dine and meet Coll Burns:1—couldn't do it; did not even “call in the evening.” Col. Bs, I believe, is a very commonplace man; and liberty is liberty.— — How wilt thou get the BUTTONS now, O Goody! I declare I cannot solve such a mystery: perhaps Anne, or John? And the painting too, I suppose, is all thrown aback? Never mind it a whit: in fact perhaps the human mind will not be sorry at all to get off in that manner! Adieu, Dearest; take care of thyself: write straightway.

T. Carlyle