April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 10 August 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490810-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 184-188


Scotsbrig, 10 Augt (Friday) 1849—

Thanks to thee, Dearest; and thanks to Heaven, here are 3 Letters all at once; and finally I have news, and this infatuated burble of a correspondence disembroils itself at last, and all is well!—The Kirkcaldy Letter of Wednesday must have been too late for the Post; it arrived an hour ago, along with the Auchtertoul one of yesterday;—and happily also the third Galway Letter (the Haddington one), for which I had written to the Postmaster from Derry, has arrived at the same time. These, with one from poor Farie,1 for whom I had left a kind of reminiscence at Glasgow, form a goodly batch, my share for one day. Post has to go again at five, with dinner in the interim,—alas, also with calomel in one's inner man!—but I will not lose a Post, especially as, it seems, there are two days on the road to Auchtertoul, tho' one suffices for the road from it.— Thanks to my clever little Goody; an excellent despatching little body; who well deserves despatch in return!

You got the scrawl I sent you from Gweedore? I think now all the Letters in both hands are got: but I cannot without considerable effort remember when or where I wrote; it was all done as in the throng of battle; and if it had not been for this invaluable writing-case (an implement which I shall much respect), it many a time could not have been done at all.— A Letter from Margaret Fuller at Rome lay waiting me here; about helping her to publish some “History of the late Italian Insurrections,” so as to get money out of it: I sent the Letter on to Chapman (C. & Hall) yesterday, with a Note of my own, and a request that he would write to Margaret; I believe I must write myself too, but have not yet done it. Two other Notes, one from an Irish Fool, one from an English do (a Cheltenham Clericus), both “claiming my acquantance” if possible:—nothing else lay for me here, and these now are in the fire.

I read in John's Note clear account of your poor sorrowful proceedings at Haddington; one of the most tragical of simple scenes. Ah, me! But it was all right, I believe; and in the end such sorrows are wholesome, and make us wiser. My poor old Mother cried over your Letter; it was “the wae'est thing she had ever heard.” Why did you burn that Letter, since you had written it, in that sad wakeful night? That you wrote to me at all was indeed what your better genius prompted; and the reading of it could have done me nothing but good. However, as I preach on all occasions that duty of “drawing in the steam” and condensing it into silence, I have no reason to complain. God be with thee always, in all thy sorrows, poor little Goody mine; and teach thee to interpret them wisely, and take the right lesson out of them: that is a good prayer, and stands good forever. To such use all sorrows, if we will be wise, are sent us; and thou, and I, and some others, have certainly not gone without our share. The poor old Donaldsons! There also is a tragedy: the last of the Brothers gone, and nothing left but sad remembrances to these three poor old souls.—

We had a suitably stupid afternoon and evg at David Hope's: an old Merchant body (“Stewart,” I think), a young Manchester niece, Archy Glen really the flower of the party, for W. E.2 did little but sit appealing to me with his eyes. “Did you ever?” Andrew Chrystal came in person after dinner; very greyheaded, otherwise a wholesome enough looking man. Archy and he took me thro' “the Goose-dubs,”3 after ten, and into a strange nasty-looking quasi-theatre where greasy youths were smoking and drinking, a bassoon or two going, and a song seemingly expected,—“Blast my eye,”4 very possibly:—I saw nothing so disgusting these several years, and in five minutes came away. David Hope's big bed was of excellence supreme; but the window, which I had to open for air, looked out upon “the noisiest street but one” in Glasgow; so that my sleep was none of the most prosperous:—at 11½ o'clock however, W. E. and I, after cleaving other floods of courteous wearisomeness (a shame to mock over, for it was beneficence in purpose), found ourselves fairly storming along, thro' rich green country, and wholesome clothed populations, a pleasure to behold after ragged, weedy Ireland; all in a carriage by ourselves, where even smoking might have been practiced;—and punctual to the minute at 3 p.m., Jack, in a new grey jacket with swift gig and pony appeared,—invited W. E. over with him “till the evening train”; had to take refusal, and shake hands; and so, within another hour, I was set down here, with all my goods, and dinner (of welcome chicken-broth), prepared by the assiduous Isabella, wound up my travel's history, for this first stage of it. Thank Heaven, once more! I have been in many strange scenes since that Saturday morning when I parted with you at Cadogan pier;—I return with safe bones; I suppose, intrinsically rather better in health; and with materials to think about which ought to last me this long while. Many a thing you will have to hear yet, when the talking fit comes on! I think I have altered no opinion I had about Ireland, hardly any at all; but many an object has from shadowy become corporeal to me; and that is pretty much what I expected from the business. Of men the only even slightly admirable unit I fell in with was Ld George Hill: but of friendly figures I have seen a good few; and of persons memorable in the way of farce and tragedy, very low farce and do tragedy, a whole squadron remain with me. More power to their elbow,—and to mine! In some quiet place I ought to try and do my Book now; now after all this weary embroilment and embargo. God help us all!—

I have not made much of sleeping here yet;—but tonight and henceforth I expect to succeed better, and in a day or two to throw my “bilious headache” (a steady comrade for some time) to the winds, and be myself again and more. My poor old Mother is quite brisk, really looks better than when I was here last,—a “monument of mercies,” as she calls herself: nothing can be truer than her regard for you; she is sure you “cannot quite pass us by without a glance” on this occasion;—agrees heartily with me that there is no such hand for a Letter, “so jocose and clever” everywhere:—in short you will have to try and give them a day or two days on the passage southward. The place is all cleaner, brighter than it used to be; clean country lasses serving you, Isabella on foot to rule them: on all hands an innocent kind of rurality wholesome for the soul as the excellent porridge they give you is for the body. Jack, totally idle, busied in reading, also in furnishing eaves-spouts and other indispensable improvements,—remains King of the place, and I do not design to disturb his sovereignty while lodged here: in fact I have “a place by mysel'‘” (this eastern room), and they leave me very much hitherto to do what I like here,—which is nothing at all hitherto; a little silly reading, a little bad tobacco, and very much looking out upon Burnswark, and silent painting of images (not pleasant all of them, nor painful all) upon the vacant sky to northward. Jock Ritchie5 and his disorderly fields and operations remind me sufficiently of Ireland; more than any object I have yet seen here in Scotland does.

Certainly it was well I did not come to Auchtertoul! All yesterday, already seeing that it was so, and being in very weary and bilious mood withal,—I could scheme out nothing but that you shd take a Lodging for us, somewhere on the shore thereabouts, that we might have a little space of quiet, so often promised hitherto in vain. Today I can rejoice in the resource of hospitable Fergusdom! This day week you go there,—well, and best. They are really excellent people, with abundant room, and habits of leaving one alone:—I rejoice much to think of meeting you there. So tell me, Goodykin, when I must come,—Friday itself, or next day, or when? And tell the Ferguses with many compliments. At the day you wish, or near it, I will try to be there. I think we may manage to make out a week there,—with a run of two day[s]6 to St Thomas,7 it will be easy,—and after that I can see you over to Haddington if you like; or in short we can deliberate what way things should be. Let that therefore be the settlement;—sufficient for this day, in the calomel condition I am in!

If you know Lady Ashburton's Address,—for I cannot yet read it quite certainly even in this Letter of yours,—will you tell her that I sent a Note (from Derry, I think) addressed “Glen Truein House, nr Dalwhinny N.B” (according to the first indication);8 and that it is probably still lying there, as the new method seems to be “Perth.” The “14th of july” I thot had been a joke, but it seems to be a fact: it certainly brought no “homily” on this occasion, either written or otherwise.— Miss Lamont's Book lay somewhere on a table where I was; but had small chance of getting itself read by me, for one!— ——Oh Goody, Goody! A thousand compliments (as sincere I think as any in the world towards you) wd go in here, if they could open my door at present. Adieu; take care of wet feet, and write to me diligently,—with dates? Ever your affectionate

T. Carlyle

Forget not compliments, really good wishes (if they could avail), to Walter and everybody,—especially to that tempestuous character, purveyor to the Devil's Kite,9—Lord bless us!