April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 24 September 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490924-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 245-246


Scotsbrig, 24 Septr (Monday 5 p.m.[)] 1849—

Alas, my poor little Goody, these are not good times at all! We have been terribly ill off for Letters here, and now that the Letters have come they are none of the best. Friday no Letters here, Saturday ditto; Sunday, to our great surprise,—ditto, on calling at the Post station: however it turned out, the foolish Post had met the foolish Boys going to Sermon, and given them the Letters; so that, after a melancholy walk in the “Langtether Moss” and other windy high-lying localities, I was met by my poor Mother jubilantly shewing two letters, one from you, one from John. Yours, it clearly appeared, had [been]1 written timefully on Friday, and was due the day before. Some root of blunders lodges somewhere on the line hither: for example farther, the Tablet, which of course had been despatched on Saturday, came today, when no London letter or Mail-produce of any kind could be due. Today too we had your second friday letter; namely the one you wrote to John,—if possible a still more melancholy one: and indeed now John himself is come; and I sit down to send you advice of all these misarrangements; and also of the only sure remedy for them, which surely is now near, my home-coming, and the cessation of so much correspondence by letter. Jack came at half past 3, Jamie and I waiting for him; I walked home instead of riding; awaited dinner, have now had tea, and will send an express to Ecclefechan with this,

Your poor head (and heart too, as is too clear) were in sad case on Friday; which, I flatter myself, proceeded in good part from the total want of sleep after so much fatigue: let me hope you have well slept since that, given up “thinking of the old un,” and much modified the Gummidge view of affairs. Sickness, and distraction of nerves, is a good excuse for almost any degree of despondency: but others we can by no means permit ourselves a philosophy à la Gummidge,—not at all, poor lone lorn critters tho' we be! In fact, there remains at all times, and in all conceivable situations short of Tophet2 itself, a set of quite infinite prizes for us to strive after, namely of duties to do; and not till after these are done, can we talk of retiring to “the House.” Oh no, my Dear, give up that, I entreat you; for it is mere want of sleep, and other unreality, I tell you! There has nothing changed in the Heavens nor in the Earth since the times were much more tolerable than that.— Poor thing, you are utterly worn out; and I hope a little, tho' I have no right properly, to get a letterkin tomorrow with a cheerier report of matters. Furthermore I am coming home myself in some two days; and I reasonably calculate, not unreasonably according to all the light I have, that our Life may be much more comfortable together than it has been for some years past. In me, if I can help it, there shall not be anything wanting for an issue so desirable,—so indispensable, in fact. If you will open your own eyes, and shut your evil demon's imaginings and dreamings, I firmly believe all will soon be well! God grant it. Amen, amen.

My day of coming may be Wednesday, but I rather think Thursday is fully likelier; you shall hear again what the likelihoods are tomorrow. Express train arrives about 11, at Chelsea 11¾: I have yet seen little of Jack, but fancy two full days will completely exhaust our mutual news. He has written to you, he says; has told you, I suppose what Liverpool news he had. Farie has gone to Leamington with his sick Brother.3 My poor Mother has taken to bed, face-cold, toothache &c today. Oh sleep, poor wearied Goody mine; I love thee always (little as thou will believe it)!

T. Carlyle