April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 25 September 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490925-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 247-249


Scotsbrig, 25 Septr (Tuesday Evg) 1849—

I lay in wait for the Postman at Noon; but found “no effects,” not even Duffy's Nation, which by mere course of time was due. No Letter from poor Jeannie, not a word to any of us, tho' any news, especially of improvement from the last low pitch of sleeplessness and dispiritment, would have been so welcome. After all, by the mere law of reply and answer, no word from you was due to me; so I must be content, as well as I may. We will hope things are not so bad; hope remains unto all!—

Ever since I have sat here privately, in the eastern bedroom, reading deliberately in one of the wateriest, weariest and worst of Books, Moore's History of Ireland;1 a Book I had to read, tho' without profit: and now between 3 and 4, I must write you a word before going out for a little air. My Mother, poor soul, has been lying ill in bed all day, Jack sitting as guardian in the room that leads to her, with monition that “perhaps she is asleep.” Her face-cold of yesterday is not removed, does not seem much enhanced either; but, as Jamie says, “a wee thing dings [casts] her down now.” She is very miserable when in health worse than usual.— For the rest, the day, like all these days, is bright and dry; leading home of corn goes briskly on, and all other industry is at the lowest ebb conceivable. I walked, last night, to Ecclefechan, under the cloudy moon, escorted by Jack, to put your Letter into the Post-Office; by rule you should have it this evening (if it were worth anything): that is the last act of industry I have done. No pitch of laziness can well be deeper than mine in all outward respects now is. I have slept as much in these ten days as in any other twenty since leaving home. Unluckily for two nights past I have got into the bad habit of dividing my sleep in two, waking a couple of hours by way of interlude, and then sleeping till 10 o'clock; which quite oversets the day's arrangements as to meals, and indeed induces me to omit dinner altogether! A bad habit altogether, if I could mend it: but who can? My two hours of waking pass in wondrous resuscitations and reviews of all manner of dead events; not quite unprofitably perhaps, and tho' sadly not unpleasantly. Sad as death; but also quiet as death, and with a kind of faint reflex of sacred joy (if I could be worthy of it) like the light which is “beyond death.” No earthly fortune is very formidable to me, nor very desirable; a soul of something heavenly I do seem to see in every human Life, and in my own too, and that is truly and forever of importance to me.

Jamie goes to the Dumfries Roodfair tomorrow; and that, of itself, as he “takes the gig,” would prevent my setting out: but I do privately design Thursday first, the day after tomorrow; and on that evening, if you hear nothing farther, you may begin to expect me towards midnight. I am to go by the train you went by, from the station where you started; then wait an hour and half at Carlisle and take the Express Train, which reaches Euston Square at 11 p.m. The waiting at Carlisle is by no means indifferent to me; but it is easier to do than so much gigging, to Lockerby, when all horses are so busy; so I accede to that suggestion from the Engineer of Trailtrow, who on this occasion seems to counsel well. His report of Lancashire matters is favourable. In Pauletdom he seems to have noticed or surmised nothing wrong:2 Helen Welsh's case I find he regards with some considerable fixity of hope,—one of the wisest “alterations of regimen” I clearly think would be, to advise your Uncle into a larger and airier house—perhaps a feasible attempt with this motive to urge? Espinasse is sane enough, only bitter and proud; Geraldine is writing a feuilleton [story], it seems,3à la bonne heure [well and good]!

O my best little Jeannie,—for on the whole there is none of them all worth naming beside thee, when thy better genius is not banished,—try to sleep, to compose thy poor heart and nerves;—to love me as of old, at least not to hate me! My heart is very weary, nay worse too with 53 rough years behind me; but it is bound to thee, poor soul, as can never bind it to any other. Help me to lead well what of life may still remain, and I will be forever grateful!

God bless you always.

T. Carlyle

Your Note Paper seems to be done: get the Key and rummage in those drawers of mine,—I think, in the Library drawers,—you will find resources abundant.— I write today to Adamson for money; not meaning to encounter Dumfries again in person. Adieu again.—