April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 28 September 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490928-TC-JAC-01; CL 24: 250-252


Chelsea, 28 Septr, 1849—

My dear Brother

Here I am safe; that is nearly all the news I can tell you, so busy am I, such a bustle of unexpected people and things, as well as of expected, has there been about me all day.— Would that I knew of my poor dear Mother's being well again and safe: I should be right glad to take a Letter with no other “news”! But that we cannot expect just yet.

My ride to Carlisle, all in a carriage by myself, was prosperous: there, however, my special prosperity may be said to have ended. The waiting,—considerably beyond two hours as it proved, for we did not actually start till 5 min. to 2,—was extremely wearisome; then the carriages were crammed, so that I had to struggle for air to live upon; and as to “living” of other kinds, my lot was little better, having subsisted mainly on two sea-biscuits and my Mother's raisins, the “soup” at Preston being hardly eatable (owing to age of mutton since killing!)—and the “time” to eat it in being some 3 minutes agitated by terror; while at other stations one draught of water was all that with difficulty I could realise for myself! In short it was as abominable a jumble as even I had anticipated; and the one good feature of the business was that I did get safe out of it, tho' with a sorely aching head, and was set down at my own door a little before midnight, where honest tea, a right smoke, silence and composure soon set me on a clear course again. On the whole I do not advise any one to the “Express Train.” It costs £3.10 from Carlisle; it seems to be immensely popular, and therefore crowded, just now; and as to arrangements for the wholesome or comfortable subsistence of human beings on the course, all these are sacrificed to velocity, and that of course is the one thing attained;—at too much cost, I do opine! At Crewe Station I did not forget you; yet I fear you have little benefit of that today. Our stopping-place proved to be “about half a mile” from the Post-Office: one of the Porters goodnaturedly took my Newspaper, but I did not in the least see that he would put it into the place in time,—the contrary rather. Thank Heaven, I am out of all that for a while to come!

Jane had everything in applepie order for me; but she herself looks very thin, poor soul, and is evidently suffering a good deal. She does sleep, however, at last; tho as yet but ineffectually, insufficiently, and indeed mainly by the aid of morphine hitherto. Now that all is come to anchor again, I hope we shall do better. The maid Elizabeth seems perfectly gate-going [able to get about] again; a little Sister of hers still here I have not yet seen.— My own sleep, after tea and so much jumbling, was none of the best; but I compute that it will improve, and indeed that I shall be better for all this locomotion, when I gradually get the results summed up.

There have been various persons here today, there was a stack of absurd Letters, not all Catalogues or such like, which needed to be sorted; and I have not yet got my clothes unpacked,—my portmanteaus, I mean. Among my Letters is one from Duffy, one from Ay de Vere1 &c; the whole of which must lie over for one day. The Nation No 2 is here;2 it had been at Haddington; I send you No 4,—John's address3 is “Fredericksburgh, Simcoe, Canada West.” Duffy, according to Lucas4 (one of my visitors today) is meeting with “immense” success, so far as sale and profit go.

But what is becoming of my poor old Mother! I cannot get her sad state out of my mind for a minute, all this while. Do, I beg of you all, and of you most as nearest to her, endeavour,—but indeed I know you will whatever is in you,—to help her out of that afflicting business! She will be quieter now that I am gone. Let me hope to hear soon that all is tolerably well with her again. And to the good Isabella, and to Jamie, and all the other kind souls, my thanks heartfelt. Adieu dear Brother.

Ever yours

T. Carlyle

Tomorrow Evg I count on hearing from you.— Two Papers of Airds sent also today.5