The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 3 October 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501003-TC-MAC-01; CL 25: 242-244


Chelsea, Thursday 3 Octr, 1850

My dear Mother.—You see where I am; safe here since last midnight! I did not run away from you without regret and sorrowful affection and almost remorse: but in the state things stood in I saw clearly that it was the wise course. Right wae was I yesterday, at the “Kendal Junction” to think that it was not northward I had now to go, but southward, away from you and from so much else that is dear to me. And you had gone to Dumfries in vain too; and had to take these other disappointments when you came home: I felt sorry enough, if I could have helped it; but alas, what was the good of sorrow? My only consolation was the hope of seeing you again, perhaps after even a shorter interval than the last.1

At Keswick I did not get on very well: the weather was wet and blustery; the people tho' very kind, lonesome and not in the best of spirits: neither could I sleep any way well, which was of course the worst condition of all for me. We felt bound moreover to make off (there being a previous engagement on their part to that effect) some 30 miles farther south, to the place called Coniston where the Marshalls are,—old friends of mine, whom I had rather neglected of late. The drive thither, in Speddings carriage (a kind of double “clatch” with two horses), past the root of Helvellyn2 &c, in moderate weather, was pleasant enough: but, alas, there my satisfactions, such as they were, came to a close The House was noisy with company and bustle; in particular my bedroom was exposed to nurseries of children, tumults of flunkies & housemaids: I almost lost my sleep entirely that night; and felt, as I lay tossing about in the morning hours, that there was but one scheme for me,—to rush home to my own den, and end these roamings up and down the world. Accordingly I wrote to warn the servant here; wrote also to Jane (from whom I expect answer tomorrow morning); and took my measures with that object. The kind Mrs Marshall put me into a smaller but far quieter bedroom for next night, and there I did sleep well and long; but my arrangements were already made: and so, yesterday about noon, in much better spirits for my sleep, I pushed away (James Marshall hospitably accompanying me, in my own hired tub-gig) to “Windermere Station,” and so by Kendal to join the Express Train from Carlisle. The Journey, which I had looked to with a kind of horror, was far less severe than I expected: we were not crowded in the carriage, indeed a shifting company of whom only myself continued stationary; there was plenty of air to be had; for food I had at one place “a mutton-pie” (price twopence), then at Birmingham three miserable fractions of sandwiches (price sixpence) with a glass of brandy and water: I sat very quiet too, nay at times fell into a kind of doze; and on the whole got along without much suffering at all. The poor little maid, a cleanly, discreet, assiduous but rather inexperienced creature, was waiting for me; and so, after a cup of thin tea, I got fairly into bed, silently thankful to Heaven that I had got the ugly jumble over.— — My sleep was none of the best, but I expect to do better tonight; all morning I have been busy sorting my articles, and looking out for my old tracks of procedure. Poor Jane has been making innumerable improvements in the house; really cunning and excellent many of them;—but they are novelties, they, and she wd have liked to be here herself to shew me the way of them. I have not yet got quite into my road, and can only do so by degrees. Nay it seems, by what the maid informs me, Jane has decided on not keeping her as a servant; but has another, “properly experienced,” in her eye; and only delays till she find this poor “Emma” of hers another proper situation. I shall hear more about this tomorrow. I suppose it is all wise and proper: but alas for these “changes”; nothing but change, change,—and it is a mere loss and vexation to all concerned! I fancy unless Jane can get home sooner than “the 21st,” she means that I should join her where she is. We will see about that; we will have a right good spell of rest here first, and not be easily beaten with the “inexperienced maid” &c &c.

Dear Mother, I must now go and write to Jane herself. You may think she should have been first: but I some how felt as if the first stroke of my pen belonged to you on this occasion.— I got the Dr's second Note at Keswick before setting off on Monday; if he have written to Coniston, as I think likely, it will follow me hither (I suppose tomorrow). I called upon his Dr Leitch, whom I found a worthy man, tho' with a dreadful face, poor soul. He was just writing to John, he said. I too will soon write to him, I hope; & you will hear more of me. I send Jamie his Newspaper: thank him and Isabella and everybody. God's blessing be with you all forever! Your affectionate T. Carlyle