October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE; 23 March 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320323-TC-JC-01; CL 6:139-142.


London, Friday, 23d March, 1832—

My dear Brother,

This goes off so as to reach Ecclefechan on Sabbath day; at all events you will find it lying for you on Monday, when I hope you are already warned to call. I calculated on being able then to give you more precise directions than now turn out to be possible: however, we will make the best of it; and may still contrive to get thro'.

We were all ready for decamping last night; but found on visiting the Coach-Offices that there was no room, of the sort we wanted: so I engaged two seats, an inside and an outside, for Saturday (tomorrow morning); by which accordingly we hope to set forth about eight of the clock, and reach Birmingham by seven in the Evening. It is so arranged that we are to sleep there; and then go on next morning at half-past six to Liverpool (another 100 miles): after which our course is not so clear; but may still be pretty accurately guessed at. According to our best recollection, and best inquiry here, the Annan Steamboat seems to sail from Liverpool on Monday, and reach Whinnyrig on Tuesday; in which case we shall do very well, and you may set off with confidence to meet us in the morning. If it come after Monday, we shall likewise do well enough: and indeed, if you know what day and hour (after Monday Night) it is that the Steamboat reaches Annan at, you are quite safe to yoke the Gig and come rolling down for us, and get us disembarked, and carried home. We have three trunks (and a good barrel, we hope—for it is gone a week ago): but these cannot all come in the vehicle; so you may just leave out the gig-box, and we will do what we can. If you know the time of the Steamboat, therefore, or can directly learn it, the whole will be right.

But if you do not know, what then is to be done? I meant to write from Liverpool, and say distinctly: but now, you see, it is impossible; for I do not think that we arrive at Liverpool on Sunday-night in time for the Post; so that till Tuesday Morning (The Liverpool post of Monday-Night), you could not possibly hear from us. Again, therefore, the question comes upon us: What, supposing you to know or learn nothing about the Annan Steamboat, are we to do or attempt?

This, it seems to me. Do you have the Gig &c in perfect readiness on Tuesday morning; yet keep it unyoked, till you have despatched a messenger once more to the Post-office (is it not somewhere about 9 o'clock in the morning that the Mail comes from Carlisle?): there you shall have some sort of thing, Letter or Newspaper, on which the day and hour will stand indicated; and your whole course will then be clear. If your Post-hour is 9 or so, there will be no inconvenience suffered at all, most probably: in any case, it is but our waiting a few hours about Annan (Ben Nelson's, probably enough), and then finding you, let us hope, all well to welcome us. Thus let it be settled.

We have pretty weather for these three days, and hope to get along with average comfort. Jane is not at all so stout as beseems a Traveller: however, we must be canny with her: she has been crying out for Buttermilk these many weeks: I tell her she shall have quite a gush of it at Scotsbrig. I too am glad enough to revisit the free air; tho' not specially complaining.

Tell my Mother that we shall have a smoke together, and a talk, and bless God that he has still left us so much to rejoice over. I must begin writing again the instant I set foot on land. A copy of what I said on Johnson I have kept for the special use of Scotsbrig.

There came a Letter from Jack some ten days ago: it was all right and well, but contained no news; nothing worth the trouble of a frank, at that time of near departure.

The Cholera is said to be declining here; some assert, to be quite departing. The Heavens have been merciful to us: as for the Earth the less one says the better. Such stupidity as these London Boards of Health have manifested you might search the whole records of the world to match.1 The poor men, indeed, are compounds of the Knave and Blockhead, and there is the end of it.

We have settled all things comfortably here: are glad to have come to London, and glad to leave it. How much has been gained and lost; how much will come and go in six months of Time! Let us live here not as fools but as wise redeeming the Time!2 There is no other refuge in this fearful and wonderful world; under which lies black Darkness, yet over which a God rules.

Give my love and Jane's to all the kind hearts that rejoice in our approach to Scotsbrig. All blessings be with them till we meet, and forever.

I have given direction enough above, and need not write more words. Let us see you then!—— [Signature has been cut out]


As already written, we came back to Craigh next Spring; and staid there for two years more. But of Craigh farther, and even of London for the first 8 years (!), there remains to me in Her hand nothing: the next Letters will be of 1842–3; the interim simmering as a dim chaos, much of it dreary, toilsome and painful, in my own memory alone. There is a Notebook of miscellans reminiscences, by Miss Jewsbury, (primarily) whh extends over this Craigh period, but on all sides vaguely overlapping it: this, as the best expedt I have in the circs, I decide on inserting here.3

* * *

We had come home, last days of previous March: wild journey by heavy Coach, I outside, to Liverpool: to Birmingham it was good, and Inn there good; but next day (a Sunday, I think) we were quite overloaded; and had our adventures, especially on the street in Liverpool, rescuing our luggage after dark. But at Uncle John's, again, in Maryland Street, all became so bright. At mid-day, somewhere, we dined pleasantly tête-à-tête,—in the belly of the Coach, from my Dear One's stores (to save expense doubtless), but the rest of the day had been unpleasantly chaotic even to me,—though from her, as usual, there was nothing but patient goodness. Our dinners at Maryland Street I still remember, our days generally as pleasant,—our departure in the Annan Steamer; a bright sunshiny forenoon, Uncle etc. zealously helping and escorting; sick, sick my poor woman must have been; but she retired out of sight, and would suffer with her best grace in silence:—ah me, I recollect now a tight, clean, brandy-barrel she had bought; to ‘hold such quantities of luggage, and be a water-barrel, for the rain at Craigenputtock!’—how touching to me at this moment!— And an excellent water-barrel it proved; the purest tea I ever tasted, made from the rain it stored for us.— At Whinnyrigg, I remember, Brother Alick and others of them were waiting to receive us: there were tears among us (my Father gone, while we returned); she wept bitterly, I recollect,—her sympathetic heart girdled in much sickness and dispiritment of her own withal: but my Mother was very kind and cordially good and respectful to her always. We returned in some days to Craigenputtock, and were again at peace there.4

* * *

Went up [to London] August 1831, with Sartor in my pocket, intending to be back in a month; cd not get Sartor published (Reform-Bill agitatna &c &c); sent for my Wife, & passed the Winter there, making agreeable friends Leigh Hunt, John Mill, &c and experiences;—returned (still with Sartor in my pocket), March, 1832. Had lost my good, my strong & great old Father in the interim; my Goethe shortly after my return: we were in a high & serious, not a miserable or pining frame of mind. I wrote Diamd Necklace, Cagliostro, and various things (translatn a good part of them, Mährchen &c); was publishing Sartor, slit in Pieces (but rigorously unaltered otherwise) in Fraser's Magne.5