October 1833-December 1834

The Collected Letters, Volume 7


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 26 May 1834; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18340526-JWC-TC-01; CL 7:190-194.


Templand—Monday [26 May 1834]

It is all right, Dearest; the letter is come! I had taken precaution for having it forwarded hither by the post, and but for the regulation about church hours might have had time to answer it last night. Thank Heaven it gives me a cheerier picture of you than the last did, which in truth saddened even more than it perplexed me: for I could not but reflect how great the pressure of misery must needs be that had been able to make you other than clear and all-mindful.

No wonder that appointment escaped your recollection made amidst the sadness and hurry of so many partings. and lost sight of in the wearisome disappointing quest which you had to engage in after! And it would not have been so very “Irish” had there been Tuesday Wednesday and till Thursday morning to work on after the receipt of your letter, as undoubtedly you meant there should be (for I still have “an internal evidence” that the lading so soon as Tuesday was no part of your arrangement) You could not have thought it possible (setting aside the instructions to be conveyed in the letter) that the work could have been got thro in so short a time; as indeed it could not; had we not worked thro' most of the last three nights as well as by day. But no matter about all that now It is comfortable that what you wished we might do in the circumstances, has been to a certain extent done[.] For I confess to you, when you spoke of 24th of June and offers of houses in August and all at such distance I thought it a step for which I might get myself sever[e]ly reprimanded to send the things out of the house—in such uncertainty at all—and only to be risked in preference to causing so much inconvenience to so many people as were assembled to help us— And now you wish the furniture and Goody off immediately— Dearest “it shall be done”!1 There is no earthly objection to my sailing on Friday first2—[but on the contrary every motive to hasten to you at the soonest possible]3 except one—and that one is not of consequence enough to stand in the way of your wishes and my own— It was only in case of there being no outrake [expedition] for me if I joined you so soon that I spoke in my last of waiting till the Friday following— I must lay my account with a little illness and it is not very material whether I transact it in a steamboat or coach or in my bed at Templand or Scotsbrig—so keep yourself quite easy about me. I wrote to Alick last night (according to previous appointment) between the receiving of yours and the departure of the post—and told him I would meet him at Dumfries on Wednesday (the day after tomorrow) where he was to be at any rate. My Mother talks of going to Dumfries along with me. She was for going all the way (to Annan that is) but I strongly objected— One has enough to do at present without scenes— I fear there will not be time to get another letter from you before Friday—but at all rates I shall expect to find one in Maryland Street—“they do me so much good”4—and I will write from Maryland Street when you are to expect me in London.

About two hours after my last was on its road, it came into my mind like liquid fire and ran over my whole face neck and arms that I had omitted to seal it! Had it been under cover to Jeffrey I think I should have died with vexation—for I am doubtful whether he would not have read it from beginning to end— But Charles Buller is “an English Gentleman” and would take no advantage of my stupidity— The thing that annoyed me most was the unsatisfactory idea of my whole general disposition for the management of “the great things to do”5 which such a blunder would convey to you and the insecurity you would feel in consequence— But console to [yourself]! I think it was my first blunder and shall strive that it may be also the last. and it happened quite natuarlly [sic] as I shall explain to you hereafter—

I do not know whether I decided right or wrong about the shower bath— I deliberated much and held a counsel (of peace) over it— Jamie Aitken was pretty certain he could sell it entire for 2£, but we all thought its chance of sale would be next to none without the ap[p]aratus—so I had it brought down into the dinning [sic] room and laid full length to be conveyed to Dumfries by Peter's first cart— Our own being “laden to a pound weight” “James of Scotsbrig” declared— Walter says my Uncle is wanting one and I shall perhaps get it sold to him— In my list of things brought I forgot to mention the bulkiest article of all—the piano—for which no offer even had been made.

There was a letter from John to my Mother two days ago, and not a word about mats— I sincerely hope none are come but, it is possible they may still be lying at Thomsons—if so we shall get rid of them the best way we can.

My Mother is writing today and will warn them of my arrival—and Arbuckle6 I will write to myself—

And now my darling with respect to these two houses I declare to thee they look both so attractive on paper that I cannot tell which I ought to prefer—and SHOULD7 like to see with my bodily eyes before you decide— I have a great liking to that Massive old concern with the broad stair-case, and abundant accommodation for cro[c]kery! and dressing-rooms to one's bedrooms is charming! I should not quarrel with the quantity of room even tho' (like my china assiettes [plates][)], it might be asked “what we had to put in it”— But is it not too near the river? I should fear it would be a very foggy situation in winter and always dampish and unwholesome. and then the wainscoating up to the ceilings, is it painted? if in the original state—hardly any number of candles (never to speak of “only two”[)] will suffice to light it. and another idea presents itself along with that wainscoat—if bugs have ever been in the house! Must they not have found there as well as the inmates “room without end”— The other again does no[t] attract me so much but to make up for that, suggests no objections—so keep them both open if you can till I come—and if you are constrained to decide that you may not let both or either slip thro' your hands do it with perfect assurance that Goody will approve your choice— The neighbourhood to our friends—I would not let be a material point in your deliberations— You have a pair of effectual legs to take you whereso[e]ver you please—and for me my chief enjoyment, I imagine, whill [sic] always be in the society of my own heart's darling and within my own four walls.8 as heretofore

My Mother sends her kindest regards—she is in the most gracious bountiful mood—giving me gowns &c &c has even bought a superior silk handkerchief for Alick! and a gown for little Sister Jenny whom she never saw!— What a mercy for you Dearest that I have not her turn for managing the finance department—we should soon sit rent free in the King[']s bench—

And now I must conclude—a mean return for your long precious letter—but I have a headach[e] today and must not drive it beyond bounds. God Almighty bless you my love—before many days I shall see your face again

Your own



Preparatns for the grand expeditn, or Shift to London, were now abt completed. Had been left (in my imaginary hurry, “necessity to get a house before May 26”) wholly in her eagerly willing hand; how willing I knew well, but not how wonderfully swift, skilful & sure, in this entirely new province! In abt 2 weeks Craigk, as appears here is afloat & has prosperously lifted anchor with the Liverpl Steamer (at Annan Foot): and in one week more she & it will be with me!