July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 7 September 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18370907-TC-JWC-01; CL 9:302-305.


Scotsbrig, Thursday 7th Sept 1837—

Dear little Wife,

On Monday there came no Newspaper, such as I had some hope of getting; but yesterday the wished-for token lay duly ready; not one Newspaper but two or indeed three; and all, I will persuade myself, is right. No longer is the poor Goody lodged in time of headache with Archivarius Lindhorsts,1 bejangled with the ding-dong of Cathedral bells; but safe in her own cell at Chelsea: home is home were it never so homely. God be thanked that nothing bad has befallen; that there is a near prospect of getting the ravelled threads of our little household knit together again! I suppose, after all your tribulations by the road, there will actually be some benefit traceable now that you are settled. It was the way last year when your journey was far ruder, your health far worse. I pray thee be well my little Goodykin; I will come and see almost instantly,—whether thou be firm at least!

There indeed lies the great question now, the sole prospect and result of all that I could write today: when am I purposing to come home? To embark on Wednesday next, by the first Steamboat there will be that week; we hope all to be on the waters then. My Mother is going with me to Manchester, as I said long ago; Alick too now proposes to accompany us, and take that opportunity of laying in his shop-merchandise: so on this day week, if nothing prove adverse, we expect to be in Liverpool. Is that soon enough, or is it too soon? What the subsequent motions are to be cannot yet admit of prediction. Your Uncle, as perhaps I mentioned last time, insisted on my stopping to see the “Scientific humbugs,” who meet, I find, on Monday next.2 I shall land naturally in the middle of their scientific week; and who knows but really I ought to take a look at them, even tho' against the grain. My own feeling would lead me to rush directly from the Steamboat to the Railway, and having set my Mother down at Manchester to start next morning for London all at a stretch. But I must continue to call at Liverpool; it would be an offence otherwise. I think of sending Alick and my Mother on, and waiting till next day with the Maryland people, at least till evening. In short it seems to me, O thou infatuated creature (so much better without me than with me) that I shall be home about Saturday night: thou canst see what thou wilt make of me! If I do not get on Saturday, I shall send some Letter, explaining and predicting better. But on the whole, the thing, with Scientific meetings, with new Railways,3 and what not, is got so complicated that I can at present say almost nothing; do not be alarmed therefore if in my hurry and confusion I cannot keep my day, nor even announce farther that I cannot. According to my computation, the last chance of writing to London for Saturday may easily enough fall while I am on the Manchester and Liverpool Railway. But if you do get a Newspaper on Saturday with one stroke on it, take it as a sign that I intend to be there that night; at what hour no man can say.

As to my news, what health I am in, my dear Goody will see and know it all when I come. Probably I am at bottom very considerably better. Quieter I infallibly behove to be: no life so like being buried alive have I ever in my days led for so many weeks. It is a life totally blank, as if I had spent the whole time in one unbroken [“]treaclesleep.” Awakening out of which, what object have I in the world but my poor Goody to hasten to; my poor Goody! But I shall be quieter now; courage my lassie, let us march together stoutly, on such road as is given us. I fancy on the whole our prospects are much bettered; but we shall see: we can do with very bad prospects; we have done with the worst. God help us, and teach us to help ourselves and one another.

I bought you a Scots Worthies for four shillings; it was as if a kind of Letter that I sent to your unknown address that night at Annan. The Book will require to be bound; and is then quite legible, and presentable as a Scotch Volksbuch [popular book]. Is it for the metallic Archivarius, or for whom?— This little purchase; and two final bathings in the Solway: these literally are all my news. Nothing happens here; nothing will happen till I awake again beside you. My Mother has had a Letter from Jack: he is still at Albano; encircled by approaching cholera;4 has nevertheless engaged anew with her Ladyship till May next. Her Ladyship seems to me suspect of want of [wis]dom. What quarantines she has undergone, what flights and stoppages; and here she has flown into the very throat of the thing avoided! Jack, I believe however, is wise to continue: he is fast gathering a purse, and will be able to take his own way by and by.— Here is a little Lass “gawn to Ecclefechan”; by whom, as the day is wet, I must profit; and hasten.

Your Mother has sent a considerable “Box of Sweets”; which I think I must carry forward without opening it. She wrote me since you heard last, inquiring with great cheerfulness and heartiness, What day I would come, and for a longer time? I was obliged to answer in the negative. They had made ready, she said, for a journey to Moffat; I was not to come during that. Probably the Liverpool friends will be returning about this very time. Mrs Creichton is still very poorly; Miss Fergus I think is now with her.— My sister Jane is coming from Dumfries today to Annan; I could not go thither again, so she is coming hither. Mary and she are to come with their little ones probably tomorrow. Alick had a terrible fit the other night; I thought, of deadly inflammation: I found poor Jenny and him and the household in the saddest condition, and had to get a doctor and wait till midnight: but it is all right again and subdued now. Biliary disorders, cholera &c, are very frequent here at this season.

Good Goody to mind the Argus and its criticism!5 I see, it is by Hunt, or Thornton Hunt (the style being diluted); it is well-aimed and dreadfully ill-printed, and will do very well: send the 3d No, if you get it, to Rob Hanning's 7. Bank Street, Oldfield Road, Salford, Manchester,—with two strokes if you can. You said John Sterling would be home again on the tweth;6 did it mean twelfth? I will hope to see him; and shall rejoice greatly to do that. He is a very unsettled man indeed; and ought really to hang lead to himself if he could.— There is no more room, nor time. My Mother sends kind regards and is “right glad to hear that you are safe home again.” I have said all that can be said as yet about my homecoming. O Goodykin mine, would I were there; safe in thy arms. God keep thee, and forever bless thee, my good Lassie!

T. Carlyle

There has not a word been said about provender, butter &c: all that is to be settled by Letter after I come; the time for such produce is not arrived yet here.