The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 26 July 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520726-TC-JWC-01; CL 27: 182-185


Linlathen, 26 july, 1852

Thanks, many thanks, dear little soul, for the Note I got this morning. You know not what a crowd of ugly confusions it delivered me from, or what black webs I was weaving in my chaotic thoughts, while I heard nothing from you here! For I am terribly bilious, tho' it might be hard to say why, everything is so delightfully kind and appropriate here,—weather, place, people, bedroom, treatment all so much “better than I deserve.” But one's imagination is a black smithy of the cyclops where strange things are incessantly forged.— — Let me tell you here what the law of the post seems to be, for avoiding future disappointments. My letter will go to you (if no mistake be made, and I get in at Broughty Ferry1 about 3 p.m.) in 24 hours;—that is to say, you will get this Note (of Monday) tomorrow Evg about 3: wherefore I infer you did hear from me on Saturday, tho' at a later hour? On the other hand, your letter to me will, at soonest, except by favourable accidents, take 36 hours to arrive,—and mark this, you may post the letter (in the Sloane-Square or some other London post-office) as late at night as you like; if it be in a London post-office before 8 in the morning, it will be here about the same hour next morning: so you see it has to lie some dozen hours or more before it ever start, that is the law of it. Do I make you “sinsible” (as the Irish say)? Attend to the law, for it is inflexible, whether you understand it or not.

Terrible sleeping, my poor little creature; I fear it will tatter you all to pieces: I wish I heard you were fairly away to Darwin's to sleep. After Sherburne at least, I strictly recommend you to adopt that course: the ride or walk down every morning will itself do you good. And take care of yourself; don't go all to fiddlestrings upon my hands, it will never do!

The Yankee letter you forwarded was from the “E. P. Clark,” my Manager at Boston; a most scraggy herring bone of a Composition; and enclosed, for The Life of Sterling, not £25 as the other Yankee had announced, but witht any explanation £20 only; which I sent off instantly to Adamson to negociate; instantly answering the E. P. Clark, and politely reserving all criticism of the odd five pounds: I will send him silently the other Yankee letter (which is about my drawers, I think the upper or 2d drawer; take care of it); that will be criticism enough: and in the meanwhile let us accept the £20 as a kindly windfal tho' a smallish one.— I next day got a newspaper from you; which was instantaneously forwarded to my Mother. And this (with a ghost of a Note, one page, from John this morning along with yours) is all the correspondence I have recd or written, since I came here. So much the better; the less the bother, with most select exceptions! In fact, I have had a good deal of writing otherwise: a Frederick thing I had begun to translate at Chelsea; I fancied there were still 4 days works in it, but here (at 2 p.m.) after three good diligent days (laborious under difficulties), I find myself at the end of it;—and now shall have mainly reading to do henceforth, which as I can transact it in the open air, under the beech-tree shades, will be a far wholesomer operation. My eyes go half-blind, all these three days, after about an hours writing: the sign of extreme liver-deranget; the fruit also in part of this low flat table, so inferior to my own noble one at Chelsea. I shall not now need to write; may abstain with a good conscience, till these black biliary tumults compose themselves again.

Our gay younger company went all off in the course of Saturday, much to my satisfaction—tho' there was a certain younger “Mrs Stirling” (I shall clearly never learn the genealogies!) “who is for Italy this winter,” who sang some Scotch songs very well. Among the youths was a whiskered Cavalry officer (I hope of the lowest grade), an exact Scotch Lord Bath,2—nicknamed “the Hatter” by his comrades. He has a young Irish wife; a wasp came buzzing to her at dinner; the Hatter got out with hot water, a sieve, and his Irish groom; and nobly, tho' with some stings, destroyed the whole byke. For the rest, a very foolish young man: surely, as you say of Farie's dulness: it must take a great deal of work to make such a fool!— Our party was now suddenly contracted to three; and there it still stays (thanks God), only in the course of the same Saturday there came two reserved women—who only breakfast with us, and sit silent in the evg drawing room;—a pale, pulmonary-looking otherwise pretty Swiss Governess (of extreme orthodoxy, who has one of Mrs Stirling's girls at her knee), and a queer ancient entirely Scotch-looking, prim, clean, purse-mouthed gentlewoman; whom I never rightly looked at till this morning: but I saw then she had something in the good old eyes of her; and I mean to inquire and investigate a little farther. She is rich in genealogies; and I dare say in old Scotch habitudes, which are growing quite original now. Today, I find, Miss Graham-Stirling (or vice-versa?) has been invited to dine here;3 whom I could have well dispensed with; for, alas, I am obliged to be very dietetic, and of all blessings that of being well let alone wd be the usefullest for me just now! However, we will manage our very best.

The good Thomas, and all the rest, religiously respect my “six hours”; and really hitherto I have always got a fair dayswork done. I sit in my big high bedroom (not where we were, but I think on the opposite, certainly on the west or Dundee side of the house); hear nothing but the sough of woods; have a window flung clean up; go out to smoke at due intervals as at home &c &c In fact I am almost too well cared for and attended to. The only evil is that they will keep me in talk; alas, how much happier cd I be, not talking or talked to! I require an effort to get my victuals eaten for talk. And, alas, I am so bilious still;—tho' that surely must get away one of these days, if I take proper care.

When Thomas and I got to the shore on Friday afternoon, there clearly was no bathing possible, nothing but a continent of sand and boulders, little better than Whinny Rigg4 long since,—so very far out was the tide. Yesterday morning, instead of tumbling about awake, I sallied out, and got a bathe,—a delightful walk thro' the early woods to boot;—and I shall get some more at other hours on other days.

Dear, there came a maid in about 15 minutes ago; the luncheon-bell (to which I never go) having rung; and the bed and room having been omitted this morning at breakfast-time. I voluntarily promised to be off “for the whole afternoon, in five minutes”: so I have had to write as at express-train speed. Anything written will be better than nothing to poor Goody. But now I do go; and, with renewed charges to get out of that noise, and take care of thyself,—am ever

T. C.

John's Note & the Yankee's are not worth sending, however scarce one were. Adieu, Dearest.