July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 9 August 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550809-TC-JWC-01; CL 30: 21-22


Farlingay nr Woodbridge / Suffolk, 9 Augt, 1855—

My dear little Bairn,

I do hope you got some sleep last night, when all was quiet about you; and that your poor little head and wearied nerves are somewhat pacified. It is too bad, when sleep is denied one,—“the last refuse of the wretched,”1 tho', as some one remarks, it is only the happy that have called it so. I sent many thoughts after you yesterday; and it was a strange reflexion to me when I was about half way that you were just about getting into our little shop at Chelsea again.

I had the due malodorous suffocation, which is the lot of British travellers, in my railway pen: go always in the third class, were it only for the honour of the thing, I said: can any predicament be more disgraceful to a man of respectability than that of stewing for hours in foul air, at once fetid and poisonous to him, soul and body! However, it did not last quite 3 hours: Chelmsford, Colchester2 shewed successively their steeples in the distance; & there at length, witht worse accident than rain, was Ipswich, and, in another minute of looking, Fitzgerald, halting poor fellow with a sprained ancle, dabbled with recent rain, but faithful with his gig, tho', as you wd see, he must have had misgivings as to my coming. He shewed me Ipswich; drove me home, successfully, tho' under some heavy showers. This is a curious old place, a kind of decayed villa, or mongrel between farmhouse and villa, with innumerable closets, and some tolerable rooms, all dry and clean, tho' rather crazy in the woodwork; a jamb of kitchen &c fixes itself on the rear: by day the main house is Fitz's and mine, or rather mine only for the good F. studies to efface himself in every way, even to a painful degree. He has surrendered (I find) his own bedroom to me; a fine airy place, 2d story, from side to side of the house, with an eminent old four-poster in it (and curtains lined with green chintz,—ah me!)—here I now am, here I mean to sit, when within doors, nearly all day; an excellent place. I have a window on the right flank, smallish and low, opening in leaves; in front (my front is the southern gable of the house) I am almost all window together, and look out upon a little breadth of garden, then over pasture fields with plenty of trees all about; and amid the leaves I can see Woodbridge red Church tower, and the red housetops shutting up the scene on that side.

The “Smiths” (proprietors of the mansion) are excellt old farm-people; speak with a dialect almost equal to that of Nithsdale, and have all the indigenous English farm-qualities (making of puddings, bread, cream &c included) in a truly comfortable degree. F. not being quite a lodger,—nor indeed can I clearly define what he is,—had a kind of embarrassment (I could perceive) last evening; but I helped what I could, tho' at the expense of talking much more than I wished: I hope all that is now settled, and that I shall in truth be beautifully let alone. There is nothing else to be desiderated: it is as wholesome a smooth pleasant grassy and leafy rural retreat as I could have found anywhere; and surely even a week of it will be of some benefit to me.

I made no great figure in the way of sleep last night; I had talked too much, dined injudiciously: in fact I found on getting up hither I had clearly caught a little cold: however, I was as silent as Sahara; and I did manage to pick up a fair modicum of sleep. Soon after six I got out and had a long stretch of a walk; including a sea-bathe; for we have to take that at the top of the tide; and tomorrow, I perceive, it is likely to hit the eye of my breakfast, and to be omitted for that one day. It was tolerable bathing really, but rather difficult to come at,—and with a good dash of fresh in the water, at that time of the tide.

On the whole I begin to fear there will be no great likelihood for my poor Goody in these parts: we have not yet seen any place, of course; but I perceive there can be no coach (Railway ending at Ipswich 8 miles off too), for Woodbridge lies against, if not the sea, yet the ooze of the tide; and there is no crossing except by a ferry yawl. I will see farther, however; but I doubt, I doubt.

Today we have (thank Heaven) gray dryish weather; at night (I am now close on dusk or 8 o'clock the hour of post) we had a beautiful sunset, silent bright yellow radiance, nicely spotted with long shadows of trees, while I smoked my pipe. Tomorrow perhaps it will continue and improve.

Adieu, Dearest; there is the Post passing. Nay he is passed; and I am to go down with the Letters myself, by way of evening walk.

May I hear good news tomorrow morning, & may you sleep well tonight.

Your affectionate /

T. Carlyle