July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 13 August 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550813-TC-JWC-01; CL 30: 27-30


Farlingay, 13 Augt (Monday) 1855

Where is my poor little Dame careering this day; towards what point of the compass, or in what mood of mind or circumstances, is she wandering about the world? This is the question I have constantly before me today; and my thoughts fly wandering after you, and can get no response, nor form themselves into any reasonable guess at all. I wish I had written yesterday, as I did intend in spite of the difficulties there were. But if you had been intending for Brighton, my Letter could not have reached you in time; so it wd have been to no purpose, for easing my doubts at least. On the whole I am very glad you got no farther than Willesden; glad above all that you did not venture on any of those wild Edinburgh expeditions. The villain Nero, to keep you awake with his miserable freaks! I wonder you did not fling him out of window; I felt as if the clear course of nature would have been (what I have often recommended to no purpose) to fling him into the river, and so end that part of one's botherations— What I shall like best is that you have gone to Brighton today, and that you return tonight, well blown upon by all these heavenly winds; and that you be at Chelsea tomorrow morning quietly over your coffee to read this Note,—I reading one from you at the same hour. Which latter clause, unless you write from Brighton in good time, will be difficult.

There have been some adventures here,—or rather one adventure;—but all goes right after it, and much as before. It was an adventure of cows; cows go in a field (or rather went but, do not now go) opposite this big window, separated merely by the garden and an invisible fence. The night after I wrote last, these animals, about 2 a. m., took to lowing (“blaring” the Suffolkers call it) with an energy to have awakened the Seven Sleepers;1 no soul could guess why, but there they raged and lowed thro' the night watches, awoke the whole house here, and especially awoke me, and held me very vigilant, till six when I quietly arose for an immense walk thro' the fields and lanes! No evil came of it, only endless sorrow to poor Fitz and the household, endless apologies &c &c: the cows were removed to another field, where they graze entirely mute, according to their former wont; and I have slept, well or not to complain of ever since; and am really growing better and better in my silent rustication here. Would it wd last a while longer! But I must not ask for more than I can handsomely take, but be thankful. (I have been to bathe, and have walked between 6 and 7 miles, since the end of last sheet 2 hours ago,—amazingly short of time now!)

Fitz took me down yesterday to Aldborough:2 a very pleasant drive thro' the gray damp air, and the hamlets and heaths, 17 miles; off at 8 a. m., home about the same hour, evening. F. had represented (as his wont is) the Town of Aldborough as quite a ruinous place, ugly &c: I found it a really beautiful little sea-town, old3 as the Hills, but trim, tidy, quiet, in excellent repair; and truly I think one of the best Bathing-places I have seen. Nothing can excel the sea; a mile of fine shingly beach, with patches of smooth sand every hear4 and there; clean sea water shelving rapidly deep at all hours; beach solitary beyond wont: whole town rather solitary; seemingly some 30 or 40 souls of the smaller-gentry sort (Clergy &c) here a-bathing, mostly quartered about the excellent big Inn; native population (I suppose) fishers and thrifty industrious people, prosperous enough (I hope) tho' without excess of cash.— Lodgings (F. assures me) are to be had, and of the kind required: I send two announcements, in reasonable looking houses; but, during sunday and divine service, could not get to look farther into them. You can be boarded at the Inn for a guinea a-week, F. tells me; an excellt Inn, as I said; Fitz supposed “you get a little room, ring the bell and after ¾ of an hour, somebody comes”: which is clearly worse than the truth. He himself had lived there; but always in Lodgings. A beautiful smooth sand walk, ¾ of a mile, lies between the sea and the Town; fine do walk in the rear of town, looking over the chimneys of it: open heath, open beach, plenty of walking. Certain of the female smaller gentry yesterday had lapdogs.

Well, my notion is, if you have yet gone nowhither, you shd think of Aldbro'. I myself imagine, if a lodging cd be had there (which is probable), I cd like very well to take a fortnight or so of it; never saw any place more promising at least. Distance from Ipswich 25 miles; coach 3 times a week: you go by the train I took (only by the first class, that I insist on); a coach (with 3 horses) waits you there,—pleasant road, and in three hours one is in Aldbro'. If you bit at this, F. and I wd go down again, and try for a Lodging. Thursday, I imagine wd be the eligible day: one has to avoid Saturday, F. says, as the Coach is then the most crowded. Tell me what you think of all this.

If you do not take to the project, do not. I will stay out my time hereabouts (till the latter end of this week, I shd guess), then come quietly home to Chelsea, and take to my work again; leaving you what “sea-room” you judged fit: unless your invitations towards Bexley5 &c were more pressing than I think they wd be, I should be apt to stay still for my own part, & avoid any farther journeying “thro clangour and suffocation” for the current year. At all events let the prophetic spirit of Goody speak: we will at once proceed to action, at least I will; and some definite result shall be arrived at straightway.

The good Mrs Smith (Mother of neat-handed kind Phyllises)6 has brot me up a tumbler of rum-and-milk, all spiced &c: and I could be much at my ease staying here; but we are to go and dine with Parson Crabbe, nay to sleep there at least this night,—poor F. I perceive secretly wishes and needs it, so I cannot help myself: sorrow on it! But the Crabbe house (I do believe, for I have seen it) is even quieter than this; and tho' a gentleman's house, nothing but freedom and honest rusticity prevails in it: so I must make up a little package and go. Yr Letters direct hither as before: it is but 2 miles off (farther away from you, Crabbe's is); and I trust to get back hither altogether tomorrow.

I have read two volumes (actually!) since I came out hither: Voltaire Books. Why cannot I get staid where I am? Time presses; Fitz and his gig are drawing out, and it is time to be off.— Adieu, Dearest; drown Nero, and be reasonable! Yours ever

T. Carlyle