January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 7 August 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560807-TC-JWC-01; CL 31: 153-155


Gill, 7 Augt (Thursday) 1856

“Nothink for Craigenputtock today Ma'am”1 either; whh contradicts my private hope a little. However, I will suppose there is still nothing wrong; and wait patiently,—having no chance now till Sunday evg or Monday morning when I return from Scotsbrig, whither I am bound this afternoon at last. My tides are now fairly done; yesterday was about 4 p. m., and brakish2 instead of salt.

I seem to be doing really excellently in regard to health: it is hardly credible what a change (mostly for the better) has been brot about since I escaped from that Devil's-Oven with its dirts and noises. In fact, I believe myself a good deal better in health,—tho' sleep is still a little defective (not owing to noises or faults of the bed), and my thoughts, altogether solitary (or worse, when I am put to talk much with these kind simple souls), are gloomy and heavy, very far indeed from bright or of undue levity.— For the rest, I have done a little work (actually 3 leaves or so!) as well as bathed and been bitten. The Parson of the Parish3 took the freedom to call one day; left a card, I being happily in the sea: I do not think of returning his call, being here incognito, so to speak. I go about, free and easy; actually in my old Tartan jacket (which has a rustic degagé air, Margt having mended the elbows, and weighs hardly above 3 ounces); I luckily too had packed in one pair, half-dirty, of duck trowsers, which are a perfect treasure in this great heat. Such a heat as I do not recollect since 1826, the rainless year. Yesterday, nearly all day in the distance, and at eveng right overhead with vehement rain, we had thunder, of strange rattling quality, like musketry near at hand: it killed a stot in the next farm; no other damage done. I rode almost to Annan, and back, after it was over. Today is hot as ever, and there is again thunder audible.

Have you got to bathe, then? You surely should. Does your good sleep (comparative) continue?— Tell Anne (who hates free air) to love it while we are away; and to keep up the windows thoroughly: do; I often think of this. She is capable of having the House all infected with live rubbish against our return. Here I have bed, mattress, clothes and everything carried out into the sun, and laid out over trestles all day; whh has wrot a wondrous benefit,—tho' the villainous mosquitos occasionally get in upon me, for there is thorough-draft, windows up to the utmost in permanence day and night.— But I ought to end clattering, and take to the little bit of business I have.

Business is merely of a Dressing-gown and pair of light Trowsers to be made here. Trowsers are settled; Jean, who was here on Monday, sending out specimens yesterday; of whh the Trowsers suited,—but the Dressing-gown, as you may see by the inclosed specimens, was dubious These were the two likeliest Patterns; price is marked on each. After painful weighing, I settled it thus: the grey check “5 / 9” was returned to Jean, with instruction, not to buy till you had seen and reported; if you could do no better, then buy,—what else cd we do? I wanted a narrower stripe (common red-and-blue Plaid, of fair quality, or the like) but I know not whether other places are not as empty of it as Dumfries—I by no means bid or even wish a sail across to Edinr on such an errand; not by any means unless you yourself like it for a “lark”;—that is absolutely the fact. Take off your veto from the grey duffle,—so that you cannot quiz me while wearing it,—and that specimen will do abundantly well for an old fellow like me.— I intend 3 new nightshirts, and other slight outfittings; but these I can right well (best of all) manage here or at Dumfries. Margaret is a capital sewer, washer, housemaid (elementally), Cook (do, makes Breadpuddings nearly incomparable, and coffee hot as even I wish it), can yoke gigs &c &c withal: in short, I think she is worth about four Annes,—and does not look for any “Tea money” from the world, poor thing! The disgusting dearth of London, the noise, unwholesomeness, dirt and fret of one's whole existence there, has often forced itself upon me, while I look at this frugality and these results. If I had once done with those Books, what more have I to do with that healthless profitless, mad and heavyladen place? I will really put it to you once more, my little Dame, to consider if it were not better we returned to poor old Scotland, there to adjust ourselves a little, there to lay our bones. I care not much in what part: Annandale is very sad to me; and has no charm almost,—except that Jamie wd be here to do bargaining &c. It is certain we might live here in opulence (keep brougham, cow, minister's-man4 &c), and give our poor selves and Nero a much wholesomer life, were those Printing Enterprises once ended.— However, there is still plenty of time to reflect: the Printings are by no means done!—

I kept those three Notes, that you might read them before burning. Foxton is very good: Thackeray sent a Brass Pen; won't do; but I found it very kind to think of one in that way. Foxton I asked to come to us “for 3 nights” after our return;—probably he will, in October or so.

And now yesterday morning Tait sends his new Copies of the Photograph;—I think, 3 of each kind; whh seem to me very good. The best, I can notice, are put on Card; these I keep for your ultimate disposal: I have already given Jean one, Mary one (to be framed); and must send a couple analagous to two of your lot to Lady Ashburton; after which my work with them is done.— Do not write if it is a bother to you; but do if it is not. And take care of yourself. Yours ever T. Carlyle 5