January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 23 August 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560823-JWC-TC-01; CL 31: 188-190


Craigen Villa / Saturday [23 August 1856]

Your letter of yesterday arriving at the same time with one from my Aunt Ann (away in Dumfriesshire) to Grace, just as we were going to breakfast, threw us into such a little flutter of excitement, that we all fell quite unconsciously into “Sin”! Sin against “T'Olly Goast”!1 I was reading my letter, and had taken a sip or two of tea and bitten into my soda-scone, and the others had done the same; when Grace suddenly shrieked out like “a Mad”;2 “Mercy! we have forgotten the Blessing.” I started on my chair, and (to such pitch of compliance with “Coostom in Part3 have I already reached!) dropt instinctively the morsel out of my mouth, into my hand (!!) till I should see what steps were to be taken, for making our peace with Christ. But the case was judged past remedy—and the breakfast allowed to proceed unblessed!

I was regretting to Betty4 that my Aunts should live in such a fuss of religion—“My Dear!,” said she, “they were idle—plenty to leeve on and nocht to do for't!—they micht hae taen to waur! So we maun just thole them an no compleen!”5

For the rest; they are more affectionate to myself than I ever found them before—really kind almost to tenderness! especially Elizabeth who seems much softened by her sad accident6—I am glad I staid—for henceforth I shall feel to have Aunts—which is a gain to one who has no brothers or sisters, and whose “many friends” are something like the Hare's!7

At the same time I shall be well pleased to return to Auchtertool on Monday; where also they are adorably kind to me—and where I have more room to turn in—in all ways!

I have no friends in the North except Mr Gillespie of Ardachy8 who I dare say would give me a welcome— But it would be a deal too far to travel for any satisfaction I should get out of him! even were there no unknown wife in the case! I should prefer being “well let alone” in Fife, till the time of our return to Chelsea, with just a week or so taken for Dumfriesshire— There they wont weary of me, either; which is a main ingredient in my contentment— If I want to “vaary the schene”9 a little; I may go a few days to Miss Fergus10 who has returned to Kircaldy, and sent me a kindly expressed invitation for “a long visit”— She does not mention your name—as indeed was natural—considering! Thomas Erskine also invites us both to Linlathen and understands you to have written that you would come— I went to call at poor Capt Paterson's, (the house is close by here) and saw the Patersons and Mrs Sterling who went home yesterday and “would write to me.”11 I should not much dislike going with you to Linlathen if you take it on the way to the Highlands—but I would rather stay quietly with my own people— Blanch Airlie too has sent me an affectionate letter about coming to Cortachy Castle12—but tho' in an affectionate mood when she asked me to come, her mood might change by the time I went— And on the whole I am not drawn to Cortachy Castle; but, “quite the contrary”—“The honour of the thing” looks too mean, and scraggy, and icy a motive, to make me go a foot length or trouble myself the least in the world; with all those tears and kisses I brought away from Haddington still moist and warm on my heart—tears and kisses bestowed on me for the sake of my dead Father and Mother.

I have just been interrupted by a touching visit—from Mrs Anderson (Miss Grove)13 who has been invalided with her spine for ten years— She was carried in by her Husband and laid on the sofa—a sad, grey, resigned looking suffering woman— But the Husband so gentle and attentive to her, that there was a certain comfort in looking at them.

I have an engagement to Betty, who will have curds and cream waiting for me—and I must go now— I am to dine out today for the first time—with Miss Hamilton (of Gladsmuir)14 who asked Grace too—

I always forgot to tell you you15 that I met, at the Liddles in Fife, Mr William Swan—and that I made him a pretty little speech about “your enduring remembrances of his Father & Mothers kindness to you16 on which account I begged to shake hands with him which had the greatest success! He was so pleased; that Walter followed up my advances by inviting him to a dinner party at the Manse— And there I presented him with your photograph!! which he called “a treasure”— So fat a man one rarely sees—but he looks kind and has the character of being “most benevolent”—and he evidently had a deep affection for his Parents—

Also I have a strange story to tell you about Samuel Browns17 illness but that must lie over or I shall miss the Omnibus

Good luck to the new clothes

Yours ever faithfully /

Jane W Carlyle