January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 2 September 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560902-TC-LA-01; CL 31: 208-209


The Gill, 2 Septr, 1856—

Dear Lady,

There has been much fussing and hithering and thithering here (my own want of forethought chiefly), and then a kind of accident which occasions new uncertainty about my mode of reaching the Kinloch.1 Much ado about a small matter!— The welcomer is your Letter to me, wise and kind, which lay waiting me last night on my return from a ride to Scotsbrig &c.

Poor Jane, in the ardour of her mind, went to hear a popular Dr Guthrie, with some Aunts of hers, the Sunday before last at Edinr; heard the popular Dr Guthrie, most “artfully simple,” thrice “opulent in imagery” (mirroring next to nothing of real), in fine supereminently excellent vender of melodious wind; but heard him as if in a stewpan; got east-wind coming home; got &c, poor soul,—so that she lies for a week past, ill of a bad cold, with her Fife Cousins; and the route by Linlathen, at least so far as her visit there is concerned, goes out of the game again. This too I heard for the first time last night.— On the other hand I somewhat shudder at the 3 nights (likely to be sleepless) which the Sea-journey presupposes: 1 at Glasgow, 1 at Bannavie,2 1 at Inverness (as I cannot but think,—tho' you seem to deny, and recommend me to Mrs Spicer:3 what is that?)—however, I shall probably resolve on the sea method after all. A man ought not to refuse a sight of the Picturesque when it comes in his way;—it is perhaps the duty of a man to lie one night of his life, awake if not otherwise, at the foot of Ben Nevis4 when possibility offers?— —

It is thus however that I grope about, and waver in uncertainty over this tremendous expedition. Wednesday last I had fairly done with the work cut out for me here, and could have started had the program been complete: program, as I then hypothetically completed it, tumbles all to staves again;—and on Saturday last I could not get even a “Murrays Time-Tables” at Dumfries; and only expect that invaluable work tomorrow or the day after!

One thing only I can announce as fixed That I do set out somehow or other on Friday next; and by Linlathen or by the Kyles of Bute,5 and by some aquatic or terrestrial route (aërial and subterranean are out of the Question), do hope to reach you in the beginning of next week. What particular day, I will try to announce from some point of the journey,—or at least after roasting the Murray Time-Tables in the crucible of my poor intellect, if haply they will yield anything.— If I arrive in a state fit for the hospital, well you must put me into some fit ward, and feed me on spoon-meat for a day or two.— Beauly6 I shd much covet; but must not pretend witht the strict warning. Thanks anyhow. Thanks and again thanks. And good be with you Lady dear.

T. Carlyle.