January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


JWC TO MARY RUSSELL ; 30 September 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560930-JWC-MR-01; CL 31: 245-246


Scotsbrig / Tuesday [30 September 1856]

My dear dear Mrs Russell.

It is all right! that is—all “as well as can be expected.” I got here last night at half after ten—wearied in body and mind—but certainly as warm as a pie! There was no pleasure in my life after you went away— Not even in the encounter with Mr Fairie1 at the Dumfries Station! who had nothing to say that I cared to hear—except indeed that he had seen you safe back at Thornhill—that Mr Gladstone had taken you home in his carriage—and that “both Mr and Mrs Gladstone2 had spoken to him (Mr Fairie) in the very highest terms of Dr Russell and of Mrs Russell too”— Jane Carlyle alias Aitken and her Husband went to the Station with me, and were still standing by, after I had taken my seat; when a Man's voice from the platform called out, “Mrs Carlyle you have taken my seat! that is my coat you are sitting on”! And Mr Fairie stepped into the carriage and sat down beside me, just as if we had appointed to meet!— Jane's eyes bored into the affair, like gimmlets (I dont know how to spell that) and I made haste to anticipate evil constructions, by introducing “Mr Fairie, a friend of her Brother's”— Happily she knew him by name and looked satisfied—more or less!

James Austin was waiting with a gig at Cummertrees—and in the two moments of stopping there, I shook hands with another “Lady from London” looking out of one of the carriages!! It was a Lady Bell, widow of Sir Charles Bell the Anatomist.3 I understood her to say she had got in at Closeburn—and had been on a visit to Mrs Baird4 Is it not true, “there is only one set of people all over the world!

I told Mary Austin the kind things you had said of her and she seemed affected at the remembrance of that poor Mrs Maxwell.5 She said, “Mr Dobie was uncommon gude to them! it was aye an yera in their lives when Uncle Dobie cam”!

James Carlyle was already there with the gig to take me to Scotsbrig— And when I had said all that was to be said under the circumstances and got some tea I undid my great green bundle and put on the green cloak, in which I looked, I flatter myself, like a gigantic kail worm! But certainly it was made to turn any amount of cold! And I arrived at Scotsbrig smoking!—like your tea pot when you take the cloth off it! I think, even without any cloak, I should have been kept warm by the continual shyings and caperings of our horse at any gleam of light that reached it thro the darkness. and by its descent, on all fours, down a precipitous brae covered with loose stones!— But Jamie is a first rate driver—

No letter from Mr Carlyle this morning, so I cannot know now till tomorrow morning whether he be coming tomorrow or not— Cannot consequently start for London tomorrow by myself— How tiresome!

I wish you were here Dearest! that I might give you plenty of kisses—for words dont go any way in expressing what I feel toward you—and you all— God bless you— I will write very soon from Chelsea— And I will keep the recollections of last week in the depths of my heart as long as I live and possess my memory— A kiss to your Father—and to your husband the kiss I couldnt for decency give him in the open street— Oh how I thank you all

Your affectionate

Jane W Carlyle

My canaries are not only alive but singing!