October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 12 July 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570712-JWC-TC-01; CL 32: 178-180


Sunny Bank Sunday [12 July 1857]

I had fairly torn myself out of the arms of Miss Jess yesterday, and was running up stairs “to write to him”: when she called after me; “but, my Dear, he wont get your letter tomorrow, It's Sunday”! So I had just to come back “with my finger in my mouth.” That night on the road had set my mental clock all wrong. Otherwise, it has had no bad consequence; and I am certainly better already for my “change of air”; am stronger, hungrier and sleepier! And it is not the sudden, miraculous betterness of last year, beginning and ending in the excitement of the thing! This time there has been no excitement “to speak of”—repetition and the sobering effects of long illness have quite taken off the edge of my “feelings” and I can look round me in the Church-yard itself—with the dead calm of a Ghost.

I have not been in any house of the Town yet, except “Miss Welsh's” who, I was told by Miss Donaldson, was dangerously ill—proving the authenticity of her relationship, by appearances of consumption.1 I have visited her twice—in her bed—and it seems to me, if she be dying, it is not of her disease but of the remedies. The poor thing got quite cheerful and laughed several times while I staid with her; tho' “she hadnt spoken a word all day.” She is “greatly respected in the Town by rich and poor.”

The Howdens2 and others have called for me; but during my drive—I go every day after breakfast first a short drive with the Miss Donaldsons and then a long one by myself— I drive generally seaward—and yesterday I went to Aberleddy and investigated its capacities as a seabathing place—in case you should be on the look out for one again. I have no hesitation in saying that it would suit you—suit us—better than any other seaside place I ever saw. You know what a sea! clear and azure as the skies! That on one hand; and on the other a green fertile lovely country— Then the village itself is very clean and perfectly “silent”— In spite of the influx of English to Scotch Bathing Places; here they have not—and cannot come! There are only three sets of Lodgings that I could hear of in the whole place—and no more are likely to be established—as the village belongs to Lord Weems,3 who wont have it thrown open to the public. I looked at these lodgings—one was too small for anything. There was one flat in a Bakers—roomy enough but untidy— Another consisting of two small sitting rooms—and two bedrooms and a kitchen and attics—tho small not stuffy like those Eastbourne houses4—and so clean and neat—presided over by a solitary old woman—who told me she had “been friends with my keeper5 when I was “the height of that” (putting her hand within a foot of the floor). One is expected to bring a servant—or “engage a girl”—on the spot—and to “lay in ones own coals[”]— having one's own kitchen— That would be the place for us! and I am sure we could find upputting for your horse— “This desirable tenement,” lets during the flush of the season at 7£ a month—later at 5£ a month or even a pound a week— A Family were expected to occupy it for six weeks from yesterday— You might have it for September if you liked— At all events, if we live till next year, you must come there for a month or two— I am sure I could make you comfortable there—and should feel heimlich [cozy] myself— Together I should not mind trying the cheap train again and after a sound sleep one feels [no] “consequences.” So we could have sea-bathing at Aberleddy on as cheap terms as at East bourne—and infinitely more agreeable ones— I told Mrs Maben6 (the Landlady of our prospective sea quarters) that tho' from London, I was a Haddington woman—“do you remember Dr Welsh?”— Eh! IF I remember Dr Welsh!! Dear Dear! and ye'll be his aee bairn!—the wee createrie that I mind nee higher than that!”

It was [MS damaged] a fortunate dip—into [MS damaged] Lodging— Have I “made you sensible” (as Anne Cook7 used to say when she was cheating me) that there never can be above some half dozen strangers at Aberleddy—there being no lodgings for more.

We do not hear that Eliza Donaldson is imminent yet—and I feel no haste to fix my departure tho they8 are impatient for me at Auchtertool—

My life here is as good for me as any life could be—tho most people would wonde[r] [w]here the charm lay which [makes] me all day long as content as I can ever hope to be in this world. Every night I go to bed as hoarse as a crow with talking and reading at the top of my lungs to these dear almost stone-deaf old women— And I like that! They love me so very much—and, are so happy over me!

I saw and knew your letter thro the window—on the dining room table—when I was getting out of the carriage. I was very glad of it— Geraldine writes that Anne told her “Mr Carlyle was quite happy and comfortable”—Maybe's ye'er nae great judge”! A kiss to Nero—two chirps to the Canaries—

Your affectionate

Jane Carlyle 9