August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


JWC TO TC ; 4 September 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570904-JWC-TC-01; CL 33: 68-69


Sunny Bank—Friday

[4 September 1857]

Oh my Dear! When one is living for one's body as I have been doing this summer,—exercising it, feeding it, changing its “air,” keeping it “always happy and tranquil” (as old Dr Morrah ordered),1—to the best of one's human ability; and then lies down some night in the most perfect of beds, in the profoundest silence, and can't get one wink of sleep, no how!—“then you see one is vaixed”!

This morning especially I have got up very ‘vaixed’ indeed. I can ill afford a whole nights sleep with that long dubious journey so near! You would have pitied me, had you seen me, between four and five this morning—“sitting cocking up in bed” (as you call it) my candle lighted, my spectacles on, and studying Brydone's Railway Directory a sort of Bradshaw-made-easy!!2 as hour after hour of the night dragged on, my thoughts had become more and more fluttery and locomotive till they seemed like young swallows sweeping circles “in my own inside”3 preparatory to taking flight thro infinite space!— Pleasant!

“Send your Son to Ayr / If he's a fool here, he’ll be a fool there”! (I got that from Miss Donaldson last-night.)— Also, here is a Chinese proverb I found in the last Quarterly, “The dog in the kennel barks at his fleas; the dog who hunts does not feel them.”4— What an example of noble patience I have before me here! I admire that old blind deaf Miss Donaldson5 almost to tears; and go fretting on at everything that doesn't quite suit me!— Just once in all the time I have been beside her has a word of regret about herself escaped her lips— She had been speaking of the morning of my Fathers death,6 when she came to us like a helpful angel—“Never shall I forget that morning,” she said—her voice broke down, and she added with tears rolling over her dear wrinkled face; “Oh when I recall the many sorrowful scenes I have passed thro'; and think of myself as I am, blind, deaf, useless to myself and others; I think I could just cry the whole night thro! but we mustn't give way—No!—as David said, “Be dumb”!7

I got the sheets safe yesterday afternoon— It was more than I hoped for— But they are not read yet! The carriage was coming round to take Eliza and me a drive before tea—(the fore noon having been too rainy for anything) and after tea is the time I sit talking to Miss Donaldson—or reading to her—I durst not undertake to read so aloud the sheets I wasn't familiar with— Then in my own room before going to bed I wouldn't read them for fear of spoiling my sleep—much came of that precaution!— now, it is still quite early morning, but I wished to put a few lines off my hands first thing—to insure you against a disappointment tomorrow— Along with the sheets yesterday came a disagreeable letter from Geraldine— All her letters since I have been away have been “most disagreeable” I think she is growing into what is called “an illnatured old maid,” only that, so long as M Mantel8 is to the fore, she has no idea of old maidhood! In her last she gives me to understand that Ann would much prefer me to stay away!— In fact all along she has been impressing on me in sly terms, that my absence was felt to be good company at Cheyne Row—and that if I ever come back, it would be at the risk of spoiling every bodys good humour!!

Never the less, I may be looked for on Wednesday night if you hear nothing to the contrary— In my study of Brydone last night; I perceived or believe to have perceived that could I get to Dunbar by 10 on Wednesday morning I should be picked up by the Day-Express Train! The difficulty was to get to Dunbar— And now Miss Jess tells me I can have the carriage at any hour of the morning I like, to take me all that distance! How much more use is got out of comparatively poor peoples carriages than rich peoples!— “It would be a great advantage” to escape a night on the road either in an Inn or in a Train— I might have a billet in a private house at Dunbar but that would be just as worrying as a bed at an Inn paid with one's own money! I must to the Station here, and ask questions — — In my next you will have the final conclusion No more at present for “my head's like a mall and my stomach like a barn bannock”9

Yours affectionately / Jane W Carlyle