July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 12 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580712-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 34-36


The Gill, 12 july, 1858—

Thanks, Dearest, for the trouble you took to write on Saturday: the Saturday Letters arrive regularly on Monday,—as this morning; when, coming out of the scrags and bushes where I go to stroll and smoke after breakfast, I met Mary1 coming along, Letter in hand; good soul, for she had known it was yours. How precious to hear that you had got another tolerable sleep, I need not say. The other burble, of the Letter going to Ardrossan &c, wd all be explained to you this morning:2 and I too have gained a day over my expectations from the Post; and hope to hear again tomorrow,—may the news again be good! So soon as you are able again to stir, everybody seems to advise that you shd seek a little “change of air”; all Doctors give it as a specific in cases of cold; and I really believe, if it be a change to the country (say only to Richmond,3 where you might make acquaintance with the Horse4 at least!), the effect wd infallibly be beneficial. On the whole, you must not now delay; the summer being at its height, the next fortnight by nature the hottest of the year. I am sorry to hear of splashy winds, and cold weather, in the Chelsea localities: your Saturday how difft from ours here! But I hardly doubt it will have taken a turn by this time; the rain is all gone, even out of Cumberland (where they have from 60 to 180 inches in the year), and Summer prevails again, tho' with more wind than on Saturday. Yesterday was very bright and very windy,—Jamie (Carlyle) prophesying rain, & the other Jamie (Austin) drought; latter proving true today.

Nothing coming from Scotsbrig yesterday, Austin & I had resolved for Annan in the afternoon, to post there the poor Note you will have read this morning,—no weightier errand, but indeed that was weightier than necessary. I went swinging out on my Dromedary who swept along with me nicely thro' the pure clean winds and thro' the utterly vacant roads and lanes: that is a great charm of my riding here; the authentic face of poor old Scotch existence, and oftenest (especially on Sunday) not 3 living mortals to meet you in a dozen miles! I had a very nice ride; had not Black Care stuck so fast on the crupper part!5— It struck me, we might as well post the Letter at Ecclefechan, and see Scotsbrig by the same drive. Austin is always eager for any amount of driving. Off we went therefore, in that direction; past Hoddam Hill, Repentance,6 the Churchyards, the native Village:7 Oh what a drive, to and from; beautiful, quiet, and yet the Valley of Jehosaphat8 could not have been more stern and terribly impassive to me. I shall never forget that afternoon and evening. The poor old Churchyard Tree at Ecclefechan (¾ of it lately torn away with wind), the white Headstone,9 of whh I caught one steady look: Oh Heaven, Oh Earth! All words are silent; and the deepest De Profundis [out of the depths]10 is poor to the feeling one's poor heart has. Very bonny too; “Bu, a'vera boonnie, there,” as poor Mary Mills11 once said!— We found the Scotsbrigers, frank and cordial as brotherhood cd be, even Jack, with his “poor Boys”12 (whom he instantly suppressed, and as it were covered under tubs) was visibly kindness to the finger-ends, and even sympathized (voluntarily as you may guess, for I did not apply to him on that head), with evident sincerity, about your bad turn: “To go into the country, if even for a few days” &c &c. I returned hither, sad to the very heart, yet with a certain feeling of sacredness, such as only depth of honest sorrow can give. Details of our visit & all its accompaniments you are likely enough to hear from me by word of mouth, if we be spared to meet again, as the pious phrase here is.

Today the Tailor has actually come,—two tailors strong, and will tomorrow be three;13—the cloth they have will not last till tomorrow evg: I have to decide on dashing off for Dumfries, and getting cloth (any conceivable kind of cloth), rather than haggle farther with this paltry object,—sorry on it, three times over, and the paltry Devil's-servants who, by their incessant apehood, create such difficulties for every man!— I had decided to ride in: but I privately find, poor Mary has a kind of desire to accompany; so I decide, “the large harness must be sent for” (you need not understand this), and Dromedary shall consume the way in that form. Half past 3 p.m., dinner is to be swallowed by that time; and forthwith to the road. Not at all a bad drive, had one right “society” to share it;—but where is anybody to fall in with the like of that? Silence, no “society,” is not perfection either; how far from it! Let us be quiet, be content!—

Did you read Foxton's long philosophic rigmarole?14 There is a certain faithfulness in it too; and the man looks out of it with his honest Jn-Bull face. I do not think he will do for an escort to Germany, tho' preferable to some.—Blessings on thee Dear, and send good news to me tomorrow: Oh if I could but bargain for that! But we can only hope, hope. Yours ever

T. Carlyle