July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 20 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580720-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 58-59


The Gill, 20 july, 1858 (3 p.m.)

Margaret1 comes in, “Have ye any Letters please?”—starts me up from the tragic study of Charles XII's murder (for such it was);2 and I write only half a word, in the uttermost haste, and with this disobedient accursed pen,—lest you be vaixed, poor Goody, which you don't deserve to be.

I did not believe it cd be in your power to send me so pleasant a message as this morning's out of such materials as there were. No good news in hand, how is it possible to write a pleasant Letter? You are a Caleb Balderstone of a creature; and always contrive wonderfully with your small means; you can make a dinner of handsome appearance out of half a herring, and what is to be had at Eppie Smatrash's, you!3— I am considerably amused at the “Town” Carlyle &c; still better gratified by the account of two nights not so bad as I had expected. A Letter too is here from Larkin, whom I am delighted to find (incidentally) employed on that vile Bramah business,4 and you rid of that at least. Larkin is surely a gift of Providence to us. Keep you clear of Bramah; leave it all with him!— And as to this retreat to Scotland, whh you will not yet hear of, consider it always as perfectly open (not in appearance only, and by my profession or indulgence, but in reality and of itself); to me also the place is really a kind of bed in a hospital, and I reckon myself pretty ready to quit it soon whether you come or not. To you it can be nothing more than it is to me; but it may be that (in very deed, remember!)—and I bid you keep that well in view while so many Barings, Tennysons &c are proving broken reeds.

Today is fairly wet, rainier than any day we have yet had: I really almost like it; at least I shall get my Mackintosh used, whh has hardly ever been fairly wetted yet, tho' it stood me 16 / !— I rode yesterday upon my dromedary, swift and rough to a degree; I went by the shore to be out of flies' way; the great stalking creature likes the footing of the sand, but imagines it has got upon the verge of Creation (I can see), and is in danger of falling over the edge,—for whh reason it “hugs the shore” (as sailors say) and steers always strongly towards the green side of things! A loyal horse too, but an extremely stupid,—only rather swift, so long are its legs.

Tailors not yet gone; only reduced to 1 ½ this day, and to go before night come! Thank Heaven.— I perceive my one double duty wd be to go and see those German Fields of Honour! Alas, alas, I think of “zwei ruhige Zimmer [two quiet rooms],” “something of that kind,” &c; and am “stiff to rise”!5—Take care of thyself for God's sake. T. Carlyle