July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JOHN FERGUS ; 27 October 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18581027-TC-JFE-01; CL 34: 227-228


Chelsea, 27 Octr, 1858—

Dear Mr Fergus,

About a week ago, there arrived here a Box, with shipping marks upon it, and a strong smell of intoxicating liquor about it;—which contained, when opened, 20 Bottles, and had once contained 24, of excellent Scotch Whiskey. No mark or indication was discoverable from whom this beneficent Article proceeded: but I said at once, “Aut Fergusius aut Diabolus [Either Fergus or the Devil]!—to which the female intellect, tho' disposed to raise doubts, could not but incline assent. Happily, at an after stage, there was discerned the Excise Permit, with a definite name on it, one Paterson of Dunfermline's;1 who, application being made to him, pleads guilty; so that the matter is now certain. I can only say, Many thanks for your kind remembrance of me, when you have so much else to remember! There is something very beneficent in the little action; for which I am truly grateful (in this bad world, now growing so solitary to one too), and will have a pleasant memory of you,—nay shall, whether I will or not, till the liquor is all slowly spent, at least. Our old stock was not quite out, tho' verging that way: of the new I have made my Wife even take a thimbleful, twice over, by way of close to the Day, and each time it has brought her a good sleep,—could one but hope it would hold on at that rate.

Paterson declines the high honour I had offered him of replacing the 4 Bottles spilt by his carelessness: but he may depend upon it, the blame is his; I have had of bottles perhaps 300 or 400 sent from Leith precisely in the same way; and of these there was never any broken before, except once simply one, and this the Wine-merchant instantly made good, with apologies. The mind trusts that Paterson is not yet paid!— On the whole, once more, many hearty thanks; and as the Proverb says, “May never waur be among us!”—

I came home from Germany about a month ago; a totally broken man. Never was such lodging offered to a thinskinned mortal; never such food; and we went witht resting, at the top of our speed, in railways full of tobacco for 31 days. The Riesengebirge, the Sächsische Schweitz [Saxon Switzerland], I found very beautiful,2—if I had been at all in quest of “beauty.” I wished to see 13 different places, none of them beautiful, and escape home with my life.— — I have got back my Horse (not in the powerfullest condition), and am endeavouring to get into motion again, if I could. A bit of terribly rough way I still have, if I continue living; but after that, I lie down, and honestly do nothing for the rest of my life. Let us hope Dizzy will bring you back soon,3 & in good case. Yours ever truly T. Carlyle