April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


JWC'S MAAN; 2 August 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490802-JWC-MAAN-01; CL 24: 159-171


Much ado about Nothing1

On Tuesday 24th July 1849, I left Rawdon2 after breakfast, and at five ofthe afternoon reached Morpeth; where I had decided to pass the night. William Forster escorted me thus far, and stayed to start me by the 2 o'clock train next day;—out of pure charity, having adopted Donovan's3 theory of me, that I am wholly without observing Faculty, with large Reflectiveness turned inward;—a sort of woman, that, ill adapted for travelling by railway, alone, with two boxes, a writing-case, and carpet-bag. Anyhow, I was much the better of such a cheerful companion; to stave off the nervousness about Haddington; not to speak of the material comforts,—a rousing fire, brandy-negus &c,—which he ordered for me at the Inn, and which I should not have had the audacity4 to order on my own basis.

After a modest dinner of chops and cherrytart; we walked by the River-side in a drizzling rain (that was at my suggestion); then back to the Phenex for tea, chess, and speculative talk till midnight: when I went to bed expecting no sleep to speak of, and of course slept unusually well; for the surest way to get a thing in this Life is to be prepared for doing without it,—to the exclusion even of hope.

Next morning was bright as diamonds, and we walked all about the Town and neighbouring Hights; where, rendered unusually communicative by our isolated position, I informed William Edward that my maternal Grandmother was “descended from a Gang of Gipsies,”—was in fact grandniece to Matthew Baillie who “suffered at Lanark,”—that is to say, was hanged there,—a genealogical fact Forster said which made me at last intelligible for him,—“a cross betwixt John Knox and a Gipsey how that explained all.”— By the way, my uncle has told me since I came here, that the wife of that Mathew Baillie, Margaret Euston by name, was the original of Sir W Scott's Meg Merrilies. Mathew himself was the last of the Gipsies,—could steal a horse from under the owner, if he liked, but left always the saddle and bridle; a thorough gentleman in his way, and sixfeet four in stature!5

But to go back to Morpeth, we again dined at the Phenex; then Forster put me into my carriage, and my luggage in the van and I was shot off towards Scotland; while himself took train for—Ireland!

From Morpeth to Haddington is a journey of only four hours; again “the wished for come too late”!6 rapidest travelling to Scotland now, and no home there any more!

The first locality I recognised was the Peas Bridge:7 I had been there once before, a little child, in a postchaise with my Father; he had held his arm round me while I looked down the ravine; it was my first sight of the Picturesque, that, I recognised the place even in passing it at railway speed, after all these long long years.

At the Dunbar station an old Lady in widow's dress, and a young one, her daughter, got into the carriage which I had had so far all to myself; a man in yeomanry uniform waiting to see them off. “Ye'll maybe come and see us the morn's nicht?” said the younger Lady from the carriage. “What for did ye no come to the Ball? answered the yeoman, with a look “to split a pitcher”? The young Lady tchick-tchicked, and looked deprecatingly, and tried again and again to enchain conversation; but, to every thing she said, came the same answer; “what for did ye no come to the Ball?”— The poor young Lady then tried holding her tongue; her lover (only her Lover would have used her so brutally) did the same; but rested his chin on the carriage-window to scowl at her with more convenience. The interest was rising; but one could see who of them would speak first. “Oh!” broke out the young Lady, “I'm just mourning!”— “What for?”—“Oh just that Ball!”—“What for then did no come?” growled the repeating decimal; “I waited an oor for ye!” and he got his upper lip over the strap of his cap and champed it—like a horse!— Squeal went the engine; we were off; the young Lady “just mourned” for a minute or two, then fell to talking with her Mother; for me, I reflected how “the feelings were just the same there as here,”8 and the Devil every where busy!

Before these Ladies got out at Drem, I had identified the pale, old, shrivelled widow with a buxom bright-eyed rosy Mrs Frank Sheriff‘9 of my time. The Daughter had not only grown up but got herself born in the interval. What chiefly struck me, however, indeed confounded me, was to be stared at by Mrs Sheriff as a stranger, or even foreigner ! (for, when I asked her some questions about the road, she answered with that compassionate distinctness which one puts on with only foreigners—or idiots.) I began to think my precautions for keeping Incognita in my native place might turn out to have been superfluous.

One of these precautions had the foolishest little consequence. In leaving London, I had written the addresses for my luggage on the backs of other peoples visiting-cards; “without respect of persons”;—a stupid practice when one thinks of it!—but at Morpeth I removed three of the cards, leaving one to the carpet-bag; carpet-bags being so confoundable; I was at the pains however to rub off my own name from that card, which, for the rest, happened to be Mrs Humphrey St John Mildmay's. Well! at Longniddry, where I had to wait some fifteen minutes for the cross-train to Haddington, “there came to pass” a Porter! who helped me with my things, and would not leave off helping me—quite teazed me in fact with delicate attentions.10 At last he made me a low bow and said he was “not aware that any of the family were in this quarter.” I believe I answered; “quite well I thank you”; for I was getting every instant more excited with my circumstances. He shut the carriage-door on me, then opened it again and said with another low bow; “Excuse me, Mam but I was in the service of the Brother of Mr Humphrey St John Mildmay.”11 I am positive as to my answer this time, that it was; “Oh thank you No! I am quite another person!

A few minutes more and I was at the H. Station; where I looked out timidly, then more boldly, as my senses took in the utter strangeness of the scene; and luckily I had “the cares of LUGGAGE” to keep down sentiment for the moment. No vehicle was in waiting but a dusty little Omnibus licenced to carry—any number, it seemed! for on remarking there was no seat for me I was told by all the Insides in a breath; “never heed! come in! that makes no difference!”— And so I was trundled to The George Inn, where a Landlord and Waiter, both strangers to me, and looking half-asleep showed me to the best room on the first floor—a large old-fashioned, three windowed room, looking out on The Fore Street12—and, without having spoken one word, shut the door on me, and there I was at the end of it!—actually in the George Inn, Haddington, alone, amidst the silence of death!

I sat down quite composedly at a window, and looked up the Street,—towards our old House; it was the same street, the same houses; but so silent,—dead,—petrified! it looked, the old place, just as I had seen it at Chelsea in my dreams—only more dreamlike!— Having exhausted that outlook, I rung my bell, and told the silent Landlord to bring tea, and took order about my bedroom. The tea swallowed down; I notified my wish to view “the old church there,” and the keeper of the keys was immediately fetched me. In my part of stranger-in-search-of-the-Picturesque, I let myself be shown the way which I knew every inch of,—shown the “the school houses,” where myself had been Dux,—‘the play-ground, “the Booling reen,”13—and so on to the church-gate, which so soon as my guide had unlocked for me, I told him he might wait—that I needed him no further.

The Church-yard had become very full of graves. Within the Ruin were two new smartly got up tombs; His14 looked old, old; was surrounded by nettles; the inscription all over moss; except two lines which had been quite recently cleared.—by whom? who had been there, before me, still caring for his tomb after 29 years? The old Ruin knew, and could not tell me! that place felt the very centre of eternal silence—silence and sadness world without end! When I returned to the sexton, or whatever he was, he asked would I not walk thro the church; I said yes, and he led the way, but without playing the Cicerone any more; he had become pretty sure there was no need. Our pew looked to have never been new-lined since we occupied it; the green cloth was become all but white from age! I looked at it in the dim twilight till I almost fancied I saw my beautiful Mother in her old corner, and myself a bright-looking girl in the other! it was time to “come out of that”! Meaning to return to the Churchyard next morning, to clear the moss from the inscription; I asked my conductor where he lived—with his key. “next door to the house that was Dr Welsh's; he answered, with a sharp glance at my face; then added gently; “excuse me mem for mentioning that, but the minute I set eyes on ye at the George, I jaloosed [suspected] it was her we all looked after whenever she went up or down.” “You won't tell of me?” I said crying, like a child caught stealing apples; and gave him half a crown to keep my secret, and open the gate for me at eight next morning. Then turning, up the waterside by myself, I made the circuit of The Haugh [low-lying ground by a river], Dodd's Gardens and Babbies Butts15—the customary evening walk in my teens; and except that it was perfectly solitary (in the whole round, I met just two little children walking hand in hand, like the Babes of the wood)16 the whole thing looked exactly as I left it 22 years back! the very puddles made by the last rain I felt to have stepped over before.— But where were all the living beings one used to meet? What could have come to the place to strike it so dead? I have been since answered; the railway had come to it, and ruined it.17 At all rates “it must have taken a great deal to make a place so dull as that!” — Leaving the lanes I now went boldly thro' the streets, the thick black veil, put on for the occasion, thrown back; I was getting confident that I might have ridden like the Lady Godiva18 thro Haddington, with impunity,—so far as recognition went.— I looked thro' the sparred [fastened shut] door of our old coachhouse, which seemed to be vacant; the House itself I left over till morning, when its occupants should be asleep. Passing a Cooper's-shop19 which I had once had the run of, I stept in and bought two little quaichs [drinking cups]; then, in the character of the travelling Englishwoman, suddenly seized with an unaccountable passion for wooden dishes, I questioned the Cooper as to the Past and Present of his town. He was the very man for me, being ready to talk the tongue small in his head about his town's-folks, men, women, and children of them. He told me amongst other interesting things, that “Doctor Welsh's death was the sorest loss ever cam to the Place”;—that myself “went away into England and—died there!” adding a handsome enough tribute to my memory—“Yes! Miss Welsh! he remembered her famously,—used to think her the tastiest young Lady in the whole Place—but she was very—not just to call proud,—very reserved in her company.”— In leaving this man, I felt more than ever like my own gohst; if I had really been walking after my death and burial, there could not I think have been any material difference in my sensations.

My next visit was to the front gate of the Sunny Bank,20 where I stood some minutes, looking up at the beautifully quiet House; not unlike the ‘outcast Peri' done into prose.21 How would my old godmother and the others have looked, I wondered, had they known who was there, so near them? I longed to go in and kiss them once more, but positively dared not; I felt that their demonstrations of affection would break me down into a torrent of tears, which there was no time for; so I contented myself with kissing—the gate(!) and returned to my Inn, it being now near Dark.

Surely it was the silentest Inn on the Planet! not a living being male or female to be seen in it except when I rung my bell, and then the Landlord or Waiter (both old men) did my bidding promptly and silently and vanished again into space. On my reentrance I rung for candles, and for a glass of sherry and hot water; my feet had been wetted amongst the long grass of the churchyard, and I felt to be taking cold; so I made myself negus as an antidote, and they say I am not a practical woman! Then it struck me; I would write to Mr Carlyle,—one more letter from the old place, after so much come and gone. Accordingly I wrote till the Town clock (the first familiar voice I had heard) struck eleven, then twelve, and near one I wrote the Irish address on my Letter and finally put myself to bed—in the George Inn of Haddington, good God!— I thought it too strange and mournful a position for ever falling asleep in; nevertheless I slept in the first instance; for I was ‘a-weary a-weary,’22 body and soul of me! But, alas! the only noise I was to hear in Haddington ‘transpired’ exactly at the wrong moment; before I had slept one hour I was awoke by—an explosion of cats! The rest of that night I spent betwixt sleeping and waking, in night-mare efforts to “sort up my thoughts.” At half after five I put my clothes on, and began the business of the day by destroying, in a moment of enthusiasm—for silence—the long letter “all about feelings” which I had written the night before. Soon after six I was haunting our old house, while the present occupants still slept.— I found the garden door locked, and iron staunchions,—my Heavens!— on the porch and cellar windows, “significative of much!”23 for the rest, there was a general need of paint and white wash: in fact the whole premises had a bedimmed melancholy look as of ‘having’ seen better days.’ It was difficult for me to realise to myself that the people inside were only asleep—and not dead—dead since many years. Ah! one breathed freer in the church-yard, with the bright morning sunshine streaming down on it than near that (so-called) habitation of the Living! I went straight from the one to the other. The gate was still locked; for I was an hour before my time; so I made a dash at the wall, some seven feet high I shoud think, and dropt safe on the inside—a feat I should never have imagined to try in my actual phase, not even with a mad bull at my heels, if I had not trained myself to it at a more elastic age. Godefroi Cavaignac's “quoi donc je ne suis pas mort? crossed my mind but I had none of that feeling—moi,—was morte enough, I knew, whatever face I might put on it. only, what one has well learnt one never forgets.

When I had scraped the moss out of the inscription, as well as I could with the only thing in my dressing case at all suited to the purpose, namely his own button hook with the mother-of-pearl handle, I made a deliberate survey of the whole church-yard, and most of the names I had missed out of the signboards turned up for me once more on the tomb-stones. It was strange the feeling of almost glad recognition that came over me, in finding so many familiar figures out of my childhood and youth all gathered together in one place. But still more interesting for me than these later graves were two that I remembered to have weeped little innocent tears over before I had a conception what real weeping meant,—the grave of the little girl who was burnt to death, thro' drying her white muslim frock at the fire, and that of the young officer (Rutherford)24 who was shot in a duel. The oval tablet of white marble over the little girl's grave looked as bright and spotless as on the first day—as emblematic of the child existence it commemorated; it seemed to my somewhat excited imagination that the youthfulness and innocence there buried had impregnated the marble to keep it snow-white for ever!— When the sexton came at eight to let me in, he found me ready to be let out. “How in the world had I got in?”— “over the wall.”— “No! surely I couldn't mean that?”— “Why not?”— “Lordsake then, cried the man in real admiration, there is no END to you!”—

He told me at parting, “there is one man in this Town, Mem, you might like to see—James Robertson.”25 Your Father's old servant.” Our own old Jamie! he was waiter at The Star good gracious! had returned to Haddington within the last year. “Yes indeed”—I said, “he must be sent to me at the George an hour hence, and told only that a Lady wanted him.”

It was still but eight o'clock, so I should have time to look at Sunny Bank from the back gate, and streamed off in that direction; but passing my dear old schoolhouse, I observed the door a little a-jar, walked in and sat down in my old seat; to the manifest astonishment of a decent woman who was sweeping the floor. Ach gott! our maps and Geometrical Figures had given place to Texts from Scripture and the foolishest half-penny pictures! it was become an Infant School Good God! and a Miss Alexander was now Teacher where Edward Irving and James Brown had taught!26— Miss A and her Infants were not, it seemed early risers; their schoolroom after eight oclock was only being swept; it was at seven of the morning that James Brown once found me asleep there—after two hours hard study—asleep betwixt the leaves of the Great Atlas, like a keep-lesson [pupil's book mark]! but “things have been all gone to the Devil ever since the reform-bill”; as my Uncle is always telling us. The Woman interrupted her sweeping to inform me amongst other things that it was “a most terrible place for dust”; that “a deal was put into Bairns now, which she dooted was wastewark”; that “it was little one got by cleaning after them,” and “if her Husband had his legs, they might have the school that liked”

Not the vestige of a Boy or even of a girl was to be seen about the Grammar School either; that school, I afterwards heard from Jamie “had gone to just perfect nonsense”— “There was a Master (one White) but no scholars.27 “How is that, I asked; are there no children here any longer?” “Why its not altogether the want o' children” said Jamie, with his queer old smudge of inarticulate fun, “but the new master is rather severe,—broke the jawbone of a wee Boy—they tell me; but indeed the whole place is sore gone down.” I should think so! But I am not gone to Jamie yet; another meeting came off before that one.

Sunny Bank looked even lovelier “in the light of a new morning” than it had done in the evening dusk. A hedge of red roses in full blow extended now from the House to the gate; and I thought I might go in and gather one without evoking any—Beast. Once inside the gate I passed easily to the idea of proceeding as far as the back door, just to ask the servant how they all were, and leave compliments without naming myself; the servants only would be a-stir so early. Well! when I had knocked at the door with my finger “sharp but mannerly”; it was opened by a tidy maidservant exhibiting no more surprise than if I had been the Baker's boy!— Strange, was it not, that anybody should be in a calm state of mind, while I was so full of emotions? Strange that the Universe should pursue its own course without reference to my presence in Haddington!!— “Are your Ladies quite well”: I asked nevertheless. “Miss Jess and Miss Catherine are quite well; Miss Donaldson rather complaining; you are aware Mem that Mr Donaldson is dead?”— “Oh dear yes!” I said, thinking she meant Alexander. “At what hour do you Ladies get up?” “They are up Mem and done breakfast, will you walk round to the front-door?”— Goodness gracious! should I ‘walk round,’ or not?— My own nerves had got braced somewhat by the morning air; but their nerves—how would the sight of me thus “promiscuously” operate on them? “You had better go round and let me tell the Ladies,” put in the servant, as if in reply to my cogitations; “what name shall I say?”—“None, I think, perhaps my name would startle them more than myself; tell them; someone they will be glad to see.” And so, flinging the responsibility on Providence, who is made for being fallen back upon in such dilemmas, (“Providence must have meant me to see them in raising them out of bed so betimes!”), I did ‘go round,’ with my heart thumping, “like,—like,—like—anything.28

The maidservant met me at the front-door and conducted me to the Drawingroom, where was—nobody; but on a table lay a pile of black-bordered note-paper which explained to me, that it was Mr Donaldson of London who was dead; the last Brother—dead in these very days! I wished I had not come in; but it was out of time now.— The door opened and showed me Miss Catherine changed into an old woman, and showed Miss Catherine me, changed into one of—a certain age! She remained at the door, motionless, speechless, and I couldn't rise off my chair, at least I didn't; but when I saw her eyes staring “like watch-faces,” I said, “Oh Miss Catherine don't be frightened at me!”—and then she quite shrieked ‘Jeanie! Jeanie! Jeanie Welsh! my Jeanie! my Jeanie!’— Oh mercy I shan't forget that scene in a hurry! I got her in my arms and kissed her into her wits again; and then we both cried a little—naturally—; both of us had had enough since we last met to cry for. I explained to her “how I was situated,” as Mr C. would say, and that I was meaning to visit them after—like a Christian; and she found it all “most wisely done—done like my own self.”—Humph!— Poor Miss Catherine! its little she knows of my own self's and perhaps the less the better! She told me about their Brother's death, which had been sudden at the last.29 Supposing me still in London as usual, and that in London we hear of one anothers deaths; they had been saying it was strange I did not write to them and my Godmother had remarked; “it is not like her!”—just while I was standing at their gate most likely; for it was ‘the evening before, about dark,’ they had been speaking of me.

But again the door opened and showed Miss Jess—Ach!— She had to be told who I was, and pretty loudly too; but when she did take in the immense fact, oh my!—if she didn't “show feeling enough” (her own favourite expression of old!)— Poor Jess after all! We used to think she showed even more feeling than she felt, and nothing came out on the present emergence to alter our opinion of her. But enough—the very old, it seems to me, should be admitted, by favour, to the privelege of the Dead,—have “no ill” spoken of them, that can possibly be helped.

My ‘Godmother’ was keeping her bed “with rheumatism” and grief; as I “would really come back soon” it was settled to leave her quiet. They offered me breakfast,—it was still on the table: but “horrible was the thought” to me! It was all so solemn and doleful there that I should have heard every morsel going down my throat! besides I was engaged to breakfast with myself at the George. So, with blessings for many days, I slipt away from them like a knotless thread.

My friend the Cooper, espying me from his doorway, on the road back, planted himself firmly in my path: “if I would just complemennt him with my name, he would be terribly obliged; we had been uncommon comfortable together, and he must know what they called me!”— I told him, and he neither died on the spot nor went mad; he looked pleased and asked how many children I had had. None, I told him. ‘None!’ (in a tone of astonishment, verging on horror) “None at all! then what on the Earth had I been doing all this time?” ‘Amusing myself,’ I told him. He ran after me, to beg I would give him a call on my return (I had spoken of returning) “as he might be making something, belike, to send south with me, something small and of a fancy sort, liker myself than them I had bought.”

Breakfast stood ready for me at the Inn and was discussed in five minutes. Then I wrote a note to Mr C, a compromise betwixt “all about feelings” and ‘the new silent system’—of the Prisons.30 Then I went to my bed room to pack up. The Chambermaid came to say a gentleman was asking for me. “For me?” “Yes! he asked for THE Lady stopping here.” (no influx of company at the George it seemed) “Did you see him” I asked, divining Jamie, “are you sure it is a gentleman? “I am sure of his being put ON like one.” I flew down to my parlour, and there was Jamie sure enough! Jamie to the Life! and I threw my arms round his neck, that did I— He stood quite passive and quite pale with great tears rolling down; it was minutes before he spoke, and then he said only, low under his breath; “Mrs—Carlyle!” So nice he looked, and hardly a day older, and really as like ‘a Gentleman’ as some Lords; he had dressed himself in his Sunday Clothes for the occasion, and they were capital good ones. “And you knew me, Jamie, at first sight, I asked?—“Toot! we knew ye afore we seed ye.”— “Then you were told it was me?”—“No! they told us just we was to speak to a Lady at the George, and I knew it was Mrs Carlyle,”— But how could you tell, dear Jamie?” “Hoots! who else could it be?“(!) Dear funniest of created Jamies!— While he was ostler at the Black Bull Edinr;31 “one of them what-ye-call Bagmen furgottet his patterns” at Haddington and he (Jamie) was “sent to take them up; and falling in talk with HIM of the Star; it came out there was no waiter, “and so in that way,” said Jamie, ‘we came back to the old place. He told me all sorts of particulars “more profitable to the soul of man” than anything I should have got out of Mr Charteris32 in three years, never to say “three weeks.” But “a waggon came in atween ten and eleven and he must be stepping west.”— “he was glad to have seen me looking so (dropping his voice)—stootish!” (I saw him, from the Omnibus, after, unloading the waggon, in his workday clothes, almost on the very spot where, for a dozen years, he had helped me in and out of our carriage!)

And now there only remained to pay my bill and await the Omnibus I have that bill of 6/6 in my writing case; and shall keep it all my days; not only as an eloquent memorial of human change—like grass from graves and all that sort of thing; but as the first Inn bill I ever in my life contracted and paid on my own basis.

Another long look from the George Inn window,—and then into the shabby little Omnibus again; where the faces of a Lady next me and a gentleman opposite me tormented my memory without result.

In the railway carriage which I selected, an old gentleman had taken his seat, and I recognised him at once as Mr Lea—the same who made the little obelisk which hangs in my bedroom at Chelsea.33 He had grown old like a golden pippin, merely crined [shrunk], with the bloom upon him. I laid my hand on his arm, turning away my face, and said, “Thank God here is one person I feel no difficulty about.” “I don't know you,” he said in his old blunt way, “who are you?”— “Guess!”— “Was it you who got over the church-yard wall this morning? I saw a stranger-lady climb the wall and I said to myself that's Jeanie Welsh!—no other woman would climb the wall instead of going in at the gate—are you Jeanie Welsh?

I ‘owned the soft impeachment’;34 then such shaking of hands! embracing even! But so soon as things had calmed down a little between us; Mr Lea laid his hand on my shoulder and said as if pursuing knowledge under difficulties, “now tell me, my Dear, why did you get over the wall instead of just asking for the key?”

He spoke of William Ainsleys35 death; I said I had never known him, that he went to India before I could remember. “Nonsense,” said Mr Lea; “not remember William Ainsley? Never knew William Ainsley? What are you thinking of? Why; didnt he wrap you in a shawl and run away with you to our house the very day you were born, I believe?— I said it might be very true but that the circumstance had escaped my recollection. Mr Lea was left at Longniddry where he came daily, he said, to bathe in the sea. What energy!

While waiting there for the train from London, I saw again my Lady and Gentleman of the Omnibus36 and got their names from Mr Lea; they were not people I had ever visited with, but I had been at school with them both; We passed and repassed one another without the slightest sign of recognition on their side.

George Cunningham37 too was pacing the Longniddry-platform, the Boy of our school who never got into trouble and never helped others out of it,—a slow bullet-headed boy who said his lessons like an eight-day clock and never looked young; now, on the wrong side of forty it might be doubted if he would ever look old. He came up to me and shook hands, and asked me by name how I did, exactly as tho' we met on change every day of our lives! To be sure I had seen him once since we were at school together, had met him at Craik's some twelve years ago.— Such as he was; we stood together till the train came up, and “talked of geography, politics, and natur.

At Edinr Jeanie's38 sweet little face looked wildly into the carriage for me, and next minute we were chirping and twittering together on the platform whilst the eternal two boxes writing case and carpet-bag were being once more brought into one focus.— “Look look Cousin” said Jeanie there are people who know you!” and looking as I was bid; who but the pair who had accompanied me from Haddington were standing, with their heads laid together, and the eyes starting out of them me-ward! The Lady the instant she saw I noticed them sprang forward extending her hand; the Husband “emboldened by her excellent example” did the same; they were “surprised,” “delighted,” everything that could be wished; “had not had a conception of its being me till they saw me smiling”— “Eh Sirs!” said my Mother's old nurse to her after a separation of twenty years there's no a featur o' ye left, but just the bit smile!

I will call for these Richardsons when I go back to Haddington; I liked their hop-skip-and-jump over Ceremony—their oblivion in the enthusiasm of the moment that we had “belonged to different circles” (Haddingtonly speaking)

And now having brought myself to Edinr and under the little protecting wing of Jeanie, I bid myself adieu and “wave my lilly hand”— I was back into the Present! and it is only in connection with the Past that I can get up a sentiment for myself— The Present Mrs Carlyle is what shall I say?—detestable—upon my honour!39

Auchtertool Manse

2d August [1849]40

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