The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 6 August 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520806-TC-JWC-01; CL 27: 211-212


Linlathen, (Friday) 6 Augt, 1852—

No Letter of Travel and Romance from you today, in spite of your half-promise; “nothink for Craigenputtoch today Ma'am” at all! And here is my luggage lying all round me in heaps; portmanteau still to pack!—or rather to unpack, first of all; the unfortunate valet having packed it wrong, leaving out a tithe of the due contents. Ah me! the sorrows and chaotic shiftings of man do not end while he continues here below.— However, let me write you a “soothing word” before I set off; let me finish my yesterday's note, hastily addressed by Mrs Stirling, which, it strikes me since, must have surprised you a little. Oh my poor little Goody, what a crowdy is this we have got into with those frightful Morganites. My head is full of your sad dusty chaos, and my heart is sore for it & for poor you, with nothing but Martha for a servant too, the Beauty having proved such a fool! What to resolve upon in consequence of all that, I cannot yet see; only that something must be resolved upon:—in the meanwhile let me complete my narrative of the Past of Linlathen; and get my packing done without such a bustle as short time may gradually come to occasion again!— My malison too upon improved paper and inks! I declare all writing has grown disgusting to me with such an everfluctuating never-suiting apparatus as one now gets!—

We successfully completed our trip to Arbroath yesterday;—were 25 minutes too early at the Broughty Station here, after all the fierce hurry we made! Arbroath is the big smoky dusty flax-spinning old Scotch town I anticipated: but the old ruined Abbey (poor old wretch), and the fat enthusiast cicerone of it, were really worth looking at, and shall be remembered: we saw the very grave of William the Lion, and his heart or “part of his entrails” kneaded into a hard mass like furnace-cinder (only lighter); item the scull and cross-bone of his poor Queen, who had been buried (750 years ago) all sewed in leather:1 I could have grat over these and other relics. Farie was very dull and dreadfully tired; the good Thomas was good all the way, as he ever is. We got home in time for dinner; and a weary day was winded up by a ditto evening.— No Letters at all this morning, as I tell you; indeed except three Notes from John, I have had nothing since I came here except what you sent me,—thank Heaven. I have done some (highly inconsiderable) reading; much chaotic “thought and feeling”: the masons, it appears, are where I left them. N.b. I wrote a mittimus [legal discharge] yesterday to the poor “Mr John Taylor”: he will call for his ill-smelling Ms., give it him, and so there will be an end.—— I wrote also to Gordon in Edinr, politeness ordering; item to Countess Blanche of Airlie: response might have come from both this morning, but has not: again, thank Heaven; there will be no farther bother in it then. I had promised to see Gordon “till my train started,” in Edinr, but he evidently is not there. To Blanche I mildly waved farewell, indicating how gladly I would have come, had I possessed the wings of a dove, which I hadn't.— Two days ago, there came a strange stupid-looking old face up to me among the trees, Farie escorting it. On strict survey, it proved to be one Henderson, once an Edinr friend of your Uncle Robert's, now some kind of Sheriff here at Dundee, whom I once had slightly known.2 It seems the Dundee Editor3 and others (being fearfully “scant of clash”) had announced that I was here “partaking hospitality”: whereupon Henderson decided, he “wd come and see whether I knew him.” Such are the unspeakable advantages of celebrity! Poor Henderson is grown, of course, white and hoary; but there is little other change in him: a big fat field of cheek and small pig eyes; a slow, dull, yet a kind of healthy and not stupid or ill-conditioned man. We all went to the shore together, I to bathe; and there we got rid of him.— Alas, here again is uproar; Mrs Stirling leave-taking &c: I must finish, I must finish. At 12½ (an hour hence) I go; towards 3 I am in Fergusdom: next day (Saturday) I get to Scotsbrig if all go well; I am probably on the road thither at the very time you are reading this. Direct to Scotsbrig; and Oh have a letter there soon. Nay I think you cannot have one now till Tuesday (writing, Monday before 4½ p.m.) along with the Newspapers. Adieu, Dearest, Adieu—oh dear, why was travelling ever invented!—Take care of yourself.—— Your affectionate,

T. Carlyle