January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO LADY ASHBURTON ; 15 August 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560815-TC-LA-01; CL 31: 176-177


The Gill, Cummertress, Annan, 15 Augt, 1856—

Will My Lady deign perhaps to read that Kissingen Letter, from Neuberg, the faithful Hebrew, whose Letters are much preferable to himself? It gives a lively view of foreign doings by the idle of this world, in their pump rooms far away. When Tea is come in, when Sambo has retired from his destructive courses, and the deerhound and he are alike sleeping their dogsleep, only dreaming of battle,—it may amuse the Laird and Leddy in their Highland Shealing.1

There has nothing new befallen me at all; I am still in Vacuis [emptiness] or in Profundis [depths] as before, all things massed together round me in waste inarticulate condition, not apt for speaking of. I suppose that means the Perfection of Idleness, which was in fact the thing I went in quest of hitherward. It is strange how one's whole day goes, in pitiful details, about the body mainly; as if one had no soul, or merely a passive one, waiting on its slave,—a sadly rebellious anarchic state of matters. The Ocean, driven by Moon & Sun, is sending in high tides again into these remote creeks; at hours not convenient for me: I have been in the Sea today already (11 a.m.), and find the adventure confusing,—questionable tho' commended. However, I do surely, or should, go on to make progress in the matter of health: no regimen, or way of living and non-employment, could better correspond to the doctrines I have got in regard to that matter. There are still ten days of bathing: the future, beyond that, is still blank to me. So let it rest for the present.— Jane has come across to Haddington, and thence to Edinburgh (till Thursday next); after whh she returns to her old Fife Quarters,—probably not for long. We had a week of furious heat; then “60 hours of thunder,” then about as many of rain, or drifting scotch-mist for variety; since which the Skies seem gradually gathering up their Skirts again, towards steady sunshine, and the weather is altogether recommendable after its sort. Yesterday afternoon I rode to Dumfries (where I have a Sister), twelve miles off, thro' brisk cloudy winds (an excellent road, made by General Wade, who came from Hampshire);2 after sunset I returned in the same fashion: one of the nicest rides I have had this long time,—especially the return part of it; with no company but the driving clouds and winds, the semi-extinct moon, and certain old Kirks, cottages, woods and localities (glitter of the Solway seen ahead, from the higher points of Wade's structure, and a railway-station lamp now & then); the whole of which were very preternatural to me, a strong dash of Hades in them all. Alas, Alas!— And yet it is a grand destiny that of Mortals, too, something godlike in the very pain of it,—had not the Infinite of Human Blockheadism (Devil as they call it) so conspired to crush it down wholly into vulgarity for a poor soul. That is really too bad, too unlucky; and sometimes one's rage blazes up to think of it,—oftener only smoulders in a painful manner: “No help for it, then; no help! Palmerston, Puddledock & Co3 have the sovereignty; hold it by a kind of Diabolic Right, valid for the moment.”—Well, well, dear Lady; do not you grow angry at me, too; do not you forget me. I commend you always to all the gods.— T.C.

How cd you say I gave Mason no Address? It was the last writing I did in Barry's.— “Gill” (pronounce Ghill) signifies Dell, Small Valley; Cummer tree” wd be Town of the Cymraig;4 “Annan” is I know not what,— if originally anything.