January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 27 August 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560827-TC-JAC-01; CL 31: 194-196


The Gill, 27 Augt, 1856—

My dear Brother,

Your brief Note to Isabella was brought over to me on Sunday last, by the two Jamies of Scotsbrig (junior home from Glasgow for a fortnight and now returned): that, with your Letter to myself from Vevay in answer to mine, is the sum of our Swiss news from you. We were getting rather anxious to hear;—perhaps I ought to have written again; but I took you as meaning to write to Scotsbrig first. Let us hope you will get well to Paris in a couple of days hence; and find this waiting for you, which has no bad tidings to bring.

We are all well, to the common degree or better, in these parts. I have been here now into the fifth week; following out my Program; was away only 3 nights at Scotsbrig (bad weather, and fash to me in consequence), and one afternoon over to Dumfries to tea and back again): the nearest approach to perfect silence, solitude, and unadulterated country regimen, I have almost ever made for so long. Mary has been kindness itself to me, as well as all the Household big and little; Margaret is one of the cleverest Lasses that ever waited on me: I have had a horse (daily) Jamie of Scotsbrig's; item a Gig and horse (tho' seldom using that): I bathed so long as weather and tide served:—I have seldom been more comfortable in late years; and as to lodging &c was never better served in any house whatever. I brought some work with me too; whh has been a constant resource, and useful otherwise,—tho' I am now pretty much at the end of my tether in that respect. We found your Key at Scotsbrig; I read the whole of Suetonius1 while lying there in the wet days (a very curious Book for one after 30 years of abeyance): your Köhler (Reichs Historie2 with two portabilities of my own are my whole Historical Library here: I also read in a volume of your Plato at nights,—but find him nearly insupportable, with definitioning and hair-splitting, tho' there is a fine high vein too in him, of magnanimous perception, humour, godlike indignation veiled in silence, and other rare gifts.3— I have ridden extensively on the Priestside sands, and by all manner of byroads and highways,—“in by the Dowp,4 many a time. Nobody has spoken to me (tho' some have put on their spectacles to look at my beard and me), except two persons, half-haverils both, and one of them deaf as a post,—one Wightman a farmer, and one Johnstone a Smith:5 whose elocutions did not harm me much! I seem to myself to have improved very perceptibly in health;—find “the Gill well” (tho' I do not use it much) superior even to Malvern as spring water; and rustic diet upon milk and meal (reinforced by eggs and chicken broth) a far more potent sanative than supernumerary “sit-baths” and other such puddlings.6— But enough of all that.

Neuberg wrote to me, a few days after you did, from Kissingen,—going towards Geneva in about “ten days time.” I answered that you were in those parts, if he came soon enough; and gave him your “Poste Restante, Vevay,” witht too much encouraging him to use it. Apparently he has done nothing, whh perhaps was best. He is to be in London abt “the middle of Septr”: his details from Kissingen, about the foreign Notabilities King of Bavaria7 &c were well worth reading. Dreadfully hot weather;—as we had it here for above a week; tho' after that, not; “60 hours of thunder,” then 60 of rain &c having tempered that quite down, and left us with uncertain tho' agreeable weather. Austin, like all the neighbourhood here, has begun mowing oats,—Scotsbrig I suppose will before this week is out. A country all white, or whitening fast; crops goodish, only the potatoes gone their usual road.8— — I have Tailors here, doing dressinggowns &c; and am now preparing to lift anchor soon. After long haggling, I seem to have settled at last upon a run to the Inverness region;—cannot well be off, tho' ease in the remote nooks here wd be welcomer to me.

All this while Jane has Auchtertool for headquarters (has been across to Haddington, and then to Edinr, an 8-days each); will keep that as headquarters, I rather think, till about the time of my return from the North. We are to meet, for 3 days at Linlathen, as I go Northd,—end of next week probably? But that is yet all in program. The only fixed points seem two: 1o We are to be home in Chelsea abt the end of September; 2o Jane means (I perceive) to take Annandale last; and that we shd start homewards thence. It is not likely she will stay long at Scotsbrig, in the Shearing-time &c, and with me there; tho' Isabella expresses the hospitablest intentions and anxieties. End of Septr we ought to be in Chelsea; tomorrow I go to Dumfries for possibly 2 days: saturday over to Scotsbrig for perhaps 3 or 4;—then wend Northward. About midSeptr, Address will be, “The Ld An's, Kinloch Luichart, Dingwall:—but I shall heert [meaning unclear] at Scotsbrig before that: to Scotsbrig or Here, will always find me.—Take care of yourself dear Brother; and let us hope you will arrive soon and safe. We shd not be much in your way if you now thot of Annandale at once. There is perfectly good lodging here, or at Dumfries &c: in fact that might easily be managed. Adieu:—Your affecte Brother,

T. Carlyle

Thanks for the Vevay Epitaphs, which I keep carefully. I had got Broughton's from one Vinet, by Erskine's means,9—Ludlow's too I had seen somewhere, but forgotten.10—Tait has done a fine Photogh of Fk II & his Sister;—he is off I believe or going.