January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


JWC TO DAVID DAVIDSON ; 1 September 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560901-JWC-DD-01; CL 31: 205-206


Auchtertool Manse / Kircaldy 1st September 1856

My dear Major Davidson

I hadn't forgotten my promise, to tell you when I came to Scotland—tho it was binding myself to believe, for more than a year, in your caring—in any one's caring—whether I were in Scotland or at ‘The Back of Beyond’! A grave engagement for one with so very limited an outfit of self-confidence as myself!

But on my first coming I didn't know your actual address—nor could dear Betty tell it me; tho' she spoke about you till your ear might have tingled!—(the right one.)—1

So I waited till I should see your sister at Haddington whither I was bound—Tho I was there ten days, being kissed and cried over by my dear old Ladies at Sunny Bank, and crying myself pretty continuously out of sheer gratitude to every body for being so good to me, I did not see Mrs Cook. I had no sooner arrived than Mrs Cook proceeded to have a Baby;2 and that fact was communicated to me along with another similar fact viz: your own new baby.3 And in such a domestic crisis, it was clearly expedient not to bother you with the idea of my presence in your neighbourhood since you might feel a certain obligation to invite me to your house, sooner than might be agreeable to your wife to receive any stranger—

The Bishop, who has indeed being playing the part of “The Pigs”—in running thro4 my arrangements ever since I came, has run thro this delicate silence also!—it would seem. And so he must bear the blame, if having done what flesh and blood could do, towards not troubling you, I cannot positively do more, and refuse to go and see you when you still ask me! I have not much time left. We return to London the end of the present month, and I have SIX visits to pay still, among relations and—old friends, chiefly in Dumfriesshire. Whence I proceed to London via Carlisle without returning to Edinr. But when I leave this place, the middle or end of next week, I could go to you for two, or three days—if your wife were really well enough and good natured enough to have me. Write with perfect frankness—would that suit?

Mr Carlyle has been with his own family in Annandale all this while and is now just starting off on a visit to some London friends near Dingwall perhaps he will sail to London—at all events he wont rejoin me till we are just starting for home.

But I am not unaccompanied—I have with me—bound for Chelsea, two—canaries! bred at Haddington, and adopted for its old dear sake!—And you will have to extend your hospitality to these blessed birds, to the extent of furnishing them with a nail to hang on out of the reach of any possible cat or dog!

Yours affectionately / Jane W Carlyle

If I may come about the time I have said—give me precise directions how to get to you—I mean after I get to Stirling—how far is it to Meiklewood—in what direction5