January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 11 September 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560911-TC-JWC-01; CL 31: 222-224


Kinloch Luichart, Thursday Morng 11 Septr, 1856—

Dear little Goody,—Here I am, after much tribulation but without broken bones or accidt of any kind;—came in yesterday morning, totally unslept, with[t]1 form or cleanliness; but am on the whole undamaged hitherto. My hand you may see is going at a great rate; but I could not delay a moment to tell you so much. Post comes in an hour (12 noon), then none for two days,—either now then or not till then, whh wd never do. I have just got breakfast and run into my own room to be out of the cackle and bad air so long.

To Dundee I got along very well that monday night (carriage all to myself, and the afternoon so beautiful); at Dundee such luck ceased, and the ride to Aberdeen was saddened by baddish physiognomies, coal smoke, and other etceteras;—nevertheless we got there duly and well, and had nothing to complain of, but the contrary,—especially after egg-tea at the Royal Hotel, whh I took as Postscript to Miss Fergus's dinner. I roved thereafter, far and wide, on the streets, smoking, musing; saw the bustle of the new population (may the Devil's self take all iron pens!),—saw Yorkshirewomen auctioneering quack hardware &c by lamplight sub dio [in the open air], Highland fiddler-singers selling their wind for siller;2—found out the old Marischal College3 Inclosure of Edifices; and strolled in: a most frugal yet dignified and loveable aspect of things (lights shining thro' various Professorial windows, the only light giving, and thro' one window a faint strum of a piano:—poor souls, I shall not forget Aberdeen or that locality of it. I even got some considerable sleep, tho' my room commanded one street and one Court-yard, paved with granite, and doing a good deal in the way of wheels.

Next morning to Inverness (11 a.m to 8 ½ p.m.) by rail & coach, by a route you know, the sight of which at all turns brot you in new vividness to my mind: especially from Huntly4 forward where the Coaching began. It is a wretched country on from that to Fochabers5 equal to “Blaw-weary” (in Annandale whh you remember); but at Gordon Castle gate6 a Jeames7 stood conspicuous in Scarlet plush breeches and the scene (physical) altogether changed. On the whole I had a wearisome, fatiguing day, and looked forward to the chance of sleep at Inverness with pleasure.— Whew! Inverness was full to the ridge-stone (at least the Caledonn Hotel was) with idle English tourists, Oxon-Cantabs and such like, ordering “whisky and hot water”: not a bed to be had;—nay I learned straight that there was no need of one! That my coach consisted of two difft coaches, the first of whh started at half past 12 (midnight): no help! I wandered into the street, at least to be out of gas and whisky; sauntered sadly smoking there; lay down on chairs afterwards; in fine got upon the coach at last, buckled to the size of a haystack, and after near an hour's haggling shot fairly away again, at a great pace. I shall not forget that curious Night-scene, with my Highland Driver, mid-night woods and Highland hamlets. Terribly cold, it would have grown. But at 3 ½ a.m. they shot me down on the street of Dingwall (a village like what Lockerby wd be if 3-parts burnt), and there I had leisure to walk myself into heat again,—second coach not to start till 6 a.m.—The poor Highland Innkeeper people (all in shirts, shifts and the house full of gas without fire) were very kind in their invitations;—and I took some egg-tea from them, but cd not stand much of the inside gas. Happily the night was fair; and I had 'bacco at discretion: at length six came, coach crowded; distance hither, reported variously at from 9 miles to 30 do. proved to be 18, and I was safe set down in about 3 hours farther, viz 9 a.m.,—breakfast just going to begin,—for which I had not the least talent or wish, nor indeed for anything, except if possible for sleeping, after getting washed. The washing I accomplished, but could not get sleeping tried for about 3 hours or more (a Dr Kinnear needing to be turned out &c); in fine almost with a fight I got to a room whh cd be bolted, closed the shutters and actually fell asleep till close on six the hour of dinner. My first taste of meat or drink was then, in these parts: such the way of great houses.—However, I got some 4 hours more of sleep in the night time; find the loveliest morning I almost ever saw for weather; a walk, breakfast (Miss Baring8 administering very cold washy tea, Her Ladyship having “got a chill”)—and in fact find myself visiting here, in quite tolerable case, considering.— — The Greys Ld & Ly are here, but I hope may not stay long. None other but Poodle9 and the Dr Kinnear R.N. insignificant enough man, something à la Plattnauer in look. The place is pleasant, really “sweet,”10 and not at all big or beautiful; may do very well for a two weeks. I wrote yesternight (down stairs) rapid despatches to the Annandale friends,—said you were coming directly. Do that!—

My kind regards to the Hospitable Lady, to the do Gentn where you still lodge. Tell Miss Fergus her gift of sandwiches was not lost.—God's blessing on thee, Dearest.