August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


JWC TO TC ; 2 September 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570902-JWC-TC-01; CL 33: 65-66


Sunny Bank Wednesday

[2 September 1857]

Oh my Dear my Dear!! You give me the idea of a sensible Christian man making himself into a spinning Dervish! Oh, “depend upon't the slower thou rides; the faster thou’llt get &c”! These dinings “before sunset”—teas “about 10”—don't I know what comes of all that, and that what comes of it is “eventually” “real mental agony in your own inside”?1 hardly to be assuaged by blue pill and castor oil, at a great expense of inward Life!— If I hadn't been coming home at anyrate your last letter would have determined me to come — i[f] just to put a spoke in your wheel—that you maynt like a furious grinding-stone fly all off in Sand!— It will be a great nuisance to you, I know, when you have got the bridle of Time shaken off your head about your heels, and your face to the wind; to be again in harness with a little steady-going animal that looks to have her corn and her mashes regular! or—lies down in the road! But, bless you, if you hadn't had a counter pull on you in the direction of order and regularity and moderation and all that stupid sort of thing where would you have been by this time? Tell me that!

Oh how I wish I were home!—that horrid journey over! Eliza Donaldson says “Not like the journey Mrs Carlyle? how odd”! “Not able to sleep at an Inn? how VERY odd!”— I declare it is a consolation for having one's nerves “all gone to smithers”2 to see how stolid and unloveable good health makes people; with the best intentions too.

I have broken to Miss Jess the fact that I am going next week—on Tuesday or Wednesday—and before that time I shall surely have made up my mind about the train. Never fear but I shall go by first class this time. only which first class? Haddington is most inconveniently situated as to the Railway—which is the reason of those strange delays of letters. No Express train stops at Longniddy3 The Night Express one may join at Dunbar4 by a cross train—but to get at the day-Express one must either sleep at Dunbar or go back to sleep at Edinr— I am undecided whether to go by day to Dunbar or Berwick5 and after hours of waiting join the Night Express—or to go from here by an ordinary Train all the way to York—stay there, sleeping or waking, all night—and take the day-Express next day— Going back to have the fuss of sleeping one night in Edinr, and hurrying in from Morningside in the morning and re travelling those sixteen miles, I cannot think of!—

At this season I would rather travel by day than by night— Then again the stopping at York would be such a nuisance Well Well! as Nancy at Craigenputtoch said of Elliot's descent from the roof—“pooh! his own weight will bring him down”!6— I shall get home surely by some force of gravitation or other!—

I haven't got thro' The American-Novel yet— It is a curious book—very nearly a good book—but spoiled, like old Sterlings famous carriage7 by pretending to be too many different things all in one— It is Quinland (a novel) or it is Varieties of American Life— Then it is an allegory (himself tell us that) symbolizing the Marriage of Genius and Religion— Then it is a note-book of Mr Wright or White's8 opinions of all the Authors he has studied—and all the general reflections he has ever made— Then it is an American Whilelm Meister9— Then it is Mr Whites realized Ideal of—a new Christian Bible! and finally one doesnt know what it is or is not. anymore than whether the style is a flagrant immitation of you, or of Goethe, or of Jean Paul10 or of Emerson— Happily “it isn't of the slightest consequence”11 which. Yours ever affly JWC