July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 5 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580705-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 10-12


The Gill, Monday 5 july, 1858—

My dear little Woman,—I begin the day with a few words to you, lest something occur to obstruct afterwards. There are always 3 days of interval, I see; from Friday to Monday, no writing here, nor after Saturday anything received of written; that is the fruit of the Scotch Sunday, whh stops the very railway here, and reduces all things to a silence, really grateful to the mind, however brot about. For three days one is reduced to one's books, one's reflexions; to chew the cud, as it were, and do a little wholesome rumination, perhaps too apt to be neglected otherwise.

Nothing of historical occurs here, as you are aware; and the trifling matters we have do not go on with the definiteness that might be expected. For example the Tailor “cannot say “will say what day he will come”;1 so we are still at our old point in the Cares of Cloth; have not needed to run in to Dumfries on Saturday, and plunge for a decision; in fact are reduced to a dirty patience in that matter. Nor is the horse settled: I cannot yet know whether John's animal will prove rideable, nor even whether he feels himself quite able to spare it me: yesterday he was to ride over with it, and let us try; but yesterday broke out into wild storms of windy rain, right agt the teeth of John; and he is only expected, not with confidence today. There is nothing for it but the above kind of dirty patience,—and in the meanwhile to make good use of one's own legs (May the Devil reward the inventor of iron pens, and this method of writing, as if it were with the point of a dagger upon leather!2—Husht!)— My ancle does not fail; and I do what walking will; but undoubtedly a horse wd be beneficial. I reckon myself improving in bodily health; as for the spiritual part there is no improving of me; I live in a death's-head (as Jean Paul3 says some woodpeckers do, finding it handier than otherwise), and there I think I shall mostly continue. I sleep tolerably well always (“What a blessing!” your poor little heart will say); they are all as kind and attentive here as they can be. Fractus bello, fessus annis [broken by war, worn out by years], I ought to think myself lucky in such a niche; and try to gather my wayward wanderings of thought, and compose myself a little. Whh I have not yet in the least done since I came hither.— My best time is usually the evening: never saw such evenings for freshness, brightness; the west one champaign of polished silver or silver-gilt (as the sun goes down); and I get upon the wastes of the “Priestside,”4—all Priests now gone out of it, nothing but miles of elastic bog solitary as Sahara, with solitary sea-grass and sand (when you are thro' the bog, and past the white fringing of “Priestside cottages,” fishers, weavers, farmers &c easily avoided, and reduced to picturesque) with no sound audible but that of tired geese extensively getting home to their quarters, and here & there a contemplative cuddy giving utterance to the obscure feeling he has about this Universe. I go 5 or 6 miles, striding along under the western twilight (I can read my watch here quite distinctly sometimes at 11 p.m.); and return home only because porridge ought not to be belated over much. I have not tried bathing: Larkin writes me today something about the apparatus5 for that as in a state of “abeyance” till I write farther about it. Whh I will do,—about maps and it;6 all a burbled story at present. About going to Germany or any ulterior plan, I am totally sightless as yet; and do not resolve on the least item. It is indeed clear to me I ought (were I strong enough) to go and see those “Battlefields” (with a murrain on them!)—but the thot of the “zwei ruhige zimmer [two peaceful rooms],” and of the other adjuncts makes me shudder!— I read considerably here; sit all day sometimes (Saturday last, for instance) under the shelter of a comfortable hedge, pipe not far distant, and read Arrian (on Alexander the Great),7 Count Benjowski,8 or some worthy Author. Yesterday in the rain tornado (for I have seldom heard such wind, every whiff of which tells in this exposure) I did better than you wd have thot: eat very little, went out for an hour, changing clothes at my return; nay in the evg it went all away, & there was such a green begrutten [tear-stained] world, smiling thro' its tears, as was beautiful to see, into whh Austin9 took me driving round almost by Annan.

Dearest, I will write no more of this. Oh if I sent you all the thots, sad extremely some of them, whh I have about you, they wd fill much paper; and perhaps you wd not believe in some of them. It grieves my heart to think of you weltering along there in the unblessed London element while there is a bright wholesome summer rolling by! But I can do nothing to cut a way out for you. Poor souls that we are:—and yet a way ought to be cut! Write to me more special accounts of your way of life now that the “cares of bread” are done, what you eat, above all things how you sleep. I shall surely hear tomorrow? God bless you ever. T. Carlyle

The Fraser10 arrived this morning: I send you a bit of the cover to denote what its adventures have been.

Item a sprig of heather, and two rose leaves