July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 8 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580708-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 16-17


The Gill, 8 july, 1858—

Nothing for me today, but that Address of the Westr Review;1 whh is better than nothing. Tomorrow I shall get a word: God grant it be of good tenor! I am a prey to doleful considerations; and my solitary imagination has free field with me in the summer silence here. My poor little Jeannie, my poor ever-true Life-partner, hold up thy little heart! We have had a sore life pilgrimage together; much bad road, poor lodging, and bad weather,—little like what I could have wished, or dreamt of, for my little woman!—but we stood to it, too; and, if it please God, there are yet good years ahead of us, better and quieter much than the past have been now and then!— There is no use in going on with such reflexions and anticipations: no amount of paper wd hold them all at this time; nor could any words spoken or written give credible account of them to thee. I am wae exceedingly, but not half so miserable as I have often been. Courage, courage; write me you are at your old poor pass again; out of that ugly Brighton fit,—and thinking of some usefuller expedient while the good weather is here.

I went out on my big Dromedary of a Horse yesterday; had a slashing ride upon it of a dozen miles, in spite of the rain; with jolting enough, and considerable speed: I am better today, in consequence, than any day since I came hither. It is the most awkward of long-legged animals; but has sure hoofs, a great shambling stride, not without capabilities of better; and has a willing mind, poor brute. Let me be thankful for it. The day was dark with heavy electric showers, one of whh caught me with its skirt,—but I had, purposely, the worst of clothes, and got not the least harm; nay great part of the road (from the Lime Kilns towards Annan)2 was in thoroughly dry weather, tho' the rest was more mud & water-swashing. Today I expect to do better, not worse.

Coming homewards I met a certain Queensberry dignitary, not “the Marquis”3 but a Cousin (“ruined by railways”) who lives in “The Glen” hereabouts,4—a place we used to speculate upon in old years:5—the poor man, driving out wife & children in a barouche and pair, seemed hugely astonished by sight of me in the wilderness; and gazed with wide eyes at horse and man, his very beard (a red article, silvered) appeared to take part in the interesting inquiry. Do you remember my telling you, last time I was here, of meeting with Dirom of Mt Annan & Wife in a similar way? Dirom and Wife,6 I find, are now dead: aye, aye! A certain Mrs Philipps too, of whom I do not think I spoke, is now free of her drunken Husband7 since I was here; and has retired to silent widowhood somewhere: a brisk, witty spirited oldish young-lady, when I knew her 40 years ago; youngest Sister of the late Henry Duncan:8 she had been reduced or induced to wed a certain Snob of the first water (Philips, “Factor to Mansfield”),9 and I often think what a life she must have had. Almost the one known soul that now lives to me in this once populous region. I used to think of going to call, last time; probably never shall either. Ach Gott, wozu [for what purpose]?— — The cares of cloth will, from tomorrow, press upon me again: perhaps I shall have to go to Dumfries, if Jean do not volunteer to come. I have at last written to Larkin. I write no scrape of a pen, except to my Dearest only, whh can be dispensed with. What of Nero: hapless Nero, were he only here with his foot on the heath!10— I count on a word tomorrow; and hope! T. Carlyle