July-December 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 34


TC TO JWC ; 26 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580726-TC-JWC-01; CL 34: 72-73


The Gill, 27 [26] july (Monday)1858—

Thanks for writing on Saturday: the good little Letter came to me this morning before I had done breakfast; our Annan Postman (one of the loosest-looking old stumpy men, with his mouth always fallen open, whom they call “Waldie”; (that is, ‘Wellwood’ Richardson, of the Dumfries genealogy) comes always earlier on Monday, having no London Mail to wait for. I wished much I could have written to you on Saturday; for the missing Letter actually came, that morning: a romantic arrival! It had had the fate I guessed for it,—crushed down by wheels, to all appearance; but at length a human soul had noticed it, and behaved to it in a human manner. This small act of virtue, very small but very genuine, has given me a kind of pleasure since. I return you the cover; by whh you may see with your eyes what the probable adventure has been. Pity only that I could not tell you of it till now; and clear away one little vexation from a poor heart that has too many. But there was no possibility: Ecclefechan was in abeyance for the time; and neither Dumfries nor Annan, as I now learn, can forward a Sunday Letter except at an early hour of theday.——It grieves me to the heart to read of all these botherations falling upon on[e]1 so unfit to bear them. What a thing, to be welcomed after such a night by the Bramah Foreman and his provoking nonsense! However, I perceive you resolve not to be beaten at your post; and to do your function while a particle of life is left. The “settlement” was good and excellt, far better than one could have expected; and that will be a kind of comfort to you also, that you went thro' it all as if you had been a Railway Director or a Secretary of State, and came out of it victorious tho' only half alive,—poor litil2 soul! That cough is a sore business; that weakness, not permitting you the least excitation, under penalty of a sleepless night. Yesterday morning it came into my heart like a dagger, that miserable cough, when I first opened my eyes. Caught in going to Brighton too.3 Oh take care; be canny;—get rid of that at least. I build myself up in the hope of Bay House; I do anticipate it will sensibly help you. But have a care, have a care; the weather is grown far cooler; the nights are even cold, if your weather resemble ours. This day week I hope to be reading you have got safe thither.

Jean, poor soul, did not want to go away on Saturday night; James (Aitken) had agreed, if she did not appear, to come & seek her with a poney-vehicle which he has: so we let it stand that way; and he came accordingly, with their eldest son;4 and a celebrated Poney, white with age, but very wise and nimble, scarcely bigger than some Newfoundland dogs, but precious in that household. My day as, you can fancy, was not exhilarating on the spiritual side. But it went well enough too. A wildly windy, bright sunny day (night before was all thunder & rain, now quite away); and I had a useful long jumble on my dromedary, swift and rough by way of intermezzo. Aitken has a good deal of sense; and has made strange sallyings into the scientific domains, botany &c; fringing the dusty highway of his life, poor soul, with a little greenness in this manner. I grew profoundly wae in the end; and rebuked myself for my want of sympathy &c in past days. Poor Jean, I find, is secretly very sad of heart; memory full of the little boy she lost;5 secretly weeping with that sorrow all of her own,—came out, twice over, for all her bravery, with open tears upon it to me. Other cares & sorrows I cd see were plentiful, tho' held in abeyance:—Time, the inexorable, spares no mortal. For the rest, she was assiduity itself in her attempts to help me. You never saw such sewing of “Belts”; thrice over, each of the two that were realised,—and in fact they do seem to fit perfectly;—not to speak of my unjust impatiences (most unjust), of my sulky despairs &c: poor good Jean! No wonder altogether I was wae, in walking into the cold bright sunset, after seeing them pirr off6 on their little poney & his vehicle! The silence, before I returned in again, the wind having quite sunk down, was intense,—only one poor Collie heard expressing his astonisht at it, miles away. I have ended all the Tourgff I have; must now fairly betake me to Orlich7 and dull business instead of nothing. I get gloomier, but on the whole am better off, when left entirely alone. My health I do believe improves,—must improve. Poor John Welsh, poor Mrs Welsh; Oh let us still hope the best! Blessings on my poor ill woman, above all!—T. Carlyle