January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


JWC TO ANNE GILCHRIST ; 10 July 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590710-JWC-AGIL-01; CL 35: 142-143


Humbie Aberdour / Fife [ca. 10 July 1859]

My dear Mrs. Gilchrist—

I don't remember whether I engaged to write to you or not; but anyhow the spirit moves me to write—and exactly at the wrong moment! when I have the softest pen and the thickest ink that has fallen in my way since I left home!

I suppose you are long removed to your country quarters1 and have derived, I hope, more benifit from “the change” than I have done as yet. I suppose the dreadfully fatiguing journey knocked me up to such an extent, that it has taken all this time of “pure air,” “quiet” and “new milk and rum” to overcome the bad consequences— Certainly, between ourselves, I am not sensible of having gained an atom of strength, either bodily or mental, since I left Chelsea!

And yet; what a difference between the dead-wall one looks out on in Cheyne Row,2 and the “view” from our window here, unsurpassed I am sure by the Bay of Naples, or any other view on Earth! and between The “exhalations from the Thames,”3 complicated with the vitriol Factory4 and Chancellors dung-hill;5 and these airs from the Atlantic blowing on our hill top! One ought to be well here—and now that one has a “cuddy” (donkey) “all to oneself” (as the Children say) to walk about on the four legs of; one's two own legs being no go, one ought to admit one has every thing needed for happiness—except indeed one thing the faculty of being happy!—

Mr C is much pleased with the place and the “soft food” it yields for himself—and horse—and, as he hardly works at all, he would be much better— if he did n't, as he always does in “the country,” take health by the throat (as it were) Bathing as if he were a little Boy in the Serpentine,6 walking as if he had seven-league Boots,7 and riding like the Wild Huntsman!8—the consequences of all which is that he keeps up in him a continual fever of biliousness—

Charlotte is the happiest of created girls—everything so new to her everything delightful! especially the open admiration of Aberdour Lads; who call her “Bonnie wee Lassie” in the public highway, “So kind of them!” she says “when they never saw her before and don't so much as know her name!!” Mr C remarked justly that “the compliments to herself were the only words of Scotch she could manage to understand! and these she understood at once, by instinct!”

Nero is a much improved dog. by sea-bathing with his master, he snores less, scratches less and is less selfish. and “the Horse”— Oh Mr C declares “It is in perfect raptures over its soft food—but incapable of recovery from its astonishment at the badness of the Fife roads!”

So we shall do very well at the Farm House for as long as we have it—till the 6th of August—after that our plans are still in the vague—

Good by dear woman I do hope Mr Gilchrist9 will find some work in winter to keep you still our neighbours.

Yours most truly, /

Jane Carlyle